Aliens

S7E7 includes an invasion of outsiders to Portwenn. There’s Erica Holbrooke and daughter Bernadette, the new art teacher and her daughter; Inspector Salter looking to switch Penhale to a new, larger location; the American tourist who’s played by Sigourney Weaver, alien extraordinaire; the Wintons, whom we’ve never seen before, and intrude into Martin’s space; and, most importantly, Dr. Rachel Timoney, who previously has never shown her face in the village. (Perhaps all of her patients have been word of mouth.) Each of these newcomers disrupts the normal order of things, and that’s the point.

What is an alien but someone who is not normally seen in a certain setting. And this episode spends a significant amount of time asking us to think about the concept of normality. To a great extent normal is defined by what’s abnormal in regards to where we are situated, and the definition is constantly changing. When Louisa asks Dr. T if struggling is a normal part of the process, Dr. T answers “normal is a loaded word” and that is an understatement. Each community has its own norms, and every social setting does too.  Dr. T might have answered that many, if not most, couples go through various trials before they arrive at a place where they are comfortable with where their marriage is. Therefore, it is normal to struggle for a time. Instead she makes a point of mentioning that the term “normal” has strong emotional implications. Moreover, in “Doc Martin” normal is a loaded word due to the many quirky people we’ve come across, not the least of whom is Martin Ellingham.

In this show, we have accepted that Martin is different, or not normal by the standards used by most of us. He is rude, abrasive, and confrontational to most people. He has a tendency to say what’s on his mind no matter what the setting, which means he has no concern about insulting people. If he’s served canapés, he sees no reason not to note that they are “salmonella en croute,” and when Bernadette is practicing the violin, he gives a blunt appraisal of her ability, which is that listening to her play is excruciating and what she’s playing is not music. We have come to expect Martin not to conform to how most of us have been taught to behave, and we usually enjoy his peccadilloes.

Because his alternative behavior can offend Louisa, he has tried at times to modify his behavior, but he’s typically unsuccessful at doing that. Furthermore, she notices when he’s being artificially nice and finds it transparent and unnatural. In this series, he’s once again doing his best to show Louisa how much effort he’s making to accommodate her. So far his adjustments have done very little to convince her that they should reconcile, and we can see that he is troubled by this. It’s possible that he thought she would come around much sooner once she noticed his determination to set things right, but she is being steadfast in her decision to take her time before yielding. In E7 she once again sends him on his way without so much as a nod to his routine of putting James Henry to bed at night.

Besides Martin both Bernadette and Penhale are identified as different, or abnormal. Bernie’s mother considers her gifted in many areas and has separated her from her peers. Erica is prone to actively pursuing the unusual and her art classes reflect that. Louisa wants her to have the kids do “normal” art like landscapes and drawings of rainbows while Erica asks the students to “confront who we are as people” and express their true selves by mounting their beloved stuffed animals and dolls on a display board. She upsets the children and her daughter by imposing an exercise on them and asking them to give up what comforts them. It seems they all have formed attachments to comforting objects and, therefore, it is “normal” for them to hate being separated from them.

Penhale stands out from the norm because Portwenn has been crime free while he’s been on duty. We know that he has done very little to produce that outcome, and, if anything, he’s wanted something criminal to take place under his watch, but his record looks outlandishly perfect to his superiors. Would he be able to reproduce that outcome if he were to move to the larger city of Exeter? Our suspicion is no. His unusual results are based on the size and character of Portwenn and not on his expertise.

Nevertheless, Inspector Salter notes that the men on the 5th floor want to know who is 3021. And Erica wants to know who these children are. And Martin and Louisa want to know who they are and how they can reconnect. Even Bert wants to find his true identity.

Of course, our American tourist is out of place in Portwenn. She also adds to her alien nature by being manipulative, demanding, and too convinced of her own knowledge. She is impatient and wants her glaucoma drops immediately, then she questions Martin’s decision to examine her only to find out that her doctor prescribed the wrong medicine for someone with her symptoms. Even as a patient she’s different. Her decision to give Morwenna a book about being assertive as a woman reflects her own behavior and can be seen as an effort to change Morwenna.

The fact that there is no real “normal,” begs the question of how to judge what we should change. Not only does our concept of normality change, but also we need to know ourselves, as Erica implies. We need to revisit the idea of whether people can change, but for now, a hint about that is the words that are printed on the art class board: “We Are What We Are.”

The other thing I would say about this episode is that its title, “Facta Non Verba,” is, to me, hard to apply to this episode. Translated from the latin this phrase means “Deeds not Words” or can be interpreted as “Actions Speak Louder Than Words.” But, instead, this episode elevates words to a status above actions, and much of the episode accentuates the importance of words. During the opening therapy session Dr. T asks Martin and Louisa to create lists, to write down what they consider good about being apart. Later she tells Martin that it is the act of thinking and writing the lists that is important. Their final interaction with her has them engaging in wordplay with Dr. T writing down the words they suggest. She also tells them that she’s both “all” and “right.” Isn’t this another reference to how we use these words, and to the ambiguity of words?

At the pharmacy Dr. T loses track of what she’s saying and she calls Ruth senile. Ruth corrects her, telling her she’s not senile, and we can probably guess that Rachel really meant to use a different word, perhaps senior. Rachel also has a fairly nonsensical talk with Penhale whose closing remarks are that her words have helped him by giving him someone who can relate to what he’s feeling. Words can have a powerful impact.

Finally I think it’s worth looking at the lyrics of “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” the song mentioned by Penhale while talking to Martin about whether he should take the job offer in Exeter. (As an aside, this song was written by The Clash, a punk rock band from the late 70s, early 80s.) The words sung by The Clash seem to be right on the mark for this episode. The last scene has Martin telling Louisa that he can’t live like this anymore and she turns to go into the house with a lot to think about.

Here are the lyrics to the song:

Darlin’ you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I’ll be here ’til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

It’s always tease tease tease
You’re happy when I’m on my knees
One day is fine and next is black
So if you want me off your back
Well come on an’ let me know
Should I Stay or should I go?

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An’ if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know

This indecision’s buggin’ me
If you don’t want me, set me free
Exactly whom I’m supposed to be
Don’t you know which clothes even fit me?
Come on and let me know
Should I cool it or should I blow?

Split

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So you gotta let me know
Should I cool it or should I blow?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay there will be double
So you gotta let me know
Should I stay or should I go

 

 

 

Originally posted 2015-11-10 18:16:29.

39 thoughts on “Aliens

  1. Santa Traugott

    I think when I rewatch S7, I’m going to make notes of all the times that the word “normal” is used. I think it’s a pretty key concept. The moment when Bernie tells her mother that she doesn’t want to be “different” from her classmates is so poignant — she wants to be “normal.”

    Of course, the original alien is Martin himself — As Martin Clunes has remarked several times, everything about him, his haircut, his suits, his shoes, his car — are just “wrong.” This is on top of his very unusual character, which would probably mark him as not “normal” even in his London habitat. This is the very premise of the show itself — what is the relationship between the alien outsider and the villagers (of which Louisa quickly took over the role as the most important relationship).

    This show has such a great track record with its music, picking just the right lyrics. The best example of this to me is Maureen Tacey singing ” You don’t know me” in S2, while Martin is talking to Danny.

    As far as “actions, not words” I’m not clear on that either. Could it be a commentary on the effectiveness of therapy, which is after all, basically words?

  2. Paul

    I need help with episode 7. Of all the episodes throughout the Doc Martin series, I found this one to be the most confusing and disjointed. I’ll start with the counseling session. Dr Timoney asks how date night went, and after some hemming and hawing around, Louisa said it was a disaster. I was expecting Dr T to investigate what happen that it was a disaster. Instead, the therapist states that not everyone that goes through counseling stays together, and that is considered a success. What? How can any therapist make that judgment with only four sessions (remember Louisa doesn’t join Martin in counseling until episode four). I understand this is a light comedy program that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. However, the writers do present the medical events with quite a lot of realism. So why not present the therapy, with some realism, as well? The episode continues to be muddled with the new school teacher who happens to be Martin’s neighbor. I felt too much attention was given to the new teacher (Erica), as it became a sub plot.
    The worst part of the episode involved Dr T invitation to Louisa & Martin for a special session, with the promise of new insights. This was shortly after Timoney’s supposed head injury. When Martin & Louisa arrive for the special counseling, they find Dr T acting as if she is in a state of dementia. My initial reaction was what is this about? What is the point of this?
    Some of the other issues with the episode involved the much hyped appearance of Sigourney Weaver. There was a humorous exchange between Martin, Weaver (American tourist) and Mrs. Tishell in the chemistry over eye drops. But other than that, I failed to see what Weaver added to the episode. Was this just publicity?

    But it’s the handling of the therapy, especially the second encounter with Timoney that I need help with. My only rationale for this is either the fans are being toyed with or that the writers are setting the viewers up for the grand finale.

  3. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Paul, I have a long post on the therapy coming soon. If you wouldn’t mind waiting until you read it next week, I think you will be interested in what I have to say about it. I don’t want to publish it until the last episode of the series has been put on Acorn TV because we may not have seen the last of Dr. T. Suffice it to say, that I’m with you on the strange portrayal of the therapy sessions.

  4. Doris

    I agree with some of what Paul said about the therapy, but will hold off commenting until the last episode is released. As far as Sigourney Weaver’s appearance, I felt she did add to the episode, maybe not in a big way, but I agree the exchange between herself, Martin and Mrs. T were good. I’m not sure that the producers used her cameo appearance was just for publicity and ratings. Doc Martin consistently has high ratings in the UK.

    I don’t see where the art teacher’s presence hurt the episode. Maybe there was too much time spent with her issues, but this is how Doc Martin has always been written. The patients have always had a big part in the overall scheme of things.

    Lastly, the writers of Doc Martin have always tried to keep the viewers off balance with their story telling. Many times throughout the series, I have been surprised by an ending. One episode in particular exemplifies this. It occurred in episode 5 of S6, in which Louisa and Martin are squabbling at the her school’s awards presentation. Martin gets frustrated and walks off, with Louisa following. I was not expecting the (very real) scene of her being knocked in the air, by the automobile. Another example is the scene in which Louisa shows up six months pregnant,.

    Unlike American series, the writers don’t take connect all of the dots for the viewers. Instead they leave enough uncertainty to allow a viewer to create his/her own impression and conclusion. This is one of the qualities that I have enjoyed about DM

  5. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Upheavals of all kinds are often used to create suspense as well as drama in almost all good shows.

    I have to contain myself from defending American TV. Whenever I hear/read such broad generalizations about TV shows here, it makes me crazy. I have already written about my impressions of British TV and I’ve mentioned numerous excellent American TV shows, so I’ll just say that much of what’s been done on TV originated in the US and our shows involve many more episodes. It’s much more demanding to write 22 episodes each year than it is to write 8 episodes every two years. We shouldn’t compare; we should enjoy and admire TV from everywhere, including Canada. If you travel to UK, you’ll see a lot of American TV shows on their channels all day long. Maybe they appreciate them more than we do!

  6. Doris

    You’re correct about American TV shows and the different demands in writing weekly programs, as opposed to producing 8 episodes every two years, for Doc Martin. However, my point was not so much to contrast American programs with DM, but to reply to Paul’s comment regarding the uniqueness with the Doc Martin series.

    On the subject of DM being unique, I would like to make one more final point , to contrast DM from US programs. It is the way in which the series handles sexual content themes. Doc Martin handles this much more discretely than most American programs, IMO. For example, the bedroom scene in S3 where Martin is seen sitting on Louisa’s bed and Louisa hasn’t gotten up. We are led to believe they spent the night together and probably had sex; however nothing is explicit in the scene. Louisa is covered and Martin is fully dressed. There is another scene from S2 where Martin bumps into Danny and Louisa leaving her flat (I think it’s her flat). These examples would be more explicit in US programs. Even comedy series like The Big Bang, would have depicted these more explicitly. Perhaps this due to tighter censoring by the UK, versus US.

  7. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Ok, but what about the scene with Aunt Joan having sex with Edward on the kitchen table? I consider this show much more into the implied and suggested rather than the overt, and that can actually be more sensual in my opinion. Every show demands a different approach. We don’t see much sex in Breaking Bad, if we want a contemporary example of an American show of high quality. We see quite a bit more sex or allusion to sex in Luther, for an example of a contemporary British show that was given high marks.

    But we could go on forever and I don’t think that’s necessary. BTW, the British love Big Bang and it’s on TV there all the time.

  8. Paul

    Thanks Doris, I do understand what you are saying, I think. The writers of DM lay don’t everything out for the audience. They’re expected to form there own view.

    BTW, the scene where Danny and Louisa exits the flat, was that in the same episode where Martin sees Louisa greeting Danny on the street with a kiss?

  9. Mary F.

    I love the way music is used throughout the show and the “You Dont Know Me” is particularly apt. I’m looking forward to the last episode and Karen’s analysis because I’m also befuddled by episode 7.

  10. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    So, did anything I wrote about E7 help? For me the main point of confusion is the title of E7. I’m looking forward to writing about E8, and then about the entire series. I plan several new posts, but then may be out of ideas and hard pressed for ways to continue.

    Until I get to that place, please keep reading!

  11. Cindy

    Our local PBS channel did not begin airing Doc Martin until fall 2012. I was surfing for something interesting to watch and stumbled on the program sometime in mid 2014. After having seen random episodes from various series, I was intrigued, so my husband and I rented series 1-6 from Netflix and watched all six series within 2 months this past winter. I loved it (except the story are with Doc and Louisa in the latter part of series 6)! Then I discovered this blog and have loved reading all the fascinating comments all of you have written, while waiting for series 7 to premiere.

    I give all this seemingly trivial background information because I am wondering if the way I have watched series 7 so far – Acorn TV, one episode a week – versus how I viewed the other 6 series has influenced how the series 7 story has felt to me – very disappointing. I am weary of the “will they/won’t they” dynamic regarding Martin and Louisa. The therapy sessions (as one who has been through some counseling, both individual and marriage, albeit the latter after 20 years of marriage) have seemed disjointed to me.

    PS – Sorry to be such a “negative Nancy.”

  12. Doris

    Cindy, you’re not alone with your assessment of S7. I too felt let down the way the therapy sessions were handled in the first 7 episodes, particularly e7. Additionally, the on/off again relationship between Louisa & Martin has become stale and overused. The focus in Series 7 was Louisa taking charge and Martin being subservient to Louisa’s demands and her bipolar behavior towards Martin. For me this worked well during the first 3 episodes, but it became too predictable and wearisome as the series progressed, IMO. Another aspect of these episodes that really got annoying was the constant interruptions that occurred between M & L, especially when they were about to experience a moment.

    On the positive side, I though the acting was (as always) excellent along with the directing. The chemistry between M & L, which makes the show, was superb. Also some of the sub plots were entertaining, like Bert’s failed business ventures and the dynamics between Mrs. Tishell and Clive. For me, the first 4 episodes were the best, however I would have liked to have seen more of Martin & Louisa resolving their marriage conflicts.

  13. Santa Traugott

    I think it’s possible that seeing it one week at a time does contribute. I am going to go back and watch all together, at some point. I already like E1 better, now that I have seen the whole series.

    But the Martin -Louisa story has been exhausted, and should be put to bed. I think part of the reason we can’t figure out what is going on with Louisa in S7 is that in order to stretch it out, they made her act unreasonably.

    I did think that one or two conversations shortly after Louisa came back might have straightened things out nicely, particularly if she hadn’t insisted that the best way to heal their marriage was to live apart. But now I wonder if just talking would have worked, if she hadn’t got her mind around the idea that she could actually lose Martin — that he might not stick around forever to play this game.

  14. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    This is a reply to both Cindy and Doris…
    First, thank you for writing Cindy. I was late in discovering the show too and watched the first 5 series without any breaks between series. Then I watched S6 pretty soon after finishing the other 5 and found it markedly different in tone and approach, and that bothered me a lot. If you’ve read a significant number of posts on this blog, you’ll be aware that I found it unnecessary to make those changes even though they may have thought they had to do something to shake things up.

    I kept the blog going for two years while waiting to see what S7 would be like and now have some perspective on this series. I think I probably benefited from watching the first series without two year breaks because I didn’t experience the hiatus wondering what would happen in the next series, but overall I didn’t really feel the wait changed my reaction to S7. Two years between brief series is a big commitment to ask viewers to make, IMO.

    As far as the therapy scenes go, I will be publishing a long commentary on them on Monday following Acorn’s inclusion of the final episode for this series. I’d love to publish it sooner, but there are still things to say about the therapist in the final episode, and I don’t want to spoil that for anyone.

    I plan to write something about E8 and will likely write more about certain themes that have remained prominent. Then, I don’t know. I agree with both of you that if there are to be more series, and I am not sure there should be, they need to “reboot” the storylines. We need to move on from the question of whether Martin and Louisa will stay together. There’s a point at which that is no longer suspenseful and ends up being tiresome.

    Please give me until Monday and then we’ll have much more to discuss!

  15. Laura H

    Karen, I love your intuitive summary of E7. You make some very good points as to the possible miss on the very title of this episode and have me wondering if ambiguity was the intent of the title the writer gave it? I like the title of “Aliens” that you gave your post. Perhaps it could be said that this episode more than previous ones throughout the show’s run has provided us with alien characters that are supporting the main theme of questions as to normalcy and unnatural? Thanks for providing the lyrics to Penhale’s song reference, a detail that I did not catch, and so it’s wonderful to have your detail-catching insights to make the show experience richer! In that vein, I have a question about a brief incident in this episode that I’d like your take on. Louisa is at the kitchen table numbering her paper to begin listing the reasons why it would be beneficial to be apart from Martin, which on subsequent viewings, I laughed that she’s numbering the list in double digits…whew…but Martin begins folding the kitchen towel and shortly after carries JH’s bowl from the table to the counter as he exits. Is he doing this to confirm to Louisa his tidiness, since it was one of her positive things about him during the counseling session of E4 and wants her to revisit his tidiness as opposing what she might be getting ready to write on her list? I ask because he made a big statement in E2 how he doesn’t miss the tidiness now that she is back when now it is not tidy? Or are we to believe Martin is frustrated that conciliatory gestures he has made haven’t worked, and he’s merely gone back to the old Martin mode?

  16. Paul

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t there two occurrences where DM encounters Danny & Louisa exiting a building, during S2? There’s the one where he walks into D & L leaving a shop, but I thought there was a second time where DM bumps into them exiting another building. I thought this was her flat, maybe not. If memory serves me correctly, this would have been in the same episode when DM witnesses Louisa greet Danny on the street with a kiss. It has been awhile since I viewed S2.

  17. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Paul, I would have to go back and watch again too. Is there some reason you find this important? During S2 Louisa and Danny spent some time together and seemed quite chummy, but they are old friends and liked each other. Most of the time, though, Louisa looked back so often to see if Martin was noticing them that I had the distinct impression that she was deliberately trying to make Martin jealous. I think Danny’s proposal came as a surprise to her because she didn’t realize that her behavior towards him had led him to think she was in love with him. As opposed to her reaction to Martin’s proposal, she is horrified by Danny’s and makes all sorts of excuses to avoid giving him an answer until she finally tells him she’s not leaving her job or Portwenn.

    If you’re implying that Danny has a reason to think Louisa might still carry a torch for him, I would respectfully disagree. I don’t think she ever liked Danny as anything but a friend and their relationship was purely platonic.

  18. DM

    From my memory, Martin only “bumps” into Louis and Danny figuratively thereafter only on the street after Danny’s been discharged from hospital. There were no instances of the two leaving one or the other’s flats or kisses or any actual indication of intimacy beyond what we perhaps were meant to imagine. The only actual gesture of affection between the two, was after this last encounter with Martin who by then had disappeared around the corner, when Louisa clasps Danny’s shoulder just before he launches into another of his false-piety routines.

    Had you noticed in these encounters that Louisa’s actions and body-language are seemingly meant to dispel anything beyond their “old friends” status to Martin (and/or the viewers)?

  19. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Laura, that scene in the kitchen struck me as funny too because Louisa is numbering the paper knowing Martin is still in the house, and then she tries to cover it up when he appears. When he asks her if that’s her list, she says it is but she hasn’t thought of anything yet. The whole thing ends up being for nought and we never hear a thing about the list.

    My take on his behavior is that he has a hard time refraining from putting things away even though he told Louisa that he is fine with the noise and the mess now that she’s back. I also see it as a delaying tactic. He keeps waiting prior to walking out the door probably hoping Louisa will invite him to stay, but she never does. Here he looks at her as he picks up the bowl, but she has her head down and kind of dismisses him. We can feel his pain.

    Throughout this series Martin is at the mercy of Louisa and how much she’s willing to pay attention to him. I think they are reversing what happened in S6 when Louisa couldn’t get any attention from Martin, or was dismissed by him. I always think of the time in S6 when she comes in from work and says she found it hard to be apart from Martin and JH and asks how his day was. He answers that his day was fine and he didn’t miss her. That had to hurt!

    I think he is frustrated that his efforts haven’t made her relent, but then he did the same to her in S6 and she didn’t like it either.

  20. J.C. Lockwood

    Karen, you have parsed episode 7 thoroughly and your observations are interesting.

    I think that what is normal (which is a subjective notion), pretending everything is normal (fine) and ignoring one’s problems are themes of the show.

    The viewers all know that DM is not normal something he ignores until his wife leaves him and he discovers he likely has attachment disorder. Before series 7 DM insists several times that he had a healthy (normal) childhood. Did he really believe that? More than once Ruth mentions that Martin had a bad childhood and how he needs to face his past and not ignore it.

    Louisa is constantly trying to pretend things are normal. She mentions her normal upbringing but when pressed admits to a Mom who left her and a Dad in prison. Not many would consider that normal. At the beginning of the episode she tries to get away with saying that the evening out with Martin was fine (normal) but then admits it was a disaster.

    Other meaningful references to what is normal include the wife in the older couple mentioning her long marriage in front of Martin. The older couple in the episode have been dedicated to one another for 40 years and do everything to together. For some couples that is a normal marriage. That seems in contrast to DM and Louisa. Their relationship has been comparatively short-lived and full of ups and downs… mostly downs. A lasting marriage and a rocky marriage… both can be “normal”.

    The wife of the older couple begs DM not to give up on her hubby now that he has a malignant tumor in the thyroid. Martin responds that he is not giving up only accepting the diagnosis. Martin then says that it never helps the ignore the problem which is what he has done in his personal life. I also wonder if the exchanges with the older couple wife is to emphasize that Louisa is giving up on Martin and their relationship and/or that DM and Louisa have to accept a new normal ( they will not be together) Just as the older couple must accept their new normal ( illness)

    Both Dr. Timoney and then Louisa mention the idea of ignoring problems and accepting reality. Dr. T although loopy due to brain injury telling DM that he is just ignoring the problem as always. Assume she is referring the state of DM/Louisa marriage. Louisa states in that final heartbreaking scene that perhaps Dr. T is right and they are not accepting things. So is she ready to give up? Martin certainly seems to be throwing in the towel.

    Sigourney Weaver as haughty and demanding American was a laugh but she also challenged whether Martin represented the “normal” Brit. Her question to Morwenna about why Martin talks to her so rudely is met with a ho-hum response. He talks to everyone that way. So Doc’s temperament is Morwenna’s normal or at least she has gotten used to it.

    One Episode left. I am ready to bop the writers over the head for stringing the viewers along for the entire series7. I have my doubts but I suppose in the final moments of the final episode Martin or maybe Louisa will have some epiphany and proclaim undying love and the 2 anguished lovers will come together once again. I am not sure I even want that anymore. JC

  21. Paul

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to cause controversy with my question. This began as a reply to Doris’s post on how DM handles sexual content. Also, a few weeks ago there was a post regarding e6, which described Danny and Louisa’s history, from s2. However, that post was rebutted.
    I stand corrected.

  22. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    You mention several places where comments can be interpreted in many ways. To me that is always a good use of language and demonstrates again how words matter and yet they can be ambiguous.

    When it comes to the idea of what’s “normal,” however, I think we have to admit that there is such a thing as “normal” and “abnormal.” I do not consider a marriage of 40 years in which the couple has always done everything together to be normal. If you think of normal as the mean/average, or the middle part of a bell curve, then we would be much more likely to find that most married couples go to doctor’s appointments as individuals, for example. There are times when we are with our spouse and other times when we are not. We go to work, or walk the dog, or read without the company of our spouse. I think the Wintons’ marriage would be considered abnormal or unusual. The same would be true for the Ellinghams. Most newly married couples would have a longer period of time during which they would enjoy life together. Their marriage breaks down extremely fast and is unusual for that reason. It works for the show, I suppose, although I found it disturbing and S6 was way too somber for me. I know conflict is good for plot, but that was a bit much for a dramedy.

    I wouldn’t call accepting a terminal illness as a new “normal” either, or deciding to divorce. These are circumstances we have to adapt to and find a way to handle. A new “normal” related to illness might be the haemophobia that makes it impossible for ME to operate in London as he used to. Or for a marriage it might be compromising in ways you haven’t done before.

    Anyway, E8 is coming soon.

  23. Kate

    Hello, I’m Kate and this is my first post. Actually I wanted to share website that I came across. It’s called
    Portwenn online (http://www.portwennonline.com). Any Doc Martin fan will find this enjoyable. It contains maps, pictures, episode trivia, and other fun stuff.

    Later I’ll post some thoughts on S7

  24. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I know all about portwennonline and have spoken to Kate Kennedy who runs the blog. I don’t know if she reads this blog, but she’s been nice enough to list my blog on her website. I imagine some readers of this blog have found out about it through hers. It’s a good site for all sorts of trivia about the show.

  25. Kate

    Here are a few of my thoughts about episode 7.

    Throughout this series we have seen Doc Martin bend over backwards to convince Louisa that he can and has changed. While Louisa seems to be toying with him, giving out mixed messages.Perhaps Louisa is just not sure herself about what she really wants. Her behavior with Martin was acceptable for episodes 3 to 4 however I’m finding it quite frustrating that it has dragged into episode 7.

    Returning to 7, I found the last words spoken to Louisa, by Martin very telling; “I can’t go on living in that house, I can’ go on living like this, actually”. This is a man who has reached the end of his rope with the status quo. The status quo of Louisa’s making!

    It’s going to be interesting how this plays out in episode 8. Because Martin, once again, has put the ball in Louisa’s court.

    Is she willing to give him up just for the sake of “normalcy”? Or has Martin reached the point of giving up himself? Hopefully these questions get answered in the last episode.

  26. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    It seems that much like Martin in S6 who had to be confronted with Louisa leaving him to finally take action and decide to chase after her, Louisa doesn’t act until Martin gives her an ultimatum. I guess it goes along with the maxim “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

  27. Brendan

    I have a brief comment about a scene from E4. The scene involves Martin & Louisa second hugging exercise, where Martin compliments Louisa’s dress. When Martin gets ready to leave, Louisa asks, “are you Ok?” He responds by saying something like “It seems odd to leave”

    When I first viewed this, my thought was that Louisa would offer Martin to stay for dinner or even invite him to stay the night, even if it was the nursery. But she doesn’t. Instead she just gives him a sorrowful look and doesn’t say a word. Is this an aspect of Louisa’s uncertainty about accepting Martin back, or is she still holding a grudge? Just trying to make sense of it.

    This is the episode where she displays more affection than any of the previous ones.

  28. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    It would be my guess that we are supposed to consider Louisa as very conflicted and still unconvinced that it’s time to let Martin move back. As you know, she continues to act like this for the whole series. The story arc for the series is Louisa’s consistent rejection of Martin’s efforts to demonstrate how much he wants to reunite with her. In a very real sense, it is Louisa acting much like Martin did throughout S6.

  29. Brendan

    This is my quandary with Louisa and it goes back to S6. Martin did shut somewhat push her away emotionally, however wasn’t it the events of episode 5 (accident), that proved to be the tipping point with Louisa? After reviewing episodes 2 through 5 (s6), the downward spiral began with the arrival of Martin’s mother. It reached a crescendo in her near fatal accident, with Louisa blaming Martin, not only for the accident, but the events leading up to it. That is, Martin allowing his mother to spread discord and his behavior at the sports events. I see Louisa holding on to this and not forgiving Martin throughout S7. Do you agree with this assessment?

  30. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Well, not exactly. I think his downward spiral began in E3 when his haemophobia returned. His mother’s arrival compounded his decline. To me Martin’s behavior at the Sports Day event came after Louisa’s continuing despair, and when she carried out the box full of sporting equipment, symbolically the box’s bottom fell out. The accident was an extreme wake-up call for Martin, but Louisa had already reached her breaking point or she wouldn’t have chased after him in a fury.

    Martin’s mother certainly was responsible for adding to the discord in Martin’s relationship with Louisa. She cunningly tries to worm her way into his life by showing up on his doorstep and expecting to stay with him, by telling him she and he are the only family they have, and by wondering if the two of them could have dinner together after he’s brought Louisa back from the hospital. She is aware that she is intruding and she doesn’t care one bit; she has her reason for coming and she is determined to leave with money, or something precious.

    When we see Louisa at the airport preparing to fly to Spain at the end of S6, she bumps into Margaret and tells her she doesn’t know what she’s doing. Then we see a grateful Louisa after the operation on her AVM, thanking Martin for coming after her and caring for her. We also see her imagining him with her in Spain when she is on the operating table. She is already pretty conflicted about the state of their marriage. I don’t know what we’re supposed to think is causing her resistance throughout S7. They leave that pretty hard to figure out and probably want it that way. What I do see is that in S7 they have reversed many of the actions Martin and Louisa typically take and now it’s Martin who moves out, and Martin who tries to get Louisa to relate to him, and it’s Louisa who stays in the surgery and won’t give in to anything Martin suggests.

    In S7 we have more gaps than ever before that leave us to come to our own conclusions. We can see that as good writing or as lazy writing, and I’m not sure which I would be inclined to choose.

  31. Brendan

    Thank you for your perspectives. You certainty brought some food for thought regarding Louisa’s actions. First, when she encounters Martin’s mother at the airport. When she says “I don’t know what I’m doing, but it’s non of your blood business”. Secondly with, the dialogue between Martin & Louisa in the operating room. She actually thought Martin was following her to Spain. I always interpreted that scene as a result of Louisa’s being under the influence of medication, not to be taken seriously.

  32. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I’m not sure Louisa thought Martin was planning to fly to Spain, although he actually was, but she at least imagined that she’d like to have him there. She was definitely under the influence of meds, but many a truth is said while medicated.

  33. Santa

    I think what’s going on with Louisa will be somewhat clearer at the end of E8. It isn’t what I had thought, but putting it all together, it makes some sense to me.

  34. Waxwings2

    Several commenters here have written of their disappointment and even frustration with Series 7 of Doc Martin. I share those feelings—from the tiredness of the will they/won’t they re-unite tensions without a “reset,” to the use of gratuitous sub plots (like the visiting art teacher) or the return to the well-worn romantic interest theme of the village Constable. But more than this, I am disappointed in the handling of the therapy issue.

    Not to jump the gun on Karen’s promised blog posts on this subject after episode 8 airs on Monday, I will only say briefly that my own disappointment is centered primarily in what feels like a trivialization of the therapy and its through-lines in Series 7. Series 6 was so devastating in the direction it took our Doc (and his beloved Louisa) that it set up very high expectations for some serious grappling with the Doc’s “abnormal” (thank you for underscoring that word Karen and Santa) behaviors that prevent him from leading a life in community and love with Louisa—or anyone.

    The Doc is a far more “abnormal” personality than is Louisa. He needs the work. And while we know this is a dramedy that cannot show that work in any sustained way with a therapist, one longed for some hint or exploration of it with/from Dr. Timony focusing in on what ails Martin and why—from the blood phoebia to the more serious intimacy/relationship questions with Louisa. We got none of that.

    Instead, we seemed to jump right to the couples counseling and the scenes about it only involved the two. Maybe the first three sessions without Louisa were dealing with Martin’s “abnormalities” — but there was no hint of that (which I could see), and it is perhaps why Louisa comes off so frustrated and resistant to Martin throughout the Series. If there were any therapy sessions dealing with what ails him, he doesn’t reveal it to Louisa, and his behavior changes (awareness, practical application of the counseling) did not show IMHO as Series 7 progressed.

    I really did feel Louisa’s pain when she was so quickly incorporated into the “therapy” program in Series 7. Instead, I longed for those therapy sessions to deal with Aunt Ruth’s statements to Martin about his past, and explore ways in which that may affect his present ,and some practical advice about handling it — if only to see it from Louisa’s point of view.

    I think Louisa’s resistance to Martin “returning” in Series 7 is not contrived, or inauthentic or lacking in reason. Martin has not really shown much self-awareness (though he verbalizes his desire to do right and takes on the “suffering” of moving out and being inconvenienced for her sake.) His awareness seems to be a reflection of Louisa’s view of him, not necessarily his own insights (though he diagnoses himself in the first session and that is where it is left).

    Where is the work and the thinking he needs to do on himself? Where is the discussion about these issues that brought us to tears in Series 6? Where is the vulnerability of this character revealed as a result? Could his problems not at least be acknowledged in therapy and even between the two of them–Martin and Louisa? YES, for heavens sake, shouldn’t they be talking about their problems with each other?? Very little of that has happened so far. Their couples counseling feels so mechanical. It all seems very artificial, simplistic really, and “abnormal” for most couples in their kind of trouble, and certainly not true to what most of us may understand about personal therapy work….Maybe Mr. Lothian will pull the rabbit out of the hat in the last episode 8, as he has done so brilliantly in the past…

    I eagerly await Karen’s posts on this question of therapy in Series 7, and look forward to other commenters’ insights as well on the topic. I have really appreciated the recent commentary and the blog posts from Karen that have sparked it. Thank you all.

  35. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thank you for your thoughts. I will publish the post on therapy as soon as I see that Acorn has put up the last episode today. I am anxious to get it out where all of you can read it and respond.

  36. Amy Cohen

    It’s great to read these posts—everyone felt like I did! I could have used the support group back while watching this series. I now am waiting for Karen’s promised post to be re-posted so I can see her overall thoughts about the series and in particular the mishandling of the therapy sessions. For me, there was so much they COULD have done both dramatically and humorously with the therapy. I’d gladly have skipped all the annoying subplots about art teachers, tourists, Penhale, Al, Ruth, Bert, etc., in exchange for a realistic and even humorous look at what couples therapy could do for Martin and Louisa.

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