Doc Martin (the greatest show ever) Episode Recaps

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.

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