Friday, June 14, 2013

Lessons from the Doc

About a month ago my son came to visit. I don't normally watch television in the evenings, but while he was here we fell into the habit of watching the news on PBS and then whatever we found to watch after that. During that week we discovered a British show, Doc Martin.

I admit it's very quirkiness fascinated me...and I was hooked. Now my Thursday evenings are taken up with Doc Martin and the show that follows it, Death in Paradise.

Doc Martin is a brilliant surgeon, but hopelessly, socially inept. At the height of his career in London he develops hemophobia (a blood phobia) which negatively impacts his career. So...he takes a General Practitioner position in a tiny, sleepy sea-side town.

The town is filled with quirky, charming characters who have no notion how to deal with Doc's abrupt, total absence of bedside manner. He never smiles, never lies, and never lets the patient down gently.

The romantic interest, a school teacher in the village seems to be the only one who sees past his stony face. Against all odds, they have a very brief affair and decide to marry. Then, thinking better of that idea, they agree they won't suit.

Louisa goes away, only to reappear a few months later, obviously pregnant. Eventually, she has the baby.

Here's where I learned about character consistency. When Louisa came home, most series/stories/romances would have immediately married them off (because that's what you do--right?) Well, not so fast.

Louisa is an independent woman, determined not to take the easy way out. For several episodes, she and Martin work at cross-purposes. Martin decides his hemophobia is under control and he will go back to surgery in London. Louisa plans to stay in the village and raise her baby.

And then...she's in an accident and has the baby early. Martin is shocked into really looking at his life. He sees how fragile her life is.

It could have been a very unsatisfying, mushy childbirth scene. But no...the writers stayed true to character. No mush. Faced with the reality of childbirth, Martin rushes away to be sick in the bushes.

When Louisa asks if he wants to hold the baby, he immediately says no, fearing he might hurt the baby. Rather than accept his rejection, Louisa points out, he can learn. He rather gingerly takes the baby, holding him for a few seconds before returning him to Louisa. She pats the baby and says, "You'll get used to him."

I salute the writers and actors because they stay true when it would be so much easier to make especially Martin more likeable if they softened him up a bit. But no...they allow his care (abrupt though it might be) for his villagers to show he indeed does have a heart.



  1. Interesting. Going to have to find this show.

    1. Julia...I suspect you would enjoy it so much. Please let me know what you think...

  2. Yes, I have seen the show and while it doesn't hold my attention, you're right - the characters are not stereotypical and in a world of cloned romance, that's very unusal