Opinion: Finding Meaning


Doc Martin

My family first came into a TV set when I was turning 16 so the small screen wasn’t part of my upbringing. I’m generally not impressed with TV programs, so thought it best to limit TV time for our own children. This required some ingenuity as kids can be very clever. My best method was a coin meter attached to the TV so the kids had to work around the house and earn quarters in order to watch their favorite program.

There is one TV program I enjoy: “Doc Martin.” You’ll recall this features a brilliant London surgeon who under the stress of his work develops a phobia of blood. Perhaps his susceptibility to stress resulted from an unhappy childhood under parents who disliked him, but he winds up as a humble general practitioner in a charming Cornish seaport. Doc Martin is a brilliant diagnostician but has zero bedside manner. He is devoid of the charms that smooth our daily interactions and rudely honest with his patients.

Among the cast of characters is the lovely village schoolteacher, Louisa Glasson. Louisa had her own unhappy childhood but she loves her students and is blessed with all the charms that Doc Martin lacks. She finds him difficult, though interesting in an odd way. A repeating feature of the program is the clash of their personalities, interspersed with brief moments of loving affection. I love those brief moments.

This gets personal, but like most I see myself as a normal person; the Beautiful Wife could list plenty of evidence to the contrary. I was trained as an engineer so getting to the right answer often takes precedence over everyone loving the solution. Consider, for example, the barriers I placed between our children and their TV time.

The BW, in my view, is as loving and charming as Louisa. Her only failing, with respect to Doc Martin, is to constantly take the side of Louisa in their conflicts. I, to no surprise, tend to align with the good doctor. The challenges of our own marriage have played out in the 70 episodes.

Has Doc Martin changed for the better from his relationship with Louisa? Has Louisa found increased happiness in their difficult marriage? Have the rough spots common to us humans been smoothed from their grinding interactions? I want to say yes, but the clues are subtle. I guess that’s why I keep watching. If Doc Martin can find blessedness making a family with Louisa, can’t we all?

As I consider this I realize that over the decades shared with the BW, my life has steadily gotten better. Through rearing a family together, perhaps I’ve even acquired a bit of her virtue of kindness to others. Doc Martin is played by Martin Clunes and I offer a summary quote from their lives: “What I do know is that I love the whole idea of a family, even the word itself.” There’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip.  He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach. Email:  [email protected]

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