Welcome to another new series here at Telly Visions where we try and ease the (occasionally absurdly long) hiatus-es of some of our favorite British shows by offering alternative suggestions of things you should watch while you're waiting for new episodes to return. Carmen’s up first, but you guys just wait till I get to the Sherlock section….
Being a British telly addict in the States can be difficult at times. Never mind there are fewer episodes per series than Americans are used to – I’ve learned to accept the fact and concede that I prefer quality over quantity. But we also have to wait our turn until all our eagerly anticipated programs debut in their homeland first. Fair enough maybe, but it is hard to be patient so much of the time. (I’m sure you heard the whine in your head as you read the preceding sentences.)
Take for example, the newest series of the fan favorite, Doc Martin. It’s set to air in the UK sometime during ITV’s autumn schedule - which probably means no Doctor Ellingham for the Yanks until the spring of 2014 at least. So rather than whinge about it, I’m here to offer some alternative viewing suggestions, just to hold you over until the real Doc Martin comes along.
First, I need to know a little more about you as a viewer. What is it that draws you to this series? If you had to narrow it down to one element, what makes Doc Martin must-see TV for you?
If what you miss is Martin Clunes himself: I suggest watching Reggie Perrin, a show about a man who is well-entrenched in a mid-life crisis. Reggie is a project executive at a men’s grooming products company where he deals with less than competent co-workers, none more useless than his boss. His daily grind, featuring an infuriating commute to work and a wife that has no time for him, is literally grinding him down.
This character is just as crabby and sarcastic as the Doc but with a bit more social awareness:
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Both series of Reggie Perrin are available on Amazon Instant Video and via Netflix’s non-streaming disc option. Please be aware this is the remake of a 1970s sitcom called The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin so be careful when you search that you are getting the more recent version, especially if a Clunes fix is what you’re after. (Though I understand the original is considered a comedy classic by some and may be worth a look as well!)
If what you’re pining for is that cranky, but brilliant doctor vibe: I would highly recommend the medical drama, Monroe. Neurosurgeon Gabriel Monroe (James Nesbitt) is a man of contrasts; passionate about his work and cynical about everything in his personal life. He has a tragic past and a broken marriage, but he’s compelling to watch in action…and I could listen to Nesbitt’s Northern Irish accent all day:
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Although two series were broadcast on ITV, it appears only series 1 is available at this time – either with Amazon Instant Video or to borrow or purchase on Region 1 DVD. I hope you won’t be disappointed by the lack of blood phobias in this series. If it helps, Mr. Monroe does appear to have a slight aversion to commitment.
If it’s the picturesque ocean view of Portwenn and its quirky inhabitants that you love most: Perhaps Kingdom’s Market Shipborough can serve as an adequate substitute? Peter Kingdom (played by the very wonderful Stephen Fry) is a local solicitor who is as gentle and compassionate as Dr. Ellingham is impatient and obstinate. What they do have in common is that they are both professional men trying to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Living in a hamlet with more than its share of eccentrics just complicates matters so it’s no wonder that the quirkiness can start to rub off on an otherwise rational man…
And, finally, for those who have a more cheeky telly spirit and want to venture beyond the relatively normal shores of Portwenn and Martin’s fish-out-of-water narrative, read on. The League of Gentlemen’s Royston Vasey might be your cup of tea.
It is the quintessential quirky English village taken to the twisted extreme which we navigate via a series of loosely connected black comedy sketches. Within its borders we meet a plethora of bizarre characters who’ve all settled in the same little patch of the UK; a transsexual taxi driver, a fascist restart officer at the town’s Job Centre and xenophobes Edward and Tubbs who run the “local shop for local people.”
A few outsiders have been known to enter Royston Vasey, but not many seem to make it out. Those who are normal are generally considered suspicious, even dangerous:
There are three series of The League of Gentlemen and you can watch them on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Region 1 DVD…if you dare. Seriously, it contains quite adult humor and might be considered offensive by some.
It also includes the genius transformative powers of three actors who play almost the entire population of Royston Vasey, male and female. They are Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss – you know that guy who works on all the hot shows these days like Sherlock, Doctor Who and Game of Thrones?
So to all the Doc Martin-ites out there, I hope you can find a pleasant distraction amongst this list, something to while away the hours until you are able to return to the unbelievably blue waters of the Cornish coast.
And for those who aren’t, watch some of this stuff anyhow. It’s all good fun!