Monday, December 9, 2013

Take this and go away

Everyone's favorite curmudgeonly doctor is back!  Martin Clunes returns in Series 6 of the beloved program Doc Martin.  The citizens of Portwenn know that although the doctor is not exactly up on his "interpersonal skills" he is a very good doctor (blood phobia and all!).

The 8 episodes that make up the latest series are a welcome return to all the quirky characters and beautiful settings that have made Doc Martin so popular.  Episode One begins with a wedding -- Doc Martin and school headmistress Louisa are finally tying the knot.  The whole town turns out for the festivities, and even surprise the happy couple with a honeymoon -- a night in a secluded cottage.  They are dropped off at the location by jack-of-all-trades Bert Large, who forgets to give them their suitcases.  When circumstances make them evacuate the cottage, the bridal couple is reduced to wandering the Cornish countryside in their wedding attire.  And it's all downhill from there!

In Episode Two, baby James Henry gets a new nanny when Louisa returns to work.  The nanny is an ex-Army man named Mike, whose OCD means that no one can ever find anything in the constantly re-arranged house.  Meanwhile, Doc Martin's receptionist, the competent if somewhat fashion-challenged Morwenna, has inherited her grandfather's house and is looking for a roommate.

Episode Three begins with a strange man who washes up on the beach and claims not to know how he got there.  It turns out he has an unnatural obsession with Martin's aunt Ruth, the psychiatrist.  Ruth is keeping busy by being a frequent guest on the wildly popular Radio Portwenn show.  Meanwhile, Al Large, tired of sharing a room with his father after his is rented out to tourists,  moves in with Morwenna.

A locum pharmacist, Jennifer Cardew, shows up, and it turns out she has a past with Bert Large in Episode Four.  We also meet a character with the timely disorder of hoarding.  Unfortunately, his house shares a wall with Aunt Ruth's house, and problems arise.

In Episode Five, things are going just swimmingly between Bert and Jennifer the pharmacist when Mrs. Tishell, the regular pharmacist returns.  She's been undergoing some psychiatric treatment after an unfortunate incident involving baby James.  Luckily, her obsession with Doc Martin is being kept in check by her behavioral therapy, which consists of snapping a rubber band on her wrist whenever she has a negative thought (which is pretty much constantly).   Joe Penhale, the town policeman, sets off on a nature survivalist course of his own devising, which doesn't quite go as planned. 

When Doc Martin casually mentions to a hypochondriac that his cough might have something to do with being exposed to asbestos, the frightened villagers of Portwenn clamor for inspections in Episode Six.   Mrs. Tishell is given the all-clear to work alone in the pharmacy, so Jennifer makes plans to leave for another temporary pharmacy job -- unless something happens to make her stay.   Martin's mother shows up on his doorstep with a large suitcase and some disturbing news from Portugal.

Things look bleak for nanny Mike when two military policemen turn up asking for him in Episode Seven.  Martin and Louisa are both having problems sleeping, and Martin is unable to talk about his problems with her.  Louisa convinces Martin to hand out the prizes on sports day at her school, but his irritability and lack of connection with the children cause major problems for the couple and lead to a serious incident.

In the final episode of the series, things are finally looking up for Al Large.  He's had to move in with Joe the policeman, but he has a business proposal which seems to be promising.  Romance is in the air for Bert and Jennifer, even if their celebrations cause problems for others.  Martin and Louisa's relationship is tested in several ways.

As always, a visit to Portwenn is a welcome return to familiar characters that we've all grown to love.  Doc Martin's blood phobia returns with a vengeance, causing him some trouble, but he's still able to quickly and accurately diagnose most medical conditions -- once his patients give him all the facts.  Louisa is long-suffering, trying to get Martin to open up and be more connected to both her and the community, but he remains decidedly brusque and anti-social.  When Martin's mother comes to visit, we get some insight into why his personality is so cold and disconnected from those around him.

I really enjoyed visiting with all the characters in the series -- both old and new.  The scenery was lovely as always and the situations that arose were amusing and touching.  There were plenty of "behind the scenes" extras as well, that covered everything from the characters to the setting to how to speak Cornish.  I really enjoyed seeing Martin Clunes participate in the extra segments.  It's really jarring to see him so engaged and animated when we've grown used to the surly and unpleasant Doc Martin!  I'm anxiously awaiting Series 7, especially since this series ended on something of a cliffhanger.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Doc Martin: Series 6 from Acorn Media in exchange for this review

Final Verdict for Doc Martin: Series 6: Five Gherkins, for being a welcome visit with some beloved old friends

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