Should Martin and Louisa stay together?

To answer this question we have to address the whole issue of what it means to pose a question like this about a TV show. My approach has always been to work off what’s written and try to analyze what’s on the page (or screen). The author wrote it like that for a reason and, if the work of literature or the show is a success, it’s because of how the author established the story.

As I said in my recent post about why DM has appealed to us, the match between Martin and Louisa is essential to the show. For those of you who have seen “Breaking Bad,” would you question whether Skyler should have stayed with Walter? It turned out to be a really bad decision on her part, but she went back to Walter for so many valid reasons, and that’s one of the important issues we end up thinking about. The show would be totally different if Skyler left Walt and never went back; and DM would not be DM if Louisa doesn’t reconsider and try again. The show is built around this couple dealing with all sorts of relationship difficulties, struggling to manage them, finding it hard to know what happened between them to make their attraction to each other so frustrating, and then realizing that they genuinely want to be together.

Maybe in the real world their marriage would not last even though they both care about JH. So many marriages don’t these days. But, in my opinion, we have to be very careful about thinking about their relationship as if it’s in the real world. Of course, many people make the wrong decisions about who to marry and whether to stay together all the time. However, this is something different; this is a purposely contrived situation to probe what might happen with two people named Louisa and Martin who want to stay together, despite having many personal problems. It’s also meant to be funny to see what they are confronted with and how they decide to handle it. Series 6 began with one of the funniest episodes of all of the series in my view. The plan was to have Martin and Louisa finally get married because their romance had gone on long enough without that payoff. After their wedding fell apart at the end of S3 and viewers were angry about how that turned out, they decided not to toy with it again. But we could never have expected that everything would be just fine now and we would watch a happily married couple enjoy even one uncomplicated night. E1 included some lovely moments for us to take pleasure in, then one thing after another goes awry. Nevertheless, as I’ve written when I looked at all the humor in that episode, the antics of that night still have the newlyweds working in concert with each other and ending up as well as can be expected after a night of that kind.

We can’t think in terms of what would happen if we changed the key match in the show. After just having written a bunch about “All in the Family,” I wonder if anyone would have ever thought to say “why didn’t Edith leave Archie?” Or, “Why does Carmella stay with Tony in “The Sopranos?” Or, in “Downton Abbey,” what if Sibyl didn’t choose to marry Tom, or Mary didn’t turn down others for Matthew?

We don’t ask whether Rhett Butler should have married Scarlett O’Hara (in Gone with the Wind). The whole story would be different if he hadn’t, even if they would have been better off apart.

These stories are constructed and developed with these broken relationships because they are at the heart of the narrative; they make the story what it is. If we counsel them to forget about each other and move on, the whole story falls apart.

Yes, DM is about more than whether Martin and Louisa can be together. It began as a tale about a vascular surgeon who has to leave surgery because of his blood phobia. But from the moment he meets Louisa on the plane to Portwenn, we know there will be an ongoing tension between these two. We enjoy the other characters, the patient interaction, the scenes with Mark and Julie, or Penhale’s mishaps. We laugh at and get annoyed with Mrs. Tishell, or Pauline, or Bert and Al. The thing that brings us back to the show, however, is what will happen next with Martin and Louisa. More than that, it’s the very human mistakes they make and their marital discord that we can’t stop thinking about and talking about. The whole show would blow up if the script had them separating for good. Just look at what happened at the end of S3 when it seemed like that was exactly what the outcome would be.

Caroline Catz was asked if her character was coming back for S4 on some talk shows between series, and she tried to be coy. I never doubted she’d be back because without her there is no show, in my opinion. Without Louisa, and Caroline Catz’s tremendous portrayal of her, we have a show about a quirky doctor treating patients who he generally disdains, and being rude more often than not. It would probably be entertaining and might still be fun to watch, but loses much of the depth we all like. With Louisa, we have a show about a man who has to deal with many demons and whose love for one woman makes him see everything differently. He wants to change; he wants a family; he wants to try to be a member of the community (after a fashion). He’s an accomplished physician with much greater dimension and complexity.

I don’t mean to sound too strong on this, but I have to say that posing this question strikes at the core of what it means to write a story. There are no “shoulds” only what is, and we then study it, and learn from it, and try to make sense of it. I know I’ve come on a bit heated in writing the above. I just cannot see how we can ever admire literature or excellent films or TV shows unless we accept the premise upon which they have been written.

I’m ducking now to protect myself from whatever animosity I might receive…

Originally posted 2014-05-01 15:02:31.

52 thoughts on “Should Martin and Louisa stay together?

  1. waxwings2

    Karen, Bravo!

    I agree completely with you. There would be no show, no blogs, no fan fiction without the Louisa-Doc relationship, and now their marriage, which continues to create the tensions, the struggles, and poses the great questions that make the show worth watching.

    As you said so rightly (it bears repeating):

    “With Louisa, we have a show about a man who has to deal with many demons and whose love for one woman makes him see everything differently. He wants to change; he wants a family; he wants to try to be a member of the community (after a fashion). He’s an accomplished physician with much greater dimension and complexity…”

    Yes, this show does raise issues of chauvinism, and professional and personal independence for women, and many other contemporary and important subjects. But what a role model Louisa has been for women! She is not diminishing herself one iota. The great gift about this show (and Louisa’s strength) is that Louisa sees the very basic and deep goodness in Martin. Much of the show has been about her efforts to connect with that goodness, which she now knows is buried deep inside “a hurt little boy.” Compassion can go a very long distance, and is a wonderful offering for the viewing audience. This is about compassion and growing together to make a better community.

    Ultimately, Louisa will trust Martin to grow and change and learn because he is worth it, and she is worth being in healthy community with such a person. She will struggle with that, and with him and with herself. Amen.

    Asking whether Louisa and Martin should stay together is absolutely the wrong question. Thank you for saying so in a reasoned and brilliant way.

  2. Santa Traugott

    Thanks again, Karen for an insightful post, and also to Waxwings for her reply. Her sense of Louisa’s great strength being her intuitive sense of the great good buried somewhere beneath all that character armor, is exactly mine. I can forgive Louisa a lot, because she does get this, and loves him for it. The relationship is difficult and frustrating, b/c he has such difficulty in letting down his guard and bringing that buried self out in to the open, even with her.

    Sometimes it all gets too much for her and she temporarily despairs of getting through to him, but I strongly feel that Martin and Louisa parting forever would make nonsense out of all that has gone before. It just won’t happen, although we may get teased a bit more before it all ends.

    One of my Doc Martin friends, who is far more religiously oriented than I am, believes that we are watching the “redemption” of Martin Ellingham. Certainly, his love for Louisa has wrought profound enough changes in him, that we may feel that word justified when the series ends. Another friend suggests that Martin was “broken” when he arrived in Portwenn — symbolized by the blood phobia. And the long arc of the series is about his healing, a process in which Louisa is absolutely critical.

    I don’t necessarily think that the series started out to be about this — the pilot season (1) having a somewhat different feel to the rest, once the relationship with Louisa began to take center stage. And I still wonder how consciously worked out this theme is. There’s of course the whole literary tradition of the “quest” for them to draw on — in this case, Martin’s quest is to find a way to allow himself to become the man who is healthy enough to flourish in an intimate relationship.

  3. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Whew! So far you are all in agreement with me about the “should” question. That’s a relief even though I’m always open to whatever anyone wants to say about any of my posts.

    I am pretty sure you’re right that the series didn’t start out to be about the relationship between Martin and Louisa. At some point Martin Clunes has mentioned that it took them by surprise to some extent. I think he attributed the greater development of them as a couple to Caroline Catz’s excellent acting which made Louisa more important. Nevertheless, the scene in the plane that takes place at the very beginning of S1E1 shows some tension between them that made me think there was going to be some sort of ongoing interaction between them. Then Louisa shows up on the panel to select the next doctor for Portwenn and is the only one to express some reservations about Martin. And we’re off to the races…

    On the practical side, Martin Clunes has said many times that his favorite scenes are the ones he has with Caroline Catz. He’s not likely to want to give those up. Also, they all know that the issues between these two have become a real drawing card for the series, and that makes it pretty unlikely that they would want to break them up. Finally, MC has already stated that they will be putting the two of them back together again in S7 and that will include some couples counseling. So the question of whether Martin and Louisa should stay together is only one that could be discussed in the realm of hypothetical possibilities and I really balk at that.

    I’m just romantic enough to think that we’ll see some more ups and downs throughout S7, hopefully with lots of humor thrown in, and then DM will end with a good resolution so we can all be content that Martin and Louisa will manage to sustain their marriage.

  4. Waxwings2

    Redemption, healing, quest–these are good words to apply to ME’s personal process or transmogrification in this Series. I couldn’t agree more. Those words are so much more elegant than “human struggle” or “fighting demons” or repairing “serious childhood injuries” as I have tried to say badly. Thank you Santa. As usual, your comments are to the point and spot on. Marta

  5. Mary

    I just finished reading everyone’s commentary and it was, as always, wonderful and insightful. Yes, I agree, the love of Martin for Louisa is key to his “redemption” and to keeping us all on the edge of our seats. It will be infinitely interesting to see how Martin works on his relationship with Louisa as he attempts to change into a healthier human being. ME is “head over heals” for Louisa, and if Louisa decides loving him is worth the hard road ahead, then I think they have a shot at becoming a more intuitive and caring couple. Louisa has a warmth and tenderness that given half a chance, would go a long ways towards helping him heal. Wouldn’t it be nice to see them have a real heart to heart without first having to drink 3 bottles of wine?! Lets hope the writers stretch this process so we will not all be mourning the end of the DM show when Series 7 is over! I think that there are so many comedic possibilities coupled with heartwarming ones that this show could go on for quite some time. It is so great to have a character like Louisa who is a strong, intelligent, caring and beautiful woman, and yet, not without flaws. The complexity and vulnerabilities of the main characters is the spice which has made this show so appealing for so long.

  6. Madelyn Grossman

    Hi

    Just wanted to add my vote, I think Martin and Louisa should stay together because they both seem to want to and I would like to believe that anything is possible if you want it badly enough.

    I also enjoy seeing their relationship on screen and would be sadly disappointed if after all these years the shows message to us would be that Martin and Louisa couldn’t overcome their differences.

  7. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I love what you have to say about the comedic possibilities and about the character of Louisa!

  8. Barb

    Me Too! If they don’t work things out, there will be some very upset fans!! But I’m certain they will.

    I also hope they will lighten up season 7. I found season 6 too stressful and dark although the last episode was very good. Several things that went on with Louisa and Martin seemed way out of character. It seemed to me that even with all the problems, the characters would not have acted like they did in some of those situations. Hopefully, there will be more humor and fun in the last season.

  9. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    It seems like there is universal agreement that S6 deviated too much from the customary tone of the series and lost too much of the humor. I’ll be very surprised if S7 doesn’t bring that back.

  10. Carol

    Hello again. Karen, I am not sure, but I think I may have been one of (or THE), one(s) who brought up this question. Thank you for calling my attention to the fact that this is the premise of the show and therefore has to be taken as it is.

    I think, for me however, this idea has come up over and over as I write fanfiction related to DM. Of course I want the two of them together. I want everything to work out. But I ask the question because of two things. One is that I have heard MC say that this question has definitely been part of the script discussions at some point (can’t remember which season[s] he was referring to). But also because I think that the show itself asks this question. Does anyone else see that – maybe it’s just me?

    But TV often reflects real life as we all know, and I often do something that my parents did with me – discuss things a show’s focus with my children. I think that, if I were discussing DM with my teen-aged daughter for instance, I would probably talk to her about episode 5(?) in series 3- the marriage proposal episode. Louisa had made a decision after the concert based on the relationship she had with Martin so far. She decided to stop seeing him.

    Then she becomes so overwhelmed by being in close proximity and watching him work his phenomenal medical expertise, and is drawn to his own brand of charisma so much that when he proposes, her decision flies out the window and she accepts. I think I would want my daughter to take a hard look at that. My son too for that matter – later in life – he’s still in elementary school! It’s great fun to watch the results of the proposal, and everything that follows after.

    But if I am using the show as a discussion starter for real life, I think I would ask whether Louisa was right to accept the proposal. Or, did they both make the right decision on the first wedding day? Perhaps the relationship between two such different people is inherently not a good idea in the sense that neither will ever be able to be the person they need to become if they stay together.

    I always try to talk to my daughter about finding friends (and boyfriends) who treat her well. How many of us have ever told our children that “if so and so is doing that, they aren’t really acting like your friend are they”? Well, I just wonder sometimes if Louisa wouldn’t end up a happier person with someone a bit more laid back, friendly, and openly demonstrative? And would Martin find his way to wholeness more easily with a person more gentle and willing to ask questions to find out what he really means before jumping to conclusions? I do not mean to criticize either of them, just to point out who they are, and what might be more emotionally healthy for them in the long run.

    In other words, their immense attraction is obvious, but it takes more than that to make a happy life together. Of course, I hasten to point out that I strongly believe that most things can be worked out between people, but how much effort does one want to make? I know that I read somewhere long ago that you should never go into a marriage expecting the other person to change to suit you. You should go into a marriage deciding whether or not you can realistically live with the things that already bother you about your partner, because those things seem little at the start, but they become huge later on if you are not careful. Familiarity breeds contempt – sometimes anyway 🙂

    So perhaps MY question should have been different. Perhaps my question really should be: Is the relationship as depicted between Martin and Louisa a good role model for a marriage in real life? Give reasons for your argument.

    Karen, you really are the word-meister!!! You helped me define my REAL question. Thanks.

    Now I will take my lumps. 🙂

    Carol

  11. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Here’s a shot at answering your question:
    There aren’t many married couples in TV shows who could be used as role models. Possibly 60s era shows like The Dick Van Dyke show or Leave It to Beaver, etc. could be used. But not many. However, I would use them as ways to talk about marriage in that every marriage has ups and downs, good days and bad. Every marriage goes through tough times, but if the couple ultimately manages to come out fairly happy and able to laugh or be light hearted about what took place, the marriage can be a success. What you can say to your daughter is that there is no one way to have a happy marriage; we all change as we age and keep learning and adapting. Sometimes that takes a lot of effort, but it’s worth it in the end if you still love each other and want to stay together.

    To me there are a lot of good reasons why the marriage between Martin and Louisa can succeed. Throughout the show we have seen that both of them are interested in the other. Louisa keeps her eyes on Martin, and he follows her all the time. They have also both dreamed about each other. They are well matched because they are both educated, always neatly groomed and dressed (which many others in Portwenn are not), agree on how children should be treated by their parents, don’t like cats, love Joan, and other things. They have both thought about their relationship over several years and didn’t just rush into a marriage. I see every reason to believe their relationship can thrive as long as they conquer their difficulties with communicating. Communication issues are often the cause of marital discord, so that’s something that is easy to relate to.

    If you want to talk to your kids about marriage and use the show, just be realistic about it and try to frame the conversation by remembering the show is a dramedy. I’m sure my view is not the only one or even the best one, but there it is.

  12. Santa Traugott

    This question brings up such a jumble of thoughts. My own experience is of a long marriage to a man with whom I had some basic things in common — esp. values — but to whom I was a temperamental opposite, in almost every way. I do think that was and is part of the attraction — that some sort of gap is filled — but of course, it is or has been part of the frustration as well. But ours has been a long and happy marriage, particularly as we grew older and learned the value of tolerance!

    Somewhere Plato has a fable about a whole entity being split somehow, and love happens when the two halves meet up with each other — another way of saying that perhaps people are attracted to those who can offer the missing pieces in their own selves.

    A marriage between Edith and Martin (or Louisa and Danny) would have been comfortable, and probably would have worked pretty well. But neither would have offered any opportunity for growth, and I don’t think that comfort is what we want for our heroes and heroines. And I think that each of them might have felt at some point, that in not risking anything in a relationship, they had indeed lost a great deal.

    That said, I agree so much with Carol that neither Louisa nor Martin can see past the magnetic pull the other exerts on them. Every once in a while Louisa wakes up to the fact that, as things stand, Martin is not actually capable of being in an intimate relationship, and as agonizing as this is for her, she realizes she must leave. But her heart over-rules her head, and they reunite, without any of their issues being discussed or resolved.

    So I guess what I am saying is that it isn’t the magnitude of the differences, or the various incompatibilities or lack of communication that tips the scales here — it’s whether each person actually has or can work on developing the capacity to tolerate and even thrive in an intimate relationship. So far, I have felt that Louisa has been right to leave him, each time. Each time what brings her back to him is the hope that somehow he is different and more open to her. And each time, he disappoints her and retreats.

    In order for their relationship to work, for me to feel that they actually “should” be together, Martin does need to change, grow, heal — and Louisa has work to do too, but I actually think less of real characterological change. I am certain we will see this process work out positively in S7.

  13. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I’ve been thinking about your comments and first want to say that I have some very different feelings even though I agree that both Martin and Louisa are presented as having problems with a committed relationship (probably because of their childhood experiences with their parents’ marriages).

    I really do not think that either Martin and Edith or Louisa and Danny could have had a “comfortable” marriage that could have worked well. The characterization of Edith is that she cares more about her research than about any patients, e.g. a woman with lower abdominal pain must have surgery without first ruling out other causes. Edith also cares more about using artificial means of approaching her colleagues, like a stupid joke, to get their attention and approval than a straightforward delivery of her findings. She also resorts to trickery to get Martin to stay with her at the hotel and to get him into bed with her. All of these behaviors are antithetical to how Martin handles things and are intolerable to him. He considers himself a highly respected surgeon/physician and would not want to compete with his wife for recognition in the medical world. He also doesn’t seem to find her attractive anymore, including the perfume she’s wearing. Danny not only wants Louisa to move to London with him, something she has no intention of doing, he also annoys her with his hyper-religiosity. Throughout S2, Louisa seems to be using Danny as a way to make Martin jealous, to get a rise out of him, and not as a serious love interest. Danny is almost as distracted by his professional interests as Martin is as a doctor, but Louisa is always drawn to Martin’s concern for his patients and his skill in handling many potentially fatal conditions. She never seems too impressed with what Danny is doing or even with his concern for his mother.

    I also don’t think Louisa was right to leave Martin in S5 when she is utterly exasperated with his inability to include her often enough in decision making. Any woman would be angry, but there are so many other ways to handle it. She could give him the silent treatment like she did after their date went wrong-that seemed to get his attention. Or she could actually tell him her reasons for being angry. Louisa leaves because that’s her immediate response throughout the series when she has to confront difficulties with Martin (probably because that’s how her parents always dealt with things), and because that’s a way to demonstrate Martin’s obliviousness. He’s always stunned, or at least taken aback, each time L walks out on him. That’s how the show is constructed, and then they have to reconcile somehow.

    I don’t expect the characters of M and L to change markedly in S7, and I hope they don’t. I am guessing they will go through many trials with therapy, and who knows what, until they reach a point of acceptance with each other. She’ll learn to deal with his personality quirks and he’ll realize that she needs periodic reassurances about his love for her and his desire to sustain their marriage. I would like to see them bring back the humor between them, and especially with Martin’s actions. S5 had so many good moments between them that were both typical of marital/couple strife and humorous. I want them to be able to get back to that sort of interaction, and I see no reason why that can’t happen.

  14. Santa Traugott

    My sense is that Martin and Louisa rejected their more “comfortable” alternatives because they were in love with each other, and anything else would have seemed like a luke-warm compromise in comparison, and not necessarily because of faults they found in Danny and Edith, although there were faults aplenty. More than between Martin and Louisa, is questionable to me. Although they might have been tempted to go down that road, in the end, they just couldn’t. Even when Louisa rejects Danny, she finds him wanting, in direct comparison with Martin. And Martin leaves Edith when he is explictly reminded that she is not Louisa — and he leaves her with some regret (his wave to her at the door of the room where she is giving her presenation). (BTW, in the morning after, Edith was exactly right — he does have a phobia of intimacy — only not with her.)

    Whether the Martin and Edith pairing, or the Danny-Louisa pairing would ultimately have worked, is another question. But the possibility made us, the viewers, uncomfortable, precisely because they looked plausible on the surface — someone “like” the protagonists, not requiring much in the way of growth to be able to rock along together. I do think that ultimately, Martin would have not proved a very satisfactory mate for Edith and that he would have been stoically unhappy without knowing way or pressing much for a solution.

    My view of Louisa’s leaving Martin is that although she has always been attracted to him — loves him, in fact — she is very aware of his limitations with respect to relationships. And those limitations are very real, and come close to being deal-breaking. I see her as every once in a while, coming up against the reality of those limitations and deciding that she just can’t live with them. Unlike most who analyse her, I don’t see her behavior as flight due to abandonment issues, or b/c she can’t deal with difficulty, but as her more realistic and rational self surfacing and taking over, as she faces the reality that he is just impossible to relate to.

    I do agree that she might have tried, not necessarily harder, but more effectively, to break through to him. I so wish that instead of taking the decision to bail out and go to Spain, she had sat down with him and laid out her dissatisfactions with him and their marriage, and essentially forced him to make a clear decision to change — or not.

    I don’t think the issue in S5 was just that he was making decisions without her. I think it was that there was little or no real intimacy or sharing, and the lack of decision-making consultation was just one more instance of that. He wanted to “have” her, without any of the work of breaking down his own internal barriers, and she wasn’t going to tolerate that any more.

    I hope I can explicate the following well: First of all, in the “real” world, we would of course have seen more back and forth-ing, where Louisa earnestly tries to get across to him what she needs from him (and vice-versa, of course). But we only get to see the highlights of this failed process, because we are only getting snapshots, in a way, instead of video, of their relationship.

    But beyond that, I have always felt that Louisa operates with Martin out of a sense that he has to be his own agent of change — that anything that she coerces out of him, or that he gives her because she demands it — is not ultimately going to be of value in their relationship. Or that making demands would just fail, because he could not find a way to acknowledge even their legitimacy, never mind accommodating them. The scene in the schoolyard in the last episode of S4 is emblematic of this. She is waiting, waiting, waiting for him to break — to express what I think she knows is his love for her, his reluctance to leave, his desire to be a part of his child’s life, and over and over again in that conversation, he disappoints her. But at that moment, if she had said, “Please stay — I need you, your child needs you, we can work something out” — could that have gotten through to him, or done more than briefly shaken him before he resorted to more intellectualizxing and distancing? I don’t think so. I think she has always felt that he must make these moves himself, in order for them to work.

    This is on the order, I suppose, of the sage advice given to those who must deal with addicts — you can’t make them want to change, you can’t force or demand these changes, they have to come to the decision to change themselves, etc., etc.

    Whether she might have pushed harder, whether that was all that he was waiting for — some cue that he was really wanted, whether she trusts too much to her own judgment and not enough in him — that’s a slightly different story. But I don’t see her as operating out of weakness and fear, but more from strength and a deep respect for his need to make his own choices.

    Well — we may ultimately disagree on this, but I do appreciate the opportunity to make concrete some vague thoughts that have been floating around in my head for a while now.

  15. Santa Traugott

    To clarify my penultimate paragraph: I think she has the feeling that if she has to ask for it, either it won’t be given, or it won’t be worthwhile. And that’s what she’s operating from — and respect for another’s agency is indeed very important, but in the end, perhaps also deeply unfair, because she is expecting him to do all the mind-reading, while at the same time, misreading him. That was the point, of course, in the brief discussion of whether or not she had wanted a real honeymoon.

  16. Santa Traugott

    Sorry — I should also say that each of them is also operating out of some degree of insecurity and fear of rejection, which adds to the difficulty of making demands of the other. What if they didn’t love you enough to try to comply? How painful that would be…. all the more reason to wait for them to make their feelings explicit.

  17. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Speaking for myself, I never bought into Danny being a viable mate for L. I did worry that M might make a huge mistake and consider getting back with Edith because she struck when he was most vulnerable and easily manipulated. Plus, she was presented as a master manipulator. They had medicine in common, and she tried to appear tender towards him at times. I always thought she had too many “snake in the grass” qualities to make her a truly good candidate as a love interest, but we viewers were certainly expected to be troubled that he might make the wrong decision.

    I see that scene when he leaves Edith while she’s giving her talk differently again. I don’t think he has a look of regret. I think he is relieved to be leaving and when he hears her delivering that lame joke, he is more convinced than ever that he has made the right decision. He wasn’t comfortable in the hotel, sharing a room with Edith, or listening to her speech. He wants out.

  18. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I agree totally with this last comment. Whew!! They are both insecure and fear rejection. It’s so nice to have this “conversation” with you and I hope we are both just having fun exchanging ideas.

  19. Santa Traugott

    Yes, I certainly am! It’s interesting that this series provides so much food for thought and divergent points of view.

    I wonder if this were a novel — written by one person with a coherent point of view that may have organically developed but not differed over the writing process — whether there’d be so much to discuss (although I love discussing novels, too). That is, I think part of the ambiguity is in the shifting requirements and parameters of the creative task in producing DM.

  20. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I run a book discussion group too and some well written novels bring out some very divergent views in our group. But I think it’s still true that developing a TV series over a number of years leads down some paths that might not have been used if all of it had been written by one person over time. It’s hard to say since I can think of many novels that have been taught for years and are also ambiguous enough and provocative enough to have many forms of analysis brought to bear. Some novels from the 19th C are still being analyzed!

  21. m.

    I think most people loved British television because it was so honest about people and relationships, and wasn’t afraid to have realistic endings rather than the fairy tale endings that are so common in American culture. Unfortunately, that seems to be changing because there’s a desire to appeal to American audiences that wasn’t as great in the heyday of British television.

    As an American I’ve noticed that our culture tends to love the combination of the troubled man/good(savior) woman where time and again the man is redeemed and transformed by her love.

    Doc Martin and Louisa don’t belong together. The attraction is unhealthy on both sides. Louisa is attracted to Martin because she was raised by two self centered parents who emotionally neglected her, therefore, Martin’s coldness and inability to empathize replicates the conditions she grew up with. It may be frustrating and painful , but it’s familiar so she knows what to expect every time. This is why she gets very uncomfortable when he tries to be social for her sake.

    Martin was emotionally neglected and abused by cold, unfeeling parents who resented him, and to make matters worse, he seems to have some form of Autism. There are times when he can’t figure out why Louisa is upset like a person could who didn’t have a neurological problem. Martin and Louise seem to be speaking two different languages most of the time.

    I’m a romantic, but this relationship just makes me sad. I see two people who can’t seem to communicate because there’s always a wall between them. When Louisa is with Martin, she never smiles. They can’t even have a laugh or playful times together because he has no sense of humor. Deep down I think they know it’s wrong- neither showed up for the first wedding, and Louisa was late for the second like she wanted to get out of it. During the whole relationship, she keeps backing out but of course she keeps coming back for more, like most people do, believing it will be different the next time.

    Now that they are married, they should work out their issues, but it’s sad that dysfunctional relationships are romanticized in this way when there are so many people living in this kind of misery in real life.

  22. waxwings

    O boy. I hardly know where to start here. I do disagree with much of your “take” on the LG-ME tango, and ditto for your conclusions about American audiences wanting/needing the woman to “rescue” the man, but I share some of your frustration that our duo can never seem to bridge their gaps. (This may be more a function of needing to make new episodes in a very long-running TV series rather than an actual truth in their relationship).

    You feel the Doc and Louisa “don’t belong together,” reasoning that Louisa was raised by two self-centered parents who emotionally neglected her, and therefore ME’s coldness and inability to empathize replicates her parents, and is thus safe and familiar territory to which she gravitates. Yikes. No, I think she gravitates towards him precisely because he is basically a very good and decent and generous person who has been injured, and whose learned behaviors protect him from injury originating from people who are close to him. She sees the goodness, but does not know how to access it. When she comes up against his walls over and over, her own worst self comes out in bad and shrill behaviors and ultimately in running away (which is her “comfortable” default mode).

    If he is self-centered (and he appears on the surface to be) it is because he has lived his entire life in a protective caccoon that does not know how to be “giving and generous” to anyone in his life. It doesn’t mean that the generosity is not there for her and his family (we see it over and over in his willingness to go great distances for his patients and any medical problem.) It means he does not know how to let his emotions and love find expression in visible and concrete ways that Louisa can feel and see, in a “normal” way.

    Louisa’s distress over ME’s attempts to “be sociable” (for her sake) in this series is not because he was truly “being sociable” in any part of the series (you don’t ask somebody to dinner the same day, esp. if you haven’t consulted your partner; and you don’t withhold your guests comfort and wine imperiously if you were truly trying to be “sociable”). No, Louisa’s distress comes from her perception that his attempts were totally inept and inappropriate and insincere. In fact, he does not know how to do it, and in his brusk and ineffective attempts, she is embarrassed and alarmed and deeply chagrined. Again, his inability comes from the emotional straight jackets that he put on himself very early in his life. (These desperate attempts to do something he does not know how to do are more to be pitied than ridiculed)

    Which brings me to your assertion that he has an autism that results in this kind of inappropriate behavior. While I concede that superficially it appears to be an autism (inability to connect with or empathize with others), I submit that his “condition” just mimics what we know as a form of Aspergers. It only looks like autism. (He is perfectly functional in other ways). I think his true problem stems from his early childhood life—from his parents’ neglect and cruelty. His demeanor all stems from his basic inability to be emotionally attached to or intimate with anybody. (Thus, his phobia, his fear of Louisa’s closeness).

    Martin never experienced unconditional love and affection, and he doesn’t know how to deal with it, even at a very basic level, such as friendship with neighbors or acquaintances. And now he must deal with it as a married man and father with a family. To receive love and affection from Louisa must have been terrifying. When we are afraid, we tend to erect walls to protect ourselves.

    I agree with you that the duo doesn’t know how to communicate, and there is always a wall they cannot scale, but that fault lies mainly with Martin’s shutdown, closed off condition. Louisa tries several times to scale the wall, but not well. Throw in the stresses of having a baby, two professional careers, and a cramped, fish-tank environment, there are bound to be insurmountable problems.

    What I sense and feel from the duo is that Martin is injured and does not know it. He acts in the only ways he knows how. Louisa sees the good in him and just doesn’t know how to bring it out. For a long time, she does not understand his early childhood injuries, and she does not recognize her own need for help. I think in Series 7, we will see the couple get the help they need – separately and together. It is easy to perceive this couple as a disaster, but I think underneath, they are offer a rich and fertile ground for a loving community to take root. Both have a great deal to offer the other. Personally I don’t believe the Doc Martin viewers have romanticized this couple at all. (Just read this blog). And I don’t believe for a moment that Louisa will be able to “fix” the Doc and live happily every after. He has to do it himself, and she must find the patience (learn the skills and get the therapy as well) to see them through. They have to do it together.

  23. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thank you Marta for your quick response. I will be writing my response soon, but don’t have enough time right now. As always I appreciate the comments even though I have many disagreements with them. More to follow…

  24. Santa Traugott

    There is much I agree with here, although I don’t come to the same conclusion, that they don’t belong together.

    I’ve always been struck by Martin’s drive to the church. Seen through the window as he arrives, he looks like a man going to a funeral. So, there’s a message there, I think.

    They certainly didn’t belong to be married at the end of S3. The breakup would have been inevitable and probably final.

    Caroline Catz said once that they were “pushing the outer envelope” of how incompatible two people can be, and still stay together, and that’s certainly true, although your point is, I think, that they are going to tear right through that envelope, or should, anyway.

    I feel that there is more than sexual chemistry between them, and that Louisa does genuinely get who he is, and loves him, and vice-versa. Actually I guess Louisa has the edge here, because Martin has never really understood how important her role as teacher and headmistess is to her. So that is the basis of a more functional relationship, but of course, one can love someone and not be able to live with them. And that’s what Louisa appears to be currently debating.

    I still think Martin might have been reasonably satisfied with a marriage to Edith, but that he will ultimately be more rewarded by learning to partner with a woman he deeply loves. Same goes for Danny and Louisa. I think marriage can offer opportunities for real growth, just as parenting does. I guess I don’t see that as romantic.

    But on the evidence so far, they are miserable with each other. That just says to me that they have a lot of work to do if they want to stay together, and in real life, they might not succeed. Here, I think we are going to get a somewhat hopeful (although probably still equivocal) ending.

  25. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I have read both Marta and Santa’s responses to your comments and finally found some time to reply myself. I can break down your remarks into several divisions. The first is your broad brush approach to British and American TV. In both cases I would like to have some examples that represent your point of view because I see little evidence of the realistic endings you attribute to British TV or of the fairy tale endings you say American TV usually provides. My recent posts that have to do with why DM is so appealing and whether Martin and Louisa should stay together mention several American shows that have anything but fairy tale endings, e.g. Breaking Bad, Sopranos, True Detective. I probably can’t speak from as much experience about British TV, but I’d love to know which ones you think have realistic endings. In addition, the above American examples do not contain troubled men/savior women. The women are often equally complicit in what the man has been up to or they have been involved in extramarital affairs and other problematic behaviors. I certainly would not call them angels!

    Secondly, I do not see Louisa as having been brought up in a household that was cold. Her mother left L and her father when she was around 11, but when we meet her mother in DM, she seems quite affectionate towards L even if L rightfully harbors some resentment towards her. Her mother is unreliable and unpredictable, but not emotionally cold. She wants to reestablish a connection to L and becomes tearful when she realizes that she has upset L. She’s unaware of her faults to a great extent, but she’s trying in her own way to help. She is certainly very sympathetic to L when L appears at her door with JH after she leaves M in S5. Furthermore, L’s father is kind to her and she has fond memories of times with him as a child. He is a loser in many ways, but not an unsympathetic father. I think we have to differentiate between those two traits and we’re supposed to realize that people are complex and can be both failures in business or achievement while still being caring people. An actual case of this kind of father can be found in Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle.

    I do not at all consider ME to be cold either. He is missing an ability to recognize how to interpret what people want from him or even what they are saying to him. Most of us depend on others to pick up on various cues we give them, but he is immune to those cues. Nevertheless, he does many tender and caring things throughout the series, both to and for L and for his patients. I don’t know many doctors who leave their practices to come running to help someone needing care in various locations around town. He does the same for Louisa several times in addition to expressing tenderness by caressing her cheek or taking care of the baby when she’s tired. His efforts to socialize for her sake are appreciated by her; she just wishes he’d consult her before inviting people over for dinner. Once again, he misinterprets how he should behave in this setting and has the best of intentions only to find out he’s once again made a false step. The awkwardness is meant to make viewers squirm but also laugh. I can certainly relate on a personal level since I’ve been known to invite people over that my husband wishes I had not invited. There’s a bit of real life mixed in with pure situational comedy. Even when these two don’t communicate well, we should be amused by much of it. That’s the whole point: Martin is not good at talking and lacking in people skills while Louisa relates well to others and expresses herself well. As far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t stop them from being well suited as a couple for so many other reasons (which I’ve discussed before).

    Your assertion that L never smiles when she’s with Martin is simply false. She smiles at various times, but especially during the day of their marriage. Not only that, but her delay in getting to the church is explained as a problem with her hair. She is very quick to say she’s sure she wants to marry M when the Vicar asks and even gives a sigh of relief when M says he’s certain too.

    If you consider their marriage to be romanticized simply because they are going to work on their marital problems then I have a very different idea of what it means to romanticize something. What they are doing is entertaining viewers by dramatizing how this couple can work out their difficulties. This is a dramedy, a combination of drama and comedy, and we get quite a bit of comedy mixed in. We should never lose sight of that.

    As I’ve argued before and continue to contend, we should not look at this show as providing us with a realistic view of a couple going through couple and then marital issues. I find many topics brought up by this show worthy of discussion and reflection, but the dysfunction in their relationship was quite funny until S6 and I continue to see amusing aspects in it. The bottom line is Martin and Louisa are meant to clash and reconcile and clash and reconcile. Some of that reflects what could happen with any couple, some of it is included because it gives them more drama to pursue in the show. Ultimately, however, I enjoy chuckling at their conflicts and the way they’re resolved and missed that in S6. For me there was too much realism in the last series!

  26. m.

    I meant that generally the British tended to show the ugly, outrageous or grotesque side of human behavior where extremely unlikable people can be the main characters and they don’t have to be perfect looking or young. For example, Waiting for God had an outspoken, irritable, often down right nasty elderly lead character ,Diana Trent, the ageist, bigoted, self centered manager, Harvey Baines, and Marion Ballard, who was a drunken , drug taker who slept around on her husband and had two horrible children who may or may not have been his. AbFab’s main characters were two appallingly selfish, disgusting druggies who chain smoked and drank. One abused and neglected her daughter and the other was an anorexic. Even now you wouldn’t see something like that in America on prime time. Of course you had the Norman Lear comedies of the seventies, but the pendulum has swung the other way, because in a way never changed from the political correctness of the eighties. Becker or House, were cranky, but they weren’t as grotesque or outrageous as some British characters. You mentioned Breaking Bad, but cable has always been more daring. Also there’s a endless parade of American rom-coms today with perfect looking people. You can guess what’s going to happen and who will end up with who from the beginning. I’ve begun to see this echoed in British productions like Lark Rise at Candleford- the Hallmark-like cinematography where everything is bathed in a golden sheen, and the heartwarming situations and characters.

    In the seventies western, Molly and Lawless John, a neglected lawman’s wife falls for a good looking criminal who convinces her to let him out of jail and run away with him. She is a plain, older woman. Eventually he verbally abuses her, cheats on her with a prostitute while she waits outside, and makes it clear that he was only using her. Later, Molly kills him because he was going to kill the Indian baby she adopted. He was rotten and he stayed rotten until his end. If this were made now, Molly would be a beauty in her twenties and John would be a rogue who was basically good. Of course, Molly would be the one to “tame” him and by the end they would be madly in love. Maybe American soap operas might be part of the reason for popularity of the good woman/bad man paring. You often have horrible male characters who are abusers and murderers being adored by the female viewers! I remember one actor( I think he played Todd on All My Children) quitting because he was appalled that women loved his character who was a rapist.

    Now understand, I didn’t use that as an example to say that the Doctor was a bad man. He isn’t.
    I just don’t see any reason why people wanted he and Louisa to get married.

    When Doc Martin first arrived in the village, I believe he saw Louisa as an ideal, a fantasy. As long as she stayed a fantasy he could cope , but when she came closer and the fantasy became a reality, he was clueless as to how to behave. In a way this parallels his relationship with his parents. He probably wanted their love and to be close to them, but he couldn’t have that so he might have numbed himself so it wouldn’t hurt so much. Medicine is what he understands, and it seems to be the only way he expresses love to Louisa. When she’s physically hurt or in a crisis he shows concern, but when she needs emotional care he can’t seem to give it to her.

    I noticed that the autistic traits that he showed in the beginning have diminished and in the latest series he just seems cranky and irritable.

    I don’t think Louisa’s parents were evil people, but in a way they were clueless as to what she needed emotionally like Martin is. She couldn’t depend on them in the way a child should be able to depend on their parents.

    You have to wonder why Louisa, an attractive, intelligent woman who could have her pick of men, would choose to be in a relationship that is so frustrating and painful for her. Why do people pick the one person who can’t give them what they say they want? I think it’s because deep down they are afraid to have what they really want because they would have to change as well to be able to receive it. If Louisa can obsess about what’s wrong with the Doc and what he needs to do to fix himself, then she can avoid dealing with her own issues.

    Sure, being with the Doc when he’s diagnosing a rare case or saving someone’s life is exciting, but other than that I wouldn’t find anyone with his issues to be attractive. Yes, there’s is good in him, but I’d rather have someone who’s good isn’t buried under layers of numbness on top of pain where I feel like I’d have to spend years begging, nagging and pleading to get what I need from him. I called this romanticizing, because this relationship is so strange and dysfunctional that I don’t understand why people see it as a great love story. Why do they love each other? They don’t have much in common, and I don’t see good conversations, or great sexual or romantic chemistry. Once in a while they’ll be on the outs, the Doc will say some sweet things and Louisa will run to him and pounce, the lips will get pressed together and the whole mess starts all over again.

    I remember once when Louisa was walking with a man, I don’t remember who, and she was carefree, laughing and happy. She should be able to be that way with the man she loves and she isn’t. Let me clarify, I don’t mean all of the time, but certainly most of the time. Their marriage is horrible. Louisa said she was late because of her hair, but I don’t believe that was the real reason. It’s not like she has a complicated hair style; she either wears it in a ponytail or down. The Doc’s aunt knows the score. I forgot this part but I was told that during the wedding the baby was crying and she muttered, “Out of the mouths of babes.” I think it’s very telling that she’s a psychiatrist. A poster said that they were like a couple of roommates instead of a married couple. I agree completely. They both need some serious counselling.

    Martin Clunes said that people would stop him on the street and demand that the Doc marry Louisa, so there’s pressure on them to give the fans what they want. I understand that a relationship with some twists and turns is more interesting to people and they want a payoff at the end. I don’t know- I just wish they wouldn’t have had the baby and got married. Even though Edith wasn’t the best person, I liked the way she dealt with the Doc. She seemed to have a sense of humor about him and basically accepted his eccentricities. In a weird way she reminded me of his Aunt Ruth with her droll way of talking.

  27. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thank you for all the information on British TV shows. You have a much better knowledge of them than I do. We can quibble over this sort of thing without coming to any agreement, and that’s fine. I certainly can’t defend a lot of American TV. We record what we like and watch it when we choose because we often can’t find many shows we want to watch when we feel like watching something.

    Your views on ME and his desire to have L in his life are different from mine, but you’re entitled to think what you want and I won’t do any more to dissuade you. I have given my interpretation of Louisa’s reasons for being attracted to ME in a previous post. The bottom line for me is that this is a show that has been written with these characters functioning the way they do because it’s the story these writers, producers, actors want to tell. Analyzing it as if they are a real couple has major limitations and is not how we ought to react to reading a novel or watching a film or TV show. The story has been established a certain way for reasons we have no business interfering with and we should accept it as it has been written. We relate to these characters as if we know them, but we shouldn’t take that too far. I love thinking about the issues brought up in the show, but when we get to the point of wondering why L would want to be with M or vice versa, we’re entering territory that is off limits in my opinion.

  28. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Marta, now that I’ve had more time to read your comments, I want to say I really like so much of what you said. I think your assessment of M’s efforts to be “sociable” is very convincing. I also love your comments about the crux of the problem for this duo. I agree, too, that he won’t be “fixed” at any point. Everyone is a work in progress, and that’s a good thing. We all keep adapting and reshaping ourselves as we age, especially when we’re married and have to adapt to each other as well. Events and incidents happen along the road of life that change us in various ways and we are required to rethink and reset how we manage them. Martin never thought he’d be a father, but now that he is, he’s getting used to having a baby around and is quite attached to the little fellow. He never thought he’d live in a small town and be the GP, but he’s getting some real satisfaction out of taking care of the many esoteric ailments he discovers. He’s never going to love being around many people, however, he has grown to want Louisa with him and to acknowledge that Ruth is important in his life. He’s already been changing as the series continue. S6 included some setbacks, none of which were too surprising considering the nature of his phobia and the severe impact of his mother on him. But we do see a light go on after Ruth talks to him and soon we’ll see what he’s going to do to redeem his relationship with Louisa. Thanks for your comments.

  29. Linda

    I agree. There would be no show without their relationship. And, it is time for them to figure things out and be happy.

  30. Linda

    You are SO right! They need to talk things through and not be afraid to express feelings! Every time they draw apart it is because of a lack of communication! Each needs to understand the other and each needs to work for the happiness of the other and for James.

  31. Linda

    I agree! I would love to see Martin laugh and smile and to be affectionate with his wife and child!

  32. Linda

    I loved their interaction as a newly engaged couple and feel they needed to have more time to really explore the idea of marriage. I didn’t get why they called the wedding off when things were going so well. Even so, they needed to talk things through because she bolted to London for 6 months and he was preparing to leave too when she arrived back, pregnant. Since they both loved each other, it was painful that they were apart so long and both assumed that the other was not interested anymore. It seemed to leave an awkward gap in the story. Worst of all, we had to endure that vile Edith! Yuk!

  33. Linda

    I love what you say too! Louisa is such a strong woman. She know herself and defends her dreams. She never pretends to be perfect. She might be the only one who could live with Martin and yet it remains such a challenge for her. He is intuitive as a doctor but is clueless with his own wife and for that matter, anyone who he is close to. She practically begs him for compliments, for his opinions of what SHE is doing, for information about their future life, and of course, for him to SHARE his whole life with her – the good and the bad. He misses her little jokes as well as her direct conversation. He loves her so much, so it is mystifying that he can’t share things or understand the need to be tender when she shows distress. I have said this before, THEY NEED TO LEARN TO TALK HONESTLY AND OPENLY WITH EACH OTHER!!!!! She gets this but he does not seem able to “read” her, even when she is in deep distress and even TELLS him she is sad. He surely thinks about it but fails to take any positive action. This may be because he doesn’t understand what is happening to himself. I imagine he has a fair bit of angst about the blood phobia returning. He tries to find a medical reason for his insomnia, lack of appetite, and weight loss. No doubt he wants to solve the mystery of his blood phobia. When she leaves for Spain, he tells Ruth that he could not stop her. The truth is, he didn’t even try. He had that evening to apologize and explain his behaviour and when he was talking to her through the bathroom door, it seemed as if they both wanted to have an exchange about what had happened. Joan always tried to give him good advice. Ruth has given him some great advice at the end of series 6 which he appears to be taking to heart. It was always clear that they wanted the best for him and for Louisa and James. Ruth was right in telling him that it was HE who needed to change if he was to repair his relationship with Louisa. When he asks Louisa why everyone had to be happy all the time, it became clear that he did not know anything about being HAPPY. We can’t fault him for this, but it is one of the things he has to learn. Maybe if he were to experience it for real, he would like it and want more. It is hard to imagine a life in which one has never experienced happiness.

  34. Sandy

    First, I just want to say I LOVE this forum! I have binge watched S1-6, and am throughly indulging in reading all of this thoughtful discussion. One, comment/question…..has anyone else thought about the irony of DM’s attempt at providing “couples counseling” at the end of S1 E1 (to the Sargent and his wife) and years later as S6 ends it appears he will be participating in counseling for his marriage and other issues.

  35. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    It’s so nice to have a new reader and commenter! You bring up an interesting point that I had not thought of before. One quick thought I have is that his view on couple’s counseling seems steady since he finds reconciling a marriage in trouble important in both cases.

    Any other thoughts on this?

  36. anna

    What I idly find myself wondering is how much of , hrm, S3-6 they had any sense of when they started the show. To put it another way, I truly wonder if they just thought they were going to be making a sitcom-plus-some-drama, or if they had any sense that they would be delving into such a broken person.

    That said, I think this show in facts needs them to be together. Movies / literature trying to make other points, or trying to be avant-garde, or “real” (which I think of as three different things) would have them separate…but that hasn’t been the story they’ve been laying the groundwork of, and having them separate for good would be taking a very weird turn.

    Even if they did actually split , with Louisa leaving for good, I don’t see Martin ever moving past it. He would always have that moment for her, that softening of tone, for the rest of his life. And since this is fiction, doing that would just be cruel, truthful as it might be to reality.

  37. Santa Traugott

    Hi Anna —

    The way I have always thought about their parting is that it would make nonsense of everything that has gone before. I’m sure the reconciliation and healing in S7 will be drawn out, with many ups and downs, but by the end of S7, I believe they will be on the road to a solid marriage. My hope is that we see a rather gradual and steady progress, rather than a last minute breakthrough, b/c we’ve been there before and if that’s all we get, there’s no real reason to believe that the S7 reconciliation would stick, either.

    At some point, they must have realized that they could spin this out as long as they wanted, as ITV was not going to kill such a golden goose. I don’t know when that point was. I’m not sure they thought they were going to do a S6, but once on the downward path, they must have realized the story arc needed two series. I think of S3-5 as a unit, and S6-S7 as another.

  38. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I’m pretty much on the same page as Santa, especially when it comes to her contention that taking them apart would make nonsense of the show. I also agree that a gradual yet steady reconciliation would be best.

    Their decision to make S6 so dark is harder for me to grasp. Sometimes I wonder if they didn’t realize how little humor had been left in the show. In the early episodes there are a few relatively typical scenes that usually elicit a laugh but this time didn’t for me, e.g. when Louisa reads Becky’s article to Martin. She quotes Becky as writing about Martin’s poor bedside manner, but here he’s suffered a serious hand wound and it seems really awkward, and not at all funny, that Louisa picks that moment to bring up the article.

    Anything is possible, even that they miscalculated. I agree, though, that they must have realized they needed another series to redeem the show and the story.

  39. anna

    I think if they do it well, a S7 that brings them together would give the show an amazing narrative arc that would stand up very differently to re-watching than much of the current show to date. And I agree – it has to be gradual. The epiphany moments as they’ve been shown so far all clearly end in failure. This is perhaps unsurprising , as they are all drawn from very intense and or stressful moments. You can catalyze with stress, but you can’t necessarily build something from it.

    And agreed on the humor – S6E1 had me rolling in the aisles, as it were – it was amazing. It had them working in concert, through *absurd* situations, that had me laughing, but also cheering (I sound like ad-copy here, don’t I?) In the last few episodes, I actually largely skipped the “funny” bits (penhale on his training course, etc) since they just didn’t seem to fit at all the tone of the show I felt I was watching.

    They are filming now! So I can at least rest with knowing that I may get to know something before the end of the year 🙂

  40. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I am with you on the humor of S6E1. I have a whole post that breaks down the humor in that episode because I liked it so much. Penhale’s antics were irritating rather than funny to me and I fast-forwarded through much of those too.

    We all hope for the best in S7. No matter what, we will be seeing the choices they made before the year ends.

  41. anna

    Also, I’ll let this particular thread go after this bit, but the one scene mid-season where Morwenna walks in on the shirtless Doctor testing his heartbeat or whatever was perhaps the most priceless non-emotional moment of the season. They both did that at 100%. It was both sad as part of his increasingly desperate attempts to figure things out, but at the same time, it was amazingly hilarious. In that sense, though, it stood out as being unusual, just as above.

  42. Amy

    I am reading these posts and responding after seeing Series 7, and it’s interesting to see how we all had high hopes that this season would really give them a chance to work out their relationship and improve it, if possible. But instead we saw little progress until the rapid-fire epiphany in the last two minutes that they still loved each other. They knew that from the beginning, and although I do think that they may have learned a few things from Dr T, not enough to believe they’re now ready to live and raise a child together and be happy.

    Maybe Louisa now knows it’s not just Martin who has issues; maybe she now realizes her own abandonment issues have made her push him away every time he tries to move closer. And maybe Martin now realizes he can’t let her push him away and that he needs to listen more to her and to himself. But that’s a baby step. Not enough progress was made this season to believe that they are ready to be together.

    My hope for Series 8 (and why do they have to wait TWO years to do it?) is that we will see a step by step development towards a real happy ending. Or as happy as these two people can ever be.

    I’m new here—-I hope my comments aren’t too little, too late!

  43. Pinar Ozge

    No, just no. Louisa should leave Martin and she should have never married him because the two of them are fundamentally incompatible. One cannot change one’s personality for the sake of a marriage even if one wanted to. So their marriage is based on wishful thinking. I am sick of seeing this story being repeated in the show. I watch the show for the comedy in it, not for the so-called “romantic” story of Martin and Louisa. I also watched DCI Banks this year and it was fun to see Caroline Catz in such a different role. She plays a role more like Sherlock in that one.

  44. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thank you for writing. I am always glad to see a new reader of the blog make a comment.

    Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion; however, as a fan of the show you are somewhat unique in watching it for the humor more so than for the relationship between Martin and Louisa. I have no idea how many of the posts and comments on this blog you’ve had a chance to read, but you will eventually learn that for most of us the relationship is the focal point around which the storyline has been built. Moreover, because this is a story/fiction, the fact that a marriage between two characters might not work in a real life setting is not really at stake here. Ultimately, the marriage needs to be plausible and I think the writers, et.al. have done a satisfactory job of giving us reason to believe it is.

    Surely you would agree that the tension between Martin and Louisa, and their constant inability to communicate with each other, is both an obstacle to their romance as well as a source of humor.

    I have watched DCI Banks too and like seeing CC in a different role. My personal judgement is that Louisa stretches her more as an actress than Helen does. She’s acted in several detective series over her career and I am a bit tired of those at this point.

  45. Santa Traugott

    Or, as some would have it, why doesn’t he leave her?

    But Karen’s comment gets me to thinking about the difference between a story/fiction and “reality.” I’ve felt all along that looked at realistically, the basic plot is preposterous. Yes opposites attract, yes there’s friction and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. And there are elements in most of their interactions that we can see as real and empathize/sympathize with. Yet, taken as a whole, it just doesn’t wash, at least for me. I don’t think we’re meant to take it as a whole — it wasn’t written and plotted out that way, certainly.

    The only way this plot stretches out is by the device of miscommunication and misunderstandings. Yes, that’s real life — we have to learn how to communicate with our partners — but here it’s taken to extremes, which, looked at realistically are, preposterous.

    In real life, she would probably leave him. That, or make clear to him in one way or another, short of bailing, what she needs from him in order to stay. But, this is Brigadoon, not Port Isaac.

  46. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Well put! Being preposterous is probably another example of why this show should be perceived as a comedy more than a drama too. Many marriages in real life appear to be poor matches, but I have to guess there is at least good communication between the spouses. If not, they are living a life lacking in many of the qualities that make being married attractive.

    FWIW, the filming we’ve seen so far for S8 shows Louisa giving Martin spontaneous kisses on the cheek at least two times. That makes me think they are softening Louisa’s image again in this series. That would be a welcome change and might also be a sign of improved contact between them.

  47. Amy

    I’m going to disagree. What makes them so incompatible? They are both intelligent people who share a similar family history of abandonment (more severe in Martin’s case). They both find people like the Oakwoods and the Wenns despicable. They both care about their jobs. In many ways they have similar jobs—caring for other people. Sure, Martin is socially inept and introverted and Louisa is more social. But I know other couples like that. If they could learn to trust and communicate with each other, they’d stand as good a chance as many couples. So I don’t find the premise at all preposterous. I don’t find them to be opposites in many ways.

  48. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I interpreted Santa’s comment as claiming their inability to communicate for such a long, dragged out period of time is preposterous, not that their compatibility is. I agree with you that there are many reasons that their relationship seems acceptable to me, and I have said as much in a post from several years ago. Your examples are exactly ones I used too!

    Their constantly aborted efforts to talk to each other is a humorous and exasperating part of the show to me, but it has the aura of being excessive at this point. I wonder what will happen to that part of their interactions in the coming series.

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