Doc Martin- UK-TV series – Review

High Speed Internet means that I now have access to online, on demand movies and TV programs on hulu.com. Since I haven’t watched TV for years the choices at hulu.com seemed overwhelming.  Sci Fi has always been my first love, I caught up with some missed episodes of the Sci Fi Channel on Hulu. There are several Channels on hulu.com, accessible from a menu at the top of the page. Doc Martin wasn’t one of my first choices as I sampled some of the programming on the Drama Channel. By that I mean I had absolutely no idea what I would be viewing when I clicked on Episode one, Season one of Doc Martin. It was listed as a UK series about a GP (General Practitioner, MD) in a small village. The opening scene is in the cabin of a small commuter airplane with a man staring at a woman — staring intently at her face and not saying a word. The man seemed to be rude, with absolutely no social skills. The woman gets up and moves to another seat, disgusted with the rude behavior of her fellow passenger.

We the viewers are set up to intensely dislike this rude fellow, who turns out to be Doc Martin, the lead character is this TV drama. The woman he is staring at turns out to be a local school teacher and head mistress of the Portwenn school. She is one of the board members who will accept or reject Doc Martin as the new GP of the district. With the very first episode we are drawn into the workings of the British Health care system and their version of Universal Health Care. What I discovered was a painless way to understand how the British Health care system works, by following the people who visit Doc Martin’s surgery. Surgery is the British term for Office Hours. The other British series that pet owners followed was All Creatures Great and Small, and the Vets used a similar expressions, so some of the words and phrases are similar.

We learn that Doc Martin was a surgeon who had switched to the GP specialty and decided to open a practice in the home town of his aunt. His aunt turned out to be one of my favorite actresses, Stephanie Cole who was on “Waiting for God” — another British comedy about a retirement home. Had I known that Ms. Cole was appearing in Doc Martin — I’d be writing this review much earlier!

Doc Martin is rated as Mature TV and one episode is rated as R (one of Ms. Cole’s episodes). I’m not sure why this rating for American audiences. Perhaps American audiences can’t cope with great acting and ordinary people playing ordinary people. Real life is rough and raw at times and that’s what we see in Portwenn. The sea-coast in Doc Martin reminds me of communities along the Oregon coast, Northern California or Maine. You get the “on location” feeling from this series. The actors aren’t Hollywood style beauties (walking plastic surgery advertisements) and make-up artists.

Doc Martin is absolutely lacking in bed side manners. We learn that he was a brilliant surgeon who has developed a phobia to blood and that he is a good diagnostician. In general Surgeons are known to have poor bed side manners and actor Martin Clunes really brings Doc Martin to life.

Wikipedia has some in-depth information about the series and some of the purely British cultural references that whiz past the Yanks watching the episodes.

The singular thing that Americans will notice is that when patients visit Doc Martin’s surgery (clinic) the receptionist never asks for proof of insurance. Doc Martin sends out samples for lab work (no fee collected from the patients). What a shock — Doctors, MD’s judgement isn’t second guessed by insurance companies. When an ambulance is called to collect a patient — they show up and deliver the patient to the hospital and the patient is taken directly to medical care, based on the injury or illness and not the whim of a clerk at an obscure insurance company. Doctors are treated as Professionals and Patients as human beings — not minus points on the bottom line of the insurance companies annual stock owners dividends.

If you enjoy great acting and excellent writing, a cast of characters who are real and believable click on Doc Martin at hulu.com. The US version of Doc Martin is probably “House” — this is an anemic version with plastic characters and passable acting.  Dr. House is also a genius at diagnosis who has no bed side manners/skills. Doc Martin is clearly superior to the US knock off copy. The US series “House” is purely formula, with pretty people (shallow people) in staring roles.

Hey Democrats — we could have had Universal Health care — American version — but what the hell — the well-being of Corporations are far more important than real flesh and blood human citizens. House does have an episode about the money-grubbing Health Insurance companies. But if you want to see a different health care system and some great acting click on Doc Martin at Hulu.com. Perhaps Hulu.com rates the TV series Mature because they assume that Americans are ignorant of just how badly they are being abused by Both political parties?

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7 Responses

  1. I love this series. It is keeping me sane while I deal with my parents in my hometown away from my husband and son.

  2. How can the American Version of Doc Martin be “House”? The shows debuted less than 3 months apart. Their similarities is pure coincidence. Futhermore, Hugh Laurie, an English actor, is a far superior actor than Martin Clunes. How can that be quantifiable and measured, you may ask. Simple, Laurie got an American show and several awards while Clunes is still stuck churning out crap for ITV.

    • I think Martin Clues is a much better actor than the man who portrays House…what’s his name Hugh something. Dr. Martin calls things as they are…he’s not a phoney. Doc Martin may not be as handsome as the other guy but there’s something about him that makes you just fall in love with him. Maybe it’s his ears….I adore his ears and his beautiful full lips. I am a 79 year old woman therefore I’m allowed to have a crush on Doc Martin. Thank you.

      • Martin Clues is a superior actor!!! And compared to whoever plays the House role — House is forgettable and Doc Martin is a classic.

        I managed to find the 4th season on DVD and I will shortly treat myself to spending time with Doc Martin and the supporting cast.

  3. why didnt you reveiw this wonderful romantic comedy instead of rambling about healthcare, sure its the seed germ for House. Also a good show but a fraction of the quality of this wonderful character study of brains and beauty, both with character, a lost concept to both american entertainment and reviewers..Character is about remembering why youre here, and doing it with quality.

  4. why didnt you reveiw this wonderful romantic comedy instead of rambling about healthcare, sure its the seed germ for House. Also a good show but a fraction of the quality of this wonderful character study of brains and beauty, both doc Martin and his co-lead Loisa, studies in character, a lost concept to both american entertainment (and reviewers.).Character is about remembering why you’re here, and doing it with quality.

  5. House is a medical program – focusing on a group of mostly male doctors who are supposed to diagnose patients.

    House to me is about everything that is wrong with medicine. American doctors are typically poor at diagnosing anything but the most common and easy to diagnose illnesses. It could be due to the fact that the American way of medical insurance puts untrained data operators in charge of paying for medical care??

    Doc Martin is about rural medical service in the UK. Both programs center on a male doctor with huge egos. Of the two TV doctors, Doc Martin is far more likable.

    Remember TV is about pretend worlds and pretend characters.

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