Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Saving Grace

(UK, 2000)

Brenda Blethyn is Grace, whose husband has just jumped out of an aeroplane without a parachute. She soon finds out why. He has squandered everything they have on business deals that didn’t work out. She is now in debt for £300,000. She’s going to lose her lovely, lovely house.

But she is a fantastic gardener, raises orchids, has terrific grounds that are cared for by Craig Ferguson (yes, that Craig Ferguson, six years before his successful late night talk show), who is trying to cultivate a small marijuana patch in the vicar’s back yard. They join forces, and she learns how to grow fantastic bud hydroponically. Everybody in town knows about the “secret,” including the constable. I mean, when they turn on the lights at night it looks like the second coming. Everyone gathers in the village square to watch the light show! But now, they’ve got to sell all their kilos …

It’s sweet and light-hearted, in the way the British are so good at. I enjoyed it immensely, although I thought the ending was a little disappointing.

What is really interesting, though … it was shot in the tiny coastal town of Port Isaac, and damn if it didn’t look familiar. There is a massive seawall, cliffs all around the little cove, and at low tide all the fishing boats are high and dry. Looked a hell of a lot like the fictional Port Wenn in one of our favorite British comedies, “Doc Martin.” That’s because it is the same location. And even more disorienting is the presence of dear old Martin Clunes, again playing a doctor. But unlike the cranky, insufferable, prim and proper and socially inept Doc Martin Ellingham, Doc Martin Bamford is a lush, and a major pot-head.

It was a great character, so good that Clunes made two prequels and tried to spin it off into a series, also called “Doc Martin.” But it didn’t take off. So they re-wrote the character entirely, and have now completed six seasons with a seventh and last season due in 2015. I can’t wait to see it … or to see the sixth series, for that matter, as it hasn’t been shown in the US thus far. If you get a chance, take a look at it.