Saturday, May 6, 2017

Soul Sisters by Gail Roughton

Take a Trip Down Home!

Netflix binge-watching is one of the joys of retirement. I missed a lot of television shows and movies during my working years. I've enjoyed the heck out of the opportunity to see past episodes of favorite series I'd somehow never managed to catch, and I've fallen in love with series I'd never followed at all, like SupernaturalBlacklist and Grey's Anatomy.  But being human, of course I found a few favorites.

One of two of the prize jewels in my crown of newly discovered (to me) series was a little CW production that ran for four seasons by the name of Hart of Dixie.  New York City girl Dr. Zoe Hart transplanted herself down to Bluebell, a little Alabama town on the Gulf, to take over her deceased father's practice. Turns out her mama'd had a little fling on a cruise ship some years back nobody'd known about, don't you know, including Zoe, and she was the souvenir.  It was filmed on a back lot and not on location and the set had been used before for several small towns, but hey! If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Oh, the critics didn't like it much, it was "demeaning" and "insulting" and certainly not realistic in it's portrayal of life in a small town.  Say whaaaat???  

Well, I've never liked what the critics liked and in general, tend to adore a lot of productions they trash. And in this case, all I can say is whoever thought this show was insulting and demeaning definitely had no experience with life in a small southern town, or ever followed the ebb and flow of town gossip.  You know, who's dating whom,  who's mad at whom, who's sick, who's dying, who's having a baby, who's cheating...well, you get the idea.  Life in microcosm. I even loved the accents and that's saying something for the accent coach, 'cause few of those actors were southern and I absolutely detest Hollywood's standard fake southern accent. The entire cast did an outstanding job and let me state for the record there's no such thing as one southern accent.  Every region has it's own and this show nailed it's target. It also nailed all the town characters, from socialites to eccentrics, from small town doctor to hair dresser, sports hero to local shopkeepers and jacks of all trades. A few of them may have been exaggerated a bit. And then again, when I think of all the characters I've known over the years--maybe not. I've watched the whole thing twice (don't judge me) and pretty much went into withdrawal without new adventures for these characters to star in. 

That's when I went on a search for a new series to fill the void left by Hart of Dixie, nothing involving cops and robbers, or spys, or medical emergencies and surgeries. I didn't want a situational comedy or even anything paranormal (yes, this is still me and I haven't been taken over by a clone, I promise). I wanted something real. No, not reality television.  Fictional real. Something you watched and wanted to jump into yourself, set in a place you wanted to live, populated by characters you wanted to know.  

That's when I discovered BBC's Doc Martinthe story of Martin Ellingham, successful, emotionally stunted London surgeon, who suddenly found himself getting sick (literally) at the sight of blood.  What to do, what to do? Become a GP in a Portwenn, Cornwall.  Be still my heart.  Filmed on location in Port Isaac, Cornwall, the scenery alone made my breath catch. The sea, the cliffs, the houses and cottages and shops!  

I've never lived anywhere but smack-dab in the center of the the state of Georgia; that is to say, in the Deep South, and truthfully, I've never wanted to.  I've never believed I'd be happy living anywhere else.  I'm a place person, my roots sunk deep into the small town Southern society I was born into, raised in, raised my children in, and will die in. And that's undoubtedly the reason I love Hart of Dixie so much. But I honestly think I'd be happy in Cornwall.  Why?  Because in their deepest essence, folks are the same everywhere.  Especially in small towns.  Every small town has the same ebb and flow of gossip and relationships, troubles and joys, and especially eccentric characters.  

As I got acquainted with all the town characters, the group of giggling girls, the depressed constable, the pharmacist with the crush on Doc Martin, father and son plumbers Bert and Al Large, I realized I knew them. I knew them all and loved them already.  Because every small town everywhere has them. All small towns are soul sisters and the citizens of each share kinship with the citizens of all.  It seems the BBC and Great Britain are more sensitive to that fact than Americans, as Doc Martin is highly lauded and critically acclaimed and nobody's ever called it insulting and demeaning in it's portrayal of the town characters. Which it isn't. But neither is Hart of Dixie

But no matter the reason, I send thanks to the BBC for Doc Martin and it's continued production, though I understand it's ninth season will be it's last.  Of course, that's what they said about the seventh and eighth season, too, so hope springs eternal.  I just hope the seventh season hits Netflix before I have to break down and buy the DVD set. The British aren't in too much of a hurry when it comes to the telly, it seems, they only typically film eight shows per season and typically film a season every two years. And they're slower than that when it comes to giving Netflix the green light. That's enough to drive any American crazy, including me--but Doc Martin is well worth the wait.  

Speaking of small towns, if you haven't ever visited Turkey Creek, Rockland County, Georgia, the door's always open. Just click the front cover and step into a world where everybody in town knows if your eggs were scrambled or over-easy before you even step outside the Scales of Justice Cafe....

Come Visit!

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