Doc Martin

Doc MartinOne of the most delightful English series I have come across lately is Doc Martin, starring Martin Clunes. In it, he plays the brilliant, but socially inept Dr. Martin Ellingham. Once a successful surgeon, he has developed a extreme fear of blood and can no longer perform operations. He then returns to the Cornish village of Portwenn, where he was raised by his understanding, but crusty, Aunt Joan. He replaces the retiring G.P., and sets up a medical practice.
Doc Martin: Caroline Catz
Dr. Ellingham, colloquially called Doc Martin, is a sympathetic character, despite his abruptness and "shoot from the hip" manner. He is a fine doctor who does not suffer fools kindly. And in this village, full of off-beat characters, Doc Martin gets his patience tried daily.

The acting in this series is wonderful. The main characters are played by actors perfectly suited for their roles. The primary school teacher, Louisa Glass, provides the love interest for the doctor. Her warmth and maternal manner contrast markedly with his seeming callousness. Although he loves her, Doc Martin is unable to express his feelings. He succeeds, always, in making her angry by some careless choice of words.

This series reminded me of a British version of Northern Exposure. In both cases, we encounter a reticent doctor out of his depths with the people he serves. But Doc Martin is a far better series. Watching Dr. Ellingham's interactions, one wonders if he is afflicted by Asperger Syndrome. It is never mentioned, but his inability to read nuance, his need for order, and his struggle to connect with others, especially Louisa, are sympathetically portrayed. He is a fine doctor whose sense of ethics and knowledge of medicine put him far above others. In one episode, Dr. Ellingham's parents visit. We come to understand why Aunt Joan raised him, and what a difficult childhood he must have had when not in her care.

Glencoe Public Library carries all four seasons. This is a British comedy with fine acting, quirky characters and situations, and good insights into human nature. Season 5 is presently in production. I eagerly await its appearance on PBS this year.


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