There are a rash of high-quality shows that have debuted recently on cable, pay cable and streaming. “The Leftovers” on HBO; “Homeland” on Showtime; “Fargo” on FX, for starters. And while I’ll dutifully be in front of the television for all of them, the show that has me most excited is the streaming of Series Seven of “Doc Martin.”
That’s Doctor Ellingham to you, or so Martin Clunes’ character insists. No one in the fishing village of Portwenn does call him that, of course, except for the lovelost pharmacist, Mrs. Tishell, who stalked him for a season and still sees him as a soulmate.
A quick primer: Doc Martin is a brilliant doctor and Clunes, who is nothing like his character in real life, is a brilliant actor. He was assigned to Portwenn partly because his phobia of blood took him out consideration for top jobs in London. He has the bedside manner of Whitey Bulger — well, no, Bulger supposedly liked dogs and elderly ladies — but that only makes Doc more endearing to the hail-fellow-well-met townsfolk.
His formality — dressed in suit and tie while eating alone in his living room — matched against the Cornwall small-town informality is only part of the charm of the show.
He’s about as good at showing his feelings as your average zombie unless it’s one of exasperation with the local constabulary (“You idiot!”) or a patient who doesn’t follow his instructions and starts to explain why (“Stop talking”).
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