Acorn Media // 2004 // 162 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart // August 3rd, 2011
"There's one more than one way to tell a good story, and Doc Martin is no exception."
I am now a Doc Martin completist. I've seen all four seasons (so far; Wikipedia assures that Season Five is in the works) of the British dramedy, three of them for DVD Verdict reviews. Just as I'd caught up to the remaining season, Doc Martin: The Movies turned up.
"Here he's an obstretician, and his reasons for leaving London are more personal than professional. Unlike ornery surgeon Dr. Ellingham, he's not rude, irascible, or socially inept -- he even smiles! But we get glimpses of his selfishness, short temper, and distaste for dogs," the DVD cover blurb explains to introduce Dr. Martin Bamford.
Each of Dr. Martin Bamford's two adventures is on its own disc:
* Doc Martin
Dr. Martin Bamford (Martin Clunes, Men Behaving Badly) reveals at lunch that he's figured out, through a game with pagers, that one of the friends he's dining with is having an affair with his wife. The friend in turn reveals that all three friends he's dining with have been sleeping with Bamford's wife. Bamford storms off -- without luggage -- on a sudden vacation to Cornwall, where he ends up working on a lobster boat -- until his medical knowledge is needed.
* Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie
Tregunnt Farm may be falling apart, but Doc Martin wants to buy it -- and he's not happy when he's outbid by a developer. His tricks -- including the use of a cloutie to make a wish -- don't seem to be working with the farm. However, he's learning how to use "Cornish solutions," and that could come in handy as the village deals with meddlesome customs agents.
In the first movie, Dr. Martin Bamford starts off looking like a rather nasty person. Martin tosses a restaurant table when he finds out about his wife's affairs, and he's sarcastic and angry on his arrival in Cornwall when he ends up walking through the rain to get to the village of Port Isaac. However, he quickly shows his more agreeable side, helping people -- including a barmaid's young son and a choking victim -- with their medical mysteries and emergencies. He also appears to be getting the hang of work on the lobster boat, even though he only went out to catch a cell phone signal. This Doc Martin actually seems to be settling in by the end of the first movie, and the promised glimpses of a more difficult character aren't that frequent. However, Bamford does show one of Dr. Ellingham's most comically annoying traits, blurting out a diagnosis for a stomach ailment.
What's surprising in the second movie is watching Martin stoop to dirty tricks to win the farm. Dr. Martin Ellingham may be a misfit who keeps a lot of things in, but he's generally honest, and he's more likely to be the victim of pranks than the perpetrator. The pranks are more or less harmless and comical, including a hilarious last gag.
Since this version of Doc Martin didn't get very far, the villagers aren't as well defined as characters like Aunt Joan, Louisa, and Bert in Portwenn. However, the barmaid (who dabbles in mysticism and seems to like Martin) and the publican (who smuggles on the side and reminded me of Bert Large) are the most notable characters in the early draft of the show.
The later rewrite, giving Martin a fear of blood and more conflicts -- inner and outer -- when dealing with village problems, offered a meatier role to Martin Clunes. At times, Bamford comes across as a bumbling clown, especially in the first reel of Cloutie. Seeing Ellingham work through fears makes for a more consistent weekly drama. I'm not sure how Bamford's adventures would have played out in a weekly series.
As always, the Cornish scenery looks beautiful and comes across well in the transfer.
If you're looking for more Doc Martin, this definitely counts. You're watching Doc Martin's personality shaping over the first movie instead of four seasons, but it's generally the same sort of character arc.
If you've watched the four existing seasons of Doc Martin, you're probably curious about Doc Martin: The Movies. While you'll certainly miss Dr. Ellingham's fears and foibles, it's still Martin Clunes, and his performance makes Dr. Bamford worth a look for fans of the later series.
Not guilty. It'll tide you over until Dr. Martin Ellingham returns.
Review content copyright © 2011 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 162 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* IMDb: Doc Martin
* IMDb: Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie
* Wikipedia: Doc Martin