I guess have a thing for grumpy doctors, my latest being Dr. Gregory House (played by English Actor Hugh Laurie). But there’s another grouchy doctor in the house, this one across the pond: an English doctor with a played by English actor Martin Clunes (Men Behaving Badly). Dr. Martin Ellingham is his name, and Acorn Media has released the first four seasons of this popular British series on DVD in one set.
Dr. Ellingham comes to the quiet Cornwall town of Portwenn (a place he had come as a child to visit his aunt). Taking a post as a general practitioner to tend the illnesses and injuries of the town’s colorful inhabitants is more difficult than he ever imagined. “You Doc Martin?” everyone seems to ask as the newcomer in town. No matter how he insists that he is “Dr. Ellingham,” it does him no good. London formality is absent in Portwenn.
Doc Martin had a successful practice as a vascular surgeon in London. Well respected and brilliant, Martin flees London after retraining and all its trappings when one day he is sickened in the operating theatre by the sight of blood. Naturally, he can no longer operate, unable to get through a bloody procedure without severe bouts of nausea and worse.
Despite his phobia, Doc Martin greets Portwenn with little more than disdain and a desire simply to be left alone and do his job—no bedside manner required. But he quickly learns that it is difficult to be a small town doctor and not deal with the social niceties of real live (if a bit earthy) people, especially when you’re a self-centered jerk.
Billed as a comedy, Doc Martin grows on you just as the people of Portwenn eventually grow on him. He warms up at a glacial pace; on the other hand the quirky cast of characters surrounding take some getting used to.
His aunt Joan, a wise woman seems to be the one of the only people able to call Martin on his rather gruff and off-putting behavior. Local school teacher Louisa, with whom Martin gets off on the wrong foot at the series start provides a smart, attractive female foil. But there is also mutual attraction there, however inept Martin is at expressing it.
Martin’s office is run by Elaine, a daft young woman who somehow manages to keep things (barely) organized. He’d love to get rid of her, especially at the beginning, but his patients vociferously protest, boycotting his practice when he actually fires her in an early Season 1 episode.
Doc Martin is an enjoyable British comedy with some poignant moments. Clunes is great as the stiff, neurotic surgeon trying to cope with living among people who are his opposite in every way imaginable. As you get to know Martin, Auntie Joan, Elaine, Louisa and the rest of the townsfolk, you will laugh with them (and sometimes cry with them), but they will all leave you wanting more. The set includes 30 episodes on nine discs. Features include photo galleries and cast filmographies.