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‘Doc Martin’ is Back with Season 8
September 21, 2017  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

The line between comedy and tragedy remains thin and the ambience remains familiar as Doc Martin strides firmly into its long-awaited eighth season this week.

Martin Clunes (top) returns as the perpetually annoyed and sour-faced Dr. Martin Ellingham in the much-loved British dramedy, and Acorn will be carrying new episodes the day after they are shown in the U.K. on ITV. 

So fans who have waited the usual two years since the last season can catch new episodes this Thursday and then for the next seven Thursdays on the streaming service.

The biggest news in the picture-postcard town of Portwenn, as it happens, doesn’t involve the Doc and his wife Louisa (Caroline Catz, left).

The talk of the town at the moment revolves around the wedding of Joe Penhale (John Marquez), the town policeman, and Janice (Katie Moore).

Joe, whose delusions are matched only by his ineptitude, has been dying to marry anyone. Janice, an airhead who has already been married twice, said, “Hey, why not?”

Throw in some urgent medical crises and, well, let’s say this is the most challenging wedding in Portwenn since Martin and Louisa.

And much, much funnier.

Martin and Louisa themselves, by contrast, are dealing with seemingly lesser issues that in the long run will probably provide a good indication whether Louisa and Martin together can ever crack the titanium wall he has built around his emotions.

One of those issues involves the dog Martin has spent the first seasons ordering to “Go away!” A second involves what may or may not be their son James Henry’s first words.

Catz, who has done a marvelous job for years playing against a character whose whole shtick is being monosyllabic, does similarly fine work here in conveying Louisa’s updated dilemma. She wants to believe Martin is trying to change, and he definitely is, but she’s understandably reluctant to get her hopes up too high.

Let’s face it, people who flip the switch on electric chairs have a more empathetic bedside manner than the Doc. In the eighth season opener, he continues his unbroken streak of calling half his patients, and half the village for that matter, “idiots.”  

That’s made him a perfect fulcrum for the quirky doings of everyone else in Portwenn, even when they don’t involve him directly.

Bert Large (Ian McNeice, left) has launched another squirrely business scheme, and has talked Martin’s Aunt Ruth (Eileen Atkins) into helping bankroll it.

Atkins has been a wonderful addition to the cast, serving up good advice economically wrapped in droll wit. Spoiler alert: This season she has a new hairstyle.

Doc’s receptionist Morwenna (Jessica Ransom) has also grown into a foreground character, notable for refusing to let Doc intimidate her. You’d have to think she’s due for a featured storyline at some point, perhaps involving Bert’s son Al Large (Joe Absolom).

The last two seasons of Doc Martin have had a slightly darker and more somber tone than the previous five, as almost every relationship in Portwenn seemed to fray around the edges. The opening episode of season eight gives no clear signal whether any of those clouds will start to lift.

Since Clunes has said the show’s ninth season will be its last, meaning just 16 episodes remain, it’s likely we’ll be moving toward some conclusions as this season rolls along.

Still, it’s likely to be a while before we know whether Louisa can turn Doc around far enough so that just once before the series ends he might actually smile.

What’s much clearer is that we will.

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Good Show,Would love to see more. Dawn Wisman
Sep 26, 2017   |  Reply
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