· Doc Martin Collection: Series 1 - 4 (2004-2009)
The Short Version: An unexpected delight.
The Slightly-Elongated Version: No one could have foreseen Mark Crowdy and Craig Ferguson’s indie hit Saving Grace would have spawned a television series. But, after a lot of rewriting and reworking by Dominic Minghella, Doc Martin came to pass, once again employing the talents of Martin Clunes, who also starred in the big-screen film. This set presents the first four series of the ITV favorite, wherein a stuffy, anti-social surgeon (Clunes) is reduced to being the general practitioner of a sleepy-headed port town full of strange and peculiar folks after he develops a crippling fear of blood. Caroline Catz co-stars as Clunes’ long-suffering love interest in this superb award-winning series, which starts out well, but tends to bog down a bit in the fourth series (resorting to borrowing plot points from American shows like House, M.D. and Scrubs!). This collection also includes the Christmas Special, On The Edge, from 2006.
· Doc Martin: The Movies (2001)
The Short Version: What, more Martin Clunes? Sure, why not!
The Slightly-Elongated Version: Prior to the hit series, Doc Martin appeared in two feature-length made-for-television movies: Doc Martin and Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie. What’s really interesting about these films, though, is the difference between the two characters. Here, Martin is a personable individual: an obstetrician who smiles, smokes, drinks and even takes a toke every now and again. After fleeing the city and his unfaithful wife, Dr. Martin Bamford arrives in a quaint Cornish port town where the community is terrorized by a mysterious “phantom” who strikes fear into the hearts of everyone by leaving Jell-O molds on their doorsteps! As Bamford settles in, he places a bid on a secluded farm, and gets caught up in the madness of smugglers as well as the legendary Beast of Bodmin. Paul Brooke, Tristan Sturrock (who would later pop up in the series, albeit as a different character), Anna Chancellor, Lynsey Baxter, Barbara Lott (in her final roles) and Neve McIntosh also star in these two charming “alternate reality” tales.
· The Bretts: The Complete Collection (1987-1988)
The Short Version: “Dear God, I hate theater people!”
The Slightly-Elongated Version: Having one theater person in the family can be maddening, but imagine an entire household of ‘em. Originally seen in the States on Masterpiece Theater, The Bretts follows the often squalid affairs of a family of entertainers during the Roaring Twenties. Brett patriarch Charles (Norman Rodway) has always been a hit on the stage — as has his wife, Lydia (Barbara Murray). But now, those newfound moving picture things are starting to overthrow the theater, and their son Edwin (David Yelland) is ready and raring to become a movie star — much to their dismay. Meanwhile, the remaining four Brett children have their own issues (the series touched upon just as many subjects as its American soap opera counterparts did), and they have a group of gossipy servants to boot. This six-disc set houses all 19 episodes of the famous British drama. The only special features are of the text-only variety.