TV Review: ‘Doc Martin’ Entertains with Dinner and Dr. Ruth

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

In this evening’s episode, Dr. Martin Ellingham (Martin Clunes) and Louisa (Caroline Katz) clash over a nanny dilemma; Martin keeps scaring new nannies away. The latest babysitter, Mel, has a curious itch, which turns out to be a fungal infection. Because Louisa is back at school, Martin is left with the baby as he continues to run the surgery. As a result, Doc has to discuss symptoms in a whisper with a patient. In the end, Martin and Louisa resort to the assistance of Mike the electrician (Felix Scott), who may have obsessive compulsive disorder. By the way, does Mike Pruddy remind anyone of PC Mark Mylow?

Meanwhile, Aunt Ruth (Eileen Atkins) goes on “Good Morning, Portwenn” to discuss her new book. However, any hope for intelligent conversation dissipates when Ruth realizes that no one has read the book. Caroline Bosman, the host of GMP, prefers to focus on the sensational aspects of psychology and psychiatry. “Does it really work?” she asks to Ruth’s chagrin. To top it off, PC Penhale (John Marquez) dials in as “Cliff” to ask for advice on why he can’t make friends.

Louisa wants Martin to come to the school recital, though no one expects the curmudgeonly doctor to attend. She also insists that he be more sociable with people. He then invites Dennis Dodds (Richard Cordery), an absolute boor and a promiment committee chair, over for dinner. The dinner is awkward because Martin disapproves of the alcohol consumption by Dennis and his companion, Karen (Katie Lyons). However, it is Louisa who turns the night into an utter fiasco when she vents her real thoughts about Dennis in James Henry’s room, unaware of the baby monitor.

The medical mystery revolves around Dennis, who is renown for his high alcohol intake. His balance and speech are also strange. He falls off the roof of his new house while Louisa is trying to smooth things out from the dinner. The diagnosis of the week is Parkinson’s Disease.

“Doc Martin” would not be complete without the schemes of Bert Large (Ian McNeice), who rents out Al’s room to rake in more money. Eventually, Al (Joe Absolom) decides to inquire with Morwenna (Jessica Ransom) about an available spot at her house to escape his father’s snoring. Will future episodes try to feature Morwenna and Al as merely friends or will they become a couple?

“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was a remarkable improvement this week, taking time to allow the scenes and chemistry between characters to develop. There is a clear difference in Louisa’s desire to be sociable versus Martin’s penchant for silence at events. “What’s the point of talking if you have nothing to talk about?” he asks her. At the end, a potentially romantic moment between the two is ruined by Martin when he diagnoses Louisa’s dandruff: a harkening back to the bad breath diagnosis of season one. It bodes well for the series if the same humor, creativity, and realistic flair carry over to future installments.

“Doc Martin” airs on PBS. Check your local station for specific times.

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