May 3, 2013

Meet My New Love: Doc Martin

Doctor Martin Ellingham
When good things happen to me, it's important to share with my family and friends. No, I didn't win a the lottery or finish writing my novel. Either of those things would be wonderful to share. I just want you to meet the new man in my life, Doctor Martin Ellingham aka Doc Martin.

Doc Martin (Martin Clunes) is the focal character in the British comedy drama of the same name. The show is set in the fictional seaside village of Portwenn, filmed on location in the village of Port Isaac, Cornwall, England. When I watched the first episode of the show on Netflix, I was totally turned off by the brillant vascular surgeon turned village general practitioner after developing haemophobia, a fear of blood. The Doc was a real piece of work, rude with a gruff demeanor, blunt opinions and no bedside manner...absolutely none. I was offended by his insensitivity and that turned up nose of his that seemed to smell something bad in the wind. This series was not for me.


Receptionist Pauline
Sometime later, I  reconnected with Doc Martin while accidentally turning into the show on PBS. The bi-polar man holding the Doc, his girlfriend Louisa, and Pauline, his receptionist caught my attention and interest. I wanted to see how the episode ended...naturally it was in two parts which trapped me into watching the second part of the episode on Netflix to find out the conclusion. Believe it or not, now, I was unbelievably hooked.
Bert Large
Over the next several episodes in the series, I meet some of the villagers like Pauline Lamb, Doc Martin's second receptionist, who often seems an amused on-looker until she becomes his phlebotomist and assuages the impact of her boss's phobia. and the frequent and debilitating bouts of nausea and vomiting it causes. There's Bert Large, a plumber turned restaurateur and his son Al. Bert (Ian McNeice) can and does seem to screw up everything he touches, but as with most characters on the series, he has a warm, giving heart underneath his bumbling efforts.  PC Joe Penhale is the local policeman, who has narcolepsy. We can't forget Aunt Joan (Stephanie Cole), who raised Martin during his childhood summers in Portwenn and is the only nurturing family member he's ever had. She is one of the major reasons he returns to the village to set up a practice.

Louisa Glasson
Martin's love interest is Louisa Glasson (Catherine Catz) who runs the local school. She's a people person in stark contrast to Martin, sensitive to how things should be said and done, and becomes smitten with Martin in spite of his flaws and issues. I came to see the Martin that Louisa sees him and that's what made me fall in love with the series.While the villagers see Martin as cold, abrasive and short-tempered, he sees himself as performing his duties in a professional and no-nonsense manner, not wasting time chatting.  But, when the villagers are dropping like flies and filling Martin's surgery (medical office), he is determined to find the cause for their illnesses and bring relief with a cure. Louisa recognizes how lucky they all are to have Martin.

Aunt Joan
My compassion went out to Doc Martin when the village shuns him for firing incompetent Elaine, his first receptionist. I felt his confused pains of jealousy when Danny, Louisa's old flame seems to be making a big hit with her and they appeared to be headed down the aisle to the altar. I undertand Martin's disdain for dogs and his inept communication with children. Regardless of his lack of social skills, his expertise as a surgeon saves lives at every turn. My understanding of his demeanor grew when his cold mother and self-centered father visited Portween and my fondness for him doubled each time he becomes the white knight that saves his Aunt Joan.

The acclaimed series is well written, funny with serious tones underneath the humor, and presents interesting characters skillfully developed by a cast of outstanding actors. If you have the time, take a trip to Portwenn, meet Martin and Louisa, and enjoy their day to day life with the villagers. I'm hooked and anxiously awaiting the start of the next season which is being filmed now and will air in the fall of 2013. Clunes has indicated that season six will probably end the series, but you have lots of time to catch up.



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