Watching Ted Lasso was like getting a warm hug every week for half an hour; while it may seem too smarmy for some, having a half-hour of feel-good escapism these days isn’t such a bad thing. But when Ted Lasso season 2 ended in December, there was nothing on Apple TV — or anywhere else — to make up for that absence.
That is, until I found All Creatures Great and Small. Like an Irish sweater, it’s wrapped me up in a cozy cocoon that will see me through the winter, at least (Ted Lasso season 3 is expected around summer 2022). It also helps that each episode is an hour long — twice that of Lasso.
Why I love All Creatures Great and Small
Like Ted Lasso, ACGaS features an outsider starting a new job with a prickly boss in an unfamiliar English town. Here, though, the outsider is from Scotland, and the job is as a veterinary assistant rather than the coach of a Premier League team.
The show is based on the work of James Alfred Wight, a real-life vet who used the pen name James Herriot in writing about his experiences treating animals (and dealing with their owners) in Yorkshire. He also wrote a series of short stories for children that’s also delightful, but not without its ups and downs.
This version of ACGaS (there was a previous series that ran in the 70s and 80s) originally aired in the UK before making its way to the U.S., where it’s being shown on PBS’ Masterpiece. While seasons one and two have already finished overseas, season two has only just started in the states.
The opening scene of each episode features a sweeping drone shot over Yorkshire Dales — where the series is set — a particularly bucolic area in England with lush green hills and low stone walls. Every time I start watching, I feel my blood pressure drop 10 points.
The fictional town of Darrowby (which is filmed in real-life Grassington) and time period — late 1930s England — also lends itself to a quaintness, though there are a few rumblings here and there of the war to come.
Where All Creatures Great and Small reminds me of Ted Lasso
As with Ted Lasso, the cast of characters, from James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph), his boss Sigfried Farnon (Samuel West), his irresponsible younger brother Tristan (Callum Woodhouse), as well as the caretaker Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley) and Herriot’s would-be love interest Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton) all deliver strong performances.
Though most of the cast are relative unknowns (at least to this American), there are a couple of higher-wattage actors, including the late Dame Diana Rigg — here much less conniving, but equally as affluent as her Game of Thrones character — and Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movies.
Apart from the wellbeing of the dogs, cats, cows, sheep, and other animalia, the stakes in All Things Great and Small are relatively low. Most of the drama centers around Herriot’s growth as a person and a vet. Still, there are plenty of real tender moments — its Christmas episode will give you the feels, just like Ted Lasso's.
As with the soccer scenes in Ted Lasso and football in Friday Night Lights (another one of my favorite TV shows), the veterinary aspect of All Things Great and Small is merely the medium through which the series explores the interpersonal relationships of the characters. So while it helps to be an animal lover, it’s not completely necessary to enjoy the show.
Even better: like Ted Lasso, All Creatures Great and Small has been renewed for at least one more season.