It’s been a long three years since we’ve had any new episodes of “Doc Martin” on KCET. Set in the fictional Cornish village of Portwenn, “Doc Martin” stars Martin Clunes as the curmudgeonly, anti-social Dr. Martin Ellingham.
As we eagerly await the new episodes in season eight to premiere on KCET on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 8:00 p.m., you can catch up on repeats airing now on KCET, or start from the beginning on AcornTV. As we count down the days to KCET’s highest-rated British drama, let’s recap what we liked about season seven and what we look forward to in the new season.
Martin’s Relationship with Louisa Continues To Grow
Many of us watch "Doc Martin" for various reasons. Martin’s lack of social skills and inability to relate to people on a human level is one reason. That’s why the unlikely relationship for Martin and Louisa (Caroline Catz) has been a fascinating storyline. Louisa is good for Martin and he knows it, it’s just a matter of whether he can do this or not. He’s not only in an interpersonal relationship, but has managed to have a family. In the last episode of season seven, we know the two will be back together after their separation and therapy sessions with a young therapist, Dr. Rachel Timoney (Emily Bevan) throughout the season. In the final scene, we even saw some uncharacteristic human warmth from Martin as he sat on the hill while the medical helicopter flew away – an actual kiss in the final scene as he professed his love for Louisa.
More Scenes with Martin and Aunt Ruth
There aren’t many scenes between Martin and his psychiatrist aunt Ruth (Dame Eileen Atkins), which we hope will change in season eight. Ruth not only matches Martin’s intelligence, but she counterbalances him and provides gravitas every time the two are on screen. The few conversations they have are not only witty and intelligent, but subtly funny, as they communicate in medical terms to each other. There should just be more of Dame Atkins (co-creator of the original “Upstairs, Downstairs”) with her T.V. nephew. Period.
We Continue to Root for Father and Son Duo of Bert and Al Large
In season seven, Bert Large (Ian McNiece) closed shop and moved into a camper van, which ended up on Ruth’s property where she has her joint venture with his son Al (Joe Absolom) in a bed and breakfast. While the bed and breakfast has a slow start, Ruth gets tired of forced retirement with her medical condition (diagnosed by her nephew), so Al’s whiskey-making business and how he “never gives up” catches her attention. At the end of season seven, she invites him formally onto the bed and breakfast property in the hopes that the whiskey will bring more business and become successful in itself. It’s hard not to root for Bert, who never seems to get it together, and his son Al.
Buddy the Dog Finds His Forever Home
Buddy, the scruffy dog takes a liking to Martin and follows him everywhere, who thinks dogs are unhygienic, but the stray dog’s steady presence in season seven became it’s own little storyline, as Martin tries to get rid of him by paying the local vet to take him away, after he was told no one would put him down. Buddy stays and we should see more of this cute furry creature in season eight as he settles in with his adopted Portwenn family.
Sally and Her Pharmacy
In season seven, there was a too-brief appearance with the wonderful Sigourney Weaver when she visited Portwenn as a demanding American tourist who needed eye drops at Sally Tishell’s (Selina Cadell) pharmacy. The pharmacy is a focal point in the village, but Sally’s infatuation, or obsession, with Martin is all too evident, although seemingly tempered when Clive, her husband is back in the picture. We almost think her infatuation with Martin has gone away, but has it? Just as we think Sally is happily settled with Clive, we should find out in season eight if that lasts.
Morwenna, Al and Young Love in Portwenn
While Martin and Louisa were working on their separation in season seven, young love blossomed a bit last season. After a disastrous guest appearance on Radio Portwenn, where Al was trying to drum up business for his B&B, he declared Morwenna Newcross (Jessica Ransom) wasn’t his girlfriend (something she heard live on the radio). The two do finally become a couple when Morwenna becomes more assertive (thanks to Sigourney Weaver’s character who leaves her with a self-help book). Morwenna’s housemate Janice (Robyn Addison) became a nanny for the Ellinghams, but she also became an object of affection for PC Joe Penhale (John Marquez), who followed her around and tried to impress her. Janice is the only person who seemed to care if PC Penhale moved away to Exeter for a promotion or not, when he told everyone he got an offer. We know that episode one of season eight offers more of their short relationship.
We Wish We Lived in Portwenn
Although Portwenn is the fictional Cornish town this cast of characters live in, it’s really filmed in Port Isaac, Cornwall. But this lovely seaside town, dotted with quaint, well-kept cottages, is its own character that provides the sense of place. It offers a a glimpse of a quieter life without the daily crowded commutes and stress many of us live with. As a general practitioner, Martin’s surgery (medical practice) is also his home, but as we look around at the scenery, thoughts go out to the house above his and others nearby that overlook the ocean, as we imagine other characters that might live in this picturesque town.