Monday, August 25, 2014

Doctor Who--"The Vampires of Venice"

I am generally inclined to think the BBC does period pieces better than contemporary or future drama. “The Vampires of Venice” supports that theory. Sixteenth century Venice is quite nice. The setting is the saving virtue for the episodes. There is a lot of been there, done that with some dodgy CGI thrown in for good measure.

The episode takes place shortly after the conclusion of “Flesh and Stone.” the doctor interrupts Rory’s bachelor party by popping out of the cake instead of the bikini girl and whisking him away in the TARDIS. We forgo all the rigamarole that must have gone into convincing im to go along. Yes, he knows the doctor from “The Eleventh Hour,’ but I was surprised how quickly he became acclimated to the idea his fiancee is traveling with the Doctor on the eve of her wedding and easily goes along with it.

The Doctor continues in his quiet quest to build up their relationship, so he takes them to 16th century Venice for a romantic getaway. As is the custom, they all get tangled up I a plot to cut off Venice from the rest of the world and convert it to an environment a race of alien refugees can call home.

The conflict is pretty exciting. Matt Smith’s Doctor is a man of action even more so than David Tenant’s. there are swordfights 9Well, sword v. broomstick) , explosions, runnig through dark tunnels, climbing high towers and such. That is all good fun. But the backdrop is such recycled stuff.

The “vampire“ alien planet has been destroyed by the crack in the universe in the same way the ’ghosts” from “The Unquiet Dead” lost their planet in the Time War and every alien species from the fourth season lost theirs to Davros and the Daleks. The theme of survivor’s guilt is trotted out yet again when the head alien appeals to the Doctor to let her sacrifice 200,000 people to save her civilization so as not to have another genocide on his conscience.

Rory needs his own paragraph here. There is a lot of Mickey Smith in him. He is a bit of a goofy Beta male who fears he cannot compete with the Doctor for Any‘s affection. He also repeats the frequent mantra that the doctor is a dangerous man because people around him take great risks in order to impress him. To both their credit, the Doctor takes care to not interfere in Rory’s romance with Amy and Rory shows more security in his status than Mickey ever did. I hope this growth continues now that he is a companion and not just an occasional guest star.

The CGI was particularly bad. The aliens looked terribly fake and the sequence with the Doctor climbing up the tower in order to shut off the alien steam punk device was laughably pitiful. I would have preferred a make up job for the aliens and canning some of the long distance action shots of the Doctor.

‘the Vampires of Venice” was fun, but flawed. The fifth season is having a tough time breaking new ground. I like Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, but they are just not getting the material yo break away from what has gone on before. Virtually every episodes takes two or three elements from the Russell T. Davies era and claims it is something fresh because there is a new Doctor. It is not working out very well. We are halfway through the season with no unique Steven Moffat feel yet. Not a good sign.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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