There’s a good reason the majority of the biggest box office films of all times are fantasies like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings etc…There are just times when we need a break from the grimmer elements of life in the 21st Century. During the height of the Great Depression Hollywood gave the movie going public double doses of comedies and musicals thus monetizing the need of the general public for relief from things like economic collapse and the rise of National Socialism.
On that happy note and with the Korean peninsula looking more like a keg of dynamite in an old Warner Brothers cartoon with a lit fuse sizzling toward its epicenter, I have found my own little island of repose in the BBC series Doc Martin.
I have come late to this series. A little research tells me quite late, as it has been in some form of production for nearly 10 years. My wife and I discovered it only a few short months ago as it runs on PBS and although it takes place in a quainter than quaint English seas side village, there is a not a ghastly murder to be solved by a quirky detective every week. Which kind of makes it unique among quainter than quaint English villages one normally sees on PBS since most them have incredibly high murder rates that need to be solved by eccentric detectives of varying stripes.
There is just Doc Martin and a cast of eccentric inhabitants of the village of Portwenn. The actual location is somewhere in Cornwall, England and I want to live there. If you have seen the show you would know why.
It is probably a solid justification for me to seek therapy that I can be so enchanted and enthralled with a show like Doc Martin and equally enamored by the ultra-violent 180 degrees different series Breaking Bad. There are drugs in Doc Martin but they usually prescribed under a doctor’s supervision and as yet, no cartels or Pollos Hermanos chicken franchises have opened in Portwenn.
The show has no major theological themes other than one of the trials and tribulations of love but that is not to say the show is without conflict. You have a doctor with a blood phobia who was raised by distant parents that left him damaged to the extent that he has a difficult time relating to his wife…who he obviously deeply loves but never seems to fail in doing the wrong thing when it comes to their relationship. He not only doesn’t suffer fools, but his patience half-life can be measured in micro-seconds. Put this personality into a village full of eccentrics and you will have enough conflict and subplots to drive a series like this almost in perpetuity.
Maybe Doc Martin is my methadone for my Breaking Bad addiction. Or maybe I’m just exchanging one habit for another…if I am, at least my new habit is a little healthier. My wife refused to watch Breaking Bad…But she is equally fixated on Doc Martin as I.
Just as in Breaking Bad, I find myself looking forward to each episode of Doc Martin and consume it in a traditional manner. I could go to my computer and catch up on episodes I have missed…especially since it is a show that has been in production for nearly a decade…But instead, I wait patiently each week and watch it on Thursday nights on TV. It is also probably telling of our difficult times that Doc Martin is more or less a fantasy. Not in the Star Wars or Lord of the Rings epic/mystical sense, but uniquely “unreal” in its gentleness.
The structure of the show allows the most casual viewer to thoroughly enjoy each segment of the series without having to know all the back stories. But the more you watch the more one wants to learn. Eventually, I’ll have to resort to 21st century technology and go back in time and catch up and discover exactly how Doc Martin got where he is. So leave the pending nuclear capabilities of Pyongyang and the latest Facebook diatribe against one domestic political party or the other behind and pay a visit to Portwenn where Doc Martin will provide respite - f commercial free — on PBS every Thursday night.
Check your troubles at the door and enjoy the breeze.