The Great Doc Martin (Re)Watch Continues – Series 2, Episodes 5 and 6!

The great Doc Martin viewing marathon rolls right along this week as we continue on with Series 2, with "Always on My Mind" and "The Family Way." I seem to be on a particular pattern week to week with this show – one episode really impresses me and one falls on the more “mediocre” end of the spectrum.  This week, it’s “The Family Way” that I really enjoyed (despite the fact that a significant portion of the episode was just difficult to watch).

So, click through and come chat with me! Leave your thoughts, favorite moments, funny lines, etc. in the comments.

Series 2, Episode 5: “Always on My Mind”

This is the One Where: Martin examines a patient named Helen Pratt, who dies. Her husband Phil blames Martin for his wife’s death and starts a feud with Aunt Joan. Pauline makes Al jealous and Martin treats a young girl with severe obsessive compulsive disorder.

I thought this episode was okay, but nothing really to write home about. As you’ll see below, I had some problems with Martin’s characterization and the lead in our medical case of the week was such a jerk that it was difficult to drum up any sympathy for his situation, tragic and sad though it was.  On to Episode 6!

Martin’s Bedside Manner Needs Some Work. Martin is exceptionally insensitive toward Phil Pratt following his wife’s death, even earning him a reprimand from Aunt Joan for his behavior which, even for him, is awful. I know, I know, this is a key tenant of Martin’s personality – that he’s a jerk to a lot of people a lot of the time and it’s part of the reason that his character is interesting – but he makes it so hard to like him sometimes. Yes, Phil is not exactly going to be a candidate for Man of the Year any time soon, but it seems to me that in the moments immediately following a spouse’s death – no matter how fraught that spousal relationship might be – that that is the time at least make an attempt at kindness. I was pleased that after Louisa called him out on his behavior that in a small way Martin was kinder to poor Tricia, but I kind of need him to realize that he needs to make an effort for the sake of everyone else, be cause it’s the right thing to do, and not just because it’s what Louisa wants him to do. I don’t want the character to stop being prickly, but in this episode he crossed the line too often between cantankerous and borderline cruel. We’ve seen before that Martin is in fact quite a sensitive person in a lot of ways, so it’s strange to me that he felt so out of touch in this episode. (I did however love the internal consistency of Martin getting so grossed out by blood though. Clunes really makes that phobia believable.)

Pauline. Is it just me or does Pauline literally have the most annoying laugh in the universe? This week, Pauline is training to join the lifeboat crew, having awkward conversations with Al, and flirting with Ross her trainer, which of course makes Al jealous. The fact that Pauline ditches Ross when she realizes he’s taking her flirting seriously (and that it’s Al that she wants) was a satisfying scene and her conversation afterward with Al was actually sweet. Even if I sort of mostly still can’t stand her.

Poor Aunt Joan! Aunt Joan pays the price for being a good friend to poor Helen Pratt, as Phil begins an aggressive campaign against her, insisting that she poisoned his wife’s opinion of him. This results in Joan being barred from her friend’s funeral, getting her tires slashed, having pesticides sprayed on her fields, and dogs let into her chicken coop. And after all this, Joan still saves the horrible jerk’s life when she needs him.  The woman’s kind of a saint!

Phil’s Big Secret. Soooooo not what I was expecting! The rest of the episode seemed to be focused on the possibility of Phil being abusive. Well, imagine my surprise when Phil’s big secret turned out to be that he was having a homosexual affair.  I feel like that was kind of a huge bombshell to drop in the episode’s closing minutes and then proceed to not deal with at all, so as much as I actively dislike Phil, I wouldn’t mind seeing him again in the future just because I’ve so many questions about how/why this entire plot happened.  So much of it just seemed to come out of nowhere.

The Continuing Saga of Martin and Louisa. “Why do you have to upset everyone? Why can’t you make an effort?” Oh, Louisa, we all ask this question a ton.  It seemed as though we would finally make some progress on this relationship storyline – which frankly has been stalled since the Series 1 finale. Martin and Louisa have yet another mostly pointless argument about Martin’s behavior and their apparent inability to communicate, which ends with Louisa suggesting that they sit down together at the pub and try to hash out what exactly is going on with the two of them. Martin agrees to this and they make plans to get together the following evening. Of course, Martin is detained by a patient at the very last minute and ends up standing Louisa up, which will clearly have dire consequences next week, as she ends up having drinks with her old boyfriend Denny instead. Why Martin couldn’t call her I’m not sure, or even send someone to the pub with a message, but as he does neither of these things we’re likely in for some more angst on this front.

Tricia’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  I felt awful for Tricia and her compulsions. I’ve got some family members who suffer from similar problems personally and this episode really did a wonderful job of conveying how deeply debilitating this disorder is. The scene when Tricia became so paralyzed with fear that someone would make her leave the building at a non-approved time that she passed out was very well done and just rang so true for me. Tricia finally realizes she needs help and shows up at Martin’s surgery – of course just as he is about to leave to meet Louisa for their “let’s try and work it out” date. And, in a complete 180 degree shift from his behavior earlier in the episode – Martin does the kind thing. He stays with Tricia and does the right thing and tries to start her on the path to getting help, even though he knows that he’s giving up something himself to do so. That’s the Martin I like!

Series 2, Episode 6 “The Family Way”

This is the One Where: Martin’s parents come to visit and he’s confused about their appearance as they haven’t seen in each other in seven years. Danny Steel suffers a collapsed long, Martin treats a woman who think she has a thyroid problem that turns out to be something else entirely, and Mark and Julie get engaged.

Well, I Guess We See Where Martin Gets It. Wow, Martin’s parents are kind of jerks. No wonder Martin grew up to be such an overachiever and so prickly about his successes.  He father is apparently one of those parents who never finds anything to say to their kids that isn’t critical of every single choice they make. There are a lot of reasons that he should be proud of a son who is a successful doctor, even if he works in a small village. (Which, by the way, there's nothing wrong with.)

Martin’s parents show up to “visit,” but really to see Aunt Joan and fight over the ownership of her farm, which apparently was left to Joan and her brother Christopher equally way back when . Martin’s father had told Joan that he didn’t need the farm or its value – being a big city surgeon and all – but now has apparently fallen on hard times and needs the money from his half. Earlier, Martin had estimated the value of a Cornwall farm at around six hundred thousand – as part of a conversation with his father on how he should buy himself a house in Portwenn. Joan, angered over the threat to her home, accuses Martin of colluding with his parents against her and throws everyone off the farm. The entire first sequence at Joan’s farm was fantastic.

It would have been amazing, actually, if this episode had focused a little bit longer on the Ellingham family history – not the horrible child raising skills of Martin’s family that we learn about later on, because that's just horrifying – but whatever has gone down in the past between Joan and Christopher, and why no one’s spoken for over half a decade and the full story behind some of the barbs that the siblings throw at each other without explanation during both their confrontations. I would love to see more of that history. I hope we get the chance to someday.

Look, A Moment I Liked Pauline! Her long-suffering expression when Martin drives another patient (poor miffed Maureen) from the surgery was pretty priceless.

Mark Gets Engaged! Mark, why are you proposing to a woman you barely know? Why do I feel like this plot is heading toward heartbreak? He’s so sweet, though, you sort of can’t help rooting for it all to work out even though you completely know it won’t.  

The Continuing Saga of Martin and Louisa. So Martin stands up Louisa for drinks – and then never calls her after, and neither of them mention anything about this instance for an entire week? Not even for Louisa to yell at him? Not with all the constant running into each other around town they seem to do? Nothing? No wonder they can’t seem to work their relationship out. They’re both awful at it. 

Such Sympathy for Martin as His Mother is Basically Evil Incarnate. Wow. Wow. Martin’s mother is horrible. The scene where she basically tells Martin that his presence ruined her marriage and  made her husband not want her anymore, and that basically she spent most of her life trying to keep Martin away from them, I just. Wow. Oh, and she’s divorcing Martin’s father and says she’s wasted forty years of her life because she had a son. What a harpy! I was thisclose to feeling like her character was just too over the top evil (I mean really who says that to their child? To their face?) but Claire Bloom sold it really well. (She always plays great posh evil people.) And Martin’s reaction was just heartbreaking.

This episode explains so much. No wonder Martin is the way he is. It’s probably a miracle that he’s actually not worse. This episode was really difficult to watch in places, but it was really good.

I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant! Awww, Robert’s got a girlfriend! And is going to be a dad! They’re having twins! So glad that this turned out to be a surprisingly sweet storyline – and boy did this episode need it – instead of something sad and horrible (as I feared). I did have to laugh at the whole not knowing about being pregnant for like two thirds of the process part, but it’s fine. Robert’s ridiculous excitement about being a father was so sweet to watch, even as he basically highlighted everything that was wrong with Martin’s dad.  

Martin Saves the Day. Sort of. Martin offering to sell his flat to save Joan’s farm? So, so awesome. And his line about helping family because they’re family and not wanting gratitude for it just show that he’s ten times the man his father is. And, I'm acutally glad that they didn't really try to wrap up Martin's parental issues with a big bow of family togetherness and a hug at the end, but where willing to just let that ugly scene with his mother sit there while the audience digests it and its impact on Martin's character. Kudos to the show for being brave enough to let that just be what it is - as awful - as it is, because sometimes, most of the time, maybe that's actually what happens. Martin's still got a lifetime of emotional scars to deal with courtesy of his folks, and it makes sense that he wants nothing to do with them.