DVD: Doc Martin – Season 7 (2015)

December 9, 2015 | By


DocMartin_S7Film: Excellent

Transfer:  Excellent

Extras: n/a

Label:  Acorn Media

Region: 1 (NTSC)

Released:  December 8, 2015

Genre:  Comedy / TV / Britcom

Synopsis: Dr. Martin and Louisa Ellingham try couples counseling to mend their marriage amid the usual medical emergencies and daft blunders.

Special Features:  (none)




From a North American stance, it is unusual for a series to motor on, especially as seasons produced every few years in response to a loyal fan base rather than a pre-ordained plan, and a show where pretty much everyone who’s been associated with the production returns to do their humble part, creating another chapter in the life of a central character whose growth comes in odd spurts – sometimes resetting things right back to zero.

Season 7 of ITV’s ever-popular Doc Martin proves a relationship reset won’t bugger up the character arc of British TV’s most socially challenged physician, largely because enough care went into each of the episodes to form a cohesive and logical flow. The secondary characters may not get the lengthy one-episode moments of prior seasons, but they remain true to their original designs, and the writers have made sure the good doctor has interactions with all of the core characters.

Picking up where Season 6 left off, Dr. Martin Ellingham (Martin Clunes) awaits the return of wife Louisa (Caroline Catz) and their toddler James from a vacation in Spain, while the entire town knows his marriage is on the rocks. While a brilliant surgeon, Doc Martin is the same tosser that flew into town in 2004: the local teenage girls still laugh and cackle whenever their paths cross, and even Louisa semi-humorously admits that upon their first meeting, she never figured he’d last a few hours before he’d flee back to London.

Martin’s aunt Ruth (the marvelous Eileen Atkins) suggests he address his imperfect social skills with Dr. Timoney (In the Flesh’s Emily Bevan), preferably with Louisa by his side, and their couple counseling becomes the season’s main thread as the pair try to repair broken connections and attempt an emotional reunion.

The peaks and valleys that follow are often affected by the show’s main conceit: that Doc Martin is always on call; and destined to treat new and old characters that appear within the first minutes of every episode. Even when he’s billeted himself in town to give Louisa time and space to rethink their commitment, he ends up saving the life of his next-door neighbour, a new arts teacher whose own divorce has funneled bitterness into some bizarre class projects, and a case of serious tone deafness to her daughter’s sub-Jack Benny fiddle playing.

Bert Large (Ian McNeice) moves from restauranteur to bootlegger, while son Al (Joe Absolom) struggles to keep his new B&B business afloat after the first clients are prone to experience poorly execulted culinary and leisure activities. P.C. Joe Penhale (John Marquez) must choose between an out-of-town promotion versus staying in Portwenn, where a new love named Janice (Robyn Addison) also resides.

There’s also a new radio host, the return of arrogant snot Peter Cronk, and Louisa’s former flame Danny  (Tristan Sturrock), and a finale that has the good doctor put in danger by a couple whose epic marriage is threatened by a terminal diagnosis. Mrs. Tishell’s husband Clive also returns for a second go at their marriage, and the white dog Martin loathes is never far off in tormenting the good doctor.

If there’s one major issue with Season 7, it’s the convenience with which Doc Martin is perpetually running back & forth between Louisa, the surgery, and patients and soon-to-be patients, but this strict format’s been in play since the first season and is only obvious when one attempts a steady binge-watch. The encounters are too neat, but their formulaic design is augured by razor sharp dialogue and amusing characters (although the return of Danny feels very contrived, given he disappears from the narrative after a vocal attempt to convince Louisa that her future still belongs with him). A guest starring role for Sigourney Weaver is amusing but also feels contrived, as though the show-runners were fulfilling a request for the series’ American distributor to ensure it and the episodes’ shorter running times of roughly 45 mins. keep American viewers content.

Clunes owns Martin Ellingham lock, stock, and barrel, and he’s sublimely comfortable revisiting the role with Martin’s unique physical behaviour – jaunting through streets and marching with precision / social awkwardness – and sharp, improper barbs; in this season alone, one could enjoy a drinking game based on the amount of ‘Shut Ups’ uttered every 10 minutes.

The final episode is a bit silly, but it works within the show’s genial reality in which violence is often the result of earnest desperation that doesn’t necessarily mandate a cold arrest and fast lock-up; forgiveness is very much on the writers’ minds.

Doc Martin and Louisa have their needed rapprochement (as do several other characters), satisfying fans who want the closest to a happy ending, while easily leaving the door open for another season.

Season 7 is just as handsomely produced as the rest, with a high level of tight dialogue and direction, and splendid footage of the town and countryside – some conveyed with aerial cinematography that’s a new visual element to the show. Colin Towns’ main themes arte back with slight variation, and it’s worth noting how the series has continued to blossom in other countries as variants and direct remakes, including Austria (Der Bergdoktor), the Czech Republic (Doktor Martin), France (Doc Martin), Germany (Doktor Martin), Greece (Kliniki Periptosi), Holland (Doktoer Tinus), and Spain (Doctor Mateo)!

Although released exclusively on DVD in the U.K. in spite of later series broadcast in HD, Acorn Media’s release of Season 7 marks the show’s first Blu-ray release, which may pave the way for proper HD editions should it perform well in North America.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



External References:
Editor’s BlogIMDB  —  Soundtrack AlbumAlbum ReviewComposer Filmography — Composer Interview
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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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