cast of All Creatures Great And Small from PBS

A Gentle Show Is Hard To Find But All Creatures Great And Small Hits The Spot

Must have baby lambs.

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There’s a special place in my nighttime routine for gentle shows, the ones that soothe me like a warm cup of tea, particularly on the bad days when I just need to turn my brain off for an hour and escape into someone else’s world. Don’t get me wrong, I watched The Bear, Succession, and The White Lotus — they were brilliant and captivated me and millions of other people. But a gentle show, in my opinion, is harder to find.

And no show has been better at giving me the warm and fuzzy feelings I crave than All Creatures Great And Small. It has everything one needs: wool sweater vests, English accents, quirky characters, and most importantly, plenty of tiny baby lambs. It was first recommended to me by my mom, who described it as “the nicest show ever!!!” and like so many things, she was right about this one.

Helen Alderson and James Herriot, played by Rachel Shenton and Nicholas Ralph, gaze into each other’s eyes.PBS

If you aren’t already sold, here’s more context: The PBS series, currently in the U.S. release of its fourth season, follows the adventures of a veterinary practice in 1930s Yorkshire Dales. We follow Glasgow native Dr. James Herriot as he travels to the quaint village of Darrowby and looks after the health of its four-legged citizens. He soon falls in with the eccentric head of the practice, Siegfried Farnon, Siegfried’s brother, Tristan, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Hall, who live and work at The Skeldale House.

And oh, does this house look lived in. The shelves are filled with hardcover books and framed portraits of loved ones, knick-knacks, and medical journals. A white, lace tablecloth is brought out for special occasions and a fireplace crackles merrily throughout. The overstuffed maximalism of Skeldale House feels in stark contrast with today’s glut of Netflix minimalism, and I am here for it.

This comforting ambience is matched only by the English countryside setting, which is sure to be a balm for any hardship I’ve had that day. From the first sight of the cow-speckled rolling green hills, I can feel my shoulders drop. As James drives to this episode’s animal in need, the wide shots linger just enough to remind the viewer that nature is beautiful. (Honestly almost just booked an Airbnb upstate because there were goats on the property.)

Nicholas Ralph as James Herriot, about to heal a creature. PBS

And as Herriot and Seigfried work in these luscious rolling hills, you can tell that they care about the place they're in and its inhabitants. Whether they’re getting up for a 2 a.m. call to help a sick cow or paying multiple visits to a lethargic pup, their dedication to their work is on par with The Bear and the joy they get from it is evident. Siegfried often has a saying, “The animal comes first,” implying that above money and circumstance, they have a loyalty to the animals they treat. But I’d say the people come in at a very close second.

The compassion they show toward each other and fellow townsfolk may not be as funny or invigorating as the cutting barbs exchanged on Succession, but it never fails to warm my heart. This little chosen family sometimes bickers and grows frustrated when, say, Tristan sneakily puts store-bought eggs in the hen nesting boxes when he fails to get them to lay their own. But every kerfuffle ends with a lesson learned or a relationship deepened. Everyone, it seems, leads with kindness and that feels (dare I say it?) really good to watch.

Characters Seigfried Farnon, Helen Alderson, James Herriot, Mrs. Hall, and Tristan Farnon gather around the table for Christmas dinner. PBS

I implore you to take my mom’s sage advice and see if this nice show soothes your nervous system. And I’d go so far as to say it’s more than nice; it offers a glimpse at the things our own connected-but-isolated society lacks. I love watching the baby animals waddle around their mothers and root for the blossoming romance between James and his love interest, Helen. But it also makes me want to get outside more (cf: goats). It makes me think about what my own society would look like if we were a little gentler to our planet and the creatures — great and small — that are in it.

All four seasons of All Creatures Great And Small are available on PBS.

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