Opening scene of S6E1

I have watched E1 of S6 many times by now and have continued to be intrigued by how they chose to place the camera at the very beginning of the episode. After the credits, we view the street and the surgery building from the vantage point of someone looking through a window from a building above it. I’ve been struggling to come up with a reason for doing that. The view from that vantage point only lasts about 7 seconds and then we are in the exam room with Martin doing a gyno exam prior to his wedding, obviously a very private and intimate procedure. Is it because we are being reminded that we are looking at this village as if we are voyeurs, watching a group of people in their private lives without them knowing? Is it that we are in a godlike position where we can see what’s going on in the world without being seen? Are we supposed to think that either this episode or the whole series is being viewed by someone who has been letting us see what’s going on for all these years and giving us the option of watching what goes on at the surgery? Is it that we are being prepared for a series that comes from a different vantage point?

I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this opening scene.

Originally posted 2014-01-31 13:35:09.

16 thoughts on “Opening scene of S6E1

  1. Carol

    Karen, I am glad to see this post because I too really noticed this opening being so different for some reason. In fact at first, I thought the surgery had moved. It gave me a weird sensation as if Martin and Louisa had perhaps moved and this was their new home. But I don’t know why I think it was done this way. Out of all of your possible definitions, I think I like the one about the viewer being a voyeur in a sense.

    I have noticed several differences in the direction of filming in S6. For one thing, in the first episode we are shown a lot of feet for some reason – is that significant of taking steps forward? We see Martin’s feet as he steps from the car at the lodge, Louisa’ feet as she prepares to walk in the woods in her wedding gown, and Ruth’s feet as she walks James Henry, trying to get him to sleep. There are close-ups of feet and I found that very strange. Why hone in on feet if there wasn’t some point to it?

  2. Post author

    What a great observation! I hadn’t noticed that but you are absolutely right about the camera focusing on feet more than usual. How about Joe Penhale’s feet getting tangled up in the string that holds the cans and even M and L dancing during which she steps on M’s foot. Hmmm. We could really take this too far, but there is something to it.

  3. Santa Traugott

    I think this is one of a number of ways in which this series shows the impact of changing the lead director, from Ben Bolt to Nigel Cole. As the series goes on, there are some interesting and odd camera angles (other than those feet!) which are pretty clearly the handiwork of a different director than BB — whose work I loved. I’m not sure that Nigel Cole’s isn’t too “showy” for this series. It’ll be interesting to see who the S7 director is.

  4. Post author

    Do you have any thoughts on what the opening camera angle could mean?

  5. Santa Traugott

    I just took it as the director’s (or the film editor’s) way of saying, here we are again, returning to the village after some time away. We’re arriving. It’s a bookend, in a way, to the long fade of the castle scene. We drew away from their story and now we return. (That long fade seems to be a Ben Bolt favorite.)

  6. Post author

    Really interesting way to look at it! It’s so true that the camera pulled out and away at the end of series 5 and here it closes in again. The only thing I still wonder is why we are looking through a window from above and not staying outside. Thanks again for your insight!

  7. Carol

    Santa, I agree – I’m not as keen on this director. I hope Ben Bolt comes back because he seems to “get” this show. Another thing that put me off was in E8 when the folk singer is in the consulting room coughing and there is all of that back and forth close-up “stuff” that ends with Martin shouting so loudly. I can see some close-ups, but those were a bit much I thought. Seemed like they were using some technique from a horror film.

    But I like your take on it being a bookend from S5. I would never have thought of that.

  8. Rane

    Placing the camera the way they did in the opening scene of E1 of S6 (high up, overlooking the surgery) was a clever way to show the viewer that *the Doctor’s car was _not_ parked next to his office.* (Too many [speeding] points on MC’s [real-life] driver license meant he couldn’t drive during that time … so = then … neither could Dr. Martin Ellingham.) That opening shot set the scene for Dr. Ellingham’s departure for the church — taking a taxi. = [Clever folks = those BP-owners/collaborators/writers/directors.]

  9. Post author

    That is absolutely true! There is no car and MC still was banned from driving at that time. I had wondered about choosing to take a taxi to the wedding when he had no idea they would be using a special car afterwards. Your explanation is great and very practical. Thanks, and kudos to BP.

  10. Linda

    What an astute observation! I wondered how they planned to leave the reception too since he went by taxi. Since they had no plans for a honeymoon, would he not have taken the car to drive them home in? That is a REALLY interesting conundrum. As for the camera shot at the start, I was so confused about that window too! I can’t recall a building across the road and up from the surgery where that shot would have been taken. I don’t have a clue about why it was done that way. It just did not make sense to me.

  11. Linda

    I figured where that window was finally. There IS a white building up the hill and cross the road. I still don’t see the purpose in that shot ad would love to hear from others about how they understood it.

  12. Post author

    Check out the comments. The one from Rane was the most practical.

  13. Martha Magee

    He could have driven on a movie set if they closed down the streets to public use while filming. Guess old Martin Clunes is a bit of a speed demon!

  14. Cathy

    That opening shot is an anomaly, at least until season 7 and 8 when the directors started to use drones to get new and unusual views of the town. I have always loved that opening shot at the beginning of Episode 1, and the building it’s shot from. So strange that we’ve never been introduced to anyone living in that building and then to be inside looking out. Made me feel like it was the viewpoint of a stranger, but haven’t been able to figure out why they wanted such a strange view. The theory of the car seems right, but still an odd way to show it. Still, I love the way the framing of the window is echoed in the very next shot set up as though we are inside the patient’s vagina. It’s funny but also very weird. If you watch the woman on the examining table, she is actually wearing boxer shorts. SO funny that they don’t care about the awkwardness of that whole scene.

  15. Post author

    It was an unusual opening sequence and the car idea kind of makes sense. The awkwardness you point out is deliberate, I think. I mean what man about to be married would want to start the day doing a GYN exam? And what female member of the town wouldn’t know that this was his wedding day? Here he is the ever available GP. What a hero!

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