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Dr Who: Vincent and the Doctor
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lil_shepherd
Unexpectedly enjoyable!



I'm not going to go into any great detail about this episode. shewhomust has dealt with the historical inaccuracies but then who expects historical accuracy from this series? Not I! (I keep hoping for it, but that is a very different matter.) It was an odd sort of script, with the monster-of-the-week not being particularly important. Nor was it terribly original, with the monster-in-the-painting being a hideously familiar device which I can't be bothered to chase down to its (probably many) origins at the moment. What mattered was the way it dealt with genius (and Van Gogh was, indeed, an artistic genius, who makes even a bowl of sunflowers disturbing) and mental illness, and loneliness... and all three lead characters are, in their own way, very alone.

It was a completely character-driven episode, and Tony Curren was outstanding as Van Gogh (the Scottish accent was, plainly, how Amy heard him, just as he heard the Doctor as Dutch, despite the incorrect pronunciation of his name!) I thought Bill Nighy was great as Dr Black, too, and a fun piece of casting. I liked the ending, too - who hasn't wanted to let a neglected-in-their-time artist know how famous they became - and Vincent's reaction was marvellous, but I was also impressed by the fact that it changed almost nothing, and Vincent still killed himself.

Overall, one of the best episodes in the series so far, though by no means typical Dr Who with great playing from the principals as well, particularly Karen Gillan. Yet another side to Amy, who reveals a sensitivity that has been hinted at before (particularly in The Beast Below.) Most of all, though, she and the Doctor reveal their innate kindness (and I am not sure that kindness isn't a major theme of this particular season).

Shucks! Wrote more than I meant to, after all.
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Yes, I enjoyed the TARDIS-as-Babelfish aspect of this episode. (I decided to assume that it included converting the name of the artist into a pronunciation we would recognise!). Does Van Gogh's Scottish accent (which suited the character very well, I thought) indicate that he is speaking (and hearing) Dutch where other local people are speaking French, or that he is speaking French, but with the accent of a northern neighbour?

Presumably it's also the TARDIS effect which means we see the inscription on the sunflower painting as English, right at the end?

I suspect he thinks he is speaking and hearing Dutch, except when he is speaking to the French people in the story, and he also actually spoke some English, if I am remembering the letters correctly. (He taught in England for a while.)

Such are the problems with a Universal Translator.

Of course, if he was hearing Amy in English, then that would explain the 'For Amy' rather than having to resort to said translator!

He taught in England for a while.

Oh, yes, good point. I was forgetting that -

I also found this episode surprisingly enjoyable, mostly (I suspect) down to Tony Curran's remarkable portrayal of Vincent. I'm still not convinced by Matt Smith, but, yes, kindness is a feature of both the Doctor and Amy, and that's nice.

I particularly liked the very brief reference to Rory and Vincent's recognition of Amy's loss.

And I admit my eyes got a bit leaky at the end.

I'm still not convinced by Matt Smith

What more do you want?!?!!

Personally I think that Matt Smith is the best Doctor of the newWho series so far.

So am I - but I think a lot of it is to do with how much one was invested in Tennant (I wasn't at all - in fact, I disliked Ten) or Eccleston (who I did like, but not as much as I like Smith.)

but I think a lot of it is to do with how much one was invested in Tennant

I thought he was great to begin with. But eventually him saying "youuu huuuumannns are just briiiilliiiant" all the time got to be a bit wearing...

Matt Smith just doesn't quite convince me, yet. I was so hoping I'd really take to him quickly. I think (for me) he lacks gravitas. I don't quite get that 'old soul in a young body' thing. I preferred David Tennant and _much_ preferred Chris Eccleston. Matt Smith's occasional 'I'm getting too old' lines don't make up for the slightly gawky 'gauche youth' aspect of his portrayal. I'm still willing to be convinced, but it's taking longer than I expected.

Re lil shepherd's comment about investment: Yes I was mightily invested in Tennant after four years, but I still preferred the way Eccleston managed the 'war-damaged doctor' character. I'd have loved to see him play another season.

The words that the scriptwriters put into the characters' mouths (whether 'Fantastic' or 'You humans are just brilliant' or 'I'm getting too old for this') are only part of it.

Well, it was a Richard Curtis script. [grin]

Opinion appears divided as to whether it strayed into sentimentality - I think it managed (just) to avoid it.

It was sentimental, but not too sentimental. I think the balance was just right. Yes the script was brilliant. Please can they get Richard Curtis instead of Chris Chibnall from now on.

Reading this sort of put it in place for me, and you're right, the character-y bits did win the whole thing. I found the monster fairly weak, but the stuff around it was brilliant.

Though the music at the end was way too much, (Yes, we get it. This is a moving moment. Please learn to be subtle.), the whole bit from Paris onwards was beautiful.

Special mention for "Ultimate Ginger"

The background music for the new Dr Who has been a source of complaint for a long time. However, no-one at the Beeb is listening...

The choirs in the first episode were a pain, but I haven't been angered by any other than those two. I was introduced to Dr Who w/Hollywood orchestras, I suppose it rankles less.

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