Monday, August 25, 2014

Doctor Who--"Vincent and the Doctor"

I honestly have mixed emotions and “Vincent and the Doctor.” the monster of the week elements are fairly run of the mill with a lazy chicken/dinosaur design and so so CGI, but the addition of Vincent van Gogh is wonderful. It certainly is not the first time the doctor has met a famous artistic soul he admired, but I think this is certainly the best so far.

The superiority of the personal aspects of the episode versus the adventure is most certainly due to writer Richard Curtis. Curtis is famous for creating Black Adder, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Notting Hill, and Love, Actually. Not exactly the body of work to land one a science fiction scripting job, but Curtis wrote this episode as a favor to his young son, a Doctor Who fan.

Bill Nighy Also has a brief appearance as an art museum curator and expert on van Gogh. Nighy’s appearance serves as a wink to fan for all the speculation he would replaced David Tennant rather than Matt Smith.

The Doctor and Amy visit the van Gogh section of an art museum when the Doctor spies a familiar looking alien in the window of a church in one of the paintings. The pair travel back to 1890, just a few months before van Gogh took his own life, in order to watch him do the painting. It does not take long before an invisible creature commits a mauling lie a wild animal. I say invisible, but it appears solely to van Gogh, who can probably see it because of either his great artistic sense or his mental illness. Whichever you choose to believe is okay by me.

The three of them track and reluctantly kill the monster inside the church because it gives them no other choice.

That whole deal takes up only about a quarter of the episode. Up until then, there is great interaction between the Doctor and Amy, who is implausibly a van Gogh enthusiast, and van Gogh. He is very clearly heading downhill in his battle with depression to the point the Doctor takes the unusual step of bringing him into 2010 to see his artwork hanging in museum and to learn how highly regarded he is in the art world.

All this was done in a ten minute epilogue after the alien had been killed.. It gave the impression the alien story was tacked on in order to appease the children watching. The real heart of the episode was the doctor making an effort to prevent van Gogh’s suicide by convincing him his life was not a waste. It does not work, of course. Van Gogh still commits suicide, but he dedicated a painting of sunflowers to Amy as a thank you.

The only touch I did not like about the sequence was the overlaying pop song. It reminded me of the fad a couple years ago of playing sappy James Blunt songs over montages in prime time dramas. It did not do a thing for me then or now.

I am also torn whether I like the poignancy that he chose to try saving van Gogh because he doubted hi talent, but did nothing for Agatha Christie who had the same issue. The problem is the Christie episode is fresh in my mind because it occurred in the last full season. I know--another writer, another Doctor. But it is not like the story was from thirty years ago with the third Doctor. He met Christie in a 2008 episode. Nevertheless, I am going to excuse the contradiction because van Gogh was a more desperate case and I like his episode much more than Christie’s “The Unicorn and the Wasp.”

I am also going to excuse the lackluster monster story I this episode because I enjoyed van Gogh’s story so much.

Brief note--Amy tears up at one point, clearly because she feels traces of Rory’s death, but it passes quickly. Other than that, there is no further evidence Rory existed. The Doctor knows, but is keeping it to himself. It is rather strange, but I am certain the Doctor has a running plan on how to deal with Amy’s memory loss.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment