Saturday, April 19, 2008

Love and death: some stories just run and run

Did anyone watching Doc Martin tonight find the storyline vaguely familiar?

I think Dominic Minghella and/or the writers were doing homage to the story of Guinevere and Lancelot as told in the musical version where Lancelot brings Sir Lionel back from the dead after the Queen has set him up.

I mean, hero and heroine are kneeling either side of a dying, nay, dead body. Stitched-up but devoted hero magically brings body back to life. Heroine is mesmerised by his power and virtue and falls hopelessly in love on the spot. Hero reciprocates.

And in Cornwall, too.

15 comments:

Elsewhere007 said...

I missed it, but I've thought the plotlines seem familiar when I've seen Doc Martin on other occasions. I guess the Minghella factor could be responsible for classical allusions.

I do think this show hangs greatly off Martin Clunies, in the way that House hangs off Hugh Laurie. (And the whole Port Wren thing reminds me incredibly of Alice -- they've got the small village thing right).

Helen said...

Someone fell in love with Doc Martin?... with those lips? Like someone stapled two raw kranskies to his face.

Suspension of disbelief = impossible.

Stephanie Trigg said...

Missed it, but yeah, sounds like Camelot. Which in turn took this bit from Malory's Tale of Sir Urry. All the knights try to heal Urry, till it's Lancelot's turn. First he prays to God...

And than Sir Launcelot prayde Sir Urré to lat hym se hys hede. And than, devoutly knelyng, he ransaked the three woundis, that they bled a lytyll; and forthwithall the woundis fayre heled, and semed as they had bene hole a seven yere. And in lyke wyse he serched hys body of other three woundis, and they healed in lyke wyse. And than the last of all he serched hys honde, and anone hit fayre healed.

Than Kynge Arthure and all the kynges and knyghtes kneled downe and gave thankynges and lovynge [praise] unto God and unto Hys Blyssed Modire — and ever Sir Launcelot wepte, as he had bene a chylde that had bene beatyn.

Lancelot weeps in part because he is already deeply in love with the Queen, and has already failed at the Grail Quest because of that love. The healing of Sir Urry is the last good thing that happens in the Round Table before Gawain and Aggravayne bring their complaint about the lovers to the King, and it all starts to fall apart.

So the movie has dramatically condensed a bunch of stuff, reasonably enough, while keeping the spirit intact. Clever.

Sorry for disquisition: teaching Malory on Wednesday!

Pavlov's Cat said...

Stephanie, heh -- I knew you'd know.

'to lat hym se hys hede'
Tick

'devoutly knelyng, he ransaked the three woundis, that they bled a lytyll'
Tick (given Martin's little problem with blood, he had to barf into one of his handy plastic bags at this point)
'he serched hys body of other three woundis'
Tick

'because he is already deeply in love with the Queen'
Tick

From this point it's more a matter of failed CPR, failed paddles and then a desperate hit of adrenalin to the heart (which is what brings the victim back to life) -- and then they declare their love more or less over the wounded victim. But I think whoever wrote the script probably knew his Malory pretty good (to quote David Lodge, whom I know pretty good). I assumed that was where it came from; I think Lerner and Lowe (?) got their material from TH White, but he doesn't use that story.

Fyodor said...

Just to close this particular Arthurian circle...

"Someone fell in love with Doc Martin?... with those lips? Like someone stapled two raw kranskies to his face."

...T.H.White's take on Lancelot, the "Ill-Made Knight", reconciles quite well with Doc Martin, if not the schmaltzy Camelot (Franco Nero as Lancelot, IIRC).

Pavlov's Cat said...

Oh I say, excellent point.

"So far as he could see -- and he felt there must be some reason for it somewhere -- the boy's face was as ugly as a monster's in the King's menagerie. He looked like an African ape."

Anonymous said...

"not the schmaltzy Camelot (Franco Nero as Lancelot, IIRC)."

What about Nicholas Grey's Lancelot in "Excalibur"?


BS

Pavlov's Cat said...

BS, I'm sure I will slap my forehead and say D'oh once enlightened, but for the moment I can't place you -- can you give me a clue?

Or am I not intended to recognise your initials ...?

BlissHill said...

I only came into the show as they turned her over to see the glass embedded in her back. More barfing .... ( amazingly clean chin afterwards!). Lips? A bit scary, but someone's got to wear them.

Still a foolish surge of pleasure as she threw herself into his arms. Formulas are used over and over because they work.

As a young girl, I loved schmaltzy Camelot, but couldn't bear to watch it now because it would seem so stupid and unsophisticated.

Hilary said...

So glad you filled me in on the story line. I attempted to watch, but was looking after my grandson who views my sitting room as a gymnasium and the television volume as competition.

Anonymous said...

"Or am I not intended to recognise your initials ...?"

Er, you wouldn't know me from Adam, madam...whenever I've put something here before I've left myself as anonymous, but I thought I'd better give myself something else so that I'm not mistaken for another anonymous :-)

dysthymiac said...

Fish lips never affected Sir Michael Jagger's conquest rate.

Disbelief? - a great deal of it must also be suspended in order to enjoy most other popular entertainment.

I'm now exiting
picturesque-village-left ... chased by a hypochondriac fisherman.

lucy tartan said...

Goodness, why does he vomit into a plastic bag? Is he going to take it home and add it to the compost? (NB acid reflux very bad for most plants, probably OK on cammelias & azaleas though)

Lefty E said...

Yes, though I do feel there is yet to be to a better named character in 1000 years of English literature than Uther Pendragon. Perhaps Dickens comes closest.

And I agree with Helen - the credibility gaps in the program are any and all love scenes involving the doctor.

Elsewhere007 said...

I finally got round to watching this episode (on DVD)...I thought it drew substantially on the Louisa Mulgrave incident in Persuasion.