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Season 7 of Doc Martin: Just what the TV doctors ordered

Season 7 of Doc Martin: Just what the TV doctors ordered
MONTREAL, QUE.: NOVEMBER 14, 2011 -- DOC MARTIN returns with a brand new series. It begins with Dr Martin Ellingham struggling to cope with new fatherhood, as he embarks on a new chapter of his career, which is set to take him away from the small Cornish village. A new GP, Dr Di Dibbs (Joanna Scanlan), and her husband Gavin (Robert Daws), have already moved into his old surgery. But Dr Ellingham begins to have serious doubts about the competence of Dr Dibbs, and, in his familiar tactless way, is not afraid to tell her. Pictured: MARTIN CLUNES as Dr Martin Ellingham with his baby son. (c) Buffalo Pictures / ITV | Photograph by: Buffalo Pictures , Montreal Gazette

The wait is over: Doc Martin returns to the tube. After a seemingly interminable period – over two years – Season 7 of the British dramedy finally surfaces Wednesday at 9 p.m. on VisionTV. And this could well be the show’s last season.

Martin Clunes, as the magnificently cantankerous Doc Martin, has hinted that he wants to retire his prescription pad. Maintaining a scowl an entire season has clearly taken its toll.

Dr. Martin Ellingham – Doc Martin – is a physician unlike any other. Marcus Welby, he ain’t. Think more House’s Hugh Laurie, only with less charm and joie de vivre.

Doc Martin is so buttoned-down anal and curmudgeonly that he even scares himself.

And this is funny? Oh, yeah.

It shouldn’t come as much of a shock that this is one of the most popular and acclaimed drama-comedies ever to surface on the British tube. Fans – on either side of the pond – will have to be administered heavy doses of Valium if this is indeed its swan-song season.

Formerly a surgeon in London, the Doc discovered only late in his career that he had an aversion to blood. So in spite of the fact that he had no bedside manner either, he bolted for the quaint English seaside town of Portwenn to begin a family practice.

Even among the all-star eccentrics of Portwenn, the Doc was in a class all his own. Kids called him a tosser. Adults used descriptions even less charitable. Regardless, in spite of his quirks, all could agree that the Doc was a brilliant diagnostician.

Somewhat miraculously, the Doc even managed to snare a bride, the enchanting schoolteacher Louisa (Caroline Catz). They married and had a son – an immaculate conception it seems, since the Doc never takes off his suit.

Alas, even the saintly Louisa had her fill of her husband’s dour ways and in Season 6, she up and left with their son James to take up residence in sunnier Spain with her mom.

Season 7 commences with the Doc more down in the dumps than ever. The whole town knows of his marital woes and many of its burghers seek to offer counsel – all of which the Doc rejects.

But he also realizes that he can’t heal himself. So entering the fray this season is a shrink, Dr. Rachel Timoney (Emily Bevan), who is, appropriately, as brusque and blunt as he is.

Fortunately, his blues don’t interfere with his business of dispensing proper medical guidance. The irony is that a man with such apparent lack of love for his fellow man manages to save lives all the same.

Fact is that if someone were to dig deep – real deep – into the Doc, they would discover a heart – albeit one with a layer of permafrost over it.

What makes this series tick is that it never stoops to a maudlin sitcom state to try to make its lead more lovable or less socially awkward. Misery serves Doc Martin so well. It’s almost reassuring and soothing on a certain level. If he were to crack a smile at this point, the magic would be lost.

AT A GLANCE

Season 7 of Doc Martin debuts Wednesday at 9 p.m. on VisionTV.

***

It is a Christmas tradition in Montreal unlike any other: the Lions de Cannes, a compilation of award-winning commercials from the world’s biggest – and most presumptuous-sounding – advertising-film competition, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

The package screens until the end of December at the Cinéma du Parc, and once again those who eschew TV ads the rest of the year will line up to feast on these spots now that they’ve been deemed high art.

Once again, it’s a dazzling collection, all the more impressive since the creators manage to fashion a tale with a punch in a minute – give or take.

The 2015 competition, held last June, received a whopping 40,133 submissions from 94 countries, from which 1,143 were selected as winners in 18 categories. For those flag-wavers among you, 48 Canadian ads, including seven from Quebec, copped statuettes.

As usual, makers of everything from bonbons to brewskis get their due. Also as usual, the winning PSAs (public service announcements) make the biggest impact with sobering views on everything from sexism to the plight of seniors.

In this group is an entry from the SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec). It is the aptly titled It Is All Tied to One Decision, in which the long arm of the law – and a long rope – effectively depicts the tragedy of driving drunk.

Even more timely, though, is a jarring PSA from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, taking aim at a major U.S. grocery-store chain. In the spot, a kid gets the boot from a grocery store for skateboarding – because it’s dangerous – and a woman gets tossed from the same store for bringing in her pooch – because it’s unhealthy. But no worries about a young man, with an assault rifle strapped – openly – on his back, getting the heave-ho. The piece ends with this caption: “A lot of things are not allowed inside Kroger grocery stores … But this isn’t one of them.”

‘Nuf said.

AT A GLANCE

The Lions de Cannes package plays until the end of December at the Cinéma du Parc. For schedule information, call 514-281-1900 or go to cinemaduparc.com.

story via The Montreal Gazette

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