Topics for discussion

THEMES

Since there’s already a fan site that you can view to learn about the characters, the setting, the episodes for the first 5 seasons, and more, my plan is to provide an analysis of the themes I have found running through the series. The show is called Doc Martin and he is certainly a key character, but I was surprised to discover that beyond Doctor Martin Ellingham and his medical expertise and personality traits, the role of women in the show is quite prominent. As a result, I plan to discuss the kinds of women and the sorts of women’s issues the show brings up. This includes the many strong female figures in the show, romance and sexuality, pregnancy issues, parenting issues,and even how doctors relate to women. Of course, a doctor show involves many medical conditions. Therefore, the themes I will write about will necessarily be about how this doctor handles his medical practice. In Doc Martin the medical is significantly intertwined with the psychological and that interests me deeply. I also plan to write about fathers, couples, and what it means to be a family. If you are interested in reading more about these subjects, please click on the categories listed on the right side of the screen.


MEDICAL PRACTICE

Naturally this blog should discuss the practice of medicine. Doc Martin is a highly regarded vascular surgeon working in London who has decided to move to a small town in Cornwall to be the GP. In my world, that would be a dramatic change and quite out of the ordinary. Of course, that’s somewhat the point and contributes to both the comedic aspects of the series as well as the dramatic ones. But this doctor’s vast knowledge of medicine coupled with his tremendous dedication to his profession is worth having a dialogue about. Indeed all the aspects of his practice deserve some mention, from his receptionists to his interactions with patients and even his access to emergency care and hospitals.

PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITIONS

This show invites us to consider what mental illness is and what sort of impact it can have on people who have to deal with being on the continuum of mild to serious mental illness. We are also encouraged to recognize how medical conditions can be confused with psychological ones, and we are shown the value of being tolerant and open-minded toward the people afflicted with these maladies. Perhaps a small town is more likely to absorb the idiosyncratic behaviors of its community. There’s much room for discussion.

68 thoughts on “Topics for discussion

  1. Marsha Brewer

    I am glad you are posting and encourage an open conversation. I too love Doc Martin because of the strong women and of all the issue that are involved. I can relate in so many ways.

  2. Madelyn Grossman

    Hello,

    Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your site.

    I saw series 6 of DM last week and of course became immersed in this world and had a rewatch of series 1-5. I was left wanting more but couldn’t find a site where there are in depth discussions about the episodes and characters.

    I hope you will continue your analysis of the show. Series 6 left me feeling frustrated with Louisa but after reading your insights I realized I was being too hard on this character, as she didn’t see all that we the audience saw in regards to Martin’s behavior and just because she lives with a person with tough issues doesn’t mean she is not allowed to have issues of her own.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading more of your wonderful insights.

    Madelyn

  3. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Welcome Madelyn! Thank you for your comments. I plan to write a few more posts, although I’m not sure I can come up with something to write about throughout the next year. The great thing that has happened lately is that some readers have asked me to give my opinion on topics they consider worth looking at. If I feel I have something to contribute to a topic, I do my best to give it a write-up and then hope others will tell me what they think. Please keep reading!!

  4. Carol

    Hey Karen, Here’s a topic I’d love to hear your (and others’) response to: Should Martin and Louisa stay together? I think that most all of us who watch the show want them together, in part because MC and CC have such great on-screen chemistry. But, in “reality”, is their being together a good idea? I would think long and hard about ways to make it work since they have James Henry, but I guess I am talking about before that time. Before she got pregnant. Is their attraction enough?

    For example, my teen-age daughter was in late middle school when Twilight came out. All her friends were reading it and she wanted to as well. So I let her read it but then read it myself. It lead to some really good discussions about what to look for in a life companion. (My best friend’s husband, when I told him we were discussing this, said for me to tell her to be sure to stay clear of the undead 🙂 🙂 ) But really, we talked a lot about how you can have a strong attraction to someone but perhaps as you get to know them you realize that they aren’t really best for you. Bella and Edward have an unbelievable attraction for each other, but Jacob would have made a better choice.

    As much as I would have hated it, perhaps Louisa’s break-up in series 3, or the non-wedding, would have really been best. But then, they would have missed the growth we are hopefully going to see in S7!

    Don’t anyone kill me for asking this, but most of you know I write fanfiction and I have been so tempted to write one where they break up in S3. And partly because I think Aunt Ruth was right – Martin would have to change and he’d have to work, “harder than most”. And while I think the character of ME can certainly make up his mind to do things, this will be a helluva hard slog! And Louisa will have to change too and two people trying to do all of this at the same time makes me dizzy just thinking about it.

  5. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Carol, I’m working on a post now and will say something about your question after that. I’ll do my best to express my opinion about it.

  6. Madelyn Grossman

    Thanks for the welcome.

    I started another rewatch yesterday. Can’t help myself.
    What I noticed this time is how different Martin is in the beginning of the show. He jokes and even connects with Roger Fenn in a friendly manner. As the series progresses he becomes more stiff.
    Do you think this was a deliberate natural progression for the character?

  7. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    My understanding is that MC (possibly along with others involved with the show) made a conscious decision to make ME gruffer. I think in Doc Martin Revealed or some other interview I’ve seen he says that they decided to take the character in a direction away from being very friendly. They still allowed him to be tender on occasion, especially with Aunt Joan and Louisa, but even with patients and other major characters. My guess is they wanted him to be more complex. Also, MC often says he enjoys yelling at patients in the show.

  8. Carol

    Karen, This one is for Madelyn first – hope you don’t mind.

    Madelyn, Don’t feel bad about the rewatch. Those of us who write fanfiction – well let’s just say you probably don’t want to know how many times we have watched each episode – if we can even count 🙂 I feel like I have to know most things by heart to be able to be true to the characters in my writing.

    in terms of the Doc acting more gruff or stiff as it goes along, I guess we have all noticed that and I guess part of it is what MC and PB wanted, it’s probably partly from using several different writers, but I have also felt like there is probably some real-life truth in it. For anyone to have to go and live somewhere they don’t particularly want to live, have to give up many conveniences, have problems relating to the locals, etc., it is extremely hard, and certainly affects your mood and the way you treat yourself and others. And for most, it gets worse as time goes on. And for someone like ME, add embarrassment and a sense of failure too, and you have a recipe for a gruff hermit!

    I say this partly because I have been in a similar situation where I had to move due to a job change. We went to another country where almost every expectation of women, in particular, was the exact opposite to my personality, many conveniences were simply not available, and I couldn’t speak the language very well. All of that combined made for several years of a very gruff, stiff Mom and wife I am sorry to say.

    A lot of people got really angry about how gruff Martin was in this last series but I think it was only natural. My hope is that with improvement in his relationship with Louisa, and just by being around James Henry, his gruff exterior will melt a bit and we can see more glimpses of the way he acted in the earlier shows. Before this show ends for good, in my opinion, we all need to see again that Martin we saw in series 1 in the ambulance, explaining his blood phobia to Louisa. To me, out of all of the moments between them, that one is still my ultimate favorite and the most truly vulnerable, romantic moment the two ever have.

  9. Madelyn Grossman

    Hi Carol,

    It’s nice to meet you.

    I think my reaction to the difference in gruffness in Martin could stem from going immediately from watching Series 6 to Series 1 right away. The difference was very glaring.

    I also think that from a character point of view it makes some sense. Martin by leaving his comfort zone (London, surgery) has put himself in situations in Port Wenn that he doesn’t know how to deal with and though we see that he needs to change, he doesn’t really want to. Only his love for Louisa and the possibility of really losing her has brought him to the realization that he needs to change. I also think that after the village found out about his blood issue he keeps himself in check and distances himself from them as a way of always being in control. He doesn’t want to invite more ridicule and he doesn’t want anyone to think he can’t do his job. His bad language, bluntness and gruffness is also a way of keeping people out.

    I loved that scene in the ambulance too. It was a real moment of connection between Martin and Louisa possibly their first.

    For me, as Martin is such a clumsy man, always falling, banging his head, etc. the scenes that really get to me are when Martin kisses Louisa on her balcony and when he kisses her after James Henry’s abduction. He is so fluid in his movements that I find these moments just perfect not only by what is said but how he moves. Martin seems to me like a man who is uncomfortable in his own skin but when he kisses Louisa at these times he is in perfect harmony with himself. Just lovely and a tribute to the writing and directing.

    Sorry for the long post. There is no place on the internet for real analysis about this wonderful show.

    I once again say thank you to Karen for this site.

  10. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks for your input Madelyn and Carol. I’m happy to have you exchanging ideas here. I started this blog because I had the need to express my impressions of the show in a more comprehensive way and can’t tell you how happy I am to have readers who feel like “talking” too.

    That scene in the ambulance really was a breakthrough time for them as a couple. Then we see L sleeping on M’s shoulder in the hospital and the great moment when she goes back into the hospital to tell off his former pupil. I also like the scene on the balcony and, of course, the last scene of S5. There are several others throughout the first 5 series (e.g. at Mrs. Wilson’s party, when Holly falls and M comes to treat her, when they bring the baby home), and I would have to think those scenes are there to show us their relationship is built on some trust between these two characters. The humor comes when they get too close to being “lovey-dovey” and something goes wrong or someone/something interrupts them. M says something off-putting, Penhale comes back to look for his device, the phone rings, whatever. The show is built on deliberately bringing them together followed by deliberately taking them apart. S6 took them apart in such a disturbing way and so quickly after their marriage that we viewers had trouble coping. For me it was too much seriousness with too little humor (after E1). Let’s hope they bring back the humor along with more of the affectionate moments.

  11. Aspieistj

    I just found this site because I was looking for some insight into the message sent by the writers. I have Asperger Syndrome and saw an episode in which someone accused DM of having AS. DM barely reacted and I found that strange because the medical training he received had to make him aware of the syndrome. As an Aspie I can’t change the way I feel and I can’t always hide my Aspie reactions. However, I DO understand that people on the autism spectrum are not like neurotypicals (NTs) and since NTs are the majority we will always be considered odd, or worse. It isn’t plausible to me that a severe Aspie with a medical education doesn’t comprehend he is annoying to others and make some effort to curb his anger and distain. This being said, I understand the show is about a doctor with terrible problems and a kind woman who truly cares about him. What I really can’t understand is that almost all of the other characters are buffoons. Certainly, in a small village, the people may be quaint. However, the mistakes made, the physical missteps and very unreal situations almost every character finds him/her self in every week confuses me. Is this a program about a huge bunch of losers? Surely, some of the residents must be simply ordinary folks.

  12. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thank you for writing a comment. I would argue that Martin does make some effort to get along with the villagers and in several cases he does some unexpectedly kind things. I would also suggest that the other characters can be inordinately goofy, but they also can be amazingly capable at times. Joe Penhale is the best example of this. He does some incredibly ridiculous things, but has also come to the rescue a number of times. The show is billed as a dramedy, a combination of drama and comedy, and they try to keep some humor in each episode. Some of those segments are more successful than others, but we are meant to laugh at the characters fairly regularly. We have some “regular” folks in Mike the electrician, and the green grocer, Louisa’s fellow teachers, and others. There are many quirky characters for sure, but I find them fairly typical of a small village in England or maybe anywhere. Hope you give them a little more slack…

  13. J thompson

    Aspieistj, the inhabitants of this village are a typical cross-section of people you find anywhere. Its just that in a small village, the individual characters and their idiosyncrasies are more noticeable than they would be in a large city where the sheer numbers of people tend to drown out the individual. I live in a small, isolated community (numerically far smaller than Port Wenn) where everyone knows everyone else. None of the villagers in this series seem out of place or one dimensional to me. The situations they find themselves in are certainly believable to me and are no stranger, nor the people themselves more “quaint”, than I experience every day here.

  14. J thompson

    I just wanted to add that, like many of the villagers of Port Wenn, I love living where I do. The sense of community is wonderful and the locals very supportive (whether you want their help or not!). I would hate to move to a larger town/city so I can certainly identify with the reluctance of the various characters to leave Port Wenn.

  15. Mary

    People tend to stick together in rural areas like freckles on a face. They are more likely to support each other when isolated and tend to be more tolerant of individual quirks, which in itself probably encourages more quirkiness. My mom grew up in a remote area of NY state, surrounded by a very colorful, self-reliant community and I find this well reflected in the town of Port Wenn. ME doesn’t quite realize it, but he is becoming an integral part of this colorful community with every small step he takes. Its interesting and often amusing to see how the villagers have gradually accepted/tolerated him, anti-social behavior and all.

  16. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I think you are so right Mary. A good example of how ME has begun to be considered a part of the village is in the last episode of S6. He has been offensive to the folk singer and decides to make amends by visiting him in his home. When he arrives at the man’s home, the singer is working on a song that turns out to be about L leaving M. He doesn’t get to play the song, but the little bit we hear him working on contains compassion for the situation. The fact that L is beloved in the village and that she has married M, plus the villagers’ respect for M’s medical knowledge and his efforts to take care of them without prejudice, have been making them more sympathetic towards him, I think.

  17. Linda

    I was baffled about them breaking up at the end of S3. I thought they were at their happiest after the engagement and saw some softening of Martin and tenderness between them. How on earth did they decide to call off the wedding when things had been going so well? There was no crisis or event. No real discussion? Lame. There should have been a long and serious talk then, or after the wedding. Did they not talk or see each other for 6 months? It seems kind of strange. I guess each “assumed” that the other was moving on and that their relationship was totally over. She ran to London and he made plans to leave Portwenn. It just seemed like calling off the wedding was an after thought, thrown in to end the series.

  18. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    What stunned me when they called off the wedding was Martin telling L she wouldn’t make him happy either. What? He spent all this time running after her and dreaming about her, being unable to sleep after their date went wrong, and dealing with all the arrangements of that day only to decide in the last minute that she wouldn’t make him happy?! The wedding day was all wrong and I could see them calling it off for many other reasons, but not because he came to the conclusion that she wouldn’t make him happy. It was plausible that she realized that he wouldn’t make her happy, and would have been plausible that he got cold feet and couldn’t commit. He could also have decided they had chosen to marry too soon, or that the day had caused him to think that there were too many obstacles to getting married on that day, or all sorts of other explanations. But they went with the one thing I considered totally inexplicable. He doesn’t even understand what happiness is, for pity’s sake!! Or why it’s important!

  19. Santa Traugott

    Responding to Karen’s question about why Martin decided at the last minute that Louisa wouldn’t make him happy either:

    I have only rewatched this episode once, b/c I found it so painful! But on the rewatch, I was struck by a couple of things. Besides the many thing that went wrong, and possibly be construed as “omens” there was an odd little conversation at the organ with Mrs. Tishell — Martin told her that he hadn’t known she played the organ, and she remarked that how strange it was that people knew so little about each other. Then there was the conversation with the dry cleaner man who remarked how critical his wife was of him, despite the fact that she knew how he was when she married him. You could see that those conversations contributed to Martin’s decision. Even telegraphed it.

    The famous conversation over the pig with Mr. Porter perhaps led him to think that he possibly would NOT make Louisa happy, and that in turn would lead to a fraught situation which in the end would not make him happy either.

    But I have thought recently that perhaps a good topic would be “happiness — what does it mean, who makes who happy, why does it matter, what is it, etc.’

    Because I actually don’t believe it’s anybody’s else’s responsibility to make someone happy. And both sides of the question — do I make her happy or does she make ME happy — are equally illegitimate.

    The really sad part of the S3 denoument is that if they had waited a bit, not been so desperate not to lose each other, they might have had a better chance to work their way towards a relationship that they both felt confident in.

  20. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Santa, I actually wrote a post about “happiness” on Oct. 15, 2013. Use the search box to find it and see what you think. You may want to add something and I’d love to read your reaction. When I watched the end of S3, I had the luxury of knowing there were 2 more series that followed it so I never took their decision not to marry that seriously. Plus, I thought the episode was deliberately set up to make it likely that the marriage would not take place. Everything went wrong and so many men warned M that marriage was a minefield. I still feel that I can accept her realization that he wouldn’t make her happy, but not that he would say she wouldn’t make him happy either. Not only is he skeptical about whether happiness matters at all, but also he has no concept of happiness. He seems to think he won’t be happy without her, though, because he tells her he can’t bear to be without her. Bottom line, he should have said something else as a reason for deciding not to marry at that time and not mentioned happiness.

  21. Santa Traugott

    So dim is my memory that I probably even contributed to the previous thread! I’ll go check.

    At the time that episode aired, some DS commenters were absolutely convinced that he said “you wouldn’t make me happy either” just to be spiteful, but I never bought into that at all.

    It does seem to come out of left field, from Martin, whose motivation for the proposal has had nothing really to do with happiness, but only that he felt he “couldn’t bear” to be without her.

    But I can at least sort of see that in a moment of rationality, he thought about being a life-long bachelor, set in his ways, easily made confused and unhappy in his interactions with Louisa, and (unconsciously) recognizing in himself a deep conflict about intimacy — which I think perhaps we see play out in S6.

    I do agree that he had not seemed a person to whom “happiness” was particularly important, to that point.

  22. Linda

    Martin was different in the beginning. He made an instant connection with Roger Fenn which continued on in other episodes. He smiled and made jokes. I kind of liked that side of him because now he never really smiles. He doesn’t even smile at James Henry when the little guy smiles at him.

  23. Santa Traugott

    One thing I like a lot about Doc Martin is that the show is not just about 20 and 30-somethings. They’ve integrated quite a few older people — 60 and above — into the various plots and for the most part, treated them with sympathy and understanding (although I will never understand why they said Mrs. Avril was 73 when she looked every day of 90). I think that’s pretty unusual, certainly for American TV. I don’t imagine there’s enough there for discussion, but maybe it falls under a more general heading of some kind —

  24. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I wonder what the demographics of the viewers are. It seems to me that the show is popular with more older adults than any other group, although it has some younger viewers. I bet if you’re looking for a loyal audience on TV, you’ll be better off appealing to older adults. I also like the various older characters in the show. Many of them are quite funny and self-assured. Kind of nice to see!

  25. Maria

    I am so thrilled to have discovered this blog. I absolutely LOVE this show and am wondering how I will survive until series 7 starts! There is so much depth to the characters and stories and I have been looking for the kind of deeper and thought-provoking analyses you are writing here. I recently started watching the whole series over again and am having the same experience as another poster discovering subtleties that I had not noticed the first time around and seeing things in a different light now knowing the whole story (so far, that is).

    I have not read through all the posts yet, so forgive me if this has been mentioned somewhere, but one thing I have been wondering is about the ring Martin wears on his right hand (until series 6). It is clearly a wedding band that is visible in many scenes and has never been explained. I imagine the real reason is that it is MC’s own wedding ring, which is fine, obviously, but why would Martin have such a ring? A family heirloom, maybe? But whose, and given his family, why would he want to wear it? Another explanation I saw somewhere suggested that he wears it to fend off predatory females, but that also seems out of character, and besides, he does that easily enough through his demeanor . I am interested in your ideas about this. Given the care normally given to the production values of the show, I can’t believe that that it was just a careless error or that they thought viewers wouldn’t notice or care.

  26. Santa Traugott

    This is his own wedding ring, which he apparently never takes off if he can help it, just moves it to his right hand when he’s playing unmarried roles. It has happened in other productions, apparently, though I can’t vouch for that. The general consensus is that really has to do with his devotion and commitment to his wife and his marriage, which he has talked about in many, many interviews.

    One of the interesting little questions to me about the wedding scene in S6E1 was how they would treat the exchange of rings. I could not imagine Martin Clunes allowing a scene in which someone else put his own wedding ring on his finger, and yet, was he going to wear two rings, one on his right (his own) and one on his left hand (Martin Ellingham’s)? I was tickled to see how they finessed this.

  27. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Welcome, Maria. I’m glad you found this blog too!

    I have to admit that I’ve always noticed the ring on his right hand yet never spent much time thinking about it. CC wears a ring on her right middle finger throughout the show as well. I always considered that either a school ring or just something she has grown accustomed to wearing. For ME it’s hard to say. It looks like a simple band without any signet ring qualities. The general rule in UK is to wear a wedding ring on the left hand, but MC could have decided to wear his real wedding ring on his right hand until he gets married on the show when he no longer wears the ring on his right hand. It could also be a ring he had from his childhood, or any number of other explanations. I’m not sure there’s any significance to it since it never comes up in any conversations throughout the show.

  28. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Santa, do you actually know this for a fact? As I said in my reply, he does not wear the ring on his right hand after ME and L are married in S6. He may have finessed the act of putting on the wedding ring, but he certainly stopped wearing it after that.

  29. Santa Traugott

    I think I do know it for a fact, but I can’t cite how I know it (so it’s not really a fact). But it’s something that’s constantly repeated about him in fandom. If you do look at publicity pictures of him for other things, it’s always seemed to me that his wedding ring is the same as the one he wears on his right hand throughout most of DM.

    Also, there are a couple places in DM where there is a slip and his left hand is shown with that ring on — and one or two where his left hand ring finger has an obvious dent of exactly that size — as if he switched his wedding ring to his right hand for the filming.

    Once ME and Lousia were married in E1, the wedding ring remained on his left hand, and if you look at it, it’s the same one that he used to wear on his right hand.

    I’d lay odds that the ring we used to see on his right hand is Martin Clunes’ wedding ring.

  30. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I suppose using his actual wedding ring would also be expedient. On the other hand, that would argue against his concern of having the two marriages mixed up in any way. I just think no matter what happens, he’s always acting and none of us would ever think that his marriage to Louisa, or any other woman in a show with him, would be confused with his real life marriage. But, if it matters to him, then let him do what he wants.

  31. Maria

    The real explanations all make sense – I’ve always assumed it’s MC’s actual ring (it was definitely clever how they finessed the ring exchange in the wedding scene!), but I can’t come up with a convincing explanation within the context of the character. Since it’s clearly a wedding band kind of ring, certainly I think Louisa would ask him about it at some point. That’s ok – I’ll just what I always do in this kind of situation, which is to, er, ‘adjust’ the story as needed for my own satisfaction 🙂 In this case, I will assume that he explained it to her in a conversation that took place out of our eye- and earshot.

  32. Linda

    I hope this is going to end up after your reply Karen. Thank goodness you also saw the weddng call-off baffling! You are SO right abouthim saying SHE would not make him happy! That was so OFF! As you say, HE was after her from the first show and I would not see him saying she could not make him happy. He would certainly doubt that HE wouild not make her happy. That would have made sense, knowing his thought process. I saw nothing in the show to explain why she felt the need to back out! I thought the weeks preceeding the wedding were some of their happiest.

    It would be neat to get into the heads of the writers so see how and why they choose certain courses of action and where they see the story going? We might be so baffled by things that way but then, what would we talk about?

  33. Linda

    I loved the scene at the castle and the scene on her balcony too! I also liked the “morning after” episode for all the same reasons. I breathed a sigh of relief when he kissed her at these times and it WAS very believable and powerful acting on his part.

  34. Linda

    Santa,
    I totally agree that S3 ended things too quickly with them proclaiming that they could not make each other happy. They had been so keen to marry but let others put ideas into their heads which caused them to call things off. I felt that they should have taken the time to sit down and talk about it – that’s what one would expect. Even as they kissed each other goodbye, you tell they had regrets about what they were doing. I expected him to call out to her or for her to turn around and run back to him but of course, this is TV and it was designed as a cliff hanger. It really made me sad because they were really happy as an engaged couple and we all had high hopes for a happy wedding and a great new life together for them.

  35. Si Borden

    I’m a big Clunes fan, and I’ve seen his early comedy series as well as a few of his movies. He was wearing his ring on his right hand in “Men Behaving Badly”, I saw it as early as 1993. I’m pretty sure there was a short break where he wasn’t married and it went away, but then when he married his second wife it seems to have come back in his work (albeit on the right hand when he plays single characters.) It’s an interesting anachronism. I’m glad he’s become a good family man–the drinking and the drugs could have killed him!

  36. Linda D.

    My husband and I were discussing the “theme” of S1, E5 last night. We had an interesting discussion about how the writers choose an over all theme and it permeates the activities of many characters, all at the same time. We got talking about other episodes and realized that the writers do much the same thing in every one. It was a very interesting discussion and it made me think it would be a good post topic!

  37. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    It’s an idea worth exploring, although developing these threads will take some time. Many TV shows use this method and it’s fun to identify the theme of the show.

  38. Santa Traugott

    Another possible theme has just occurred to me– how old age, elderly, etc. is treated in Doc Martin. There are many older people, and I think many more than we usually see in TV show or film. I don’t know why that has happened, but I think it’s quite striking.

  39. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    What I especially like about most of the elderly on the show is their feistiness. That would be an interesting topic to look into. Good idea!

  40. Linda

    Karen,

    I have been thinking about what would have happened between Edith and Martin if Louisa had not returned to Portwenn when she announced her pregnancy. Also, though Edith was portrayed as being arrogant, manipulative and predatory, she did display a great deal of kindness and concern for Martin. Was she trying to “fix” him for his benefit or her’s? Was he getting her signals? Was he at all interested in resuming thugs with her? Was Edith maligned by the writers or was she really after Martin? This might be a short discussion topic perhaps?

  41. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Linda, your idea has some potential and I will give it some thought. I know Santa has previously suggested that Edith might have been a better match for Martin, which I’m not sure I agree with. I would be inclined to put my emphasis on their motives for bringing in a former love interest, especially one like Edith.

    Believe it or not, I am actually working on a post at the moment that is of more substance than my previous two. I’ll try to publish it soon.

    As always, thank you for your support.

  42. Santa Traugott

    Karen, what I meant to say is that Edith might have been a more COMFORTABLE match for Martin, but definitely not a better match. With her, he would never have to stretch himself emotionally, and I think emotional growth is good.

    But once having met and fallen in love with Louisa, he could never be truly comfortable with Edith and he recognized that (at the last minute, I think).

  43. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Well, I guess this is something we can do more with after all. I’ll try to finish what I’m doing now and then take a stab at this.

    This show allows us to take a closer look at the story, writing, and characters while also offering us paths to discussing psychological analyses, counseling methods, and marital issues. That’s why I wanted to start a blog, and why I keep writing.

  44. Ellen

    Have enjoyed the Doc Martin Series so much that I would like to now watch something else equally as captivating. Does anyone have a suggestions of what to watch next?
    Thanks!

  45. Santa Traugott

    Have we ever talked about the STRENGTHS of the relationship of this benighted couple?

  46. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    There has never been a post specifically about that and I think it would be worthwhile. We also have the discussion of Edith’s role to get to. I hope to publish a post I’ve been writing (rather intermittently) today. I’m sorry I’ve been slow. I had family visiting and I always end up spending a lot of time with my grandchildren when they visit. (I actually showed my grandsons some of “The Sound of Music.” The 5 yo told me it was lovely and beautiful. I was very happy and impressed to hear him say that. It’s that film’s 50th anniversary this year; Salzburg, Austria, where it was filmed, is a popular and pretty place for fans to visit.)

    Anyway, I plan to take up all your ideas soon and look forward to reading your comments too!

  47. Linda D.

    Karen,

    I have been thinking lately that the “romantic” ending of series 7 and indeed, the end of the whole story, will somehow find Louisa, James, and Martin HAPPY as a little family. What will that look like? What would “happiness” look like for Louisa? For Martin? For James? Can we compare their individual versions of “happiness”? Do all their versions have to coincide or can they have different views about happiness and still be a family? If they do not coincide, what concessions will each one make with deference to the needs of the others without giving up on personal happiness?

    Just a thought for another post …..

  48. Linda D.

    I was thinking that it might be very interesting to examine, or even try to list: What WOULD make Louisa happy in the marriage with Martin? What EXACTLY does she want from him that has not given her? What can she live without and still be happy with him? What does Martin want/need from Louisa in the marriage that would make HIM happy? What is she not doing that he needs? What can he live without from her and still be happy? It might be fun to list the qualities they admire in each other and also to list the things that irritate each other?

    What do they need to do as a couple to make a good life for James and to create a family very unlike the ones they had?

    Also, we might discuss whether or not people can overcome their difficult childhoods? What would be needed for them put their pasts behind them and move forward? What should or might their relationships be with their still living but absent parents or should they jettison them forever?

  49. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I will give all of this some thought and try to write something soon. In the meantime I just want to say that I would have expected Eleanor (Louisa’s mother) to fly to see Louisa as soon as she heard Louisa and JH would not be coming because Louisa had to have emergency brain surgery. We know she’s self-centered, but she was trying to salvage their interactions in S5 and was the person Louisa turned to when she left Martin in that series. If Louisa notified her that she wanted to visit her in Spain, and then she heard she’s not coming and why, a mother’s instinct would be to get there. We’ll see if she resurfaces.

  50. Cecelia

    Eleanor, Louisa’s mother, appears less focused on her daughter than she is on her self. When asked to watch James Henry, an adult task that should bring out her mothering side, Eleanor leaves her grandson with his Aunt Ruth who must remind Eleanor that she, Eleanor forgotten something. Is this a repetition of how she treated Louisa when Louisa was young? Something has been misplaced.

  51. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    The mother who forgets JH while meeting with Ruth is Margaret, Martin’s mother. I do think her behavior with her grandson is there to reconfirm her disregard for any child in her care. It also gives Ruth an opportunity to embarrass Margaret, something she enjoys doing. She clearly dislikes Margaret and wants her to leave Martin alone.

  52. Cecelia

    Ruth doesn’t need an opportunity to embarrass Margaret because Martin’s mother supplies sufficient examples of her disregard for almost anyone but herself. We can’t fault Ruth for ceasing the moment afforded. Ruth knows some of what Margaret and her husband have done to contribute to Martin’s problems. Who better to call Margaret to task?

  53. Cecelia

    Eleanor, Louisa’s mother is very much like Margaret, Martin’s mother. They both have little inclination for mothering. Eleanor professes that she loves Louisa yet doesn’t come when her daughter needs her most even though Louisa wrote to her inviting her to come. Eleanor professes to love her daughter’s children, yet keeps abandoning him at every turn.

    As for Martin’s mother, Margaret, she never much had a motherly instinct. In fact, she tells him point blank in a very cruel way that he is the reason the marriage didn’t work.

    Eleanor and Margaret have proven they were and are not fit to protect a child.

    Ruth has more mothering instinct than both of them.

  54. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I don’t want to belabor this, but I feel obliged to make a few comments. My recollection is that Louisa did not invite Eleanor to come; she merely informed her that she was pregnant. Eleanor chose to visit and surprised Louisa by being in the house when she arrived home from work.

    I would agree that both Margaret and Eleanor are far from model mothers, and I’ve written posts on that; however, in my opinion, Eleanor has at least shown Louisa some love and makes an effort to help with the baby. She is like Margaret in that she appears to have come to Portwenn for ulterior motives, like finding someone who can provide fresh fish for her restaurant in Spain, and not just to see Louisa and the baby. On the other hand, she doesn’t spend much time pursuing that mission and instead gets distracted by helping Bert in his restaurant, etc. In the end she seeks Louisa’s forgiveness and helps with the baby enough that Louisa takes pity on her. Later she turns to her mother for support when she leaves Martin. That is markedly different from how Margaret behaves toward Martin and how he finally deals with his mother.

    The major difference is that Margaret wants to remain in Portwenn even though she’s unwelcome, and she has to be told to leave, while Eleanor decides to leave even though Louisa would like her to stay. (As an aside, we have all noticed how Eleanor tends to leave regularly and that may be why Louisa’s reaction to relationship problems is also to leave.)

    I wouldn’t trust either Eleanor or Margaret with my child, but Eleanor is the much more sympathetic character.

  55. Cecelia

    Louisa’s mere informing her mother is in psychoanalytic terms a “repetition compulsion used to master.” Louisa wants the mother she didn’t have. Louisa is unconsciously repeating her childhood for help. The fact that Louisa “merely informed her [mother] that she was pregnant” is tantamount to inviting her mother to come, immediately. Any mother receiving such an invitation would take the next flight to Portwenn. Yet, Eleanor’s social calendar and her business came first. In other words, her narcissistic needs were more important than her daughter’s. She didn’t bother to even call her daughter or write a supportive missive.

    Eleanor’s slow response to Louisa, is indicative of the history between this mother and daughter. And if we consider that Eleanor has an ulterior or secondary motive for visiting Portwenn as you said, “finding someone who can provide fresh fish for her restaurant in Spain” then motherly instinct was not the guiding principle: was not her first response.

    Aside: How this plays out with Louisa and Martin: Louisa’s repetition compulsion can we seen in almost every encounter she has with Martin. The closer he gets to her, the more honest and direct he tries to be, the more dependable her response: He wants to talk about their relationship; their child, etc. She listens for about a 1/2 minute then turns away: panics then takes flight. Sometimes she stands to fight but in the end flight is her response not negotiate or discuss the problem. In other words she is capable of engaging in an adult conversation for a moment or two but in the end, this is too stimulating: she disengages. She is terrified of something. What is it? That is what I mean by a repetition compulsion: she is repeating the pattern in hopes that this time she can master it but she has little confidence that this will happen.

    For Louisa’s part, her attempting to forgive her mother is more a repetition compulsion with the hope of mastering those primal needs: the need for a dependable mother. Eleanor will never be a dependable mother. In the end she takes flight. The on again/off again, engage/disengage pattern has its history. Perhaps, Eleanor and her mother danced the same dance now that they danced when she was young.

    One other little item: notice how Eleanor quickly shows affection to the puppy that gets into the house. This is the same type of affection which she shows for her grandson. But, she is not willing to be there consistently: in good times and in bad dependable. That is what is expected of a mother and a grandmother.

  56. Santa Traugott

    I would have said that it is Martin who does most of the fleeing when these topics are raised. For example, in S5, when she is berating him for not telling her about the christening, he gives her a “rational” answer, OK, got it, and then moves immediately on with plans for dinner. I think he just doesn’t want to deal with her, or maybe, his strategy is always to respond “rationally” to emotional appeals.

    I agree that she takes flight many times, and inappropriately, and I would even say that she is trying to deal with unmet dependency needs, when she basically asks her mother to come, and when she plans to go to her in Spain. Maybe also part of her behavior with Martin is kind of a counterphobia to being dependent — I need you, and your strength, no I will NOT be dependent on you (a kept woman.)

    But sometimes I almost think that Martin is dealing with a repetition compulsion as well — he had a hypercritical and cold mother, and he must have tried to get her to love him. Louisa is critical and even capricious sometimes, and maybe there is an element of trying to get from her what he needs, even though he feels, as certainly with his mother, that he doesn’t “deserve” it. Over and over again, he must feel that he has failed, just as he must have felt with Margaret.

  57. Santa Traugott

    But what I forgot to say is, can you give some examples of what you mean by Louisa fleeing when Martin raises intimate topics?

  58. Rane

    SCENE BLOCKING

    S7 E1’s Dynamic Architectural Openings and Cool Wall(s) and Window(s) Blocking

    “The director is the one responsible for blocking. He must guide the cast to accommodate his vision for the arrangement or composition of the frame.” [elements of cinema .com]

    Doc Martin, Season 7 Episode One, is a fantastic showcase for Director Nigel Cole’s amazing scene compositions: 1) dynamic architectural elements in the backgrounds and foregrounds, purposefully including specific windows, door frames, several large (building) openings, and walls being remodeled at the farm — creating absolutely stunning visuals; 2) and, the lighting that those structures and openings add to the architectural scene elements; plus, 3) subtle shots of stairways (even in artwork on Ruth’s wall). The blocking decisions by Director Cole, along with great use of color, and exquisite choices of some darker backgrounds, make this a super-fine “artsy” production. Nigel Cole’s blocking decisions for Aunt Ruth’s scenes bring an absolute perfection to this First Episode; and Eileen Atkins’s delivery is spot on. What a huge Series 7 treat by the skillful Mr. Cole and BP’s talented crew. Wow. Amazing BP.

  59. Santa Traugott

    This is one reason I love this series — because of talents like Nigel Cole’s, plus also the set designers, wardrobe designers, film editors — all these unsung heroes, collaborating with writers and producers, make this a master class in quality television “dramedy.” They do a lot of the work of exposition and narrative.

  60. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thank you for this marvelous depiction of how a director contributes to the filming process. Are you involved in filming yourself?

    We should all applaud the way each member of the crew enhances the writing and acting. All the parts need to come together to create something excellent.

  61. Justin

    My take on Martin’s comment was that he wanted to make the decision not to marry easier for Louisa. If she thought he felt the same way about her, she wouldn’t have the burden of feeling solely responsible for calling off the wedding which she could possibly regret.

  62. Ian Lamberton

    I just have to express myself somewhere publicly about this. If it’s not relevant, please ignore or delete.
    The penultimate episode of Doc Martin, Season 6. I don’t remember a TV show in which I’ve so rooted for various characters or been so disappointed in their flaws. In this case, Louisa’s meltdown over Martin’s inability to do what she wanted at the school sports event and her subsequently being hit by a car and deciding in the hospital to take their kid and leave him. My wife felt, and I agreed, that it was a problem in the writing and that we had been manipulated. At the same time, the spectacle of two people you like (even if they’re fictional) being so unable or unwilling to communicate, so used to falling back into their habitual reactive stances, and passive-aggressively willing to let something they do want fall to pieces rather than make an effort in comprehension, is frustrating.
    In this case, they’re both equally, though differently, at fault. Martin in his steadfast refusal to even contemplate that there might be something self-defeatingly dysfunctional in his make up, that he could, with a sense of humor, learn to deal with. (“Oh, there I go again!”) And Louisa in her passive-aggressive refusal to really work with Martin. Her offers are half-hearted and shallow. Perhaps she is too cowed by his intelligence. She, who is full of friendly, psychological wisdom for her school kids, should know better. She is too easily stumped by him. She seems to prefer the self-righteous stance of being put upon than trying to see if she can really work things out. Her threat to take the baby and go to Spain is an effort to punish Martin for not being what she wants him to be, and is therefore ugly and disappointing in a person we want to like. Martin, of course, is too stupid to see through any of this—or if he does see it, too set in his ways to change, or too inarticulate to express himself. At this point I was willing to say, “Yeah, go to Spain. Get a divorce. I’m sick of this story.” Which is sad, because I like the story and the people.
    Interesting, though, that a fiction—and a TV fiction at that—can have such an effect. That you take the characters’ fates and flaws so to heart.

  63. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Ian, thanks for writing and expressing your frustrations. I sympathize with you and your especially incensed reaction to S6. I, too, think they have asked a lot of viewers to sustain their enjoyment of watching this couple while they continue their entrenched behaviors. But we have watched!

    Any TV show would feel pleased to know that its viewers have had strong reactions, negative or positive, to the characters and their actions because it means the viewers feel invested in the show. At this point, though, they may have reached the limit of our patience. You are amongst a growing group of fans who seem ready to give up on the show.

    My expectation is that they have noticed the disgruntlement and will come up with a new direction/storyline now that they have agreed to a S8 and 9. Or S8 will disappoint and there may not be a S9. I maintain that S7 should have been the last series. It seems a perfect place to end the show at a strong position. But I don’t have a vote, and they had enough audience share to be recommissioned. So there we have it!

  64. Ian Lamberton

    kjacobson – thanks for responding. I’ve only seen the second episode of Season 7 and was glad to see that Martin was seeking help, glad to see Louisa when she came into the surgery, then immediately disappointed as soon as she started talking as she was so ready to be negative. (C’mon, hasn’t she figured this guy out a little bit?) Then the present of the sausage… what’s the deal with that? It must be a joke, but it doesn’t come off as one. Anyway… I’ll watch all of 7, but I think I’ll agree with you. (It would be interesting if they devoted a whole season to Martin’s psychotherapy. I think.)

  65. Santa Traugott

    Ian, I hope you will keep us posted on your reactions to the rest of S7!

    I agree that Louisa’s decision to go to Spain was “ugly and disappointing” both because it was disproportionate, and out of character that we have come to know. (We thought.) In other words, contrived for dramatic effect, all too obviously.

    I heard a funny and apropos comment from Trevor Noah the other night: “If someone tells you they want to take a temporary pause, you’re single.” That’s why her decision to go to Spain was so disappointing, to me anyway. Because basically, she was leaving him.

    Yes — the sausage is at least passive-aggressive. Not really a spoiler — there will also be Scotch eggs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *