Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The April 2011 A - Z Blogging Challenge - D is for Doc Martin!

Any old Portwenn it's storming...

One of the most well rounded letters we're examining in The April 2011 A - Z Blogging Challenge is the letter D, and for that we're going to see if the doctor is in...because...

D is for Doc Martin!

Let's take a look at a British TV show you really should be watching...

I had seen this DVD set in my local Moviestop store - one of my favorite haunts to add more discs to the Video Vault, which occasionally calls out "Feed Me Seymour!" Really. In any case, this is what I saw:

Something about the image and the look on the guy's face prompted me to pick up the box and read it - and I thought the show sounded interesting. However, as a lot of DVD box sets are, this one was pretty expensive, especially for a British show that would probably run 6-8 episodes. So I moved on that day.

This has little to do with the show, I just
thought the post needed more pictures in it.

Several months later my wondrous wife Suz and I had settled into a tradition on our Saturdays: Brit Nite. (Spelled just that way, at least in my head.) We start around 5 in the evening, always opening with an episode of Classic Doctor Who - then proceed through 3 or 4 other series - some favorites have included As Time Goes By, The IT Crowd, Coupling, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Last of the Summer Wine, Spaced, and Life on Mars. Around 8-9, the evening turns over to British mystery for the rest of the night.

Again, just a placeholder picture.

I found Doc Martin on Netflix, and programmed it in to the early part of a Brit Nite to see what it was like. Doctor Martin Ellingham (Martin Clunes - Men Behaving Badly) is a brilliant medical diagnostician and surgeon who has developed a rather large flaw: he cannot stand the sight of blood, growing physically ill and sometimes even fainting when confronted with anything larger than a very small cut. This of course is quite the sticky wicket for a surgeon, and Ellingham is forced to give up his thriving London practice.

Maybe I'll teach a course in corporate
logos sometime.

He retreats to his boyhood hometown of Portwenn, taking over as the new town General Practitioner (GP) after the former doctor dies. He soon discovers that the town is filled with what could generously be called "characters," and tersely termed "loons." And terse is the route Ellingham is likely to take, as the villagers soon learn that the good doctor is, as the Amazon description of season one describes: "surly, tactless, self-centered, and uptight—but he’s the only doctor in town." Doctor Ellingham knows his job very well, but interactions with people are definitely not his strong suit. The series plays out as he and the village circle each other warily and always at arm's length.

I discovered that the character of Doc Martin was originally created in a slightly different form for the movie Saving Grace, written by Craig Ferguson (yes, of The Late Show with) and Mark Crowdy. There he was called Martin Bamford and was again played by Clunes. Two TV movies followed, with the character still called Bamford. After those movies television writer Dominic Minghella took the character of Bamford to rework and build a series around him.

Craig Ferguson

It's a terrific show, and for so many reasons. Clunes is terrific as Ellingham; a man who does not suffer fools lightly and has a sharp tongue ready to lash out with at a moment's notice. But when there's a life or death medical situation before him, there's no one better to handle it. The supporting cast is equally excellent, with Caroline Catz as local school teacher Louisa; Stephanie Cole (Waiting for God) as Martin's Aunt Joan; Stewart Wright as Police Constable Mylow; and Ian McNiece (Churchill with Matt Smith's Doctor) as local plumber Bert Large. There are other recurring characters, and all are uniformly well played by the veddy British cast.

Another huge factor in how much I enjoy this show is the location - the town of Port Isaac in Cornwall stands in for Portwenn - an astoundingly beautiful fishing village - but don't take my word for it - see for yourself:

Breathtaking, isn't it?

Here's the cast:

Martin Clunes

Caroline Catz

Stephanie Cole

Ian McNiece and Joe Absolom

There have been four series of the show so far, with another scheduled to go into production this year. If you like any of the following things - English shows; medical dramas; beautiful seaside landscapes; or stupid people being called stupid - then you would probably enjoy this show and I definitely recommend you check it out!

Til next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. The scenery alone is enough to make me sign on for this one. Wow! I'd love to have a few days there, camera in hand.

    Before I came to craiglgooh today I thought, "D, what'll he do with D?"

    And then I thought: Doc Savage! And...I was wrong. So. Gold goes to you for avoiding the obvious and not going with the man in bronze!

    D: Devious Devices from the DeMoulin factory

  2. Doc Martin! I keep thinking about the combat boots. Love the idea of Brit Nite. I think I'd like to see The Avengers TV series. Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg. Oh YEAH!

  3. Have you seen Wallace and Grommit? It's an English adult (not naughty) cartoon. It is fall of the sofa funny.

  4. Joe - you are right - Savage could well have been following Doc in this case - but for one thing - time - one of my patented longwinded and self serving diatribes about something as incredible as Doc Savage would be a BIG post - and there wasn't enough time...for D, that is...let me know if you check out Doc Martin!

    Luana - we haven't done any Avengers on Brit Nite - I love the show, but its appeal has thus far escaped the Mrs. I might try again soon, because it is a wonderful series...

    Sharon - I love Wallace and Gromit! Wallace's voice is provided by Peter Sallis, who also stars in one of our favorite Britcoms: Last of the Summer Wine!

    Thanks everybody for stopping by! Cheers!