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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Detective > British TV > Doc Martin – Series Three (2007/Acorn DVD)

Doc Martin – Series Three (2007/Acorn DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: B-



Doc Martin, with its 3rd season just released on DVD, has settled into something of a comfortable rhythm.  As the TV comedy equivalent of the cozy mystery, it is moderately engaging, non-confrontational, and begrudgingly gracious. 
That comfortable rhythm is, unfortunately, a door that may swing both ways.  For the enlightened, Doc Martin is a pleasant way to pass the time, casually unearthing certain truisms of human nature, while laughing at the foibles we see every day in our own lives and, if the truth will out, in the mirror; reflected in the eccentricities of the characters who make up the fishing village of Portwenn (the real life Port Issac) we might easily find ourselves.


As a new viewer starting in mid-stream so to speak, it is a bit of a jolt, cozy or not.  There are a few assumptions made and the kind of shorthand one gets used to in a sitcom you’ve been watching for years.  These 7 episodes comprising the 3rd season deal with some obviously ongoing issues, including the tentative, almost-on, almost-off nearly non-relationship between Doc Martin and the local teacher, Louisa.  This relationship delivers the finest moments from the season but … I get ahead of myself.


Doc Martin, short for Doctor Martin Ellingham (played by Martin Clunes), is the local GP of the idyllic Portwenn, where he moved from London after his career as a top notch surgeon was scuttled when he developed a phobia about blood.  The pratfalls that result from this phobia are myriad, one might say tiresome if your tolerance level is set to “realism.”   Much of the comedy derives from Doc Martin’s total lack of social skills, be it with patients or acquaintances, a lack so alarming that he is at one point assumed to have Asperger’s syndrome by a local academic psychologist.  The plots revolve around Doc’s perfunctory attitude and the various scrapes that result because of hurt feelings and misunderstandings.


The primary arc of Season 3 (or Series 3) is the culmination of that on-again, off-again relationship with the local school headmistress, Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz); engagement ensues and their coming marriage becomes the main focus.  Most of the season’s episodes move this story forward to the final 2, “The Two of Us” and “In Sickness and in Health.”  In a show that doesn’t specialize in narrative originality, the final episode in particular stands out as running against the grain of standard comedy fare.  Without giving away the game, this episode is touching in an unexpected way; it lifts the season up from humdrum to appealing.


The acting throughout is above par, with the usual assortment of eccentric British characters to divert ones attention from the stuff of series comedy.  The musical soundtrack is overly reminiscent of a certain type of British TV mystery, with an over-jaunty presence that is at best ignorable and at worst downright annoying.  To be fair, a friend who is a big fan of the series says every time she’s hears the music, it makes her smile.


So, there is that.  If you are in the mood for something off-kilter in a fairly typical way, Doc Martin might be for you.  Start, however, with season 1.  It’s always best to build up to a comfortable rhythm.



-   Don Wentworth


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