The Great Doc Martin (Re)Watch Continues – Series 3, Episodes 3 and 4!

First – a quick apology for taking an unscheduled week-long hiatus with this blog series! There were some technical difficulties (i.e. laptop fail) which necessitated going back to the drawing board and rewriting this. I’m going to pretend this delay made the post you’re about to read even better than it was before. Let’s hope that’s true!

After surviving some technical difficulties, at last it’s time to continue our great Doc Martin viewing marathon continues with two more episodes from Series 3, "City Slickers” and “The Admirer.” I have to say you guys – I don’t know what happened, exactly, but I’m enjoying Series 3 so much! It might be the fact that the show seems to have finally addressed some of its problems in the way that some of its central stories are presented (the handling of the Martin/Louisa relationship first and foremost), but there also seems to be a subtle shift in tone across the entire canvas, and there’s been a really perfect balance of characters and storylines featured per episode so far. I so hope it stays this good though the rest of this season!

Anyway, onward! Click through and come chat with me about the next two episodes in our rewatch, and feel free to leave your thoughts, favorite moments, funny lines, etc. in the comments.

Series 3, Episode 3: “City Slickers”

This is the One Where: Louisa gets some new neighbors, who are the most annoying people on earth. Their particularly ill-behaved son is busy “acting out” vandalizing cars in Portwenn. We learn that poor PC Penhale is not only narcoleptic, but also agoraphobic.

Have to admit, of the four episodes of Series 3 I’ve seen, this was my least favorite. But that’s only because I hated the guest characters so much. It’s the only time that I’ve sincerely hoped the show doesn’t do one of the things I think its best at – which is consistent use of its guest and supporting cast. I could seriously never see the Oakwoods on this show ever again (EVER) and die a happy woman. Ugh, horrifying people!

Meet the New Neighbors. Louisa has Martin over for dinner and it’s sort of like an actual real date until she gets a visit from her weirdo new neighbors (Anthony and Terry) who ruin it by being annoying and obnoxious (who goes to someone else’s house to borrow a corkscrew?). The obnoxious neighbors invite themselves to stay for dinner, and their obnoxious son breaks one of Louisa’s dishes and no one apologizes for anyone’s appalling behavior. They proceed to spend the rest of the episode being the worst parents and most awful people ever, allowing their son to do whatever he wants, not disciplining him or discussing what he’s done wrong, while he goes all around town keying cars. Oh, and they also burn a dead badger in their backyard. Please let these people leave Portwenn immediately.

No One Ever Take Dating Advice From Martin. Before the horrible neighbors arrive, Martin tries to pay Louisa a compliment (I hope?) and instead just tells her that she looks “busy.” Such a romantic, that Dr. Ellingham!  All that said, I’d much much much rather watch the two of them have awkward and frustrating dates than do that thing where they dance around whether or not they are even going out in the first place. It’s at least mostly cute and charming instead of being frustrating and rage-inducing, so this is definitely progress.  I’m wondering when the two of them are going to have some sort of actual conversation about what they are to each other (or at least establish that they actually are dating or are exclusive or something) – but I fear that may be entirely too much progress for this relationship to undergo in just a few episodes. But, I’m hopeful!

Awkward Neighbors Make Awkward Patients. Sort of. Anthony Oakwood stops by the surgery to see Martin - we think it’s because he wants a check-up, but no, it turns out he is a psychologist and wants to include Martin in his latest psychology article, focused on “Can People with Asperger’s Have Normal Careers?” Not sure if we were supposed to find this sequence funny or really uncomfortable – I’d be lying if I said I’d never wondered if Martin didn’t have some sort of mild psychological disorder at the root of some of his worst rudeness – but it was sort of too out there for me. Or at least too blunt about it. I don’t know. I didn’t exepct to feel quite so odd about this moment, but I did.

Louisa’s Newfound Backbone Gets a Workout. After Martin discovers that the Oakwoods’ son, Sam, is the vandal who has been going around Portwenn keying cars, and they’re really blasé about it and refuse to punish the child. Martin and Louisa both blow up at them in an exceptionally cathartic scene.

This is one of those moments where I really can see that being around Martin has also been good for Louisa as well – she is a very sweet woman who generally seems to like everyone and try her best to get along with them, but this aspect of her personality does make her occasionally come off as a bit of a doormat. So, I think one of the best things about her having to learn to navigate being around Martin is that its taught her to stand up for herself more often, to stand more firmly in her own opinions and, well, to not take as much crap from other people. Her rant to the Oakwoods about their terrible parenting of Sam was 100% spot-on and it was awesome to watch.

PC Penhale’s an Agoraphobic. While I feel sorry for Penhale and all the internal traumas that have clearly made him the way he is – and surely it must be awful to be agoraphobic and narcoleptic in law enforcement – the best part of this story for me was that Martin was finally forced to get some perspective. Predictably, his reaction upon learning that Penhale had problems leaving the station was to insist the man should be replaced and that he’s unfit to do his job. But Aunt Joan points out quite correctly that there are plenty of people with psychological quirks and ticks that manage to lead full and productive lives and continue to do the work that they love, including Martin himself. It was nice to see Martin realize that Joan is right. For all his occasional proselytizing on the subject of rules and procedures and his annoying comments here about public servants and “fitness” – I think he does realize that probably a lot of people have said, or are still saying the same thing about him. After all, he’s a doctor who is afraid of blood, and yet he’s still allowed to keep doing what he loves to do, make a living at it and find some measure of happiness doing so. (And, remember, plenty of village residents had lots to say on the subject when that news broke in Season 1.) So, it was nice to see Martin be forced into having a moment of reflection – no matter how small it may have been – because Joan was totally right. It was lovely to see Martin offer Penhale the same patience and understanding that everyone in town has already offered him. 

Series 3, Episode 4 “The Admirer”:

This should seriously be called “The Most Awkward Episode in Existence.” I had to hit pause and take a minute to clamp down on my rampaging secondary embarrassment for almost every character at some point. But, that said, this episode was still so much fun to watch.

This is the One Where: Hotel owner Carrie apparently has a thing for Martin and Louisa gets jealous about it. Al Large comes home to Portwenn. Aunt Joan takes up with a much younger man. Everything ever is awkward.

Martin Gets an Admirer! Martin treats a patient named Carrie Wilson, who is vaguely hypochondriac and also completely smitten with him. She spends much of the episode fabricating ways to get Martin to come visit her or treat her at the surgery and flirting more and more outrageously with him. I thought this plot was going to be strange and uncomfortable – but it’s actually kind of fun. It’s interesting to see Martin through the eyes of someone we don’t know very well, and someone whose gut reaction is not instantly that he’s the most annoying person on earth.

It’s also hilarious to watch Martin try to navigate interactions with someone he completely does not understand and whose reactions are so foreign (I get the feeling that he’s more used to people telling him how rude he is than repeatedly seeking out his company.) The scene where he actually blushes because she pays him a compliment was exceptionally intriguing to me – does he blush and get flustered because he actually likes Carrie sort of, or is he just so unused to someone saying something nice to him I don’t know. This is not to say that I wasn’t cringing all over the place at some point during many of their interactions – Carrie is very obvious and Martin is very ridiculous, and that was before he ran over her dog with his car.

Louisa Gets Jealous! Louisa – being quicker on the romantic uptake than Martin is – instantly understands that Carrie has a thing for him, and it’s really rather hilarious to watch her get jealous about it. When she overhears Carrie telling Mrs. Tishell how awesome Martin is and reminds her of her first boyfriend, well that entire sequence is fantastic. It’s been very obvious throughout this show how much Martin and Louisa like each other, but it’s always been Louisa with competing romantic relationships with other men. So, it’s nice to see her have to think, even if only for a second, what it would be like for her if Martin was seeing someone else. (Again, though, if perhaps at any point the two of them had, say, had a conversation, about whether they’re dating or together or whatever, these feelings could have been avoided. But, well, no one listens to me!)

Al Returns to Portwenn! I don’t think I’d realized how much I missed Al until he came back to Portwenn. I think he’s one of the best secondary characters because not only is he awesome in his own right, but because he has great relationships with so many of the secondary characters. (Have to admit: he made me miss Mark. Sniff!) Also, because I love Bert, and watching his reaction to Al showing up at the restaurant was so sweet. And he and Pauline are still sort of adorable together.

Aunt Joan the Cougar! Martin confirms to Aunt Joan that she has osteoporosis. Joan meets the (much) younger Edward who is  re-painting the outside of Martin’s surgery and tells him that she’s got some work ‘round the farm that he could help her out with, if he needs the money. Somehow – and I obviously must have missed something – we go from this to Martin catching Joan and Edward in a compromising position in her kitchen. ALERT: DANGEROUS AWKWARDNESS LEVELS. Martin tells Joan that her relationship with Edward is completely inappropriate, but she insists that she’s happy with it. He then calls her relationship an oedipal situation and Joan says that Martin wants everyone to be as miserable as he is. It’s a fantastic scene – and hilarious – but oh, so, uncomfortable.

Winner for the most uncomfortable scene in the history of ever – the moment when Joan and Edward are out on a picnic and he tells her that she says his name exactly the way his mother did when she was angry at him. I just. We are so very far from romantic at this moment that I think we’ve shifted several zip codes. Just. Ick. Once we add in Edward’s erectile dysfunction problems to this storyline, I’m basically hiding my face in a pillow forever, especially after Joan has to get Martin to come treat Edward after he passes out while having sex with her. Someone please tell me this storyline is never coming back in any way shape or form because I cannot handle it. I sincerely hope that Edward’s ambulance to hospital keeps on going right out of Portwenn.

Martin and Louisa Get a Real Date! Louisa invites Martin to the symphony and he says yes and they’re actually going on a real date! And then he actually tried to kiss her, but of course, it goes horribly wrong and he ends up basically headbutting her instead, and it’s all very adorable and sweet.  I hope we get to see their trip to the concert!

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

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