As Mary Poppins used to say: a spoonful of social awkwardness helps the medicine go down. The medicine go down. The medicine …! No? Well, at least thatâs what they say in the quaint fishing village of Portween, where good old Doc Martin (Martin Clunes) talks to residents with the bluntness and dysfunctional charisma of an autistic badger.
And now he has a small baby boy â the product of a long and confusing relationship with his kind-of partner Louisa (Caroline Catz). Throughout the episode, he holds the child as if it were an alien â and when asked to âjiggleâ? it, he looks completely lost and attempts some kind of shake-wobble. Heâs completely incapable, but you canât help but fall in love with his incompetence.
Doc Martinâs failure to assess the gravity of social situations derives a lot of comedy as he frequently tells villagers to âbe quietâ? or âshut-upâ? and always uses the wrong lines on Louisa. At one point, he shoves food back into the fridge and tells Louisa, ânow that youâre not pregnant, you could eat a bit less … breast feeding will help use up fat storesâ?.
Also, in the local shop he embarrassingly asks Louisa where she is hurting. Sheâs just given birth. Itâs kind of obvious. So, in front of a few others, he asks, âis it the perineum? Between the anus and the vagina … Iâll take you home and weâll have a look.â? This was easily the funniest scene of the episode. However, sequences that involve Policeman Joe with a testicular quandary and the (short-lived) new GP with her obsessive receptionist husband were also particularly humourous.
Now in its fifth series after a two-year hiatus, Doc Martin has a hardcore following and has generated immense tourism for Cornwall, with fans flocking from all over the globe to get a taste of the idyllic seaside retreat. Some from as far as Belarus, where the programme is titled Doktar Marcin. And it is probably subtitled by the man who plays the Dalek voice. Dok-tarrr.
Ultimately, Doc Martin is a light, harmless and endearing comedy drama that can be enjoyed by the whole family without dispute. Like Bakewell Tarts: everybodyâs favourite. Similar to Diagnosis Murder, and without the intensity of House, this strong opening episode paves the way for a very successful series, and one that I will definitely continue to watch, week after week.