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Doc Martin – The Movies

Release Year:   2003
Studio:   Acorn Media
Format:   Colour; NTSC; Widescreen
Rated:   Not Rated
# of Discs:   2
Running Time:   162 m
DVD Release Date:   August 30, 2011

Screenwriter:   Simon Mayle
Director:   Ben Bolt
Actors:   Martin Clunes, Tristan Sturrock, Barbara Lott, Neve McIntosh, Dominic Rowan, Richard Dillane, Oliver Fox
DVD Features:   SDH subtitles
E: Top Picks Rating:   8/10   Partial nudity, adult situations

Acorn Media Write-up: 
Featuring the two full-length films that inspired the huge hit dramedy currently airing on PBS stations across the U.S., “Doc Martin: The Movies” debuts on DVD, proving there’s more than one way to tell a good story. BAFTA-winner Martin Clunes (“Men Behaving Badly”, “Shakespeare in Love”, “Dirty Tricks”, “Reggie Perrin”) stars as the kinder, gentler— but still slightly grouchy—Dr. Martin Bamford in the made-for-TV movies that introduced the misanthropic doctor and the picturesque Cornish fishing village of Port Isaac (later called Portwenn) before the television series’ launch in 2004. The 2-disc boxed set includes Doc Martin and Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie.

Martin Clunes stars in both feature-length films as Dr. Martin Bamford, an obstetrician whose reasons for leaving London are more personal than professional. Unlike ornery surgeon Dr. Ellingham from the new TV series, he’s not rude, irascible, or socially inept—he even smiles! But we get glimpses of his selfishness, short temper, and distaste for dogs.

In the first Doc Martin movie, the doctor flees to a coastal village to reassess his marriage and his career. In Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie, he resorts to camouflage, subterfuge, and folk magic to get what he wants: a secluded house in the country away from his nosy neighbors in town. Also starring Tristan Sturrock (“Saving Grace”, “Bad Girls”), Anna Chancellor (“Four Weddings and a Funeral’, “Fortysomething”) and Pam Ferris (“Rosemary & Thyme”).

Jon Ted Wynne Review: 
It was inevitable that the two made-for-TV DOC MARTIN films would make it to DVD, given the enormous success of the current series. Those of us who enjoy our Martin Clunes as Doc Martin fix have been waiting with baited breath.

The good news is that they give us more of what we love. The not as good news is that the two films, made prior to the commissioning of the actual series, feature characters and characteristics that are simply not as fun as those which were developed for the show.

Perhaps it is the irritating but endearing character of the doctor himself, with his blood phobia (a brilliant character touch). How much more interesting and original is that compared to a wife’s infidelity? Another characteristic of the doctor featured in these films, is that he regularly smokes marijuana. This appears to be a nod to the original feature film “Saving Grace”, in which Doc Martin was first introduced.

I’d rather see an uptight doctor than one given to what many still consider (as I do) a vice. Drug use, in my view, is not funny. If these films are to be believed, half the population of the idyllic little Cornish village where the stories are set, are tokers. Nothing charming or quaint about that.

But these are minor quirks in light of the bigger picture, which is the origin of Doc Martin. It is admittedly fun to compare how these foundational films were changed, developed and honed into the beloved series that is still being produced in 2011.

This is one reviewer who doesn’t like to summarize plots in reviews, but rather chooses to talk about production values, actors and various related subjects which may or may not guide a potential viewer to a particular film or program. DOC MARTIN: THE MOVIES is as picturesque as the series, and is certainly entertaining, but the spark that makes the series so utterly addictive is missing. The characters and the writing simply had a ways to go from these early efforts.

Thankfully, for the sheer joy of the viewer, they succeeded.

DOC MARTIN: THE MOVIES is a necessary set for the DOC MARTIN completionist, but be suitably warned: the best was yet to come.

 

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