Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Somewhat lacking in bedside manner

Watching a "fish out of water" story, where someone is totally out of his or her element, can be an amusing if uncomfortable experience.  No one is more out of his depth than Doctor Martin Ellingham, former high-flying London surgeon who abandons his practice to set up shop as a GP in the lovely coastal village of Portwenn.  Not only do the townspeople and Doc Martin not understand each other, but the good doctor is exceedingly lacking in common social skills, adding an extra degree of difficulty to his interactions with the locals.  The new boxed set of Doc Martin: Special Collection, contains every episode of the first five seasons of the beloved series, as well as two prequel films about the character.

The series begins with a committee interviewing Doc Martin (played by Martin Clune) to see if he is the right person to take over the practice recently vacated by the late Dr. Sims.  Martin has already gotten on the bad side of at least one member of the committee, the attractive schoolteacher Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz), by staring at her in an direct and unpleasant manner.  He believes she is suffering from an undiagnosed medical condition, but neglects to impart this information to her before offending her.  However, the rest of the committee is thrilled that such an eminent physician would choose their sleepy village for his practice, so they quickly dismiss any doubts and welcome him. 

Arriving at his new home/office, he's quickly met by some of the locals:  his quirky (unasked for) receptionist Elaine, a gaggle of giggling obnoxious schoolgirls, and a hairy four-legged companion who adopts the doctor on sight and refuses to be parted from him (despite ever increasing
protests from the doctor).  Before long, he meets others in town who are no less odd -- the plumber who turns minor problems into major ones, manic road-hogging drivers, and hoards of people who have no better place to hang out than the doctor's waiting room.  The doctor, never a people-pleaser at the best of times, manages to offend everyone in town before long.  He is startled to notice that the teacher from his interview committee is working not far from his office, so uncomfortable encounters are sure to happen on a regular basis.

Luckily, Doc Martin does have one ally in town:  his Aunt Joan, a no-nonsense older lady with a gorgeous hillside farm.  His childhood visits to her farm are part of the reason that he wanted to move to the town of Portwenn.  The other reason is something he tries, unsuccessfully, to keep hidden. He left his successful job as a surgeon because he suddenly developed a fear of blood.  Unfortunately, once the secret is out, the townspeople waste no time in teasing and pulling pranks on the squeamish physician.  It's all very annoying to the short-tempered Martin, but seeing him become the butt of jokes (when he has no sense of humor himself) is somewhat enjoyable.

The series continues with a cast of quirky townspeople getting up to no end of trouble, various receptionists with their own problems, and Martin and Louisa struggling to continue their careers and have a relationship.  The stories are all engrossing, and with Martin's gruff demeanor, watching him sort out everyone's problems is truly enjoyable.  The set also includes extras such as a look behind-the-scenes and cast filmographies. There is reportedly a series 6 to be shown this fall in Britain, so we can all anticipate more fun from the irritable Doc Martin in the future!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Doc Martin: Special Collection from Acorn Media in exchange for this review

Final Verdict for Doc Martin: Special Collection:
Five Gherkins,  for being a delightful look at a beautiful Cornwall village and its somewhat unconventional doctor

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