The Great Doc Martin (Re)Watch Concludes! – Series 4, Episodes 7 and 8!

The great Doc Martin viewing marathon reaches its destination this week here at Telly Visions because I am all caught up! I feel so accomplished! And now, I am in the same boat as everyone else and will have to watch week-to-week on my television. Despair! (Not really. I’m going to be so glad to be able to converse with people without having to caveat it with “But I’m only on Series 4!” or something like that.)  And, because of my impeccable lucky timing, I’m wrapping up my Series 1-4 viewing just as Series 5 starts tonight! Talk about no wait time, right?

Because some of you have asked, I do plan to keep this series going through the new episodes – though I suppose it may evolve into a regular “watch” now instead of “rewatch,” since we’ll all be at the same point. The only caveat is this series will probably move off of Saturdays, given that I have to catch the regular broadcasts, but we’ll see. I haven’t quite figured that bit out yet. But, never fear, this series isn’t going away just yet! (Though if you do have suggestions for future things that there should be series “watches” of, do let me know! I’m looking!)

Anyway, onward! We wrap up Series 4 this week, with “Do Not Disturb” and “The Wrong Goodbye.” Click through and come chat with me and feel free to leave your thoughts, favorite moments, funny lines, general rants, whatever, in the comments.

Series 4, Episode 7: “Do Not Disturb”

This is the One Where: Martin tries to talk to Louisa about his decision to move back to London. Bert Large throws a baby shower for Louisa. Things become uncomfortable at the surgery when Pauline discovers Martin’s plans to leave. And Aunt Joan decides to turn her house into a B&B.

Clearly, I Missed Something. How did Martin find out that Louisa overheard about his plans to move back to London? Did he figure out that she’d been at his house? Did someone else tell him? I sort of wish we hadn’t skipped that bit, because I would have been curious to see his reaction. I thought it was interesting that he basically leaped out of his seat at breakfast to go find Louisa and talk to her – but without knowing how he was aware that she knew about his plans, it’s hard to judge whether it was anxiety, or stress, or determination, or her just walking by the window out of our line of sight that propelled him to go talk to her right at that moment.  

Martin and Louisa Finally Have that Spat I’ve Been Waiting For. For hot couple of minutes – or at least until Bert Large comes and interrupts them – Martin and Louisa finally have the beginnings of a real (and much-needed) argument about the baby and the feelings that both of them have been sitting on – that Martin actually isn’t happy about Louisa’s insistence that he need have nothing to do with the baby and that Louisa’s has obviously been hoping that Martin would tell her that, yes, he does want to be involved in their child’s life. I feel like the moment when Martin tells Louisa that it’s an “outrageous assumption” that he wouldn’t want to be involved with the baby is pretty much what we’ve (and Louisa) have been waiting for all season long. (And why it had to take this long, I don’t know, but okay.) It’s the first time that Martin’s really indicated that he does want to be a father in some way, and also maybe that he wants Louisa to want him to be part of their child’s upbringing.  Ugh if only that conversation could have gone on!

Aunt Joan’s New Business Venture.  Presumably because Aunt Joan is still broke, she decides to turn her farm into a bed and breakfast.  Her old friend Ted turns out to need a place to stay because he has lost his farm and becomes her first guest.  Ted is an annoying houseguest, has terribly bad breath and chronic stomach pain and ends up collapsing. Martin finds a mass in his stomach and schedules him for some testing, thinking that it might be cancer. But, oh, no, it’s not cancer. Because this show seems determined to gross me out in entirely new and heretofore unconsidered ways. Oh, yes. The mass in Ted’s abdominal area, turns out to be a large hair mass, a hairball, really, because he’s been eating his hair to deal with the stress of his financial situation.  He actually coughs up a small hairball at one point onto Aunt Joan’s carpet. I hate everything.

Louisa Has a Baby Shower.  Bert Large throws a baby shower for Louisa, because he is really a sweetheart, after all. Louisa becomes increasingly uncomfortable with all the negative comments people are making about Martin, his lack of involvement in the baby’s life and his plans to move to London.  Al’s toast is very sweet though, on the whole, and another example of how close the townspeople are to one another. It’s the little things like this that make the village feel like a real place.  

Pauline Gets Petty. Pauline opens a letter addressed to Martin from Imperial College and finds out about his plans to move. She’s shocked and wonders what she’s supposed to do about her job. Martin says he’ll write her a reference, but when he does, he does, he describes her as merely “competent.” Pauline is hurt and angry, but despite her pleas (as well as Al’s), Martin refuses to change her reference. In retaliation, Pauline decides to stop performing any tasks that aren’t specifically outlined in her job description – no more answering phones before work hours, taking blood, running prescriptions to patients, or fetching office supplies. It’s all quite funny – and highlights how much Pauline has really grown during her time on the show. I mean, I will admit that I personally didn’t like Pauline very much when she started way back in Series 2, but she has really grown on me, and has clearly become a great asset to Martin’s office. It’s also obvious that she believed he cared about her and valued her presence in the office. Thus, t the way he treats her – especially someone who has gone above and beyond for him – is very unfair. Yes, Pauline’s response is petty and childish, but I really can’t blame her much for it either. (And sidebar: this whole subplot is completely worth it for the scene where Pauline gets stung by a jellyfish and Al offers to urinate on it for her so she doesn’t have to go to see the doctor. Hilarious.)  

Edith and Martin Are Awkward. Martin accompanies Edith to a conference where Edith is speaking.  Edith has made the hotel reservations and put the two of them in the same room. It is exceptionally awkward, especially when Edith starts to change clothes in front of Martin and has some oddly racy looking undergarments on. Ick. I’m not exactly sure about the logic behind this – has Edith just decided that it’s time for them to try a real relationship again or if she doesn’t like to stay alone in hotel rooms or if she’s hoping that they staying in the same room will lead to a romantic interlude.  It’s bizarre.  This scene does at least shed a bit of light on what their relationship must have been like at one point – the searching the bed and linens for bed bugs, the shutting off the air conditioner because it spreads germs. Very interesting. The two of them certainly behave like a couple that was together for quite some time – has the show ever said how long they were together?

Martin eventually leaves the hotel  - and Edith – in the middle of her speech to go back to Portwenn, with no explanation to her as to why he did so. I’m not sorry about this development (we all know how I feel about Edith), but it did seem rather sudden. I’m assuming it must have had to do with his newfound sense of confidence/self after dealing with the bloody kitchen accident, but again, we’re left foundering a bit when it comes to assigning Martin motivation for his actions. You’d think I’d be used to this by now, but I guess not!

Martin, Triumphant. As much as I struggle (often?) with Martin’s character and the way he treats people, the sequence in the hotel kitchen with the slow-mo and everything,  when he realizes that everything, including himself,  is absolutely covered with blood and he still manages to save the day, well. It was pretty fabulous. Well done, Martin.  I’m not sure that it’s realistic that he’s reached this point simply from listening to desensitization exercises via cassette tape, but I’m also not sure that it matters. It was a great moment!

Series 4, Episode 6: “The Wrong Goodbye”

This is the One Where: Lots of village residents come to see Martin on his last day at the surgery. Because this is Portwenn, however, crazy hijinks and mishaps ensue, including a cab accident and Louisa going into  labor.

Martin’s Last Day at the Surgery Arrives. The waiting room is full of patients wanting to get one last appointment in – or maybe just to see Martin one more time, it’s unclear. Pauline is all sorts of busy, implementing new organizational systems all over the surgery in an effort to “get things set up the right way” for the new doctor, who has decided to keep her on as the practice receptionist. 

Edith Remains Awkward. I thought that the end of last episode might be the last we saw of Edith after Martin completely ditched her at the hotel right in the middle of her conference speech. But, no. Because I have no luck at all Edith shows back up at Martin’s house (seriously – is she ever in whatever town her job is supposed to take place in?) and there follows an awkward conversation about why Martin left her. He says straight out that he doesn’t want to be with her (good job, Martin!) and Edith creepily suggests that Martin has traded in his haemophobia for intimacy issues and since she helped him get over the one, she is prepared to help him get over the other as well. Martin is very excited about this prospect, but it seems unclear whether Edith is taking his no for an answer. She says she’ll see him in London and departs. Maybe I’ll get lucky and we’ll never see her again?

Martin Displays Emotions! While doing a round of leaving taking through the village, Martin goes to see Louisa and says they need to talk about financial concerns and upcoming expenses for the baby. Martin hands her a folder which contains some sort of . baby pricing estimation system, along with several blank checks.  He also makes what appears to be an attempt to apologize – or at least acknowledge that Louisa is upset about how things have gone between them. He actually says “I’m expressing concern for your welfare,” which may be the closest to an actual sentiment he has ever actually said to her out loud. It’s obvious that Martin is struggling with leaving her, but he seems at a loss to what to do at the same time.

Martin also has a sweet farewell scene with Pauline, where he wishes her well and finally tells her that he appreciates everything that she’s done for him and the surgery. After what a jerk he was about writing her a better reference in the previous episode, it’s nice to see Martin actually treat her with something that’s a bit like respect.  

One Last Weird Case for the Road. It turns out that Tommy – of Tommy’s Taxis – and his wife Tasha have been inhaling fumes from an illegal biofuel that her husband’s been using to run his cab. This is discovered when Tasha collapses at the Harbor Day festival – of course, just as Martin’s car drives by on his way out of town.  Once he figures out that the biodiesel fumes have been making Tasha pass out and have slurred speech, everyone becomes concerned about Tommy’s likely state as he’s out driving around in a moving vehice. Joan remembers that Louisa was taking a taxi to her hospital appointment and everyone freaks out.

And because that’s how this show works, of course, Louisa is in Tommy’s cab. Martin calls her and tries to find out where they are, but the connection is poor.  He races after them. Back on our scenic drive, Tommy starts complaining that he can’t see to drive because of all the snow that’s falling and Louisa, as any sane person would, starts to freak out. Tommy passes out while driving and Louisa’s left trying to steer the car from the backseat. The car crashes into a rock. Martin arrives, frantic, to find that Louisa is thankfully unhurt. Our dynamic duo then proceed to drag Tommy’s unconscious form to a local pub, because alcohol (really vodka) is the only thing that can help counteract the chemicals he’s inhaled.

The Entire Town Listens to Louisa Give Birth. Because Martin is a multi-degreed doctor who can’t figure out whether or not he’s hung up his cell phone, the entire town gets to listen to everything that follows his conversation with Pauline.  The Larges find a microphone and Pauline broadcasts the events of the afternoon – Martin’s trip to the bar with Tommy, his arguing with Louisa, his saving of Tommy’s life, and Louisa going into labor – while making colorful commentary and cheering during appropriate moments. Oh, and they take bets about what Louisa will name the baby. While this entire sequence is almost painfully silly, it’s also awesome, because these are the sort of stupidly quirky moments that make this show charming. (Note to the producers: “quirky” doesn’t mean exceptionally weird illnesses like hairballs, it’s this kind of thing, all the ways in which this town is pretty much certifiable, but also fantastic.)

Louisa and Martin Have a Baby. Martin and Louisa get Tommy safely to the bar and the ambulance arrives and, because this is television and this is how this works, Louisa goes into labor. There’s some fairly comical shrieking from Louisa and snapping at anyone in sight from Martin – to be honest, his obvious panic about the baby’s impending delivery is very sweet – until finally Louisa snaps and orders Martin to go wait outside because she can’t handle having him around given his current state of behavior.

Louisa changes her mind about wanting Martin with her while she gives birth, just at the exact moment that he is rushing back into the room to confess his feelings to her. Martin admits he was wrong about her, about leaving, about everything, and that he’d panicked about her when he saw the wrecked taxi. And it’s all very sweet and everything and basically what everyone’s been waiting the entire season to see.  They kiss, and it’s sappy, and Louisa does a bit more wailing, and suddenly the two of them are the proud parents of a baby boy. And then Martin immediately goes outside to throw up. Suppose that whole over the blood thing, not so much actually.

The last scene of the season is Martin and Louisa sitting on the couch with their son, Louisa gets Martin to hold the baby, even after he says he doesn’t know much about children or what to do with them. Martin takes the baby and holds him awkwardly for a couple of minutes, while Martin Clunes does some really fantastic acting with his face. It looks like every emotion ever occurs to him at that moment, combined with a heaping dose of terror. The script is terribly awkward during this last scene – there’s no follow through to the fact that Martin did a completely un-Martin thing with his earlier emotional outburst, there’s no mention of their future as a family, there’s no mention even of a name for the baby (which would at least be a conversation of a bit less fraught sort).  Instead, Martin has another one of those moment-ruining incidents, where he passes the back to Louisa and instead of talking about the wonders of fatherhood, or baby names, or even asking Louisa if he can get her anything, starts going on about how the baby’s skull is slightly misshapen because of XYZ medical reason. And that’s how we end Series 4 – which I suppose shouldn’t be but so surprising, and we really did make a lot of progress, but I am fairly greedy as television viewers go, I suppose, because that’s a lot to leave hanging in the between-season gap.

So, there we have it folks. I am all caught up.  New episodes start tonight (my timing is excellent) and I have no idea where we’re going to go from here. Is Martin now not moving to London? What will he do if there’s already a new doctor hired to take care of Portwenn? Are he and Louisa back together officially? And how will they do as parents?

Only a couple hours to go! 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Twitter at @LacyMB