Thursday, July 1, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5 - Episode 10: Vincent and the Doctor



Taking Amy to an art museum - apparently determined to do as many things as she wants following Rory's death - The Doctor notices something odd a painting by Vincent van Gogh. Some sort of face in a church window that The Doctor can't identify but knows - somehow - isn't right.

One trip back in time later, and The Doctor and Amy are quickly hob-nobbing with Vincent. Reluctant at first to accept their friendship (Vincent's brother has sent a LOT of Doctors to try and help him, he says), he is quickly won over by Amy's charms and praise of his paintings. The three are forced to flee to Vincent's house after a dead body is discovered and Vincent - considered a madman, bum and terrible artist by the villagers - is blamed.

The Doctor quickly discovers that the culprit is some manner of alien beast, invisible to his senses but somehow visible to the unusual perspective of Vincent van Gogh. He is able to identify the monster using some equipment from the TARDIS and a trap is quickly set for the monster. Naturally, The Doctor and Amy wind up in danger and it is Vincent who saves them using the sharpened points of his easel legs as a weapon to stake the beast's heart.

Grateful for the save, and for his attempts to show them the night sky as he sees it, The Doctor and Amy take Vincent for a ride in the TARDIS and take him to the present, where his paintings are now in museums and he is considered the greatest artist ever by a respected curator. They return Vincent to his home time and go back to the present again, with Amy running into the museum to see what other new paintings Vincent must have made. She is disappointed to find that there are no new paintings and that her inspiration did not prevent Vincent from committing suicide... although one of his paintings now features a dedication to Amy.


* I like that they don't explain exactly how Vincent is able to see the monster. All too often Doctor Who does try to assign spectacular abilities to historical figures through some unconvincing technobabble (i.e. William Shakespeare in The Shakespeare Code) and it's nice to see them decide that no explanation is necessary for once, since true genius cannot be defined.

* I also like the twist that it is Vincent who winds up saving The Doctor - not the other way around. Okay, it's hardly the first time a historical figure has been the one to save the day (think Charles Dickens in The Unquiet Dead) but it's still rare enough to be enjoyable.

* I'm not ashamed to admit I cried during the scenes where Vincent tries to show The Doctor and Amy how he sees the world or the magical moment when The Doctor takes Vincent to a modern day museum and shows Vincent that not only is his work remembered but that he is widely regarded as one of the greatest painters ever.


* Amy doesn't really get to do much but look cute and inspire Vincent, which does little to refute the accusations of her being a Mary Sue.

* Just how DOES a race of bestial giant space chickens with inoperable wings travel through space? Anyone?


It's a subtle point, but I'd say that it's The Doctor apparently throwing himself into the role of amusing Amy without having even tried to tell her that her fiancee and the love of her life has been erased from reality. Admittedly, I'm not sure how he could even begin to go about convincing her of this... but keeping it a secret can't possibly be healthy - especially given the obvious signs that SOMETHING inside her realizes that something is wrong.

The Final Verdict: A solid episode that gets to the heart of what Doctor Who should be about; history, the human condition and hope.


    She's grating on me. GRATING.. I don't know if I can handle a second season of her.
    >_< But yeah I don't know how in the world he could explain that to her, I love that he's just trying to make her happy even though he probably knows that she's not really happy no matter how she thinks she is.

  2. Well, maybe if he noticed the engagement ring on the floor...

  3. I have to say that I wasn't crazy about this episode UNTIL that last moment in the modern museum. Honestly, the majority of this season has been wildly hit and miss.
    That said, I've already seen the finale ane...goddamn, Moffat does a hell of a finale. Believe me when I say that the two-parter saves pretty much the whole season. I thought it was the best damn finale of any Doctor Who I've seen so far. But we'll get to that when it comes.

  4. I'll take your word for it on the finale.
    But I do agree that this season has been rather hit and miss.