Triumph in the face of adversity has never been as important for a television character as it has been for Dr. Martin Ellingham.
“Doc Martin” is a comedy, but it has some elements that make it seem much more dramatic than a sitcom. The British series was produced by Dominic Minghella, who is known for the 2006 television series “Robin Hood” and the 2002 movie “Stranded.” Ellingham, the doctor’s surname, is an anagram for Minghella.
The central character on the U.K.’s ITV series “Doc Martin,” Dr. Ellingham is a widely recognized vascular surgeon who leaves London to become the general practitioner for the Cornish village Portwenn after realizing that he had hemophobia, a nauseating fear of blood. To add to his troubles, Martin’s personality is brisk and seemingly rude, and nearly anti-social to villagers who know each other’s life stories.
The first apparent characteristic of “Doc Martin,” played by Martin Clunes, may be his frustrating ability to ruin important moments with insults he never meant to make. For instance, upon possibly succeeding in winning over his love interest, Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz), he continues to suggest that she change her mouthwash or take a stool sample in order to test for possible health risks. Although Martin has the best of intentions, I often find myself berating the screen for him to remain quiet before something terrible occurs that upsets the goals he wants most. Glasson and Dr. Ellingham carry the main plot of the show, but the villagers have classic roles that make any episode have plenty of twists.
For instance, two of the villagers, Bert and Al Large, begin the series as plumbers. Bert (Ian McNeice) is struggling to find business and an income with his son, but only succeeds in overflowing Dr. Ellingham’s house in several feet of water. Martin’s receptionists, who change throughout the series, act as assistants and often as communicators with the usually offended patients he sees.
The village of Portwenn in England provides a natural quality to the show, from the farms on hilly grassland to the fishing boats coming in with fresh catches, which makes the story lifelike and yet gives it the fantastic feeling of a fairy tale.
I found that whenever I began to watch this series, I could not just watch one episode. This series has a few cliffhangers that should be recognized for their effectiveness. There are also many memorable lines of dialogue.
Out of many quotes from the show that demonstrate Dr. Ellingham’s direct manner is this one: “Bert, it’s been a long day. Take two aspirin and insult me in the morning.” Doc Martin is a no-nonsense personality who has the worst possible weakness for his life’s work: hemophobia. Even though it’s late in the series, I have yet to discover if this issue is ever fully resolved and if Dr. Ellingham will return to be a full-time surgeon. The other plot conflicts I feel obligated not to reveal, just as I could never indicate the outcome of the events in Harry Potter.
As a “Doc Martin” fan, I may have to someday visit Port Isaac, the location for the fictional Portwenn.
The best example I can use to describe the Doc Martin character relates to one of his first experiences upon arriving in Portwenn — after a few near-accidents in his car:
The villagers use the narrow country roads in the beginning episodes as one-way routes, and each time Dr. Ellingham approached a car coming toward him head-on, he struggles to maintain his grip but always ends up swerving to the side in defeat. Dr. Ellingham remains like that swerving driver in the village. Even though he faces down stubborn villagers with his own strong personality, he ends up yielding to most of their customs and quirky traditions.
• Ava Gempler is a junior at Davis High School and a member of Yakima Herald-Republic’s Unleashed journalism program for high school students.