Doc Martin: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Series 6 Episode 2
After the riotous opening episode in the dark woods last week, Doc Martin returns to sunny Portwenn and its picturesque jumble of dwellings crammed between the hills and the sea. The village’s eccentric inhabitants are centre stage again, playing their part in the close-knit community whilst quietly tolerating each other’s oddities. With the exception of the Doc, of course.
It’s back to work for Head of School and new doctor’s wife Louisa Ellingham (Caroline Catz), who like many working mothers throughout the land now faces the vagaries of childminders and work-life balance. Clearly Martin Clunes’ good doctor is there to support, but didn’t expect to be left holding the baby. Serves him right, is the view of the somewhat unsavoury childminder, to whom the Doc is quite offensive. Must be the protective parental instinct getting the better of him.
Enter the village electrician Mike (Felix Scott) with such a trustworthy smile, even the Doc is won over. And intent on fulfilling his husbandly role as well, accompanying Louisa to the school concert. It’s a lovely good-humoured affair and must put a smile on the viewer’s face – but not on the Doc’s. I wonder how he can ever make a good father when he cannot be moved by these cherubic faces.
Louisa is more severe with him than I expect many a viewer would be, and I blame her for his faux pas in inviting the wrong person to dinner – Dennis Dodds, builder and Chair of the School Governors (Richard Cordery). Still, the Doc does uncharacteristically jump to the wrong conclusion regarding their guests’ state of sobriety. Perhaps he is feeling nervous on this unique occasion, as Mr & Mrs Dodds might well be also. But with fighting over the wine bottle, and calling their guest a moron, neither Martin nor Louisa have acquitted themselves well. Always take the baby monitor with you!
Dr Ruth (Eileen Atkins) on the other hand shows a lot more empathy, despite finding it disagreeable to give relationship advice over the local radio. She would have ideal insight into her nephew’s problems – can he really be beyond the reach of psychological therapy? Later Ruth gives PC Penhale some veiled advice – a touching moment of understanding.
Morwenna meanwhile is now alone in her grandfather’s large house, and must contemplate taking a tenant. She is first confronted by the most unlikely prospects, put forward by acquaintances who clearly have ulterior motives. But Morwenna is no sucker: the cogs of her brain are seen to rotate when the congenial Al (Joe Absolom) clumsily proposes that they live together. How much can he afford to pay?
They are delightful characters all, even when some scenes may be on the predictable side. The day after the disastrous dinner invitation, a prickly Dennis falls foul of PC Penhale, who is trying out his nice guy persona but only succeeds in offending him. Next up Dennis encounters Louisa, who is also trying to “make nice”. Instead they end up tussling over a cable, with Dennis falling backwards off his roof. The Doc arrives in his proper role as physician at long last, and delivers his diagnosis, using less well known aspects of Parkinson’s Disease such as loss of sense of smell. Mr Dodds did not have a classic Parkinson’s gait, but that would have been too obvious.
The third medical case of the week is new babysitter Mike’s obsessive compulsive disorder. Will that disqualify him from the job? He doesn’t appear to be stressed out by it. More likely he will stress out Louisa by over-organising her domain.
The episode ends on a disquieting note. The Doc is tending to the cut on Louisa’s forehead, but his attention is drawn to her dandruff. Should he really remark on such personal matters? I saw not a trace of this on Catherine Catz’s beautiful locks, not even a light scattering from the prop assistant. I do hope this isn’t a step into some terrible disease.Tagged in: Doc martin, Martin Clunes
Recent Posts on Arts
- Crowds at Lahore Lit Fest ignore bomb risks and raise hopes for Pakistan’s future
- Rolo Tomassi Interview: “It's comforting to know that we've not been treated as a novelty”
- Goblin's Claudio Simonetti on Profondo Rosso reaching the big 4-0
- Friday Book Design Blog: The Ecliptic, by Benjamin Wood
- Ask the Author: Vivian French
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter