DVD: Doc Martin – Season 3 (2007)

February 12, 2014 | By

Film: Very Good

DVD Transfer: Very Good

DVD Extras:  n/a

Label: Momentum Pictures (U.K.)

Region: 2 (PAL)

Released: February 18, 2008

Genre: Comedy / TV / Britcom

Synopsis: Doc Martin and Louisa Glassen eventually recognize their geuine love, but will there be a formal consumation?

Special Features: (none).

 

Review:

Please note: this review does contain a few significant spoilers.

Each of the Doc Martin season cliffhangers have left the status of Martin and Louisa as one big question mark, regardless of whatever romantic advancements the two make each year, and it’s an ideal strategy to keep viewers hungry, as well as a strong negotiation tool when pitching a new season to the network.

(It’s also smart in avoiding the grievous decisions of having two bickering leads not only sleep together, but get married, which rendered the last seaosn of Moonlighting dramatically inert.)

Comprised of 7 episodes, Season 3 splits the series run by offering up 7 episodes, but unlike the last two seasons, there’s a genuine sense less money was given to the production, resulting in a 2 episodes that simply shouldn’t have been greenlit. (More on those at the end.)

The season premiere picks up with Martin and Louisa on civil speaking terms, and it’s clear she’s still irked by his bungling of what was a golden opportunity to start the relationship both have been quietly agonizing over. There’s also a cast shuffle that has P.C. Mark Mylow being replaced by P.C. Joe Penhale (John Marquez), a recently divorced man suffering from layers of phobias that at times prevent him from leaving the precinct and address civic unrest.

Pauline, Doc Martin’s receptionist, follows her need to grow and takes a course in phlebotomy which takes her away from the surgery, and perhaps allowed actress Katherine Parkinson to perhaps finish up on some other work. In her place is temp worker Poppy (Emily Head). When Pauline returns, she’s now fully qualified to deal with the taking and handling of blood, enabling Martin to keep his lunch in his stomach while examining and treating patients.

Pauline also develops a bit of a gambling problem, which brings her mother into the surgery, and Martin realizes Pauline’s problem stems from self-worth issues with her mum. Although doctor and receptionist still annoy each other, Martin seems to develop a slight respect for Pauline, and sharply assists her rather than throw her into the barbed arms of her mum.

Pauline’s gambling also affects her relationship somewhat with Al Large, who returns from Africa for reasons no one expected. He arrives just as his father has taken over a cursed restaurant, and has hired an ex-con as his cook. The Larges also try to expand their services with a catering service, which doesn’t go quite as planned in the season finale.

There’s also a peculiar storyline that has aunt Joan having a fling with a young painter (which is deeply disturbing to Martin), and when an old friend from college, Holly (Lucy Robinson), injures herself while visiting Louisa, Martin’s treatment starts up a rapprochement between the ex-couple.

The finale is a perfect punctuation to several stages in Season 3 where Martin manages to get closer to Louisa – namely at a concert – but fudges things yet again by saying some ill-chosen adjectives. Where series fans may cry foul this time is when the marriage plans which follow Martin’s proposal and the couple’s pre-marital consummation ends up as fractured as the respective kiss and confession of love at the end of Seasons 1 and 2. Season 3’s wedding keeps the door wide open for more unresolved issues in Season 4, but it sure feels like a mean tease when the build-up surrounds the inevitable marriage of two ill-fitting people.

So where are the flaws in this season?

Episode 3, “City Slickers,” has Martin and Louisa trying to begin a dinner for two, except two annoying neighbours from the big city have moved in next-door, and along with their idiot child, wreak complete havoc on dinner plans. Episode 4, “The Admirer,” involves Aunt Joan’s affair with the painter, as well as P.C. Penhale’s birthday party which no one seems to care about.

Within the Doc Martin universe, both episodes are wrong in the sense that writer ep. 3’s Richard Stoneman and ep.4’s Jack Lothian have neutered Martin into an observer, which makes no sense when the character is supposed to be immutably grumpy and utterly intolerant of stupidity, noxious children, and idiot parents.

During the dinner from Hell in ep.3, Martin grimaces as the neighbours’ is allowed to destroy dishes and dinner with complete impunity, and he stands largely silent while Louisa expresses outrage that should be bigger, sharper, and dead-shot perfect from Martin.

In ep.4, Joan’s affair merely tells us Martin isn’t comfortable with Joan having a love life, and constable Penhale’s party at the local hotel doesn’t push Martin’s relationship that much closer; he gets her a drink at a party he normally wouldn’t attend – both signs he’s pushing himself to join Portwenn society by a few significant millimeters, but that’s it. The advances of hotelier Carrie Wilson (Louise Delamere) does provide a morbid joke about an annoying dog, but toning down Martin removes the energy from the episodes.

Moreover, the episodes have a slightly dim look, as though they were shot towards the end of production, and any finale editorial polishing was skirted as the weather started to become grey. Visually, the episodes in Season 3 are less picturesque, but the introduction of P.C. Penhale introduces the police station – which was never quite seen in prior seasons, except for P.C. Mylow’s own, which seemed to double as his office.

Martin, however, doesn’t really travel beyond the village environs, which is unfortunate in that it restricts all dramas to the village’s centrum, whereas prior seasons had him hopping in his Lexus and heading off to Aunt Joan’s farm, the edge of sloping cliffs, and remote farms. These external stories made village life less insular, and allowed the writers to bring characters into town or visa versa, adding less common elements to keep the visuals and stories varied and refreshing.

Another factor beyond economics may have been series creator & showrunner Dominic Minghella being involved – although how extensive isn’t certain – with a new German version of the series with a full cast of German actors and locations, starting in 2007. With scenarist Anna Dokoupilova adapting the English scripts to a northern German setting, Dr. Martin Ellingham was reformulated as grumpy German Doktor Martin Helling (Axel Milberg), and from the episode titles and synopses, it seems Seasons 1 and 2 in both English and German productions are identical.

Even the opening title montage is stylistically identical, as is the use of Colin Towns’ music, which for fans solely accustomed to the Clunes series must seem like either a Monty Python trick, or a peculiar glimpse into Bizarro World, since the characters – clothes, mannerisms, scenes and dialogue – are extremely similar.

The real test is whether the makers of Doc Martin Season 4 managed to avoid Season 3’s pitfalls, and have every major writer, director, and executive completely focused on making a season as flawless as the first two.

The Doc Martin universe includes the feature film Saving Grace (2000), the TV movies Doc Martin (2003) and Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie (2003), and the Doc Martin TV series, Seasons One (2004), Two (2005), Three (2007), and Four (2009). There is also a German production, Doktor Martin, starring Axel Milberg as Doktor Martin Helling, spanning Seasons One (2007) and Two (2009).

Martin Clunes has also hosted two TV series thematically related to Doc Martin – Martin Clunes: A Man and His Dogs(2008), and Martin Clunes: Islands of Britain (2009).

 

 

© 2010 Mark R. Hasan

 

External References:

IMDB — Soundtrack Album —Album Review — Composer Filmography — Composer Interview 

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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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