by Karen Gilleland © 2016
As “Doc Martin” Season 7 continues to air around the world, I’ve decided to begin my reviews. I visited Port Isaac during filming, and I admit my opinion may be biased by the fabulous good fortune of meeting Martin Clunes and other cast members, but I will try to be objective and offer both positive and negative reactions.
S7E1 “Rescue Me”
I found many good things to praise in the season opener. The overall tone was lighthearted and the story lines interesting. The build-up is to the re-enactment of Portwenn Lifeboat Station’s rescue of the “Moon Ray” on its fifth anniversary. Villagers are excited because TV will be covering the event.
As always, the cast and guest actors were outstanding. A welcome addition to the regulars is the narcissistic Janice (played by Robyn Addison) — a self-involved airhead, whose character is intrinsically funny. Psychologist, Doctor Rachel Timoney (Emily Bevan), another repeating role, “doesn’t suffer fools gladly” and provides a sharp opponent to cross swords with Martin.
Of the one-time characters, I particularly liked warm and low-keyed Barry (Joss Porter), who delivered several funny lines. For example, Martin comes to the farm looking for his aunt. “Where’s Doctor Ellingham?” Martin asks. Barry replies: “I thought you were Doctor Ellingham.” In contrast to Barry’s humble character, we meet the boastful “Moon Ray” hero, Steve Baker (Daniel Ryan), who adds a dash of pepper to the mix.
Lots of delightful moments, such as Ruth’s words with Al at the farm where renovations have stalled. Al complains, “You did say you were going to be a silent partner.” She rejoins: “Silent, not dumb.”
A touching moment when Ruth commiserates with Martin about Louisa: “Oh, Martin,” she sighs and puts her hand on his arm as they walk down the steps. Your heart aches for him.
And who can help smiling at the scene where Martin leaves a heart-rending telephone message to Louisa. Before hanging up, he adds, “Um, this is Martin Ellingham, obviously.”
I also laughed at the bit where, twice, he walked in front of the TV camera as the announcer was partway through his spiel. At a different point, the TV crew was sitting down eating clotted cream fudge–ah, that brought back memories.
We’re treated to a gorgeous scene with Morwenna, Janice and Steve sailing toward a cove and then crashing. Very exciting and beautifully photographed.
The episode attempts to build suspense as to whether Louisa will return from Spain. Martin says to Aunt Ruth, “I don’t know when she’s coming back.” Ruth answers: “Or if she’s coming back at all.” But we all know Louisa will return. Here’s a woman who has never gotten along with her mother and refused to move as far away as London with her son’s father. It’s obvious she would never stay in Spain, where she doesn’t even speak the language. I think the suspense should have been built around the question: Will she return to Martin?
A small criticism about the pacing: I found the two bedroom and teeth-brushing bits repetitious. The very funny scene with Martin falling down the stairs would have sufficed. Eliminating a scene could have allowed Louisa to return in the first episode, which would have picked up the pace between her and Martin.
What pleased me most is that Martin Clunes was on screen much more than he was in S6. I timed his appearances in S6 (something only an insanely addicted fan would do, right?). In one episode, he was off camera two-thirds of the show–30 out of roughly 45 minutes (once, for 15 minutes at a stretch). I like all the other characters, but Martin Clunes is the heart of the show. Fortunately, this season, he is off-camera only three to four minutes at a time.
My overall reaction to E1: Thank goodness, our “Doc” is back and in good form!
Click on the following links to read other reviews:
S7E2 “The Shock of the New”
S7E3 “It’s Good to Talk”
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