Doc Martin DVD 1 to 5 Review
Doc Martin is a
popular British television series created by Dominic Minghella,
who based the series upon the same character featured in the theatrical
film Saving Grace (released in 2000),
which was written by Mark Crowdy and Craig Ferguson. The television
quite different in some respects and takes a much different approach
character and the odd town he lives in the English called Portwenn. The
was also preceded by two made for television films based on the
offering a slightly different tune to this unique character.
series has currently aired five series (or as we call
them in America, seasons), and will return soon with a new and final
outing that has yet to air on British airwaves. The show began in 2004
continued through 2013 and despite production delays between seasons
has continued to find an audience.
Clunes is the lead actor portraying the character of
Doc Martin. On the television series, this character is a grumpy Doctor
bedside manner, who is often so matter-of-fact that many patients and
townspeople find his attitude and general characteristics alarming.
too terribly fond of the people of Portwenn, and as their only doctor
fit to just examine his patients and "get on with it", so to speak.
He doesn't spend time trying to get to know most people and he keeps
himself while working to help the people with health issues. It's
loner life for Dr. Martin Ellingham (the nickname of "Doc Martin"
been given to him by the people of Portwenn).
series largely revolves around the medial needs of a
towns-person in Portwenn and Doc Martin ultimately "saving the day"
by the end of each of the episodes. The series is mostly episodic and
there are a few reoccurring plotlines and characters it's mostly a
the course of the series, Doc Martin becomes friends
with a local schoolteacher, Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz), who first
as a member of the board determining if Doc Martin would be a good fit
community. She initially disapproves of his hiring and is surprised
realizes an eye-gazing look he kept giving her had only to do with a
condition she needed help with medically. The two become a "romantic"
pairing over time.
path to romantic happiness between Louisa and Martin is
also interfered with my Martin's unfailing ability to mention some
health or medical issue he sees fit to mention to her in an otherwise
moment (such as in mentioning an actual medical term which translates
"you need help with bad breath"). The show continues to teeter-totter
back and forth between the concept of the two as a couple or as simply
in a strange relationship to one another -- and the show is sometimes
enjoyable, to some degree, because of its inability to let these unique
characters simply be together.
other main supporting characters on the show include a local
mechanic that is often visiting Doc Martin or Louisa and who goes from
plumber to local restaurant owner or "import water" drink-seller
named Bert (Ian McNeice), and who is also frequently helped out through
with his son Al (Joe Absolom). There is also Martin's aunt Joan
Cole), a motherly figure in his life, and who is an emotional core of
-- that is, until a abrupt passing of the character between the season
and the season 5 premiere, in which her character dies and her
becomes badly resolved.
1 introduced the first receptionist, Elaine Denham
(Lucy Punch), who was a hilarious and fun supporting character as a
inconsistent and "go-with-the-flow" type of receptionist. Her
character (and the performance given by Lucy Punch) added a great deal
production. In season two, her character was essentially replaced with
character in (predictably) the same kind of role as the receptionist.
Lamb (Katherine Parkinson) replaces the character and we never get to
Elaine's character again. Luckily, Pauline was a nice character to be
get to know.
then after a multiple year difference between seasons Pauline
is a character dropped out of the show to introduce Morwenna Newcross
Ransom) as receptionist. The same sort of thing happened with other
on the show, and it's a frequent irritation for characters to
dropped out of the show this way.
show's best season is probably the first year's outing. That
is when the show was mainly being written by the original television
and producer Dominic Minghella (who also happens to be the brother to
another creative individual, Anthony
Minghella). The show generally seemed more consistent in tone and style
built to a high quality season conclusion that was one of the
the show's entire run to date.
the show progresses there have been many different
writers who have come and gone on the show and the same can be said for
(and the actors portraying them) as they have also gone through a
number of significant
changes over the seasons. It's one of the things that prevents the
ever reaching its full potential of creativity. The writing becomes so
inconsistent in later seasons that many episodes simply seem more
out-of-character than the series seemed before.
the most surprising
thing is that director Ben Bolt (who has been the main series director
every single episode of the show throughout its five years) is one of
series writers. It surprised me because I think Ben Bolt has been a
director for the series. It's probably a much more consistent show than
would have been because of his directing.
Yet somehow he seemed to portray the characters quite
his writing. As director, Bolt made the actors give consistently good
performances and the ebb and flow of the show is generally quite
creatively writing for the character of Doc Martin, however,
Bolt makes him more unlikeable than he ever does while in the
alone, and the mean-spirit of these episodes was often causing the show
to a halt creatively. Luckily, he only writes a fraction of these
they were often "prominent" ones that took the show in certain core
directions. I wasn't particularly thrilled with the writing on Doc Martin at all once Minghella left
the show following its second season, and by the time Season 5 rolled
2011 there were five different writers on the show and things just
much more inconsistent creatively: plotlines were sometimes introduced
hazily dropped before being reintroduced much later and less
show never managed effectively to transition between the
loss of some of the characters that left the show and the gain of the
characters that seem to inhabit the same basic roles either, and the
was often shrugging off the characters (and the actors) in a way that
times both dismissive and unnecessary.
on Doc Martin are somewhat bumpy
between the seasons, and that is simply the matter of the show's
throughout the entire run of things. It makes it essentially flow as if
a soap opera with actors replacing the same characters or parts, moving
along as if no actors or characters had even left the show during
which makes the show feel less enjoyable.
series always has the consistency of acting delivered
exceptionally well by Martin Clunes and Caroline Catz but the writing
really everything fans would hope to find and the series gradually
and less entertaining. Going forward with the show will be interesting:
season remains. Personally, I hope to discover returning cast members
parts and a solid conclusion for the ongoing cast members. As it stands
now, Doc Martin isn't great television at all
-- it's merely a solid entertainment that gets less
interesting each season as the writers change and characters
you loved disappear without any proper conclusion or farewell.
presented on DVD with a
1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer which retains the original
broadcast aspect ratio. The series looks rather mundane on DVD, and
that impressive visually. The colors are drab and detail is lacking.
looks rather soft, hazy, and almost as if it was shot on video (even
series was filmed on 35mm film). Unfortunately, it's just not that
looking as a series and the transfers don't help it out any.
series is presented on DVD with
a standard Dolby Digital 2.0 audio presentation. It's not a
engaging sound-field. It's basically focused on bringing out the
that's about it. Nothing is particularly stand-out at any given point
show's entire run, when the audio is considered. The music score sounds
accompanying the show but doesn't really stand out much.
aren't any extras on any of
the first four series. The fifth series set contains interviews and
footage, about forty minutes worth in total, which is a clear
still is not that much to get excited about.
included television movies might
be considered as supplemental to some viewers, but these films are not
technically "extras", per se, but to some degree it would have made
more sense if Acorn Media had released them as such with the first
they don't have much to do in relation to the character archetype
the first Doc Martin TV film, there seems to be more
in common with the
character from the original theatrical
film than the character on the show, and he is someone who has moved to
similar (albeit different) type of community after his wife's
affairs. In Doc Martin and The Legend of
the Cloutie, none of the characters featured in the first film seem
the same characters at all -- even though they do appear as characters,
Martin is trying somehow to scare some people out of a local house so
can move in himself. It was somewhat interesting, in a bizarre way, but
like a total cash-in with no connection artistically to the first film
eventual series) at all.
Martin is a
highly inconsistent series.
It is at times greatly entertaining and at times highly aggravating.
that so many characters and actors come and go on the show and are in
replaced with basic-archetypes that are incredibly similar makes the
like a soap-opera sometimes. While it's a fun show at times (especially
the first two series), everything could have been better if the show
more of its actors around and if the romance between Doc Martin and
been allowed to happen in a more befitting manner. Creatively, the show
more disappointing as it goes on, and less and less involving. The
is actually the weakest season to date. Longtime fans who are
revisiting the show will probably like having the set, but I don't
is something worth revisiting much. I'm hopeful the sixth and final
which is soon upcoming, will improve upon the last few seasons and end
on a high(er) note.
only to fans who managed to
enjoy all of the seasons and movies. Otherwise, consider getting the
season (or two) and wait and see if the show can successfully manage a
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.