Friday, 13 July 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 8 - Vincent and The Doctor

What We First Thought: Nice story, with plenty of emotional subtext

There’s a great saying that ‘an artist’s work is only valuable when they’re dead’.  In the case of Vincent Van Gogh, his turbulent life-story probably adds another couple of million to the value of his extraordinary work.  He was an artist who suffered with mental illness in a time that didn’t comprehend the meaning of such.  Vincent and The Doctor just about captures the character of Vincent, thanks in no small part to a great performance by Tony Curran.

Bill Nighy pops up in a cameo role as art expert Dr. Black (not being credited – perhaps because he did it as a favour to his mate Richard Curtis?) He was very good, as he built up a good rapport with The Doctor.  Dare I say that this is a far better role for him than The Doctor, which he was reportedly offered back in 2004? He’s a great actor, but I just don’t believe he’ll be able to relate to an audience like Eccleston did, so I think the right decision was made all round. Nighy is more at home playing the humorous ‘upper class toff’ and every second of his performance in this, was a joy to watch.

The only real criticism I have of this episode was that it seemed to be very slow-moving at times, but yet the story was more-or-less over after 30 minutes.  The lack of a cast probably played a part in this, but we really could have done with a bit more background on the monster (or ‘Space Turkey’ as I like to call it!)  I thought the fact that Vincent was the only one who could see that monster was a nice touch though.  It’s established in the episode that he can ‘see things that people can not’, which can be extended from his ability as an artist, seeing the beauty in anything.  Even Amy!

Although a nice gesture from The Doctor at the end, Amy’s thought that it could have proved a bit risky and would have changed history, proved to be incorrect.  In fact you could say that The Doctor showed Vincent his destiny, giving him the strength to carry on and paint.  What happened next in his life was due to his troubled mind and I think that aspect was handled very delicately.  It’s a bit difficult for a family program to show a story of his real depression and I think it was pitched just right.  The relation between Vincent and the monster was very similar – both alone, both sad, both blind to their true path in life.  Perhaps the downfall of the monster made Vincent realise this?  In fact, this was the first time a Doctor Who episode had a ‘BBC Action Line’ phone number during the credits, so that just shows how seriously they took on the subject.  The scenes with the people at the Café played a part in the subject matter – the death of the girl, although not directly blamed on Vincent, was seen as his fault because ‘he’s mad’.  People often blame things on people they don’t understand and I thought this was a good way of showing viewers that.

Overall, Vincent and The Doctor is a decent episode that touches on an emotional subject, nothing more, and nothing less.

What We Think Now: Nice story, with plenty of emotional subtext. But nothing much else.

Your (5 Word) Reviews

@Mr_Brell: "Bill Nighy is almost watchable"
@backtoblack5:Giant space chicken? what the.....? (Lucky its not a 6 word review)
@AlistairGauld:Amy gets her Sunflowers but...”

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