All Creatures Great and Small (2020) s03e04 – What A Balls Up!

No avoiding Nicholas Ralph’s desire to join up anymore. It’s front and center, complete with the questionable choice of playing instrumental cadences in the background when Ralph’s thinking about it. They only do it twice—maybe three times, and I’ve blocked one—but it’s the worst creative decision I can remember on the show.

Thank goodness the interludes are brief because it doesn’t take Rachel Shenton too long to figure out what’s up. Ralph’s been miserable with his genius idea to test the local cattle for tuberculosis, even getting in trouble with the Ministry of Agriculture, plus he’s also feeling like a heel for not going and fighting. He just doesn’t think he’s doing anything important.

Or something. It’s unclear because Ralph still keeps his own counsel, even as everyone else is in desperate need of talking. Shenton’s suddenly worried about her marriage to Ralph, even as they prove themselves a well-suited couple. Anna Madeley’s friendship with Will Thorp is getting near romantic, something Madeley’s been trying to avoid, but it’s finally hit the inevitable stage. Callum Woodhouse is fine, actually; he’s finally feeling comfortable and confident. However, Woodhouse’s confidence and Ralph’s busyness mean Samuel West doesn’t feel in charge of the practice anymore, so he takes to fussing on very special guest star Derek (as the profoundly adorable Pekingese Tricki Woo).

In addition to taking Ralph out of town to the previously unseen ministry (which West speaks about in hushed, fearful tones), the episode’s also got the first swearing I can remember on a “Creatures,” albeit old-timey British swearing. Adrian Rawlins guest stars as the blowhard Ministry guy who is sick of Ralph screwing up his paperwork on the TB testing. Rawlins is hilarious, with more depth than initially suggested.

There’s a lot of depth throughout the episode. Shenton finally gets her own arc, post-marriage. Madeley’s romance arc is devastating. West’s adorable with the dog and has a whole range of stifled emotions.

There’s an action sequence, which is phenomenal—director Andy Hay gets more drama out of thirties automobiles on a picturesque English roadway than most get out of fighter jets or spaceships. Woodhouse has a wonderful subplot, lots of good direction, and lots of good acting. Sophie Khan Levy is back as the rival vet’s daughter, who West learns is friendly with Woodhouse.

Chloë Mi Lin Ewart has the script credit again. It’s shaping up to be her season–this episode’s terrific.

Even with those lousy music choices.

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