Vet on Call! Visit Herriot Country via Overdrive/Libby, Acorn TV, and DVD

Remember the days when a trip to a petting zoo or small farm was an absolute delight? Perhaps it still is! There’s much to be said for the therapeutic value of low-stress contact with farm animals, whether you’re feeding a pony a carrot, trying your hand at milking a goat, or simply sinking your fingers into a lamb’s soft wool.

While the life of a country vet is far from placid, as Alf Wight (writing as James Herriot) could attest, there are many such moments of grace–and even more humor–to be found in his semi-autobiographical series of books set in the scenic Yorkshire Dales. Beloved the world over for nearly 50 years, four of the five titles (as published in the U.S.) were inspired by a beloved British hymn: All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small (also available on hoopla), All Things Wise and Wonderful, and The Lord God Made Them All (the final title is Every Living Thing). As promised (see this previous post), all of these are now available for your listening pleasure on Overdrive/Libby! Relax into the world of Darrowby and its surrounding farms as mellow-voiced Christopher Timothy brings Jim Herriot and the various eccentric village characters to vivid life. It’s hard to imagine tales less in keeping with the current state of affairs, and therein lies their charm. That’s not to say that they’re sentimental or that sad events do not intrude, but the tales do radiate a comforting sense that “there’ll always be an England.”

If you’ve streamed The Yorkshire Vet on Acorn TV (as previously suggested) and have become engrossed in the day-to-day drama and humor of the Herriot/Wight practice as it operates today, then you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a brand-new series 6 available! It just premiered on July 20th and offers 8 all-new episodes, some featuring Alf Wight’s affable protégé, Peter Wright.

And if you’re up for some 1970s-80s TV nostalgia, it’s hard to do better than the renowned BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small (starring no less than Robert Hardy of Harry Potter fame, alongside Christopher Timothy and Peter Davison), which spins its particular brand of charm over seven seasons two Christmas specials. Now that the library is offering Curbside Pickup, you can place holds on the DVDs in the library catalog here, and get them with no rental fees! New to curbside pickup? Have a look at this post for all the details.

Savour a slice of Herriot heaven and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Enchanting Eccentrics Part 2: Watch on hoopla and Acorn TV

Summer blockbusters are all well and good, but if you’re not really in the mood for a creature feature or epic save-the-world adventure, take heart: the Abbot Library may just have some congenial viewing for you! Charming-oddball flicks may not always have quite the box-office stamina of superhero films, but they’re sure to reward the discriminating viewer who’s not afraid to take some cinematic chances on unlikely heroes.

So, if you’ve got a good sense of humor, quite a bit of heart, and are up for the challenge, have a look at our newly-curated collection on hoopla–2020 APL Enchanting Eccentrics (Film). Here you’ll find French, British, and Swedish films with protagonists ranging from a piquantly mischievous ingénue to a suicidal curmudgeon to an entire village-worth of stubborn Welshmen and women. 

Amélie captured hearts and tickled funnybones on both sides of the Atlantic when it was first released in 2001, and it has certainly lost nothing of its appeal. Sweetly off-kilter since childhood, the title character toggles between an emotionally distant father, a reclusive but wise old painter, and the amour she worships from afar–a misfit like herself with a peculiar photographic obsession.

A Man Called Ove brings Fredrik Backman’s beloved book to life, rendering the world-weary Ove with striking–often heartbreaking, but never sentimental–precision, all the while pitting the  dark humor of his perspective against the irrepressible liveliness of a neighboring young family. 

For something a bit more frothy, yet with an abundance of World War I-era period charm, you might turn to one of film history’s longest-titled movies: The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain. Starring a youthful Hugh Grant and sparkling Tara Fitzgerald, this mock-epic romp showcases idiosyncratic British (excuse me, Welsh) local pride at its best. 

If you listened to the previously-recommended book The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (yet another candidate for longest title!), you might want to judge for yourself how well it translated to the big screen.

Other offerings will quietly break your heart (Still Life, starring Joanne Froggatt of Downton Abbey), have you rooting for a gang of Baby Boomers-turned-bank-robbers (Golden Years, also available on Acorn TV), and revive your belief in happy endings–even for the most cantankerous and neurotic of characters (This Beautiful Fantastic–see also a previous review of the film).

If you’re ready to commit to a bit of bingeing, check out 2020 APL Enchanting Eccentrics (TV), on hoopla, featuring two BBC series that just about wrote the playbook for unconventional character-based comedy.

Over the course of three captivating seasons, The Detectorists follows the travails and triumphs of two endearing geeks (played by Toby Jones of The Hunger Games and Mackenzie Crook of Pirates of the Carribean) who are forever hoping that their next metal-detecting session will uncover a hoard of Saxon gold. Doc Martin (starring Martin Clunes)–all nine seasons of which are also available on Acorn TV–introduces an apparently opposite protagonist, a high-flying London surgeon whose suddenly-developed hemophobia sends him to a Cornish backwater. But his social awkwardness, essential loneliness, and refusal to suffer fools gladly somehow render him irresistible. 

Acorn TV offers a wealth of similar fare, a standout of which is Kingdom, starring Stephen Fry as a surprisingly sympathetic solicitor. Unlike Doc Martin, the main character is the sanest of the bunch in his Norfolk town, and he finds himself disentangling clients’ problems while coping with his own dysfunctional family. You’ll be tickled and captivated by his adventures.

Here’s hoping you find plenty of eccentric enchantment to while away the summer hours!