All Creatures Great and Small-Series 1-Volume 2 (1978)

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Released 1-Sep-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 346:34 (Case: 343)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (31:36)
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Terence Dudley
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Christopher Timothy
Robert Hardy
Peter Davison
Carol Drinkwater
Case 4 Arrow-Triple
RPI $59.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The book about Alf Wight by his son Jim quotes a Western Daily Press article from the 30th January 1978 about a tiny church in Lowick, Cumbria. This little church was given special dispensation to hold its evening service earlier than normal so that people could get home in time to watch All Creatures Great and Small. The evening congregation was in serious decline because people did not like missing the start of the show.

    Such was the impact of this great series, that the character of James Herriot was suddenly in the homes of millions and his fame quickly grew. This made instant celebrities of both the author and the actors playing the various roles. It is interesting to read that the books and even the two movies did not initially make Alf Wight a rich man. This was a time in the British Isles when the top tax rate was 95 pence out of every pound, and most people with large incomes had left for the Island of Jersey. However, Alf Wight refused to leave his family and practice.

    In the second half of the first series we have seven episodes, two each on the first two discs and three on the third.

Golden Lads and Girls: (50:36)

The life of a small farmer on the upper reaches of the dales was a very tough one. Small holdings with only a couple of dozen head of cattle, sometimes less, were fighting the problems of farming while raising a family. The spirit of these people was indomitable. One of the small holdings that we saw in a couple of early episodes runs into trouble. First the husband dies and then there is an illness amongst the stock. The light relief for this episode is the story of the wommiting, wommiting bad (very strong accent required) dog. In fact this dog is only just short of being a horse and its disposition is less than friendly. James continues his courting of Helen with dinner at her place. Unfortunately, his luck has not changed and dinner is interrupted by an unfortunate incident. To top off the episode, Siegfried makes the dreadful mistake of allowing Tristan to drive his new Jaguar.

Advice and Consent: (49:49)

Clancy, the horse-sized dog, continues to have stomach problems and the poor old vets at Skeldale House continue to battle their consciences - they really should examine the dog properly but he is not being co-operative. Things are looking much brighter on the Helen front for James - they are now a couple and things are moving forward at James' pace. Of course, this pace is a little slow for the Farnon brothers who give James a little push along. The troubles continue for the small farm with stock problems but there might be light on the horizon. Just before heading out to Helen's farm, James is involved in a rather smelly cleansing that Tristan suggests he cover up with a bath using the housekeeper's bath salts. The smell is very feminine and he spends the rest of the day wafting this smell around the place, much to the amusement of the tough dales farmers.

The Last Furlong: (48:02)

If the farmers will listen to anyone about their stock against the best advice of the vets then it only stands to reason that they will listen to their vet about human medical advice. James turns chiropractor to solve the mystery of why some cows keep getting mastitis. The characters that make up the residents of the dales are fleshed out with a farmer that is the antithesis of the hard-working but caring farmer. Siegfried and James spend a day hobnobbing with the upper crust as Siegfried is under examination for the role of vet to the race tracks. All is going well until Siegfried runs into an old college chum, but things get a bit blurry from that point onwards (the story, not the image). This is also the episode that all those romantic viewers have been waiting for.

Sleeping Partners: (47:26)

James and Helen are off on their honeymoon, which has been combined with tuberculin testing. There is tension in the surgery as Tristan tells Siegfried that his final exams are coming up and that he will be spending two weeks in Edinburgh. Already short-handed, Siegfried decides to bring in another student to help. The student that turns up is not your average student but a member of the upper class and a student of great learning. Putting the members of the practice on their toes, he comes across as a little stuck-up. Interspersed with Siegfried trying to drum knowledge into Tristan, this is a wonderful episode.

11: Bulldog Breed (49:28)

A nice young lady confuses the vet surgery for the new doctor's surgery next door with slightly embarrassing results. A young farmer that has bet his future on a small farm runs into stock problems and James is called in to help. James goes on one of the first of what are to become his infamous shopping trips - he is sent for one thing and manages to spend the money on something that they definitely do not need. A farmer that is known for abusing his wife ends up in the practice with a nail through his foot. The new doctor and the vets combine to teach him a lesson. Carmody, the student vet, is brought to earth with a little hands-on practice with some difficult stock. He learns a lesson but also proves himself a true vet.

12: Practice Makes Perfect (49:31)

Siegfried is on a health kick and for some reason Tristan is joining in, giving up the fags, the booze and generally trying to make himself indispensable. One of the most heart-warming stories from the books is portrayed in this episode. A slightly dotty lady is the village's amateur vet and sometimes interferes with the practice, but she has a heart of gold. Her little dog is run over and she is very upset when he dies. James is called in on a cruelty case and a poor abused animal is facing death if they cannot find someone to care for him, but events conspire to make this one of the luckiest dogs around after such a poor start in life. James is called off to help the vet that made a fool of him last time he visited, as the vet has a broken arm. Things start out on the same wrong foot and appear to get worse, but James' indomitable spirit and sense of fair play soon turn the tables.

13: Breath Of Life (51:42)

James is on the trail of a new discovery in veterinary practice. Initially discovered by mistake, he puts this new knowledge to work to help one of his patients. This episode then goes on to cover an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, a difficult episode where we see farms stripped of all livestock. As we saw with the recent outbreak, there is only one solution - all stock must be slaughtered and burned. They manage to portray the effects on the farmers and the vets very well and we see both the best and the worst that people can do in this situation. A difficult but powerful episode to end the season and leave you desperately waiting for the next season to be released.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer on these discs is pretty much identical to the first half of the series.

    Again, the transfer is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

    Sharpness is acceptable to good in the video sections and less so in the film-based material. Shadow detail is good in the film sections and not too bad in the video sections, though in some video shots the black is sometimes not true black but a little lighter than it should be. Low level noise is constant throughout the show, triggered either by video noise or by the grain. The wall in the background at 12:14 in the first episode is a clear example of this. In the video sections there are occasionally highlights that completely burn out, such as the reflections off the dinnerware at 9:16 in the first episode.

    Colours are a little washed out in places and in the video sections there is often false colouration in any patterned material. Some of the choices in shirts throughout the show are particularly affected by this - have a look at 29:21 for a particularly bad example.

    There are pretty much constant small artefacts due to the level of noise in the source material. In episode one at 1:34, James' face shows the level of artefacting that is present. At the same time there is an example of the aliasing that is present in Siegfried's shirt collar. The video noise has been mentioned already as has the grain - other film artefacts are limited to the occasional fleck and scratch. It would appear that a little more edge enhancement has been applied to the second half of this series as seen in halos around some objects, in particular the white coats that they wear in the surgery (Ep 1. 37:54).

    Subtitles are reasonably accurate and easy to read.

    The first two discs in the set are single layered with two episodes each. The third disc is RSDL-formatted with three episodes. The layer change is at 31:36 in the second last episode.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There is a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack on each of the discs. The audio is mono.

    There are no problems with the dialogue quality. The overmodulation that I noticed in a couple of earlier episodes seems to have been corrected. There is the occasional problem with the audio sync which appears to be an ADR problem rather than the authoring.

    The music is of course the famous opening theme and the occasional musical riff. These episodes are otherwise pretty sparse from a scoring point of view.

    The surrounds and the subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The 1.33:1 aspect ratio menu remains the same. The main screen has four inserts with moving images from the series and the episode selection menus have a single insert again with footage from that episode.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 maintains its technical knockout due to the presence of a mini-documentary.

Summary

    The life and times of James Herriot are filled with some wonderful characters and events. It is a truly rich world that is a real joy to spend time in. This is family entertainment at its very best.

    The video is let down by the age of the source material

    The audio functions perfectly well.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Sunday, October 12, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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