Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Buongiorno! I'm Gino..."

Bert Large is a character I wish I'd created. To quote Barry (High Fidelity): "[He's] so good. [He] shoulda been mine."

Of course, I doubt I have the skill or talent to create such a fantastic character and then to bring him to life all on my own the way Ian McNeice does.

 Bert Large (Ian McNeice) as a ventriloquist for the Port Wenn Talent show.

If you don't know who Bert Large is, that means you haven't been watching Doc Martin and why haven't you? You're missing out. It's pure genius. Although, for some reason, I don't think a show of this caliber could survive on its own in the U.S. during prime-time against shows like CSI and Bones. I think it requires the genius of the British to come up with a show of this nature and then maintain an audience for it in the long run.

Maybe I'm underestimating American audiences, or maybe it's the American production companies. I don't know who, but SOMEONE is to blame for the lack of this quality of work in the U.S. Luckily, the British make it and ship it over, and it finds the niche audience like myself. I'm just glad there are others like me, otherwise the Brits wouldn't even bother to ship it over.

In any case, thank goodness someone out there cares about quality, otherwise I'd starve. The only other place to find such a colorful cast of characters is in a Dickens novel. Dickens is great, but it's fun to have someone else do the work for me when I can't sit down and read a book.

Doc Martin isn't just about the doctor. It's about a village on the Cornish coast.

Point one. A village. On the Cornish coast. Who even uses the term village anymore? That's one of the great things about the show, that it's got this colloquial sense about it. However, that doesn't mean it's some dreary, slow-moving account of each individual in Port Wenn (the fictional name of the village). Nope. Each episode usually consists of several strands of storyline that are braided together and which eventually meet up and make sense at the end.

Point two. Braided storyline. I don't dissect every TV show I've ever watched, but this one is cleverly done up into a sleek braid that has a pleasant snap to it. Like a whip. The show has a whippish intellect. Now, apparently whippish is not a word, but for my purposes it means whip-like. Makes sense, I think. So, another great thing about Doc Martin. I watched all thirty or so episodes almost without stopping (I had a lot of down time while taking care of the baby) and never once did I think, "Oh man, if Jack Bauer saves the world again at the last minute...." or "Oh no, if they say 'intubate' or 'he's seizing!' one more time, I'm going to throttle their necks!" Because, unlike many dramas, Doc Martin doesn't seem to rely heavily on plot-crutches. Yes, braided storyline and yes there's usually some kind of medical mystery the doctor ends up solving, but it's never overly predictable in an irritating fashion.

New paragraph here, but I'm still on the subject of the last paragraph (this paragraph is for purely cosmetic reasons), and that is that EVEN though there is always a medical mystery to be solved, it never ends up feeling formulaic. My theory is that this is because the cast of characters is so strong.

Point three. Excellent array of characters. You have your gaggle of village girls who wander around the neighborhood, popping up here and there to make cat-calls at the men. And sometimes they call the doctor a tosser. I have no idea what that is. I suspect it's a derogatory term, but since I'm not British I can hardly find it offensive. And that's why I feel comfortable writing it here, on my blog. No need to explain it (if you're British and feel like enlightening me). Anyway, the gaggle of village girls always cracks me up. What a waste of time! I mean, the girls. They're wasting their time. But it's totally amusing. "Heeeeeyyyy Al! Hee hee hee." "Heeeeeyyyy Doc Martin...." Etc. 

You have the plumbers, Bert and Al Large, who sometimes seem like the worst possible thing that could happen to your sink. And there's the village pharmacist with her eternal crush on the doctor, "How about tea? And we could finally go over those MHRA journals together..." who's never seen without her neck brace, but somehow feels she must be attractive, nasty neck-brace and all. There's the doctor's sweet Aunt Joan–really his only family at all (you get to meet his parents in an episode and wow, they suck). And of course, the love-interest: the gorgeous and kind (though sharp-witted) Ms. Glasson.

The doctor and Louisa Glasson. Don't worry: it's a dream.

I'd try to describe all of these characters better, but I'm no Dickens after all. The point is the show is fast-paced enough not to feel like it was done in the 70s (I tried to watch the old Hawaii Five-O one time and fell asleep), while maintaining a kind of small-town luster that makes you want to disappear into a country village and soak up the local color. No kidding. Local color.

P.S. And don't even think of suggesting that it's like Little House on the Prairie. Unless you always LOVED that show. In that case, it's a modern Little House on the Prairie meets House. Loads of houses here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Is It So Wrong to Be a Little Obsessed?

A few people who I shan't name have mentioned that I get obsessed with things. They were talking specifically about the television show Doc Martin with a glancing reference to Dr. Who, as though it's a BAD thing to become obsessed with such quality story-telling and character development. 

Sometimes it's best to describe things as what they're NOT rather than what they ARE, even though I don't think I'd be remiss in describing how great these two television shows are (though they're worlds apart in subject matter). Like so: at least I'm not watching soap operas. At least I'm not watching and obsessing over Jersey Shore. At least I'm not absorbed in the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or any other show of that nature.

Not that there's anything wrong with those shows. Well, I mean, I guess it depends on who you are and what your value system is. I suppose by the very fact that I'm saying "at least I'm not . . ." I'm implying that there's something wrong with a show like Days of Our Lives.

I guess I'll just say it. Soap operas are crap and I have no idea how anyone has ever gotten tied up in them. The sets are weird. The lighting is weird. The actors can't act. And the stories are so full of totally improbable scenarios that no one in their right mind could ever buy into the plot twists.

Also, the characters all seem to be egocentric and unlikeable.

Perhaps the problem isn't the shows I get obsessed with. Perhaps the problem is that I tend to get very absorbed in things. That IS the problem. And it's a problem for me too, because I find it extremely difficult to buy into anything halfway and in the long run, it ends up having been a waste of time. A phase. And I usually come away empty-handed.

The fact is that I can't go one hundred percent into anything, really. I'm not even one hundred percent invested in Dr. Who. If someone told me Dr. Who was doing a convention in Salt Lake, there's a good chance I wouldn't go, even though it'd be easy for me to attend. And well, would I attend? Probably not.

I can't even be one of those people who'd wait outside a theater to meet the actor of some show I'm obsessed with. Because, what would I say? "You're amazing. I love you so much. Your work is the best!" That sounds stupid and really, are they amazing? No. And do I love them? Not really. I love the character they portray and sadly, that character doesn't exist in reality. The only true statement I could possibly deliver that would even matter is that they do good work. And it's just not worth it.  Because they don't care what I think.

And that's why I don't get into anything one hundred percent. 

Despite all that, I still love Dr. Who and Doc Martin.

I think the term for a fan like me is a rainy-day fan. Once I see through it or the glamour wears off, I'm gone.

Where was I going with all this? Oh yes. I merely wanted to know what was so wrong with being obsessed with a show. The shows I get obsessed with (just like the books) are GOOD. I don't fall for crap. And despite how quickly I might move on, I'll defend to the death that the bits or pieces I WAS in love with (like season 1, that was the BEST! Or "it was good until so-and-so left or stopped writing or died, etc.") were worthwhile and amazing and well-done.

Like Eccleston was the best Doctor. And Fringe was good until the writers went all berserk. And Alias was gripping and excellent until they started getting all creepy supernatural. And Simpson's was fantastic except for those wobbly, questionable seasons starting right around the 14th season (or so). And so on.

In the end, I still haven't said my piece on Dr. Who and Doc Martin.

Is it wrong that I feel ridiculous saying (even with all the love I feel for it) Doc Martin and I'm talking about the show and not the shoe company?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What the? Hello. Again.

Whoa. May 26. That's the date of my last post. Well, I HAVE written between then and now, but I haven't posted the entries. Because they were inappropriate.

Not really. They're fine, but long. And I didn't edit them quickly enough and put them up before I had to get back to the baby. Oh, and I had a baby on June 8th. Did I mention that? Yep. Since then my life has been like unto a hurricane.

Adapting to having a child is no cake walk. Neither is it a walk in the park. It's more like a being shoved out of a plane at twenty-five thousand feet with no idea how to operate the parachute. But it's great. It really is.

Oh, and did I happen to tell you that I lost my voice from an allergic reaction to the pain medicine (Percoset) they gave me for the post-op recovery? Yeah, I did. Because I had a C-section and so, you know. I had to recover from that.

Enough about the baby and having it, though I must say, my son is the bomb. He's seriously perfect and that's good because I lost my voice for him. I feel like Ariel in the Little Mermaid, I got the baby but lost my voice. And really, that's no cost at all. Just my voice.

The difference (and ONLY difference...) is that Ariel was young and gorgeous what with that red flowing hair and all, and she didn't need her voice. I'm old and decrepit and can't sway anyone or anything with my looks. So without my voice I'm pretty much crippled.

People ask me if he's not worth it. And by people I mainly mean my mom, who has had to listen to me whine and complain about not having a voice for almost three months now. Oh, right. That doesn't make any sense. How can I complain without a voice? I manage. Somehow.

To be more clear, I have a voice. Sort of. HALF a voice. My right vocal cord (or fold, as the experts say, I gather) is paralyzed. So I don't know if I'll croak or whisper when I open my mouth and try to speak. It's disconcerting to say the least.

Right. Right. I wasn't going to talk about my voice any more.

At least I can still type, eh?

What I really want to write about is how I've had a lot of time to watch Netflix these days, what with having to sit down for hours on end to feed the baby, and I've bonded with several shows (I think this is because of oxytocin...somehow). And so I want to write about my unhealthy obsessive love for Dr. Who and Doc Martin. Yes, I've only spent time watching shows with doc or doctor in the title, which is purely coincidental. So, that's a preview of things to come: Doc Martin. Doc Who. Doc Watson (I also watched the Masterpiece Theater Sherlock shows).

I feel like I'm not making much sense. This post is like drunk dialing. It's late. I'm worn out. And I'm trying to make sense of seven different topics that don't really blend well. It's a tossed salad of ideas.

The next post will be better. I promise. I just needed to break the silence.