This episode will be streaming online for three weeks from December 31 to January 21. Catch episodes of "Doc Martin" that aren't currently streaming via our recaps here.
Previously on "Doc Martin"
Louisa's schoolchildren are falling ill, but why? Meanwhile, Penhale does his best to keep amnesiac ex-wife Maggie from leaving town. And upon realizing that she and Martin have nothing in common, she breaks up with him.
For more, read the full episode recap here.
This week's episode: "Cats and Sharks"
While at his restaurant preparing for Mrs. Dingley's (Anne Reid) fundraising event for her cat sanctuary, Bert Large (Ian McNeice) admits he doesn't have enough money to cover the food necessary. But after she leaves, we discover it's much, much worse than that, because here comes wheelchair-bound loan shark Alastair Tonken (Alan Williams) and his muscular son Norman (Marcus Cunningham) asking for the £1000 they let him borrow. And it's time to pay up. Furious that his father would do this behind his back and lie to him, Al Large (Jo Absolom) grows despondent. But when he arrives at Ruth's (Eileen Atkins) place to do her handywork, she hands him £800 to buy new fencing for her farm. Perhaps this is the break he and his father are looking for. Able to scrounge up an extra £200, Bert then informs his son that there's an additional £100 interest payment. What to do, what to do?
Meanwhile, with newly single Martin (Martin Clunes) avoiding Mrs. Tishell's (Selina Cadell) lusty advances, the good doctor is still planning on leaving Portwenn behind and returning to London for work. Good, Ruth tells him. "Your parents stayed together for your sake. No one got out unscathed." But he still has medical work to do, and today he's taking care of Mrs. Dingley who recently injured her knee. Noticing that her glasses are broken, he suggests she go to the Chemist and buy new ones, but she snips back that she'd rather save the money.
Later, DC Joe Penhale (John Marquez) comes to the Surgery with a request for receptionist Morwenna (Jessica Ransom). He's investigating a case in which somebody threw a rock into a car's back window, and he wonders if anybody has come in with cuts or abrasions. Why yes, Morwenna responds, as Mrs. Dingley tried to hide her lacerations from the doctor only hours earlier.
Now with £1000 in their possession, the Larges go to the Tonkens and hand over the loot, asking for an extra week to find the extra £100 for the interest. But no, the Tonkens say. There's a late payment penalty clause, so not only to they need to bring them £350, but they have until 6 p.m. the following day. Worried that they will go bankrupt or, even worse, "dealt with" for their late payment, Bert is in a bind. But luckily, Eleanor (Louise Jameson) has an idea: Do a Spanish Theme Night, made with the low-cost materials he already possesses, and watch the money roll in. Sure, she'd have to hand off her looking-after-baby-James responsibilities to somebody else, but what Martin and Louisa (Caroline Catz) don't know won't hurt them. Cooking up a storm in the kitchen, Bert and Eleanor seem to be on the right track until Eleanor starts having stomach pains. She chalks it up to the prawns, though, and continues working.
Eleanor's ruse is discovered, though, when the teenaged Angie (Angela Terence) arrives at the surgery with James in tow, concerned that her court-administered ankle bracelet is making her skin hurt. Upset, Martin grumbles his way to the school to confront Louisa about her mother. But she will not allow a family member to suffer such abusive words, and she tells Martin off for wanting to leave. What kind of father is he to tell a mother what to do, she says through gritted teeth, then takes James off Martin's hands and brings him into her classroom.
Back on the Large storyline, Bert and Al decide to go to Penhale and ask for legal protection from the loan sharks. No no no, Penhale responds. This is a civil matter, not a criminal one. If they can't pay back the loan, Tonken must take them to civil court, and since he's probably not licensed with the Office of Fair Trading, he probably wouldn't risk such a trial. "The law is an ass," Bert mumbles, and walks away.
Louisa visits the restaurant to chew her mother out, only to see her double over in pain. Rushing her to the Surgery, Martin must take in the patient despite their troubled past. Lifting up Eleanor's shirt, Martin sees a terrible sight and declares that this isn't food poisoning. It's an umbilical hernia, and it's obstructing her intestine. She must be operated on immediately, and with the ambulance on its way, they can do nothing but wait.
At Ruth's farm, Ruth notices Al moping and neglecting his duties, so she demands that he finally tell her what's been bothering him. He tells her of the loan troubles then fesses up about taking her money. Knowing that he's likely fired, he sulks away.
Back at the surgery, Martin and company learn that the ambulance broke down. There is no more time to waste, as the intestine will become gangrenous and kill Eleanor. And thus, Martin is forced to deputize Morwenna as his nurse (making sure to wipe away the blood quickly lest he faint) while he operates on Eleanor.
The surgery is a success, but trouble is brewing down the street. Penhale has spotted Mrs. Dingley and ordered her to stop, but because of her poor eyesight, she crashed her bike and reinjured her knee. Suddenly the Tonkens arrive wanting to speak with her about a cat she gave Norman, only to have him develop fleabites. Not only that, here come the Larges as well. It's a Portwenn cluster. As Martin arrives to rush to Mrs. Dingley's aid--and diagnosing her with birdshot chorioretinopathy--the Tokens see the Larges and threaten them to give them the money...or else. But surprisingly, Penhale stands between the two families and barks at the Tonkens. Since they officially made a physical threat, this has become a criminal matter. Ordering them to leave town or face arrest, The Tonkens relent, allowing the Larges to breathe sighs of relief.
As for Mrs. Dingley and the broken car window, she confesses. The car had been parked on the beach during low tide, and noticing that the tide was rising, she thought she had seen a trapped dog inside the car. It turns out that it was just a fox fur coat, but her heart was in the right place.
It's finally time for the Larges to present their Spanish Theme Night and it goes off without a hitch. Noticing that Ruth is there, ashamed Al goes to her and suggests a proposal--how about he offers her 10% of the restaurant's profits along with his scooter. But how is he supposed to work on her farm, Ruth asks, if he doesn't have a scooter? Understanding his predicament, she forgives him.
Hey! I Know That Actor!
Anne Reid, who plays crazy cat lady Mrs. Dingley, is a BAFTA-nominated star of stage and screen for over 50 years, having appeared on such programs as "The Adventures of Robin Hood," "Coronation Street," "Doctor Who," "Peak Practice," "Dinnerladies," "Bleak House," "Life Begins," "Ladies of Letters," and "Last Tango in Halifax."
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