Heroics — “Doc Martin” S6E8 Review — “Departure”

Posted on November 26, 2013

“Departure” is electrified by heroics, juxtaposed with heart-wrenching moments and laugh-out-loud comedy – much like the old days.

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 3.40.00 PMThe most touching scene of any DM moment is Martin’s farewell to James on the front porch, when the baby smiles and Martin says, “I’m sorry about all this,” and cradles his head against James’.

Comedy sketches are woven throughout, the funniest being the encounter between “Doc” and a patient with headache. Distraught, the “Doc” gives the woman a rabies injection. When she complains, he realizes what he’s done: “The inoculation is quite harmless. Some patients report side effects — mild fever, rash, vomiting. You should be fine.”

Al has been a quiet hero in various episodes. (Remember when P.C. Mylow was bitten by a snake, when Phil’s leg was impaled by spikes, and when the baker fell off the cliff?) Caroline touches a microphone, and the electrical jolt stops her heartbeat. Al breaks into the lifeboat station to retrieve a defibrillator and administers shock treatment, following “Doc’s” instructions over the phone — garnering new respect from onlookers.

Bert also has an heroic moment. When Ruth accepts Al’s business plan to turn the farm into a B&B for fishermen, Bert demonstrates his deep love for Al, contrasting sharply with Margaret. He tells Al: “There will always be a place for you here. As much as I hate to say it, I hope you won’t be needing it.”

Facing serious consequences, Martin takes several heroic actions to stem the tide of events.

After running an array of tests on himself, Martin can find no medical abnormality. He goes to Ruth, who tells him, “This isn’t a medical issue.” She helps Martin understand why he let Louisa walk out. “You don’t believe you deserve her, do you? How could she love someone like you? That’s what I think you believe.”

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 1.04.50 PMRuth pinpoints the cause of his blood phobia and his issues with Louisa to his childhood. “I watched you grow up. I remember a vulnerable, sensitive, four-year-old boy, and I remember a six-year-old who had shut down because of the remoteness of his father and the coldness of his mother.”

Ruth asks Martin, “Do you really want to be with Louisa?”

“Of course I do.”

“Then you must change.”

Martin accepts the challenge and confronts his mother. Margaret apologizes for words spoken during her last visit and says his father made a deathbed declaration of love for Martin. He knows she is lying because a stroke victim would be incapable of speaking. Margaret admits she came for money – £300,000. Martin refuses, and she unleashes a tirade of abuse. Martin tells her to pack and leave.

In another gesture of change, Martin apologizes to a coughing patient for not giving him a proper examination earlier that day.

Meanwhile, at the airport, Louisa meets Margaret, who is making off with the grandfather clock and lying about Martin. Disgusted, Louisa says: “Is it really that hard to say something nice about him, just for once?

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Freed from emotional bondage, Martin calls the airlines to book a flight to Spain. On hold, he reviews Louisa’s brain scan and notices an anomaly. He calls to warn her, but she has headache and can’t talk with him. Racing through the village, Martin crashes his car and grabs Penhale to drive him. Airline security won’t allow Martin through the gate. Penhale, in fancy dress for a party, asserts himself, surprising even Martin: “This man’s wife needs urgent medical care. If that plane takes off, she may die. Do you want that on your conscience?”

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Martin boards the plane and tells Louisa she needs surgery. At hospital, Martin heroically undertakes the operation himself — after locking the inexperienced surgeon in a closet.

Louisa, woozy from premeds, laughs as Martin pours out his feelings. “I am going to need your help.”

Louisa replies, “If you are going to need my help with this operation, we are really in trouble.”

“No, I’ve done this operation seven times before, but I have never been married before. I don’t seem to be very good at it. I’d like to learn because I want to be much better at it.”

“Doc” skillfully performs surgery despite vomiting. When Louisa recovers, she says she can’t go on the way things were. Martin says he doesn’t want that either.

We glimpse the lovely Louisa from earlier seasons. “Thank you – for coming after me,” she says.

“You are my patient, and you are my wife.”

The episode was outstanding. I can’t use “Doc’s” thermometer because my rating is way over 100.

 

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Emotional Wallop — “Doc Martin” S6E7 Review — “Listen with Mother”

pic_0584Not quite down for the count, but “Listen with Mother” (S6E7) packs an emotional wallop, not to mention a physical one for Louisa.

Viewers can revel in the scenes between mother Margaret and Aunt Ruth. They meet in an alleyway, reminiscent of “Gunfight at the OK Corral.” Ruth has Margaret in her sights and unloads both barrels. “I came back from London last night, and I thought I saw you,” Ruth says. “So I called Martin. He gave me the bad news.”

“About Christopher?”

“He confirmed that it was you. He also told me my brother was dead.”

The women sit down at a café, and Ruth confronts Margaret about her emotionally abusive behavior raising Martin, especially when Margaret stopped sending her son to Joan’s, who loved him and wasn’t afraid to show it. Margaret claims it was because Joan was having an affair, but Ruth says: “You didn’t have a relationship with your son, and you didn’t want anyone else to have one.”

More important than the past, Ruth is concerned about the damage that Margaret can still inflict on Martin. Margaret responds: “I am Martin’s mother. I have every right to be here. You never had children. You can’t possibly understand what I’m talking about.”

The words might have had more effect had Margaret not walked off without James, who was in her care. “Don’t forget your grandson,” Ruth calls.

Kudos to Claire Bloom for playing the dreadful Margaret to the hilt.

When the Army comes looking for the AWOL Mike, he panics and determines to go on the run. Penhale provides a dash of comic relief, accidentally suspending himself by a hook in mid-air. Penhale surprises Al and Mike in his room. Mike is packing a duffel bag — a hard task when he has to fold the shorts perfectly. It turns out that Mike went AWOL because of his OCD. The “Doc” arrives and talks Mike into going back to the Army, which, the “Doc” says, has a “duty of care” and can treat Mike’s OCD.

Morwenna talks to Al about Mike: “He’s a nice bloke . . . and I liked him, but –“

“The state of your kitchen would have killed him.”

Listen_with_MotherMrs. Tishell comes to surgery with pain in her jaw. The “Doc” diagnoses angina, which saves her life, causing Mrs. Tishell’s old feelings for “Doc” to resurface.

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These events swirl around the core theme – the deteriorating relationship between Martin and Louisa. At school sports day, Martin is so dysfunctional that he ruins the event, walking off stage in the middle of the ceremony. Louisa shouts and runs after him. She is hit, graphically and violently, by a car.

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Fortunately, she suffers only a fractured collarbone.

At the hospital next day, Louisa is coughing. Martin suspects deep vein thrombosis, resulting from hospital neglect, and confronts her doctor, insisting he give her heparin and order a brain scan.

When Martin returns to take Louisa home, she tells him she is taking James to Spain.

“. . . Your deep vein thrombosis,” he says.

“I’ll have my blood checked every week.”

“Every week? How long are you going for?

“I don’t know exactly . . . I need a break from you, Martin.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not happy, and I’m not making you happy, am I.”

“Happy? Why does everyone have to be happy all the time?”

Why indeed? This episode is hard to rate. The acting is so good, it makes you feel so bad.thermometer-2Guess that deserves 100.

 

Turning Points — “Doc Martin” (S6E6) Review — “Hazardous Exposure”

Several characters reach turning points or experience pivotal moments. Al, disgruntled with his life, complains to Ruth, who tells him: “We are the authors of our lives. You write the story and you have no one to blame but yourself. If you want to change your circumstances, then change them. Only you can do that.” With no jobs in the village, Al decides to create a job for himself.

Mrs. Tischell receives a letter from the pharmacy regulatory board stating she no longer requires a supervisor. She snaps her cognitive therapy wristband for the last time and gives Jennifer Cardew the boot.

Bert, however, is falling in love with Jennifer; and when he hears she must move away, he is heartbroken. Al advises Bert to tell Jennifer how he feels before it’s too late. In a tender, pivotal moment, Bert meets Jennifer in the countryside, offers her a ring and asks her to marry him. A few moments pass before she answers, “Course I will.”

In the meantime, Malcom Raynor (Christopher Fairbank) and Penhale have created panic in the village over asbestosis. Posting up a warning sign, Penhale runs a staple into his hand. The “Doc” removes the staple, but the blood causes him to throw up all over Penhale, in front of the giggly girls.

TieMartin’s emotions are spinning. Louisa tries to understand the cause of his stress and his insomnia. “Is it the house? Is it too small for us? Do you need more space?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

Is it me, then?”

“Of course not.”

“You don’t sound very sure.”

At that moment, the doorbell rings. Standing at the door is Martin’s mother, Margaret,The Maplayed by Claire Bloom, CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), with news that his father has died. Fans who recall the horrific scene between Martin and his mother (S2E6) are probably as shocked to see her as he is.

“When’s the funeral?”

“It was two weeks ago.  . . .

Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’m telling you now. Some things you just don’t do over the phone.”

Margaret says she has come back to make up for the past. Martin doesn’t respond. (Obviously, baby James doesn’t trust his grandmother either, since he cries every time she holds him.) Margaret moves into the spare bedroom, but Martin refuses to engage with her.

In a touching, middle-of-the-night scene, we see Martin looking down at James, asleep in his crib. The moment seems to signal a change in their relationship, as if Martin realizes how precious his son is.

The next day, when Margaret comes into the office carrying James, she says: “We are all we’ve got left, Martin. You and me. Family.”

Martin walks over and takes James from her. “I have a family. I have a wife. I have a son.Sticking togetherAnd I have Ruth.”

“We have a chance now, to make up for lost time. Don’t we, Martin?” She touches his arm, but words can’t melt his icy feelings.

In an ironic twist on “family,” Martin treats Malcom after he collapses in his yard. The man has Pigeon Fancier’s Lung, inflammation from inhaling protein from bird feces. The “Doc” tells Malcom he must give up the pigeons, but Malcolm protests. “They’re my family.”

“What do you mean, family? They’re pigeons.” (Is there a corollary here?)

Any episode with Eileen Atkins and Claire Bloom has to rate 100. thermometer-2

You noticed that “family” remark about the pigeons too. I thought that was very significant. If I remember correctly, the scene with Claire Bloom talking about family to Martin and him “correcting” her is AFTER the scene with the birds. I felt it was almost like subconsciously Martin began to realize what “family” means after being “taught” by Malcolm.

 

Rattled Relationships — “Doc Martin” (S6E5) Review —

“The Practice around the Corner”

(Acorn TV streams new episodes of DM Series 6 every Monday morning. Episodes are available 24×7.)

The centerpiece of rattled relationships is the return of Mrs. Tischell, poignantly portrayed by Selina Cadell, who needs to heal her relationship with Louisa and Martin. She begins by resolutely tearing down the news clippings about the “Doc” pinned up in her cupboard.

She meets Louisa and apologies for taking James, but when she learns that Louisa and Martin are married, she snaps her cognitive behavior therapy wrist band.

She then bursts into the surgery to “clear the air” with the “Doc” and asks him to tell theDoc_Martin_ep5pharmacy regulators that she is fine to work alone. He refuses. She leaves and vents her wrath by putting Buddy, the dog, inside the door.

The giggly girls are back and torment Mrs. Tischell. But she fires back, “I know your mothers!”

Mrs. Tischell’s other rattled relationship is with Jennifer, the “watchdog” pharmacist, whom she constantly insults.

Al and Morwena sign up for Cornish Couples, an Internet dating service. When Al explains to Bert that couples use fake names and his date calls herself “Nefetari,” Bert says, “I think I put a tenner on a horse with that name at the Grand National.”

Al, alias “Colin, the entrepreneur,” and Morwenna, alias “Nefetari, the medical professional,” arrive at the pub and are dismayed to find they are each other’s date.

“So, you wouldn’t be interested unless I had a fancy job. That’s a bit shallow,” Al tells Morwenna.

“No, Nefetari didn’t agree to meet Colin because of his job. He actually seemed quite witty and charming in his messages.”

“And in real life?”

“No, because in real life, he’s Al.”

Rattled, Al moves out the next afternoon. Morwenna appears sad at work and tells a patient, “I’m not the best judge of character.”

P.C. Penhale goes into the wilderness to train for an elite force. Rattled, he accidentally shoots himself in the foot. He applies moist moss to the injury. Back in the surgery, “Doc” says the moss has left him with fungal spores in his system. When Al tells Penhale he is homeless, Penhale invites him to use his spare room.  “Portwenn’s two most eligible bachelors sharing life’s ups and downs.” Reluctant, but with nowhere else to go, Al agrees.

Perhaps not “rattled,” but a curious relationship develops between the “Doc” and patient, Lorna Gillett (Julia Swift). It’s the first time we have seen the “Doc” engage in repartee with a patient. Beachcomber Lorna collects oddments (or “detritus,” according to the “Doc”) to make jewelry. He treats her cut foot, but she returns the next day with swollen ankles and joint pain. He takes a blood sample. When she collapses on the beach, he learns she has been taking iron tablets. “That’s incredibly stupid. Your ferritin levels are through the roof. . . ”

“2,000 is high?”

“You could have set off a metal detector.”

“Doc” even initiates a conversation with Mike, who is entertaining James with blocks. “How long have you had OCD?” he asks.

“All my life.  . . . That’s why I thought the Army would suit me. . . . It didn’t work out as planned. My first girlfriend left me because she couldn’t handle it. I said to her, ‘Make sure you close the door five times on your way out.’” No response from the “Doc.” “You’re not a fan of jokes, are you?”

“I didn’t know it was a joke.”

Conversations between Martin and Louisa in Episodes 2, 3, 4 have been sadly lacking.DM5Finally, we see Martin, in the middle of the night, trying to allay Louisa’s fears about Mrs. Tischell. The next day, Martin admits to Louisa that Ruth wants him to see a psychiatrist because his blood sensitivity has returned. “When did it come back?” asks Louisa.

“A while ago.”

“Why didn’t you talk to me?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t want to worry you.”

“I’m your wife,” replies Louisa.

Their relationship appears to be the most rattled of all.

A very fine episode that rates 100. thermometer-2

 

Busy and Bizarre . . . (S6E4) “Doc Martin” Review — “Nobody Likes Me”

Before starting on a round of busy and bizarre cases, Martin watches a video with James about a brain abscess. Louisa says: “I know it’s just shapes . . . but I’m worried the video is going to make a lasting impression.”

Martin: “Let’s hope so. This man’s one of the best.”

Then to James: “Concentrate.”

First patient is Mr. Moysey (Ronald Pickup), in for a checkup and prescription. “Your nose is bleeding,” says the “Doc.”

DMS6E4 photo 2“I must apologize for coming to the doctor’s with a medical condition.” Next day, still suffering from nosebleed, dizziness and aching joints, he returns to surgery. The “Doc” prescribes anti-inflammatories and tells him to come back in five days. “What if I drop dead before then?”

“We’ll cancel the appointment.”

The “Doc” diagnoses a man with an infected parotid gland, not mumps as the man feared. “Doc” has him bite on a lemon, which unblocks the calcium build-up. Prescription: Two glasses of fresh, lemony water every day for two weeks.

Mrs. Eddy checked the medical dictionary her tea club chipped in to purchase and determined she has a “dark pigment melanoma.” She wants the “Doc” to confirm her condition so she can make funeral arrangements. She and friend Ethel tattooed each other with an ink gun. The suspected “melanoma” is an infected lymph node, darkened by the dye from the tattoo.

In the waiting room (hey, “Doc,” what about patient confidentiality?), “Doc” rips off the plaster on Ethel’s chest – “See everything you want?” she asks. In addition to the infected tattoo, Ethel has a “rodent ulcer,” cancer caused by exposure to the sun.

Jennifer moves into Bert’s – “80 quid a week, in advance, cash wouldn’t be refused.” Her eye won’t close, and “Doc” learns she has injected herself with botox. He coats the eye with superglue to keep it from drying out and becoming infected. “The next time you feel inclined to inject poison into your system, please find a qualified practitioner to do it.”

Lunch time finds Martin heroically taking James to Minnie’s playgroup. When Minnie waves a dirty sock – rag puppet, in fact – in his face, Martin stands to leave, but James cries. Good sport that he is, Martin sits back down and is forced to pair up with Trace and Shana. Trace confides that Shana doesn’t grab hold of objects. “Child’s probably just backward.” (Well, after all, he’s not in surgery.) When Minnie drops off a photograph from playgroup, “Doc” notices the camera has captured red eye in only one of the baby’s eyes. Shana has a cataract and needs immediate surgery.

Ruth, who’s moved next door to Mr. Moysey, hears a crash and calls Penhale. Mr. Moysey has collapsed under a pile of boxes, newspapers and cans. Not only is he suffering from depression caused by the loss of his wife and sister, but the “Doc” also discovers he has scurvy.

At home, Louisa doesn’t realize that the clutter and noise are taking a toll on Martin. Is he about to crack.

Fine pacing in this episode keeps the many cases rolling. I give it a 95. thermometer 95

 

Shades of Hitchcock . . . (S6E3) “Doc Martin” Review — “Tameness of a Wolf”

SPOILER ALERT: This review is for people who have already seen the show.

“The Tameness of the Wolf” rivals an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, weaving together elements of innocence, suspicion and danger.

A stranger found unconscious on the beach tells the “Doc” his name is Robert Campbell (played by Paul Moriarty) and inquires about other Ellinghams in the area. Ignoring his questions, the “Doc” takes a blood sample and is alarmed to find his phobia flaring up.

Mike, all smiles, arrives to mind James, causing Louisa anxiety about leaving the baby inEp 3 2his care.

Ruth finds a red rose in her car. As she drives to her farm, a car follows. When she turns off, however, the car continues on — then returns.

At the surgery, Becky Wead complains of an upset stomach and blames it on a meal at Large’s restaurant. Becky writes an article for the school newspaper charging the restaurant with food poisoning, enraging Bert and Al.

The chemist’s reopens, and the “Doc” hands a prescription to the new pharmacist, Jennifer Cardew (played by Annabelle Apsion), an old flame of Bert’s. Jennifer nearly gives the “Doc” wrong, potentially fatal, medicine.

The plot thickens. While Ruth guests on Caroline’s radio show, Robert breaks into Ruth’s home and calls in for advice concerning his feelings for a woman. Ruth advises him to tell the woman how he feels. “She will feel the same about me. She will love me?” he asks. Ruth hesitates, but Caroline rushes to say that she can see Ruth nodding her head.

At the farm, Ruth finds a birthday cake on her kitchen table. Martin denies giving her the cake, and she realizes someone has been in her house. Ruth speculates that she has an “amorous stalker,” but Martin scoffs at the suggestion, calling it wishful thinking.

When P.C. Penhale discovers Robert’s car with a diary containing “unsavory comments” about Ruth, Martin fears for his aunt’s safety and races to the farm.

Hitchcock is in full throttle now. At the farm alone, Ruth hears bath water running and goes up to investigate. She enters the bathroom and sees her name written in steam across the mirror. As she wipes the mirror, a man’s face appears behind her.

doc51Soft-spoken Bob, a former inmate, professes his love for Ruth, who talks him into going down to the kitchen. Hearing a car, Bob barricades the door, but Martin crashes through. He tells Bob he is diabetic and needs insulin, then enrages the man by calling him a psychopath. The two struggle, and Bob cuts Martin’s hand with a knife. As Bob raises the knife to thrust a killing blow, Ruth shouts, “I love you!” The words mesmerize Bob, and he drops the knife

Traumatized, Ruth cannot go back into the house. Martin consoles her. “You don’t have to worry about him. He’ll be locked up for years. By the time he gets out, you’ll, ah, you’ll be gone away.”

“Fingers crossed,” Ruth replies archly.

The exciting episode sizzles at 100. thermometer-2

 

Whoops. Did I Say That? “Doc Martin” (S6E2) Review

“Struggling” underscores the theme of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”

Morwenna struggles with the loss of her grandfather and the prospect of taking in a tenant. She demonstrates strength of character in dealing with potential lodgers, finally agreeing to allow Al to share her home. “It’s a bit pricey, I’m afraid. Fifty a week.” When Al opens his wallet, she adds, “And then there’s the deposit.” Morwenna puts her foot down with the “Doc” also, refusing to watch James for even “three minutes.”

Aunt Ruth struggles in her radio interview with Caroline about the merits of psychiatry and about dishing out phone advice, especially to a caller named “Cliff.”

P.C. Penhale struggles with his interpersonal skills. Encountering Ruth, he unknowingly reveals his “Cliff” persona. Ruth suggests that “Cliff” might make “loads of friends” by finding things to admire in others. Penhale puts words to action and winds up irritating people instead.

Louisa struggles with Martin’s lack of social grace and her own misgivings about leaving James with a sitter. The writers have turned the relationship between her and Martin upside down. Louisa is uncharacteristically rude, overbearing and out of line, while Martin tries his best to please her.

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The “Doc” struggles with Millie, the childminder, about her underarm fungal infection (“Get in amongst those crevices and sluice them out.”), causing Millie to walk off the job. More importantly, he struggles to be a good husband and father. His judgmental instincts and inability to read Louisa’s signals undermine his efforts.

On the one hand, Martin minds James during surgery hours himself, attends a school music program with Louisa, invites Dennis Dodds (sparkling performance by Richard Cordery) and his wife to dinner, and attempts cordial conversation. On the other hand, he embarrasses Louisa by playing keep-away with the wine bottle and lecturing the guests about the detrimental effects of alcohol.

Viewers struggle with embarrassment for Martin and Louisa, overheard on the baby monitor maligning their guests, and for Louisa, who, intent on easing the strained relationship, invades Dennis’ workspace, walks into a glass door and causes Dennis to fall off the roof.

Despite struggles, the episode maintains the series’ high standards – scripting with a twist, lively guest performances (Dennis and wife Karen, and the woman at school who asks Martin if his son is musical), topped off by emotion-stirring performances by Louisa and the “Doc.”

The “Doc’s” thermometer simmers at 95.  0