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Season 9 of 'Doc Martin' Has Arrived
September 26, 2019  | By David Hinckley

Doc Martin 
has returned. Finally.

And pretty much nothing has changed. Whew.

To be more precise, the ninth season of the British dramedy Doc Martin becomes available in the States on Thursday through the streaming service Acorn, one day after it premieres in the U.K. 

Because it's almost live, Doc Martin won't follow Acorn's familiar pattern of releasing a whole season of episodes – in this case, eight – at once. They will become available weekly, which is a good pace at which to follow a show in which the week-to-week cliffhangers are less apt to feel cataclysmic than simply quirky. 

Things in Portwenn, a strikingly picturesque little village by the seaside in Cornwall, have moved forward since Season 8 at precisely the pace life takes in small seaside villages. 

Perpetually grumpy Dr. Martin Ellingham (Martin Clunes) continues as the village doctor – picture the classic tale All Creatures Great and Small with human beings – while not completely escaping the scrutiny of a few peers who feel his brusque manner may not be properly serving patients in the age of special snowflakes and safe spaces. 

His wife Louisa (Caroline Catz) – and even though they clearly care for each other, can you believe they actually got married? – has left her job as head of the local school and begun studying for a new career as a counselor. 

As Season 9 begins, Louisa is now taking their son to the school she left and developing some concerns that he lacks either the skills to interact with the other children or the interest to do so.

Can't imagine which side of the family he could have gotten that from. 

In the process, Louisa also develops an interesting relationship with the woman who now runs the school. 

The well-meaning and sometimes inept Al Large (Joe Absolom) plugs away at running his pub, with occasional help and more than occasional interference from his Dad, Bert (Ian McNeice). 

Al's big score last season was starting a serious relationship with Morwenna (Jessica Ransom), who has the thankless job of being the Doc's receptionist. True to his egalitarian character, Doc is neither more pleasant nor more unpleasant to Morwenna than he is to his patients, though she has, on several occasions, ridden to his rescue. 

Morwenna seems quite happy with Al, even though she also seems to understand that in Portwenn, things have ways of blowing up. 

Eileen Atkins returns as Martin's Aunt Ruth, who is a retired forensic psychologist and thus has the professional credentials that compel Martin to occasionally and reluctantly listen to her. 

Since no British dramedy can get green-lit without a town full of zany villagers, fans of the show will be reassured to know that Police Chief Joe Penhale (John Marquez) and apothecary owner Sally Tishell (Selina Cadell) remain oblivious enough to their foolish behavior of the past that we are pretty much guaranteed more foolish behavior in the future. 

If all this doesn't suggest a lot of action, that's only half true. A bunch of small-town crises pop up in the first episode, and the usual suspects move swiftly and gallantly to resolve them.

On the other hand, little that happens on Doc Martin has much impact beyond the lives of the characters themselves. But after eight seasons, anyone who has fallen in love with the show will find that entirely sufficient. 

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