blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

All Creatures Great and Small (2020) s04e02 – Carpe Diem

Okay, now “All Creatures” feels like it’s back. Carpe Diem is a regular, episodic entry, with Samuel West hiring a professional bookkeeper to get the practice ship-shape—did he hire Neve McIntosh because he was flirting with her at a dance and not able to ask her out so instead he offered her a job? Unclear. Something’s going on with West this episode; he’s definitely missing his brother (will Callum Woodhouse be back this season? I refuse to Google), but we never find out how exactly. It’s not in the episode’s purview.

The A-plot involves McIntosh coming in and messing with the practice so they can make more money. The B-plot is West and aging farmer James Bolam’s aging cow. There’s also some family planning discussions for Nicholas Ralph and Rachel Shenton, who spend the episode oscillating between West and McIntosh, sometimes participating, sometimes just observing. West’s got a lot of hijinks, whether it’s bulling through the china shop, mooning over McIntosh, or ignoring Ralph’s complaints about her.

Ralph and Shenton get a vet case of their own—Paul Bazely’s adorable ferret—except Bazely’s broke (and an immigrant) and McIntosh hates rodents and the rodent-appearing, and the separate dramas all weave nicely together. The script, credited to Helen Raynor, is gentle to a fault. The show really doesn’t want to talk about the war, with multiple characters assuming it’ll all be over soon. So there’s a big air of dread hanging over it, which the script doesn’t acknowledge.

The show even cuts away when Anna Madeley and Will Thorp go out to the movies (the show was able to get permission to use Hollywood movie posters, but not the British movie the characters are discussing.

Director Hay gets in some very nice landscape shots and the elaborate slapstick (serious slapstick) opening.

It’s a very good episode. Though it bothers me I’m more scared about the war than some of the characters.

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