Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Vincent van Gogh and the alien that lives upstairs

'Vincent and the Doctor' is another one of Doctor Who's 'meeting an historical figure' episode. This time it's Vincent van Gogh. Poor, under appreciated Vincent van Gogh. And there's a big monster running around as well. It feels a bit similar to the Shakespeare episode. There's a lot of jokes about the work and the life of the artist, including one shot that mirrors 'Bedroom in Arles' (I looked that up).Fictionalising someone like this creates a ready-made character. Nobody wants to buy his paintings. He's a bit lonely. And it turns out to be a much better episode than you'd expect. The invisible monster is kept in the background, which is understandable. Because it's all a set-up for the end, where Vincent takes a trip in the Tardis to see his own work in a modern museum. It's a good idea - so good I was convinced they weren't going to do it. It's a powerful ending to an episode that could have been a bit throwaway. Richard Curtis did a good job here. It rises above its gimmick and lifts the show out of its mid-season dip.

In the next episode, 'The Lodger', there's even less big monstery threats. Here the Doctor is trapped in a English suburb while Amy Pond tries to land the Tardis. Something's causing interference from the top flat of a house, so the Doctor moves into the flat below. It's about watching him trying to be human, about him trying to handle social situations. It's almost a Doctor Who sitcom. This sounds awful, but it turns out to be a lot of fun. The script is funny, and James Corden - the confused flatmate - is surprisingly not annoying. There's a bit where the Doctor plays football (before giving his 'No violence. Not while I'm here' speech to the bemused players), a bit where he cooks dinner, a bit where he ruins his flatmate's romantic evening. Again, this sounds awful, but part of the appeal is seeing how completely alien Matt Smith's performance is. A mad and eccentric shift from David Tennant. He's settled into the role now (not that there was ever any problems to begin with). Above all, this a light-hearted forty minutes before the Big Epic Two-Parter Finale. There is a creepy alien thing living upstairs that lures people to their doom. But like the monster from the last one, it doesn't seem to matter.

1 comment:

  1. For my money, they could do an episode like Shakespeare once a season. This sounds like a good one.