• Doc Martin (the greatest show ever) Episode Recaps
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    Doc Martin s1e6 “Haemophobia” (2004)

    This is an ongoing feature recapping episodes of the Greatest Show Ever, ITV’s “Doc Martin.” Please watch the episodes before reading if you don’t want spoilers.

    It’s another glorious day in Portwenn. Doc Martin promptly gets called a tosser for looking at a woman’s jubblies, which have a suspicious mole on them. He’s worried about cancer. She’s understandably displeased about the eyes on her jubblies. This parallels the first episode nicely, where Louisa got miffed at Martin for staring at her closely before he diagnosed her with glaucoma.

    Adrian Pitts shows up–you know, Adrian? The young doctor who was mentored by Martin, who we haven’t seen in a few episodes and won’t see again? He wants to be promoted at the hospital, so he’s hoping that Martin will give him a good recommendation. Both Parsons and Martin are in agreement though: He’s an arse. And he is! He doesn’t take it well when Martin tells him he’s an arse to his face.

    The town is catching onto the fact that Martin has haemophobia, and they’re giving him trouble for it. More than one patient brings it up in their appointments. Then Bert Large goes and fakes an injury at the pub, claiming he slipped with the drill. They cover his arm in ketchup to get Martin fainting/vomiting/whatever. Bullies! And a douche move from Bert, who’s been one of the only sorta-friends Martin has in town.

    Even Caroline on the radio is gossiping about the blood issue. When multiple people call in to discuss the haemophobia, Martin calls in to yell at everyone, which is an absolutely fabulous rant. And everyone deserves to hear it! Of course, this does not stop the giggling girls from mocking Martin and calling him a tosser. Maybe I should have been keeping a count on how many times Martin is called a Tosser?

    Martin can’t figure out who spilled his secret until the end of the episode, when we meet Adrian again at hospital. Adrian smugly admits that he’s the one who told the village about Martin’s haemophobia. What an absolute arse!

    The medical mystery: Peter Cronk is back! He hates school and lies about having a note to get out of PE. He doesn’t fit in. Louisa’s decided to make him her special project (“Is it because you’ve given up on Doc Martin, then?”), and she’s got an eye on Peter when he falls at the PE he didn’t want to do. Some jerk kid grabs his ankle so he beefs it off a ladder onto a crash pad. Louisa encourages him to laugh along with the bullies so he’ll be part of the in-crowd, but it doesn’t change the fact he took a bad spill. Martin gets summoned.

    Martin goes to see Peter after the whole blood prank, and Peter tells him that nothing is wrong. Martin tells him to shut up because he isn’t a doctor, recommends Peter goes to hospital, and leaves abruptly. This is heartbreaking to wee Peter. “Mum said not to show people that you’re clever, because if they’re not clever, they won’t like it. But Doc is clever and I thought he’d like it.”

    Louisa does take Peter to the hospital. It’s necessary: Peter’s mom has severe anxiety, and she doesn’t handle issues well. Louisa’s a good surrogate for the appointment. But they still don’t catch the problem. They rule out broken bones and send him onward, even though he still doesn’t feel good.

    Joy Cronk shows why Peter has grown to be so protective (and only gets worse over the course of the show). Just learning he went to hospital because of a PE accident sends her into a long panic attack. She’s still crying hours later because Peter’s condition declines. She manages to summon Louisa, who summons Martin, and they discover that Peter is severely ill. He’s vomited everywhere, is terribly pale, and unresponsive to attempts to awaken him.

    Peter has a ruptured spleen from his bully tripping him! They need an emergency transfer to hospital!

    And it’s so dramatic that Martin has to operate on him in the ambulance! This is the first time Louisa assists on a procedure, and it’s one of the first really graphic procedures we’ve got on the show. It’s not enough to transfuse fluids into Peter, so Martin cuts into little Peter to stop the bleed. It’s a little gory if that bothers you. It certainly bothers Martin. He does the procedure while also being sick. He has to put his hand into the child to clamp the splenic artery and keep it there until they arrive at the hospital. Holy crap??

    But he pulls through, and so does Peter.

    The Auntie: Martin’s not getting any relief from Joan. She tears into him for missing lunch, and eats without him while he’s addressing other things. Plus, she tells him that he’s responsible for the way the town treats him. I don’t know if that’s actually true. It doesn’t feel quite right. It’s a pretty old-fashioned way to think about things.

    The Assistant: This is Elaine’s last episode, and I’m glad. As much as I love her actress, Elaine is a terrible assistant — Martin couldn’t fire her, so this is the only way to get her out of the surgery. Begone, white girl dreads! She’s barely in this one. We can just look forward to Pauline now.

    The Larges: Although Bert is the main actor in the blood prank against Martin, Al is clearly not keen on the bullying. They don’t go anywhere with it. But throughout the show, we do get a lot of clear delineation between Al (sometimes competent) and Bert (the opposite of the Midas Touch), and one more delineation is Al’s humanity.

    Louisa & Martin: This is such a great episode for Louisa & Martin, though it initially doesn’t seem to be the case. Louisa confronts Martin about his “minor blood issue,” since she was on the panel that hired him and didn’t hear a word about the haemophobia. But before it can turn into a fight, she asks him why they have to fight all the time. They’ve got no answer for that. (“Because it’s good for ratings over ten seasons?”)

    In my favorite moment, Martin has an excellent dream where he imagines Louisa sitting on him, kissing on him…licking him…aaaand it’s actually the dog. Well, he wakes up, anyway, which he needs in order to join Louisa in taking care of the Cronks.

    Martin tells the story of his haemophobia to Louisa in this episode. And Louisa gets to lose her shit on Martin’s behalf, which is when she most obviously loves Martin. As angry as she gets at him, she won’t put up with anyone else treating him badly. That’s her job! Because she does it with love!

    This also has their first kiss. Which Martin ruins promptly by saying that her breath smells like she has some kind of gastroesophageal reflux. I’ll take “What’s the least sexy thing for a guy to say to a woman after their first kiss?” for twenty, Alex.

    Favorite Quote: As to the so-called homeopathic remedies, if there’s one for chronic infantilism then I suggest that your caller and the entire village embark on a course immediately!


    Louisa’s Hair Rating: 10/10. This episode has Louisa’s staple ponytail-with-bangs. It looks great on her! But her hair is a fuller lifted ponytail that’s sort of…fanned out and teased? by the end of the episode, which is even better. Weird how nice she looks when getting awakened in the middle of the night, but then again, Louisa always looks good. We also get her hair down at the end of the episode. All the hairs! All of them excellent!

    Infuriating Level: 8/10. Peter’s a little turd, but kids don’t deserve bullying, and Martin doesn’t deserve it either. I’ve never cottoned onto the whole “put up with bullying” thing. The show doesn’t endorse it either (Louisa changes her mind by the end of the episode). Still, going through multiple people advocating for bullying behavior for an hour is infuriating! This town sucks and their hellspawn children suck!

    Episode Greatness Level: 10/10. The splenectomy in the ambulance is memorable and Martin’s cock-up after the kiss is legendary. I love it soooo much. But of course, I always love this damn show!

  • Doc Martin (the greatest show ever) Episode Recaps
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    Doc Martin s1e5 “Of All the Harbours in All the Towns” (2004)

    This is an ongoing feature recapping episodes of the Greatest Show Ever, ITV’s “Doc Martin.” Please watch the episodes before reading if you don’t want spoilers.

    It’s another glorious day in Portwenn. Louisa is joining a surfing club to prove to the kids that she isn’t so old. Martin sees an older fellow in a minor boat crash (he faints out on the water!), and to his surprise, the man identifies Martin as “Little Marty.” This guy has a history with Portwenn! John Slater used to live there, and he took Marty and Joan out on his boat. He’s also not disappointed to hear that Phil, a former partner of Joan, has died.

    Martin also gets a patient named Melanie, whose arm was dislocated by her pillock of a brother. When Martin fixes her arm, she goes from hostile to a little too friendly. She hunts him down with a gift of cake. His awkwardness is hilarious, as you would expect. Martin truly does not know what to make of one of the giggling girls who roam the village like feral dogs being flirtatious. He doesn’t even seem to recognize it at first, since she’s so young compared to him. Not that it’s a problem for Melanie.

    She leaves him a love card too. And she tells him he’s not Bodmin, but “lovely,” and Martin starts to realize he needs to draw some lines between them. Even he knows that her card (“lots of lurve”) is a bad sign. His “Oh God” made me scream-laugh. He tries to tell her clearly that he’s not interested in her, but she doesn’t want to hear it. And she’s not even sixteen yet!!!

    Martin is so concerned about this “besotted” girl that he even seeks out help from PC Mylow, the least helpful person in a town filled with unhelpful people. It’s pretty funny seeing Mylow taking the piss out of Martin, though. Mylow isn’t worried about Melanie, but he thinks Martin should be, because Melanie’s dad is into tae-kwon do.

    Anyway, Martin is trying to keep Melanie away in the kindest, most direct way. She takes it very rationally and…shows up naked in his bed!!! She broke in to his bedroom with a ladder!!! She thought it would be like Romeo and Juliet!!!!

    The next day, Melanie’s dad shows up!!!! The tae-kwon do guy!

    Luckily, Melanie’s (extremely tall) father isn’t coming to beat him up. He totally understanding his daughter is doing a bit of transference and having a phase. It’s not what we expect at all, and it’s nice to see someone who isn’t raking Martin over the coals for the slightest mistake. It’s nice that this is such a fun (horrifying!!!) plot, because everything else going on is sad.

    The medical mystery: John Slater is reluctant to be examined by Martin. He also claims he doesn’t have a GP. He lives in Hong Kong! But his flushed face and shortness of breath draw Martin to look into him more closely. John admits that he’s had all sorts of heart problems, like atrial fibrillation and orthostatic hypertension, yet he refused to be sent to the hospital in Truro. He also insists Martin doesn’t tell Joan that he’s sick… Always a bad sign.

    Without the patient being compliant, it takes a while to know what’s going on. The lab results he eventually gets are grim. John has rheumatic heart disease. He also has infective endocarditis. It’s terminal, and John knows it. He’s only got six months to a year left. No wonder he’s boating around the world and visiting old loves.

    The Auntie: This is a Joan-heavy episode! We love Aunt Joan. She’s extremely flustered to hear that John is back in town and tries to avoid him to no avail. She goes totally heart-eyes at the sight of him. Joan, you dog! He invites her to hang out and visit the old haunts, by which he totally means he wants to bang it out. Who doesn’t want to bang such a gorgeous silver cougar??

    Martin is worried about Joan since John showed up. Even though Martin can’t talk about the medical issues, he’s still keen to make sure Joan’s heart is safe. It’s super cute seeing him float around her and trying to get her to talk about it. He’s totally unprepared to hear Joan admit she was cheating on her husband Phil with John back in the day. Joan!!!! You dog!!!!!!

    If I’m not mistaken, this is how we learned the method of Phil’s death. She says “motor neurone.” I’m not entirely sure what that is. Maybe he just couldn’t keep up with this foxy babe. Anyway, John is determined to keep up. No matter how she tries to turn him aside, he remains persistent, and even talks her into a picnic date. I’m struck by how cute these sexagenarians are. They’re genuinely gorgeous people. No wonder they fall in love again.

    Through Martin’s efforts to support Joan, we learn that Martin’s shitty dad kept Martin and Joan apart at some point because Dad thought Joan was a woman of “gross moral turpitude.” Is this the first indication Martin’s parents suck so bad? Martin is crushed to realize that Joan lost time she could have shared with John on his account — though really it’s his dad’s fault. These moments between Martin and Joan are so sweet. It’s really wonderful to see how intensely Martin loves his auntie.

    John totally breaks Joan’s heart. He tells her that he’s still married, and she can’t come sailing around the world with him. But it’s a lie. He’s never loved anyone but Joan, as he confesses to Martin; he just doesn’t want her to take care of him in his last months as he dies. Martin tells her the truth as John is sailing away. Her tears are heartbreaking!

    The Assistant: Elaine is even grumpier and more useless than usual. Hey, remember how she and Al were making out? Elaine broke up with the Greg we never see, liberating her white girl dreadlocks to date elsewhere. Al immediately moves in on her. Al definitely has a thing for receptionists, but also, it’s not like there’s an overwhelming number of girls his age there. He’s a little old for the giggling girl brigade.

    They connect over music, but really, they should be connecting over her excellent cable knit sweater. Anyway, they end up snogging in an alley, which the Giggling Girls immediately spot. THEY SEE ALL. THEY KNOW ALL. Elaine says Al has a “lush bum” and I never noticed that, personally, but now I’m going to be looking. He reminds me a lot of my spouse in 2004, tbh. He’s wearing a shirt my spouse wore all the time back in the day. Al is such a catch here, too.

    He loads up an iPod with music for Elaine…only to hear her on the phone with her ex Greg. Sad trombones. I guess that relationship isn’t developing. Elaine is the worst of the assistants, by far.

    Louisa & Martin: Louisa tells Martin it would be great to see him out of his suit :3 Of course she is inviting him to go surfing (hence needing a wet suit), but that’s really her only scene in the episode. Still, we do hear from Melanie that Martin & Louisa’s romance is known throughout the town, which is very validating this early in their will-they-won’t-they.

    The Larges: Most of Al’s plot is wrapped up in Elaine here, but we do get an appearance from Bert, failing to understanding technology. He’s convinced Al is going to irradiate himself with the cell phone. And he needs to be assured that Al isn’t calling into some internet “sex-change room.” Remember when the internet was only for porn?

    Favorite Quote: “I was probably too busy wetting myself to notice. Forgive me.”


    Louisa’s Hair Rating: 10/10. We get a really functional Louisa ponytail in this episode! It’s beautiful to see her less-styled. I hope the actress had a nice week off filming.

    Infuriating Level: 0/10. Martin is treated very well this episode, and his plot with the community is hysterical.

    Episode Greatness Level: 10/10. It’s soooo sad and soooo funny in turns. Legendary.

  • Doc Martin (the greatest show ever) Episode Recaps
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    Doc Martin s1e4: “The Portwenn Effect” (2004)

    This is an ongoing feature recapping episodes of the Greatest Show Ever, ITV’s “Doc Martin.” Please watch the episodes before reading if you don’t want spoilers.

    It’s another glorious day in Portwenn. There’s a community dance coming up, the town is a bit misty (lovely!), and we meet a boy named Peter who has a bad attitude. He’s extremely clever and extremely sour about having to learn about birds. As his teacher, Louisa has to put her foot down on his recalcitrance. She leaves him just outside the house with the birds. Naturally, this doesn’t work, and the boy gets up to trouble promptly. Peter Cronk destroys the “bird tables,” which appear to be a mix of bird houses and bird feeders (if we’re gonna be all American about it).

    Peter has to rebuild the bird tables with PC Mark Mylow as a punishment, but Peter says he’d rather just get arrested. What a little punk! No wonder his mum is so anxious. Mrs Cronk has absolutely zero chill. Mylow is very kind about the whole thing, which makes Louisa see him in a new light.

    In the meantime, it’s off to the moors for Doc Martin. He doesn’t have much success with visits to the moors. I get a strong sense of class concerns in regards to the moors, and the show is usually pretty sympathetic about it. But it doesn’t change the fact that his appointment goes poorly, and he doesn’t make a community dance in time. He’s trapped with the patient while Mylow and Louisa attend the dance together.

    While everyone is distracted by the dance (or an appointment), Peter Cronk decides to make a run for it. He doesn’t really have a plan for being out on his own and spends the night eating snacks out of his backpack. When Mrs Cronk realizes he’s not in his bedroom the next morning, she completely loses her cool.

    Mylow and Martin spot Peter Cronk trying to hitch a ride on their way back from the moors and bring him safely home. Martin and Peter connect with each other over being weird autistic rude people, too. (This is important later on the show.)

    The medical mystery: Martin only has one appointment this afternoon. He has to go see the park ranger, Stewart James, who has been asking for a visit out on Bodmin Moor for weeks. Martin doesn’t want to go. This is a service Dr. Sim used to provide. The whole town expects Martin to act like Dr. Sim, demanding prescriptions that Sim would have given. Since Elaine books the appointment, Martin ultimately has to go see Stewart James.

    Stewart James has a creepy little house in the middle of the vast green beauty of the moors. Tall metal fences keep the world locked out…and Doc Martin locked in. Initially, it seems like Stewart and Martin will get on. Stewart’s grumpiness about the village actually makes Martin smile! But then it turns out Stewart wants nitrazepam, a benzodiazepine he claims that Dr. Sim used to give him, and Martin doesn’t want to give it.

    So Stewart confesses that the benzo isn’t for him. It’s for “a friend.” Anthony. An invisible red squirrel. He’s out to get the gray squirrels, who are the “squirrel equivalent of the Nazis.” Hey, turns out Stewart James is schizotypal! And Martin is trapped with him inside a locked fence! We get a really fun performance from the actor for Stewart James, Ben Miller, interacting with his friend the invisible 6-foot-tall red squirrel.

    Martin does manage to leave, and promptly tries to get Stewart James sectioned (put into a mental institution, presumably). It doesn’t work out. Stewart James is so offended and unmedicated that he comes into town…and wrecks the bird tables! Those poor bird tables don’t deserve better. But it turns out that Stewart’s relationship with Anthony is well-understood in town, and everyone ends up blaming this on Martin for failing to medicate Stewart properly.

    This also means Peter Cronk hasn’t been destroying the bird tables. It’s Stewart. No wonder the kid ran away, facing threat of arrest for something he didn’t do.

    Looking through Dr. Sim’s notes, Martin realizes that Stewart James has been getting pills: vitamins. The old doctor only told him that they were benzos. So Martin is able to give Stewart James what he actually needs. This is another case where you just can’t handle Portwenn the way a big city would.

    Louisa & Martin: Louisa extends an invitation to the dance to Martin, and he immediately gets weird about it, even though she’s so beautiful. Her hair is so shiny! Her dress is off-the-shoulders! I love the doc, but she’s obviously out of his league by about ten thousand kilometers. Anyway, Louisa invites PC Mark Mylow instead, and Mark takes it like an invitation to a date. He has no idea she’s out of everyone’s league.

    Mylow comes to Doc Martin to ask for big-penis-pills in anticipation of the dance. He’s worried he’s not normal-sized. Mylow reveals has been buying penis pills off the internet! Which is an even bigger deal now that he has a date with the “woman of his dreams,” Louisa! Martin is so jealous the instant he realizes what Mylow is on about. He pushes him straight out of the office. And Mylow decides to take the penis pills into his own hands.

    Louisa doesn’t realize how romantically inclined Mylow has become until they’re pretty much already dancing. What a disappointment for Martin to see Mylow dancing with the woman of his their dreams. He walks away before realizing Louisa is trying to let Mylow down easily, which is a disappointment for both Louisa and Martin. They’re so smitten. <333

    The Larges: Bert is the one putting together the dance, which makes me immediately suspicious. Some people really shouldn’t ever have anything to do with business, no matter how innocuous. But this is one of those times where Bert’s event actually goes well. Is this the only time one of his events goes well? Remember, he was just selling bottled water contaminated by calving sheep the other day. He gets a band and decorations and everything. Nothing burns down. It’s incredible.

    Favorite Quote: “You’ll get over it, big boy.”


    Louisa’s Hair Rating: 10/10. How is it soooo shiny? I love the long tapered bangs on her. It hides her eyes a bit, but also balances out her big lovely lips. <33

    Infuriating Level: 3/10. This one isn’t very infuriating. It’s tense! The first time I watched it I was actually quite scared for Martin. I really thought he was going to get shot by Stewart James.

    Episode Greatness Level: 9/10. The scariness of the encounters on the moors and the whole squirrel thing means this is one of the more iconic episodes. I think back on it all the time!

  • Doc Martin (the greatest show ever) Episode Recaps
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    Doc Martin s1e3: “Shit Happens” (2004)

    This is an ongoing feature recapping episodes of the Greatest Show Ever, ITV’s “Doc Martin.” Please watch the episodes before reading if you don’t want spoilers.

    Portwenn has unrealistic expectations for our dearly beloved Doctor Martin Ellingham. It’s not enough for him to be a great doctor: he also has to be ready to issue prizes at events, as in episode one, and he’s expected to be a personality on the local radio talk show. He only gives one-word answers on the radio, much to the deep disappointment of Portwenn’s Personality Playlist host, Caroline.

    Trying to platform the doctor turns out to be a dreadful idea. Asking for wordier answers means he says “Yes, I do” instead of just “Yes.” And once he gets everyone’s ear on the radio, he accuses the municipal water of being a source of disease, which causes an utter panic. Caroline cuts him off when he tries to issue a boiled water advisory.

    In the past, an issue with aluminum suspected in the water nearly shut down the whole town. Portwenn isn’t a rich place. They’d rather be sick than lose their tourist dollars. I admire how the show never turns away from the deep poverty faced in such a setting.

    She’s right to cut him off, though: testing the water proves that it’s not the source of contamination.

    Roger Fenn, meanwhile, has been undergoing chemotherapy for his throat issues. Fenn hopes that Martin can give him a sick note in order to get the school to pay him for his pension. It would be a big deal for Fenn, who doesn’t have money, but Martin would have to falsify records. Martin’s a stickler for rigid rules. Even being asked for it is offensive to him, and that’s one of those things we love about him, even if Portwenn doesn’t. Martin wants to help if he can, though. He’s willing to look at Fenn’s forms. He’s just not willing to lie.

    Louisa has another idea to help Fenn. She tries to arrange for him to teach music part-time at the school. Fenn initially resists in the hopes of getting his pension, but in the end, he takes the position.

    The medical mystery: Diarrhea has been getting around in the community. The doc isn’t initially concerned when the first patient arrives — a lifeguard at the public pool. The second patient we see also is a frequent swimmer, and this quickly turns into a water-related paranoia.

    Martin suspects a chlorine-resistant parasite, and the pool owner is not willing to shut down the pool, shock it, and change the filters. What else is a responsible doctor to do except scream at the children that they need to leave or get sick? Martin has shown repeatedly that he’s not capable of more social sensitivity.

    His office is absolutely swarmed by diarrhea cases. More than thirty in two days! Where could it be coming from?

    The Assistant: Elaine’s back at work, and she’s still not good at it. She’s talking to her boyfriend Greg on the phone no matter how she gets yelled at and won’t look up anything she doesn’t have to. She’s not interested in improving, either. Martin tries to show her how to fix her computer. He thinks she’ll like the computer more if she understands how it works. I mean, it works for Martin, right? He fixes clocks, and computers are hardly more complicated than clocks. But Elaine would literally rather kill herself (in her own words).

    Elaine makes the outbreak of diarrhea worse by refusing patients who have “belly ache.” She’s basically the opposite of a medical professional and absolutely should not be giving medical advice over the phone, even if she regards it as common sense. It means Martin takes more than a day to learn that there are more than a dozen cases of diarrhea in the community.

    Mrs. Tishell: This is the first real visit from Doc Martin to Mrs. Tishell, who expects herself to be equal to the doctor in many ways. She wants to do tea and cake. She beats herself up for not notifying him that everyone is having diarrhea, though Martin has not been berating her specifically. Also, we may notice at this point that she’s always wearing a neck brace.

    She’s just another member of the community who really expects the doctor to be more social than just a doctor. You’d think it would be a letdown, but then again, you wouldn’t think Mrs. Tishell would turn out the way she does.

    The Auntie: Joan is an effective translator between Martin and the town, as usual. She points out that he didn’t test the water before making an accusation. Even when Martin is being reasonable, he’s still gotta do better. Portwenn isn’t like London. Or any sane town, really.

    Louisa & Martin: Martin is rendered useless by Louisa’s presence. She shows up to apologize for times she’s been abrasive with him, and Martin promptly spills water all over himself. They cannot have a conversation that actually communicates anything without butting heads, either. It offends her when he seeks to clarify her intentions. He can’t meet her halfway when she’s trying to extend a lunch invitation to him, either. But he *wants* to, terribly so. The man is useless around her! He’s so smitten with Louisa! Who can blame him when she’s so flipping pretty?

    It’s cute how Louisa also can’t get Martin out of her head. She notices a coworker, Joan, is looking a bit pale, and immediately gets distracted by the very idea of Joan seeing the doctor. Ahhh, the doctor <333

    The two of them actually get to go on their first date in this episode! Which PC Mylow ruins. Very Portwenn.

    The Larges: Our favorite plumbers, who are terrible at their jobs, are working on the plumbing at the radio station when Martin is first interviewed. We learn that Al’s mother is dead and Bert has been hanging her ghost over Al’s head to get him to do all the work in the plumbing business. Al doesn’t love it, and he shouldn’t. Al moves out after the tiff.

    Bert isn’t sure how to parent. Martin tries to help him with emotional support, but it just makes it worse. The way that Martin is always doing his best and offending everyone feels so relatable.

    Honestly, it’s not Martin’s fault in this case. Bert is dreadful. He just sees the water issues as an excuse to sell “French spring water.” Which turns out to be bottled water from Bert’s spring, actually, and the actual source of the parasites making everyone sick. It’s Bert’s fault! Aww, sorta sweet seeing the first time Bert ruined everything for everyone. This man shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near businesses, or money, or…anything.

    Bert supporting Al’s interest in computers also introduces Al and Elaine, meaning he gets his first assistant-girlfriend.

    I think it’s so cute how Al and Bert are clearly both Alberts. Al looks like his name is spelled: Tall and skinny. The older, wider Bert definitely looks like a Bert.

    Favorite Quote: “Take two aspirin and insult me in the morning.”


    Louisa’s Hair Rating: 10/10. Her bangs are wispy, her hair is long, and she’s got a bit pulled back to create multiple levels. It’s so shiny. She could totally be a hair model.

    Infuriating Level: 5/10. I hate how the town is so mean to Martin about his efforts to keep them healthy, but when they need tourism for their jobs, I understand their hostility here. Plus, he’s wrong on this occasion. He shouldn’t have made accusations before testing. Caroline should eat sheep shit, though.

    Episode Greatness Level: 7/10. It’s great to see Doc Martin striving to do better and watching Bert screw things up the first time. <3

  • Doc Martin (the greatest show ever) Episode Recaps
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    Doc Martin s1e2: “Gentlemen Prefer” (2004)

    This is an ongoing feature recapping episodes of the Greatest Show Ever, ITV’s “Doc Martin.” Please watch the episodes before reading if you don’t want spoilers.

    Doctor Martin Ellingham’s surgery has opened for its first patients. Unfortunately, Martin has a very particular idea of the way medicine should work, and the rest of the town doesn’t understand the rules he expects.

    On day one, his waiting room is filled with people who don’t have actual issues, but simply want to visit. Visiting with the former doctor seems to be something that the town used as social time. With a lot of lonely older people around, including one adorable widower, they certainly need a listening ear — but it’s not coming from Martin.

    His new assistant Elaine is also not behaving the ways he expects, so he fires her. And the town does not like it. Firing Elaine makes all of Portwenn immediately turn on their unfriendly doctor. Even a young patient he helped (and Martin says “I like you” to him!) utterly rejects Martin for this sin.

    In order for Martin to be a good doctor here, he must learn a whole set of new skills. It’s simply not the same as being a good doctor in London.

    He can’t be a doctor in London anymore, though, and this is the first time we get a glimpse at why. A bit of blood on his jacket sends him running for a bathroom. Oh no! Our not-so-beloved doctor has bloodphobia! This is a defining characteristic for Martin, and it’s so serious he throws out an entire perfectly good jacket just for getting a little blood on it. His little speech to a patient about the bloodphobia is extremely endearing.

    The medical mystery: What’s causing the raspy voice of former teacher Roger Fenn? There’s a lump in his throat, but he initially won’t accept a referral onward to a specialist.

    Fenn’s got a chip on his shoulder, which isn’t too different from Martin himself. Fenn felt like he was kicked out of his job, lost to Louisa Glasson, and he’s carried this anger through his life. Even to the point he’s trying to ignore cancer of the larynx.

    How can Martin get through to Fenn? His brusque personality isn’t working here either, at first, but frankly informing Fenn of his possible diagnosis does make an impact. Fenn goes on to become Martin’s first ally in the town. Martin changes, sure, but his competency is hard for anyone to ignore.

    The Assistant: Elaine’s not good at her job. A mother calls in because her child, Bobby, has stomach pain and vomiting, but Elaine fails to take down the actual name and number. Since she’s also showing up late to work and doesn’t double-check prescriptions, Martin fires her for the incompetence.

    Apparently this is the wrong thing to do because even Bobby’s mother is angry at him for firing Elaine. A local restaurant refuses to serve him for firing Elaine as well. She might be terrible at her job, but she’s still much better-liked than Martin.

    The Auntie: Ultimately, it’s Aunt Joan who talks sense into Martin…or something like that. Joan helped raise Martin; she knows he’s a pain in the ass. But she’s not on his side with the firing of Elaine, either. Her argument is the most sensible. To paraphrase the wisdom of Aunt Joan: “You suck too, Martin. Be forgiving.” Except imagine I said that with an English accent.

    The perspective she gives Martin is enough to get him growing, and he reaches out to be kind toward Elaine. The fact Elaine initially can’t accept that is not his fault, for once; however, his personal growth permits Elaine to close the gap between the two of them and regain her job. At least for the rest of the season.

    Louisa & Martin: Again, Louisa can’t stand Martin’s abrasive personality, but Roger Fenn is the one who can’t stand Louisa’s shallow kindness. Fenn actually needs Martin’s bad attitude in order to listen to medical advice. Louisa isn’t perfect, even when she fakes it. Although Louisa’s characterization isn’t wholly consistent throughout the show, one thing remains true: as critical as she can be of Martin, she also fails to see where she can be the problem.

    As usual, Martin proves that he’s better than everyone expects by showing up for Roger Fenn, and he and Louisa form a sort of three-person family of people who aren’t good at being liked.

    Favorite Quote: From Martin to his very first patient: “Collect a thousand loyalty points and you get a free coffin.”


    Louisa’s Hair Rating: 10/10. Rather than her later-standard ponytail, she’s got this half up, half down thing going on that looks extremely lush and fancy. I like her wispy bangs. This is a quality hairstyle, especially for 2004. She’s so pretty!!

    Infuriating Level: 10/10. Elaine is so! bad! at! her! job! Martin was correct to fire her, and the whole town turning on him is nuts. These people would die without a doctor, but it’s amazing nobody dies from Elaine’s general incompetency.

    Episode Greatness Level: 8/10. This is a pretty normal outing for the show, setting up a lot of the comfortable formula we enjoy through most of the seasons.

  • Doc Martin (the greatest show ever) Episode Recaps
    doc martin

    Doc Martin s1e1: “Going Bodmin” (2004)

    Doc Martin is the greatest TV show ever made. I can’t tell you exactly why this is true. I can list things that I love about the show, but what about these things makes it “the greatest”? I’m not entirely sure. But I love Doc Martin in a way that I have never loved a show on my first watch-through.

    I adore the titular character, Martin Ellingham, though I initially found him off-putting. You need a keen eye to see actor Martin Clunes’s comic chops through his dour, neurotic, wooden-faced performance as Dr Ellingham. After a time, it becomes clear the only reason this character (who is incredibly autism-coded) works is because Clunes is a genius of physical comedy. He delivers the driest English humor and most restrained-yet-cartoony gesture work.

    Martin is wish fulfillment in a character. He says what’s on his mind and tells people to shut up, go away, etc without a hint of shame. His incredibly logical approach to this batty small town feels a lot like being an autistic person in real life. It’s never quite clear why we’ve left someone miffed when we’re just speaking the unfiltered truth. Martin speaks with thorough medical confidence, which makes it all the more frustrating when he offends an entire village with his frankness.

    The main appeal of Martin, for me, is competency porn. He’s really good at his job, usually. Mistakes can be made, but it’s seldom because he doesn’t care enough. If he realizes someone is in real danger, he cares deeply, and he won’t let go of the case until everything has been handled. Some have said medical shows are the hospital version of copaganda; it gives an unfairly glowing idea of a system that is incapable of producing sleuths who care so much and commit so many resources to any individual case. As someone medically complicated, I like dreaming of a doctor who could fix me.

    Martin alone isn’t enough to make this show The Greatest. It’s a lot of things, big and small, that make Portwenn feel real and keep me returning to its Cornish shore.

    The closest comparison I can make to an American TV show (at least, one that I’ve watched) is Elementary, another 1/3 of my all-time favorite TV shows, along with Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal. Elementary also stars an English lead who is autistic-coded with terrible social skills. They’re both shows oriented mostly toward mysteries, too. They’re procedurals where the central detective isn’t a cop. There’s also a female lead who I find extremely appealing: Lucy Liu in the case of Elementary, and Caroline Catz in the case of Doc Martin.

    Doc Martin is funnier, though, and often less reassuringly predictable than Elementary; some of the episodes sincerely stress me out. But that excitement is part of the appeal too. Hence why I want to review THE GREATEST TV SHOW EVER MADE, episode by episode (if it suits me). I am obsessed, it itches my brain, and I have mentally moved to Portwenn. I’ll send you a post card.

    Please note: All of these posts will have spoilers. I highly recommend watching the episodes before my recaps because the guessing is part of the fun.


    Episode Recap

    Doc Martin flies into the small Cornish town of Portwenn to accept a new job as the general practitioner (GP). Before his surgery has been prepared, he’s already facing his first medical mystery.

    It’s called “Going Bodmin” in reference to an asylum in Bodmin. The giggling girl chorus that remains *delightfully* consistent throughout the TV show calls Martin Bodmin from the get-go. They’re right, but can you blame him? You can imagine why when he’s losing his cool over the dog in the surgery, the narrow roads, and a town that wants to do everything but allow him to work peacefully.

    The real story here is that Martin hates small-town life, but he doesn’t have any choices. He’s gotten himself driven away from his fabulous London job. The problems from London will follow him everywhere because the problem is Martin. He has to make this terrible town work, because he’s terrible at being human. And Portwenn desperately needs a doctor. The GP preceding him, Dr Sim, left behind a complete mess.

    The medical mystery: Why does an older gentleman have gynecomastia?

    Martin thinks it’s because enboobied Colonel Gilbert Spencer’s wife, Susan, is using way too much oestrogen cream, but when a surfer also shows up with gynecomastia, Martin loses confidence in that theory. There’s some question whether the water in Portwenn might be contaminated–which comes up again later.

    It’s easy to predict the reveal yourself before Martin figures it out because the answer is unspooled from the very beginning. You can see Susan bustling away from her affair as soon as Martin arrives, and her distracted surfer paramour loses his car to high tide.

    You already know the affair is coming long before it’s discovered at the worst possible moment. People love spoilers, especially when they spoil themselves. But you can easily understand why Martin, who is terrible at predicting human behavior, would not understand the mystery sooner.

    Louisa & Martin: Martin and Louisa meet for the first time on the plane into town. Martin does the thing where he stares intensely at a woman until she thinks he’s a pervert, but he whips out a diagnosis that defuses the situation…kinda.

    Louisa Glasson isn’t convinced that Martin is cut out for the village. He’s spent 12 years as a surgeon, who see people as bodies rather than people. And oh *boy* are the residents of Portwenn “people,” not bodies.

    But Louisa begins respecting him when she realizes that Martin was correct diagnosing her with glaucoma. Much like myself, Louisa loves a competent man. She’s soft and generous and expansive this early in the show. She goes from angry to friendly in a snap. Martin’s attraction toward Louisa is subtler, aside from a couple darling moments where he gazes at her through a school window and sees she’s wearing an eye patch. Hey, it’s someone who actually took his medical advice! What’s not to love?

    Worth noting that Martin Clunes has a great pining-face. You can trust me on this one, I’m an expert.

    Also, it might look like Martin is too old for Louisa, but the actors are only eight years apart in age. Caroline Catz is just very beautiful and Martin Clunes is very square-headed.

    The Larges: If you get competency porn feelings from Martin as a great doctor, you will not from the Larges. Bert and his son Al (presumably Albert and Albert Jr) are plumbers who show their dreadful skills in this episode by busting a pipe and flooding Martin’s surgery. It’s hard to believe these two doofy dudes will persist throughout the show, but they do!

    Plumbing is their first of many failed ventures, and you can’t blame Martin for going Bodmin about it. But Bert Large also quickly becomes one of Martin’s access points to the town. Bert entreats Martin to care for the humans who have always been his neighbors, and his working class sensibility is exactly what Martin needs to concede his pride.

    The Assistant: We meet Elaine in this episode, played by legendary evil step-sister actress Lucy Punch. (You might know her from one of my favorite movies, Ella Enchanted.) Elaine is unprofessionalism wearing white girl dreads. She won’t take notes he requests, uses his phone for personal calls, and wants to be paid even when she doesn’t actually do anything.

    Elaine has been foisted upon Martin by the town in much the same way as the dog. He is surrounded by things he doesn’t want. But maybe there’s something here he needs?

    The Auntie: Aunt Joan is introduced in a chicken coop. This is a woman who helped raise Martin when he visited her farm in summertime, and when we see her practical personality (including a quick chicken neck snapping) it quickly begins to contextualize Martin’s personality too.


    Louisa’s Hair Rating: 7/10. It’s a little flat. Her fringe isn’t at it’s fringiest, either.

    Infuriating Level: 5/10. Martin’s more annoying than the town at this point, but don’t worry, things swing around quickly.

    Episode Greatness Level: 10/10. I just love the Old Man Boobies episode, I won’t lie.