Falling Over the Goal Line

I think the time has come to admit that I have run out of topics to write about in relation to Doc Martin. Like the show itself, IMHO, I think we’ve covered a plethora of interesting ideas inside and out and beyond thorough. In the process I have learned quite a bit about all sorts of psychological issues and jump started my interest in analytical writing, and even writing in general. I have also learned a great deal by reading so many insightful comments and I have become more informed about what it’s like to have a blog. (BTW, it’s pretty intense!)

Since Downton Abbey ended, and all the storylines were neatly wrapped up in mostly happy endings, I’ve been thinking about the conclusion of Doc Martin. I was not a fan of Downton Abbey and only watched a couple of series, but the decision to end that show after 6 years made sense to me. In fact, its creator and chief writer, Julian Fellowes, chose to end it after more series than originally planned. He had mapped out how the series should come to a close and knew the quality and credibility of the show would deteriorate if it continued. He was not running out of material; he had simply said what he wanted to say. (Incidentally, anyone thinking that it’s stressful to employ writers to write and others to edit 8 scripts every two years should think about the fact that Fellowes wrote nearly every script for Downton Abbey himself and they did not take years off. For more read here.)

I have made no secret of the fact that I am not pleased that Doc Martin will have more series. The primary reason for this position is that I have the sense that they have never had a plan for how it should end. Every good writer knows that the ending should be established when the beginning is first written. Every great novel or TV show has been written this way: Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sopranos, Walking Dead, and many more. Creative writing students are taught they must know what the ending is before they start writing. All producers of TV shows must rely on whether they are recommissioned to determine whether the show will continue, however, the creator/ writers ought to have an idea of how they would like their program to end. The way S6 and S7 were handled caused me to have doubts about how much effort had been spent on developing a strategy for how the show should end. The continuity of tone and action was simply missing and made me very frustrated and let down. Additional proof comes from listening to Martin Clunes say things like they never realized how essential to the plot the romance between Martin Ellingham and Louisa Glasson would become. It just seems standard that any romance in a story becomes the central focus, and they accentuated the interplay between these two characters from the first episode on. There was, perhaps, an expanding of this relationship when Caroline Catz performed so excellently in her role; however, whenever a writer puts a man and a woman in close proximity and sets up clashes, the likelihood is that that part of the story will take center stage. (In case you want to argue that every TV show must make adjustments with each newly commissioned series, I would only say that even so the writer(s)/producers should still know how they would like it to end. I recently saw an interview of the Walking Dead writer/creator, show runner, and cast on Inside the Actor’s Studio, a wonderful interview show presented as a seminar to students of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in NYC and televised since 1994 on Bravo, and all over the world. James Lipton, the lead moderator of the show, specifically asked the writer if he knows how the show will end. The writer immediately said “yes” but that he hadn’t told the show runner yet.)

As a fan of Doc Martin who has spent many hours writing about it, mostly in admiration of the high quality of the writing and acting, I feel it’s my duty to add a few more observations. Although I continue to be a fan of the show, the last two series have been troubling to me and I figure if anyone should, I ought to honestly express my concerns.

Yes, sure, as producer Mark Crowdy said prior to S6, it seems logical to wonder if ME can be a husband and father, but I never thought that required putting him in a deep depression, staring into space all the time. And once they’ve brought us to the place where the marriage is teetering on the edge, don’t bring the show back in S7, after a scene in the last episode of S6 in which ME tells Louisa that he isn’t good at being a husband and needs her help, with Louisa having departed for Spain after all. What happened? They were actually in agreement that they couldn’t just go home and act as though nothing had changed. But that is exactly what they must have done — that is, Louisa’s plans to leave weren’t altered by Martin expressing any regrets and we can only guess that Martin may have continued to say nothing to keep Louisa from leaving. He went back to his office after seeing Ruth in the last episode of S6 to make reservations to fly to Spain and catch up with Louisa, he told his mother to leave, and he apologized to a patient; all changes in approach for him. But at the beginning of S7 we’re back to square one.

I know, gaps are there for a reason and we are meant to speculate about what might have transpired, but when gaps become so big you can drive a truck through them, they begin to be significant fractures rather than minor intermissions. For example, let’s look at the previous gaps between series. At the outset of the show they made the decision to start each series as if very little time has passed. Therefore, S2 begins soon after Martin Ellingham has chosen to stay in Portwenn as the GP at the end of S1. He is immediately confronted with a difficult medical case that also includes some complications with his newly registered attraction to Louisa Glasson. We have a more significant gap between S2 and 3 because now the storylines are developing. The primary tension is between Martin and Louisa. At the end of the regular season, Martin had accused Louisa of stalking him after she reciprocated his expression of love for her. Then, early in S3, she accuses him of stalking her as he tries to redeem himself by wanting to ask her out to dinner. We also have Louisa needing some medical attention from Martin and finding the awkwardness in their relationship frustrating. The biggest gap between series comes between S3 and 4 when Louisa and Martin call off their marriage and Louisa leaves Portwenn. As it turns out, she has been in London for 6 months and, by the end of the first episode, has returned to Portwenn pregnant. We may have some interest in what she’s been doing during that interlude and how Martin has been handling the second time he’s been rejected by a woman he planned to marry; however, when Louisa returns in E1 of S4, the only thing we find ourselves wondering about is what she had been expecting upon her return. The shortest gap takes place between series 4 and 5 when Louisa is taken to the hospital after giving birth at the conclusion of S4. We don’t need to see how she’s transported to the hospital or how she’s checked in; we are perfectly happy to be brought into the story once that has all been completed and now she needs to find a way back to Portwenn. Although S4 had ended with the most passionate kiss yet between this couple, at the start of S5 Louisa isn’t taking anything for granted and seems pleasantly surprised with Martin’s offer to drive her back. It’s also not that important to know what took place between series 5 and 6 because Martin and Louisa departed hand in hand from the scene with Mrs. T at the Castle and now they are preparing to be married. We know some time has passed because James is obviously older by a couple of months, and there’s no doubt that some viewers would like to have seen Martin and Louisa having some nice times together, but we can accept that lacuna because the fact that the wedding is taking place has to mean things went well. However, when we get to the gap between series 6 and 7, there is a gap the size of a meteor crater that creates questions of equal magnitude.

This time there are a myriad of questions. Did Louisa go home with Martin from the hospital? Did they do anything to address their concerns about their married life? Did Martin remind Louisa of his plea to her in the operating room? Did he try to make some changes in his behavior towards her and somehow cause Louisa to leave? Was there any discussion about how long Louisa planned to stay in Spain? If Louisa told Martin she would call him once she got settled, why didn’t she? (The problem can’t be poor reception because she was obviously able to reach his voicemail when she tried.) Did Ruth do anything to help or did she, too, just abandon Martin and go off to London? And many more.

By the end of S7, no matter how convincing we may find the series, we are again (much like the end of S5) under the impression that Martin and Louisa have determined that they want to be together and plan to go home as a couple. I would really hate to see a repeat of S6 and the marriage return to a downward slide. I can’t imagine anyone being willing to go through another seesaw tour of whether Martin and Louisa will stay together. In my opinion S7 brought together many storylines, did a satisfactory job of concluding them, and ended with Martin and Louisa kissing, declaring their love for one another, and heading home together. That’s a good place to finalize the series and, in my opinion, whatever they do with S8 will be anticlimactic.

I have no intention of suggesting any storylines for S8. My blog has always been about analyzing what I think of the writing that has been presented to us. But because I have given the practices they have followed some thought, and they are clearly planning to have a S8, I want to offer some simple suggestions.

If they are going to begin the next series shortly after the previous one left off, then S8 should start with Louisa waking up in bed next to Martin, looking over at him, and appearing content that he’s there. Then, of course, either the dog or James (preferably James since they’ve used the dog before) will do something to interrupt the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if they contrived some sort of humorous bedroom scene. (By now they are certainly aware that many viewers have a fantasy of seeing Martin and Louisa snuggle in bed. I can imagine setting up a scene that hints of some sexual foreplay that quickly gets truncated. It would be incredibly out of character to actually have them do more than kiss, but it might be possible to have them kiss in bed.)

It would be nice to see Morwenna come to her senses and find someone who is as capable as she is. Al’s a nice guy but she can do better. Maybe someone truly adult can show up and have some interest in her. Or Al can finally get the B&B going and manage to become a success at something. Then Morwenna’s talents as an organizer/capable assistant may come in handy. If the B&B becomes more viable, Ruth may have a local business that keeps her active and she may also be needed to keep Bert under control.

Penhale and Janice could be a disaster waiting to happen, which might be very funny. He’s much older than she is, but their marriages have both failed and they couldn’t be more lacking in insight if they tried. Previously I noted that any romance between these two would be hard to fathom, but since it could add to the humor as well as mirror some action going on between Martin and Louisa, I’ve changed my position to some degree. I still think their relationship will be pretty wild; I just see how this could be a better way of using Penhale’s goofiness.

For me Mrs. Tishell has outlived her welcome and, like Aunt Joan or Dr. Timoney, should exit the show. Selina Cadell has been outstanding, but now that she’s back with Clive, her storyline can conclude without any adverse effects. Just as Martin and Louisa’s up and down relationship has run its course, Mrs. Tishell’s obsession with Martin has become tired and overdone.

All of the above is predicated on all the actors being available to return in 2017. To me that is a critical question considering the ages of several of them. Even more to the point is whether they can begin the next series soon after S7 ends, as has been their practice, since everyone has been aging and a baby who first appeared in S4 would now actually be 7 years old in real time. No matter how well Martin Clunes and Caroline Catz age, it difficult to believe that they are still as young as they were in S4 or S5. I mean, give us some credit for not being utterly delusional!!

One final observation: Recently I read an old interview with Martin Clunes because it was posted on Facebook. I was surprised that he mentioned Mikhail Bulgakov as a favorite writer of his. I am most familiar with Bulgakov’s collection of short stories, A Country Doctor’s Notebook, and especially the story called “The Steel Windpipe.” Before reading that Clunes is a fan of Bulgakov’s work, I had not thought about some of the similarities between these stories and Doc Martin. I was particularly struck by how they reflect the contrast I wrote about between professional advice and folk wisdom. In addition, like Martin Ellingham, the doctor in these stories has moved from the city to a small rural town and contends with all sorts of serious medical problems as well as ignorance and hesitancy to trust the doctor. Bulgakov writes with a sense of humor too. Now I can’t help wondering if there was anything about these stories that contributed to the writing of the show. (I also should mention that Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe turned Bulgakov’s stories into a television series in 2013 in the UK called “A Young Doctor’s Notebook.”)

At this point, my energy and dedication to writing this blog is flagging. I never thought I would be writing this blog for almost three years and never expected more series to come. The two year hiatus taken by the show between S6 and S7 stretched my ability to come up with topics to the nth degree. But I was very fortunate and the readers of the blog kept me going. Now I am struggling to find a way to sustain this blog another two years, and I think you readers must be feeling the same. I am in the strange position of having more blog subscribers than ever, and sometimes more readers of my posts than I used to have, but much fewer comments than before.

However, the amount of spam I get has never waned. One thing I had not realized when I started this blog was how much spam I would have to wade through. Along with actual readers from all over the world (yet primarily from the US) I get spam in all languages, and I mean all.  Although I know very little about other alphabets beyond the Latin one we use in English, I can identify messages that are written in French, Spanish, Greek, Chinese, Hindi, and who knows what other languages, and sometimes all mixed together. Every day without fail I get dozens of messages that want to sell me things. The range of items begins with erectile dysfunction meds to oxycontin or other controlled substances; from NFL jerseys to Michael Kors pocketbooks and Christian Louboutin shoes; from earrings to bracelets to cosmetics. If you’re interested in porn or sex of all kinds, start a blog. I also get long, totally unintelligible comments like “It’s pretty worth enough for me,” or that seem like someone sat down and wrote whatever words popped into their head (not that I read them to the end). I am offered all sorts of advice as well for getting my blog to go viral or become profitable. Some of the oddest spam comes from people who write that they were bored at work or their sister told them to check out my blog. Bottom line is I’ve learned to only approve the comments that specifically say something cogent about Doc Martin, but to get there can take more of one’s time than expected.

The response to my posts has been totally unpredictable. Some posts have inspired many comments while others barely got noticed. I always vowed that I wouldn’t let my ego get too involved and that I would be fine with writing the blog for myself. I have to admit, though, that it’s been difficult not to start looking for comments once some posts were noticed.

The hard truth is that realizing that this blog is languishing means closing a chapter in my life that has been both extremely fulfilling and utterly improbable. It was totally unlike me to jump into fandom of any show, and it had been years since I had written any essays approaching literary analysis. And I was very pleased that I still had it in me! If I managed to add a different dimension to this show for avid viewers, I am very thankful. I have gotten to connect with people all over the country and the world, and that has been wonderful for me.

I want to save every bit of the posts and the comments and have to learn the best way to do that. I will probably keep the blog going while finding very little to write about; however, if there are new readers, they will have access all the previous posts and comments. Keeping it open gives us all a little time to get accustomed to moving on and for writing any comments we still may have. Thank you all for an excellent adventure.


Originally posted 2016-05-11 11:35:09.

18 thoughts on “Falling Over the Goal Line

  1. Amy

    I am sorry that I discovered your blog so late. I would have enjoyed watching along with you and reading your analysis. I am now about to start rewatching Series 6 and somewhat dreading it.

    Two comments: in my head I am writing Series 8 in a way that will likely not happen, so I anticipate disappointment. My fantasy script has Martin and Louisa both committed to working on the relationship with a dedicated therapist who gets both of them to confront their fears of abandonment and intimacy. My script wouldn’t be too funny though, but would satisfy me and probably most fans. I think people can change through therapy and couples can grow together through therapy, and as I watch old episodes, I am struck again and again by how much Martin tries but fails to communicate with Louisa and vice versa. He feels hurt when she doesn’t understand his good intentions, and she feels hurt when he can’t express love without drowning it in medical talk and concerns. So I do believe the writers could do a lot with a final season that finds the two of them in a good place.

    Second comment: I use Blogbooker and Lulu to preserve hard copies of my blog. Blogbooker converts the blog into PDFs, and Lulu allows you to publish those PDFs in book format. I have eight volumes of my blog “published” in this way already as I’ve done it every three months. You’d probably have to break yours up that way also to make a manageable number of pages.

  2. Santa Traugott

    Well, Karen, I have been expecting this, and I do understand your decision. By all odds, your blog has been the most thoughtful discussion of DM on the internet. I hope it will continue to be read by many and that you will have a lot of occasion to respond to comments.

    I have noticed in myself that a lot of my interest in DM really diminished after the very satisfying ending to S7. It was clear, to me at least, that their marriage was now on solid ground and that whatever happened between them in the ordinary vicissitudes of marriage, they would stay together. I really have never cared very much what happens to Bert or Al or Sally Tishell or Aunt Ruth. To me, the main dramatic engine was their relationship and to the extent that my reaction is shared by others, I don’t think it bodes well for S8 or S9’s viewership. (I note that the production of fan faction that continues the Martin and Louisa story past the end of S7 is also down.) So I agree that it is very likely that these next seasons will be anti-climactic.

    I agree also that they did not start out with one coherent story line to follow through, with a definite beginning, middle and end. Indeed, it has always seemed to me to have the soap opera characteristic of introducing plot devices, the sole motivation for which seemed to be to keep the story going, never mind the plausibility or lack thereof. The most unconscionable example of this was yes, the gap between S6 and S7. All of the groundwork was laid for at least halting moves toward reconciliation, and yet we started S7 basically back at the point where Louisa first left in the taxi. That was so not credible that it really diminished S7 for me, as I couldn’t escape noticing the manipulation. Sometimes one could tell a story about why these backward lurches happened, as in Mark Crowdy saying that for someone with Martin’s baggage, a marital disaster was inevitable, but it always felt contrived, and as if one had to suspend disbelief in order to get on with the story. Their clear sense was that if they gave fans a happy ending, they would stop watching, so monkey wrenches kept having to be thrown at the plot to keep that from happening. But now it’s happened, so we’ll see how good their forecast was…I think, pretty good.

    I’d bet that they really thought that S7 was to be their last and then ITV made them an offer that they felt they couldn’t refuse.

    It’s interesting to speculate why they didn’t have a definite story arc, and a sense of how long they might want to stretch it. Perhaps part of the answer is in that interview with MC in which he mentioned Bulganin’s Country Doctor. (Fascinating insight into Martin Clunes, that, btw. Who knew he was that widely read.) Perhaps they thought that could be translated rather directly into a televised dramedy, and if that story didn’t have a love interest, they could have imagined that Martin, playing the village doctor, could have carried it, with just a spice of feisty, pretty local girl.

    Perhaps also they just didn’t have any idea that their series would catch on, and were expecting maybe one or two additional seasons and so never found a real plan for how it might play out over time, to be necessary. I think one can see that the Martin-Louisa love story really took center stage beginning in S3, when they might have begun to realize that they had a series with some staying power, and how focusing on Martin and Louisa’s trials and travails could enhance the likelihood of continuing on. (It’s also when Dominic Minghella and BP parted ways — coincidence?)

    Anyway — now we will have two more seasons. They may resort to killing Louisa off in order to build fan interest, but for sure, I think they will have another cliff-hanger between S7 and S8. I can also imagine the series opening several years down the road, with Martin a widower and two kids to manage – perhaps falling for the vet who replacing Dr. Sims’ daughter. Shudder. Anyway, I hope we will still have your take on future developments, in some form or other, if not this blog.

  3. Santa Traugott

    However, in fairness,, I do have to add that for me, the final denouement of S7 was more satisfying and felt more right than moving toward reconciliation at the end of S6. What it seemed to me happened was that by the end of S7, Martin had come to the conclusion that he was what he was, and while he could make some modifications, in the end, if Louisa couldn’t accept him as he was, then it was better to part rather than go on living in limbo and putting himself into contortions. And only then did she really see what the stakes were, and was able to make a conscious choice to take him as he was, for better or for worse. To me, that’s really the best outcome, and preferable to Martin agreeing to make changes that were beyond him (to become more “normal”, perhaps?) and probably not sustainable. And without Louisa realizing that she had a role to play in their marital difficulties, also.

  4. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks so much Amy. I really appreciate the recommendations of ways to save all the written work on this blog and will look into those. I would love to have a book, or set of volumes. We have written some pretty thoughtful posts and comments!!

    As for your hopes for S8, I have reached the conclusion based on how S7 was developed that what lies ahead will be much more comical than serious. I will be surprised if any counseling resumes, and the direction of the show appears to be towards farce rather than drama. My views are no more credible than yours, but the trajectory of the show in S7 was trying to get laughs rather than trying to address many real problems. They’ve fooled me before and there’s nothing to say that won’t happen again. I simply get the impression that they are done with introducing serious issues of family and interpersonal relationships and just want to keep things lighter now.

  5. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    As usual, Santa, you and I tend to agree on quite a lot. You lose me a little in your last couple of paragraphs, although you may just be having fun with those suggestions. I’m sticking to my view that without Louisa there is no show!!

    I am following your suggestion of keeping the blog open even though I may not write much. If I find something to write, I’ll certainly put it out there, but my level of enthusiasm has waned significantly. Their practice of taking a break between series is no longer very sensible. MC and his fam are having a great time traveling around Australia and making a documentary (infomercial) about the islands there, but DM should be their priority. Since it’s not, we viewers are left feeling under-appreciated and I, for one, will move on too.

  6. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    In the end we knew Martin was not going to change dramatically, i.e. they weren’t going to “fix” him. We also were pretty sure Louisa was going to come around to admitting she played a role in their difficulties as a couple. They arrived at that conclusion by many contrivances and contortions, but they got there nonetheless. We’re ok with the final upshot and we should let them ride into the sunset now. Happy trails, and all that…

  7. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Santa, please forgive me for neglecting to thank you very much for considering this blog the most thoughtful of those about this show. Your contributions helped make it better all the time. I sincerely want you to know how edifying it was for me to read comments from so many highly educated and accomplished people. The posts were elevated by all of your remarks and insights.

  8. Amy

    Time will tell! I just hope they don’t keep splitting up M and L because that is just tiresome at this point. There are lots of ways to create conflict and tension even with happy couples. Just observe any long term relationship, and you can see that! They could have tension over child care, work priorities, etc., without splitting them up again. Enough is enough!

  9. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Amen to that!! There are only so many times you can go back to the same well.

  10. Waxwings2

    What you have created in this blog is amazing. I am sorry that you are feeling discouraged, but I can understand.

    After three or four years of your writing and commenting weekly, it’s entirely understandable to feel you’ve run out of topics to write about on the Doc Martin show, especially if Australian island paradises have captured BP energies.

    Most of us would agree that you, above all others writing commentary about this outstanding show, have done a most fantastic job of bringing DM into the consciousness of interested viewers in an intelligent, illuminating and compelling way. We are the richer for it. We are all so appreciative that you created this blog and that we found you! Most of us agree that Series 7 did not match up to S1-S6. Our chagrin has been duly registered and we share your pain!

    Nevertheless, I am certain that I speak for many who are reading this when I say that your efforts to illuminate what has gone on in this extraordinary show are the best of any on the internet as far as depth, breadth and intelligence. God knows, you’ve found the most compelling and thought-provoking aspects of the show for us to chew on, and we have pondered over your insights and have been led by your inspired challenges to us. We have tried to keep up!

    When you first started worrying out loud about what was left to write about, I had an idea that I wanted to share with you and your veteran readers. See what you think….

    I feel there is a role for your topics to be re-offered anew to those who have just discovered what you created here, and for those of us who already know about you. With new blog members and those just learning about the show, I see no reason not to reprint topics that you have brought to us before with great intelligence and insight over all these years, and to which many of us responded.

    For those of us who are veterans, I say I want to re-know what you have written and what you have provoked in response from your intelligent respondents. When I go back and try to revisit some of your topics, it takes me a while to find them on WordPress (not a user-friendly site). Yours is a big blog and can be confusing as well. So I am suggesting that important topics you have raised over the years be re-listed on a weekly basis for us veterans to see again, and for new blog readers to see for the first time. I know I would appreciate that re-listing—by subject matter. This would surely take us up to the S8 series.

    You can offer them as weekly “repeats” that we can enjoy again and again as we think back over the past DM programs (or newly view them as “just discovered” viewers!)

    I have made a list below of those compelling topics that interest me, based on reviewing the chronological listing on your WordPress blog site, beginning with the earliest first:

    Humor, comedy, farce and dialogue
    Can People Change?
    Happiness, pursuit of it and rating it
    Depression and its complications
    The rational vs. the emotional
    Communicating, or failing to…
    Forgiveness and Reconciliation (People Make Mistakes)
    What is Normal?
    Fear and Loss
    Mothers and Mothering
    Fathers And Sons
    Acquaintances, Family and Friends

    I’m sure I’ve missed some important ones, but this is a start. These are all broad subject matters that the DM show touches on and that you have helped us explore in more depth. There are other subject areas that you could also reprint from your years of work and thought. An example of a category might be:

    Medical / Pscyhological Conditions:
    Introversion vs. extroversion
    Feeling ineffectual
    The role of therapy

    Like the NPR show “Car Talk Guys” that aired for 30 years and is now on repeat, I never get tired of hearing it. I always learn something. I think what you have created over several years deserves to be re-aired and re-read and re-commented upon. I know I always see something new in what you and others have written. More as time goes on.

    This is just a suggestion, but it comes from deep appreciation for something that you’ve created that is valid and true and really excellent. None of these attributes diminish with time, nor should they be lost on those who are new to the blog. What do others think?

  11. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Well, Marta, your endorsement is very gratifying to read and I am extremely humbled by it. Your suggestion of running repeats is worth considering since it does seem like some new readers have not read many of the earlier posts. I will take that under advisement and give it some serious thought. I don’t think it would be very difficult for me to do either.

    I’m sorry to learn that the site can be hard to navigate. It’s so easy for me that I guess I never think about the stumbling blocks others may encounter. It does seem like some readers have been able to go back and start from the beginning, based on their remarks and on what I see as posts that have been read each day.

    Anyway, thank you so much for your support throughout the years. You have helped make this blog better than anything I could have done on my own.

  12. Santa Traugott

    Hear, hear.

    There have been times recently when I had a thought about some previous topic and would have added it to previous discussions but didn’t because it seemed like the blog was winding down and the original post itself would take some effort to locate.

    I do agree entirely with your suggestions, and think that opening up the floor for suggestions for other topics might yield some new topics as well.

    We could have a “rewatch” in much the same way that Portwenn Online is revisiting episodes, week by week, only here it would be topics, week by week. As often on a rewatch, it is surprising what new insights develop.

    But still — we have to allow for the fact that any blogger may come to the point that their original subject matter no longer feels like something that they want to spend much more time thinking about, and that is understandable and their privilege.

  13. Amy

    As one of those new readers, I second (or third, I guess) Marta’s suggestion. Although I don’t find the site too hard to navigate if I am searching for a particular character, it is hard as a new reader to feel that it is worth commenting on posts that were written a long time ago. I know, Karen, that you do respond, but nevertheless it can feel like I’m that person who gets to a party after everyone else and tries to talk about things everyone else has already beaten to death. So I think reposting old posts is a great idea. Maybe do it by topic in the original chronological order you wrote them so we new readers can follow and pick up on old conversations?

    One question about navigating the site: Is there a way to search for discussions of a particular episode or season? Since I am rewatching in order, I find myself thinking, “I wonder what Karen and her blog followers thought of this episode?,” but I can’t figure out an easy way to find such discussions. For example, yesterday I watched the first episode of Season 6—the wedding episode. I’d forgotten how upbeat it was (in a strange, DM way) and wondered what you all might have said about that, given how Season 6 then developed. But I’d no idea how to search for a discussion of the episode. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

  14. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Amy, I will do my best to organize the previous posts into some coherent grouping. As far as S6E1, it was one of my favorites and I wrote a lot about it. I think you can find at least one post by searching for that episode, i.e. S6E1. Try that and let me know if you find it that way. I wrote more than one post about it, but that should allow you to find the major one and possibly the others too. If it doesn’t I’ll see what else I can do to help.

    It looks like reruns are in my future!

  15. Amy

    Thank you so much, Karen! I will give that a try. I will let you know.

    And I look forward to the reruns!!

  16. James Regan

    I am sorry to hear that the end is near. However, I do hope discussions are carried on. Currently, my time to read the postings is limited. However, I did want to express my gratitude. Lots of good stuff to read, and I thank you for creating such a wonderful blog.

    A few random things that caught my attention about the show that I thought I would share with others.

    I found it interesting to see how the producer consistently skews our perception of time. Time is an essential element on many levels, and I found it fascinating that time (or the perceived lack of it) drives the story.

    The topic of literary references in the show also interests me. Several quotes (often made under the breadth or in passing) can be linked to the works of Daphne du Maurier. In the future, an episode that touches on Daphne’s writing achievements might be fun. I know that Daphne lived most of her life in Cornwall, and many of locations in her books are set in the area as well.

    Anyone care to guess why Doc Martin’s mother was reading 50 Shades of Grey at Martin’s dinner table?

    When Martin makes says, “the village of the idots” is this in reference to the Jewish folk tale (comedy) by the same name?

    The ambiguous role of technology – The Doc and Louisa could not survive without their cell phones. However, Martin’s surgery isn’t really automated. The computer appears to be used only for scheduling appointments and surfing the Internet. Martin uses paper patient notes to keep track of patient histories, but on occasion he will use a laptop for diagnosing patients and educating himself. Martin’s inability to troubleshoot and fix the receptionist’s desktop computer, early on in the show, is funny, but unless you are familiar how networking software interacts with the computer hardware there is a good chance that most would not know that he never really fixes it.

    Finally, in watching several interviews with Martin Clunes about the show, he always makes the point that the show is revenue driven. While there is no right or wrong answer, I wonder how much the revenue-driven model affects the writing efforts, especially the final episode of each season? Economics is only part of a larger whole in my opinion.

  17. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Hello James! I am glad to know you have been reading the blog.

    When I hear the literary references, especially to du Maurier, I tend to consider them fun ways to recognize and bring attention to the most well known writer from Cornwall. The sort of stories she wrote are not at all similar to the show even though they both could be said to take pleasure in the landscape and use it for their purposes.

    The Fifty Shades of Grey appearance seems likely to be due to the recent popularity of that series and the humor associated with Margaret reading a book about sado-masochistic sex. She’s somewhat of a sadist herself, at least when it comes to Martin, and she has previously hinted that her sex life fell apart once Martin was born. (Remember her husband Christopher no longer touched her under the table once Martin was in their lives?) I mostly took it as something funny to throw in, sort of like some names they use. There also has been one other case of sado-masochistic sex in a married couple to add excitement to their sex life, so maybe someone thinks there’s some humor in that sort of allusion. They certainly throw in lots of phallic allusions!

    My view on the technological devices is that there is very little consistency in how they are used. We are supposed to be in the 21st C, but ME is supposed to be operating as if he’s a doctor from the mid twentieth C in many ways. I doubt there is any town in England at this point where there is only one doctor. The town of Port Isaac actually has four physicians and they work out of a very modern office, not a small house. They are as electronically connected as most in the medical field these days. Also, ME can view scans on his computer and speak to the radiology department about MRIs, the helicopters arrive quickly to transport patients, and the hospitals look up to date. But when it comes to the phone, we have to suspend disbelief quite a bit. One thing that stood out to me in S7 E1 is that ME checks his mobile phone for messages from Louisa, but the first time she calls him it’s on the office phone. I think they did that just so he could fall down the stairs trying to get to the phone in time. (Forced effort to get a laugh.) Later she calls him on his mobile, which appears to be an iPhone 6. In Port Isaac it actually is hard to get service for mobile phones, but in Portwenn they work very well most of the time. They mostly break up when he’s talking to Louisa. Anyway, it’s Louisa whose phone reception in Spain is supposed to be bad? I’m fine with that minor difference for the purpose of the show; we wouldn’t expect total accuracy with everything!

    Your sense that the show follows a revenue driven model is probably right on the mark at this point. It’s been a cash cow for them ever since they franchised it to other countries and it got picked up in many TV viewing areas across the world. I, too, find it disappointing when MC comments that he has to keep acting and keep this show going so that he can afford to have his farm, horses, and jollies of all kinds. That does sound a lot like the money is his primary motivator. Other actors, e.g. Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and many men, wouldn’t dream of retiring and regularly say they love their work. MC is very fortunate to be in a position to use his success to travel and be invited to all sorts of events. Acting is how he got there, along with his interest in horses and dogs, and it might be nice if he were a bit more appreciative of his profession. All shows are subject to whether they receive a good audience share and are economically viable, but I’d like to think the creative enjoyment plays a prominent role for the writers, producers, and especially the actors.

  18. Amy

    Hi James, I was wondering if you could elaborate on the theme of time or lack thereof in the show. Perhaps that’s been discussed here already, but since I am new, I haven’t found those posts yet. I searched for “time,” but as you might imagine, it’s such a common word that it brought up too many results. I know ME has a fascination with clocks, and I’ve always seen that as part of his need for control—of time, of details—and also as a way to connect with his grandfather, who must have been one of the few positive adult connections he had as a child.

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