Well, we collected all the DVD box sets for the first 3 seasons of "All Creatures Great & Small"& enjoyed them during many sittings. I wrote reviews for each set, cut & pasting the same main frame with sprinkles of information that made each season different. For this review on the 1983 & 1985 Specials, I will start afresh. I notice that most people rate the 3 box sets & this collection of Specials with a '5'. I normally save a '5' for a life changing experience, '4' for great entrainment, '3' for average, '2' for a good idea but flawed, & '1' for trash. Therefore I always gave the box sets a '4', though to learn a little veterinarian science could be a life changing experience. I am rating this DVD with a '4', but the 1983 & 1985 Specials are not up to par with the box sets. Maybe a '3-1/2' would have been better, but then again "All Creatures Great & Small" is never 'Average'.
The first box set (January 1978) started out rather slow because it took a while for the characters to blossom, or maybe it took us, an American viewer with his Russian wife, to get use to the British sound of our shared language, the typical British dry comedy mode, or the cultural framework. By the second box set (September 1978) the characters are in full swing & the series just flows with fantastic family entrainment. The third box set (January 1979) continues this mode but with more of a social consciousness due to the up coming World War Two. This last box set ends with James Herriot (played by Christopher Timothy) leaving his beloved small town Darrowby to join the R.A.F. to protect England from the Axis.
The 1983 Special shows James returning to the dales, entering an area unaffected by the war except for the men that left. Get ready for a surprise; following the books by Alf Wight, James has a son Jimmy (played by Oliver Wilson), whom he picks up with his wife Helen (played by Carol Drinkwater) to return to the practice. Siegfried Farnon (played by Robert Hardy), the main veterinarian & business partner, & Siegfried's brother Tristan Farnon (played by Peter Davison) is there to greet James with his growing family. Later Siegfried's old girlfriend returns to marry & Tristan gets a government veterinarian job. They all try out a new housekeeper that cooks worst than Tristan. Mrs. Pumphrey (played by Margaretta Scott) returns with her over stuffed dog Ticki Woo, whom she is trying to breed. All of these minor plots follow the main focus on James's readjustment to peacetime.
What is strange about this Special is that the actors seem to have lost that growing bond that made the series so wonderful. Also the music seems off & the production is more static: showing quick scenes that don't quite fit. By the middle of the Special, the actors & production come into focus & the joy of the series returns.
The 1985 Special shows another surprise, James & Helen now have a daughter Rosie (played by Rebecca Smith). Siegfried with a moustache has moved to a larger house because of his marriage & has given James' family the house beside the practice. Tristan returns to date a past girlfriend who has a father that is against drinking. James picks up a stray dog & makes it the family pet only to find the dog has an incurable disease. Tristan makes fun of the old practices while Siegfried gets some newer drug samples that he wants to try out. The funniest highlight is the clip after the ending.
One problem with the 1985 Special, there was a minor character, an Asian (maybe lower eastern Siberian?) Russian P.O.W taking care of an Owl, who befriended James. Wait...I thought the Russians were part of the Allies, helping the British against the Nazis? How could there be a Russian P.O.W. camp in Great Britian? Also my wife is Russian & the actor was horrible at his accent. This just puzzled me to no end.