I had never seen the first series of Doc Martin until series two appeared on my doorstep one afternoon. “Ah, Martin Clunes,” I thought, “the guy from Men Behaving Badly. This ought to be fun.” And indeed it was. My fiancée and I only had to view the first episode to fall in love with this wonderful British comedy/drama series.
Both the location (the county of Cornwall, England) and the characters of Doc Martin were inspired by Craig Ferguson’s pot epic, Saving Grace from 2000 (which unofficially begat Showtime’s hit series Weeds, although no one will admit that). Saving Grace inspired the creation of two television movies, based on the character of Dr. Martin Bramford and how he came to be in the sleepy coastal village in the first place. When the production company behind the two TV movies went under, the series was redeveloped for U.K. network ITV — and the characters of Doc Martin changed completely.
Dr. Martin Ellingham (Clunes) was one of London’s best physicians. But all of that changed when he developed a crippling fear of blood and was forced to return to the small fishing town in Cornwall where his aunt lives. Doc Martin couldn’t be any unhappier in his new surroundings — the locals are far too simple and too stupid. His total lack of a bedside manner (not to mention a sense of humor) has the entire town unsure what to think of him. Worse still, he finds himself unable to connect with the one and only person whom he finds enthralling, local school teacher Louisa (Caroline Catz).
Doc Martin: Series 2 brings us all eight delightful episodes from the show’s sophomore season, plus the holiday special (“On The Edge”) which, thankfully, has nothing to do with any seasonal holiday whatsoever. Joining Martin Clunes and Caroline Catz for this season are regulars Ian McNeice, Joe Absolom, Stephanie Cole, and Stewart Wright (his last season — so far); newcomers Katherine Parkinson and Tristan Sturrock (who was also in Saving Grace and the earlier versions of Doc Martin, as an entirely different character); and there’s even an appearance by veteran actor Richard Johnson.
Acorn Media brings Doc Martin: Series 2 to DVD in a three-disc set. The video presentation here looks very nice (giving us a wonderful look at Port Isaac all the time), with little signs of debris or dirt. The episodes are presented in their original 1.78:1 widescreen ratios with anamorphic enhancement. Optional English subtitles are included with the set’s accompanying English Dolby Stereo soundtrack, which comes through loud and clear. A few cast biographies and a photo gallery are included with this release. Sadly, that‘s about it (apart from a few promos for other Acorn Media titles at the beginning of Disc 1).
Doc Martin is a fantastic series. It offers viewers an ample serving of not only comedy, but a bit of heart and soul as well. Martin Clunes is absolutely terrific (and so are his huge ears, too) and really makes the show worthwhile. Do yourself a favor, and get it.