Of an evening, whenever our favorite network/cable shows end their short seasons, we turn to Netflix. Currently, we cannot get enough of Britain’s “Doc Martin,” a comedy/drama series that began in 2004. At this time, Netflix only offers the first 31 of 38 episodes and, with much restraint, we have enjoyed 27. It will be such a sad day when we reach the end.
“Doc Martin” stars Martin Clunes as Dr. Martin Ellingham, an extremely brash person with no bedside manner whatsoever (visualize Temperance Brennan of “Bones” on steroids). We are introduced to Ellingham, a very successful London surgeon, who suddenly developed a fear of blood, as he is setting up practice as an ordinary GP in the quaint, lovely Cornish village of Port Wenn (Port Isaac in actuality). The previous GP has died, leaving behind a bunch of pampered patients used to a cup of tea and a chat, whether they are sick or not. None of which, the doc has any intention of indulging; he’s all business and facts.
Ellingham knows Port Wenn well, having spent several childhood summers nearby with his Auntie Joan (Stephanie Cole), who is trying to keep up the farm by herself after her husband’s death. Although those summers were his happiest times, he is incapable of treating her any better than he does any other human being. However, his extreme standoffishness does not seem to do more than puzzle the somewhat kooky, totally nosy residents of the steep, narrow-laned town. They all call him Doc Martin, though he tries endlessly to correct them. He is also no better at getting rid of a stray mutt that keeps sneaking into his house/office.
The other main characters are: his inefficient receptionist, Pauline(Katherine Parkinson); Louisa Glasson(Caroline Catz), a pretty mid-thirties teacher/headmaster of the only school, who is attracted to the alienating doctor for some reason; Bert Large(Ian McNeice), an obese, inept plumber, a widower and father of Al(Joe Absolom), who is also his partner; quirky PC Penhale(John Marquez); and Mrs. Tishall (Selina Cadell), the neck-collar wearing pharmacist, who also dispenses advice and gossip.
In every episode, the drama occurs when there is serious or mysterious illness or injury. The humorous parts abound with the interaction of all concerned and the odd spots the characters get into. Danny and I can’t wait to see what happens next, because it’s always something different and totally unexpected. You really should try out “Doc Martin,” although if you are under 50, you may not share our enthusiasm.
[Warning: The above photo of Martin smiling is totally out of character! Rarely does his face soften, let alone light up like that.]