Well that was rather magnificent, wasn't it?
The Doctor and Vincent (and Amy).
Finally a true stand-out story this season. Can we have Richard Curtis as head writer please?
The director done good too. Well done Jonny Campbell.
One can forgive the tiny production flaws when there's so much good stuff on show. Gags that work (I laughed very loudly at least twice, and chortled some more times), a reasonable stab at hinting at the nature of depression as much as one probably can in a 40-minute action serial for kids, and a truly great, sometimes astonishing acting performance from the guest male lead. It was all there in the script - but it was a very demanding script, especially that last scene with Bill Nighy which could have been truly bathetic in the hands of a lesser actor than Tony Curran.
The actor playing The Doctor was excellent too, but then that should be a given in a long-running series.
Even though I've drunk nothing stronger than a cup of tea, I cried. (Long before the 2010 scene, in fact; I shed a manly tear at how good it was before VvG entered the TARDIS). Not at the dead monster though - that was a bit silly; presumably that was for the kids watching.
Can't wait to see this one again. The Radio Times review was spot on (though I didn't mind the music in the 2010 scenes):
Oh and we finally got the ultimate ginger joke, hopefully laying to rest the "anti ginger agenda" imagined slight which led to so many complaints to the BBC.
The Radio Times review was spot on (though I didn't mind the music in the 2010 scenes):
Doctor Who Saturday 05 June
6:40pm - 7:30pm
10/13 - Vincent and the Doctor
They're both passionate visionaries, hopeless romantics and explorers of starry nights, so it was only a matter of time before the Doctor met Vincent van Gogh. Their scenes together are a delight in Richard Curtis's elegant tale as Amy and the Doctor visit 1890 Provence to meet the great painter (played by Tony Curran) and try to track down the bete noire that troubles him. Curran's Scottish burr is an initial surprise, but his casting turns out to be a masterstroke: his performance as the tormented artist gives the story a strong heart and focus. Despite one inadvisable soft-rock number on the soundtrack, Vincent and the Doctor is a beauty. A Bill Nighy cameo and crisp gags add to the fun, and the way familiar scenes - the humble digs, cobbled streets and cornfields - come alive is extremely cute. In particular, the moment the Provencal night sky swirls into Vincent vision is a magical series highlight.
Radio Times reviewer - Mark Braxton
VIDEO Plus+: 933563
Subtitled, Widescreen, High definition, Audio-described
Episode written by Richard Curtis
Simulcast on BBC HD
The Doctor - Matt Smith
Amy Pond - Karen Gillan
Vincent - Tony Curran
Maurice - Nik Howden
Mother - Chrissie Cotterill
Waitress - Sarah Counsell
Schoolchildre - Morgan Overton, Andrew Byrne
Directed by: Jonny Campbell
Another nice touch is that the church-painting was set between 1-3 June, so this week is its anniversary, and 3 June was my birthday, so this episode made a superb birthday present this week. Thank you Mr Curtis!
Heck, I don't even rate Van Gogh that much as a painter, but this made me interested enough to want to know the history. What any good historical should do, right back to "The Aztecs".
It was considered "cheesy" (by some fan forums posters) how the BBC recreated some of the paintings in sets and direction, but to be honest I loved it, as I also did when they did that on some of those TV adverts back in the 90s with various paintings "coming to life" or recreated for the camera. This episode (and perhaps more so, the "Dr Who Confidential" on BBC3 afterwards) definitely made the 'magic' in Van Gogh's paintings more apparent to me. Unlike mostmodern art, especially Jackson Pollock style "abstract" art, I can see the appeal of impressionism and why it started to change the then-received wisdom of representational painting.
The fan forums have expressed concerns over changes to VVG's life story, for instance many don't think the mental illness he suffered from was depression, and there are hints in the episode that he may have been synaesthesic (like the line about "hearing" colours), and presumably the STD he was meant to be suffering from couldn't fit into a teatime show, but anyway I did like the episode's portrayal of the man (necessarily sketched in "broad strokes"). It's nicer than making him the butt of comedy in shows like "QI", in our oh-so-enlightened times. But see my next post for a rant about that...
Personally, I think Van Gogh was depressive - his letters certainly give that impression - but we can never know. People who complain about something that is that open to interpretation are on very uncertain ground and a screenwriter may choose which interpretation he or she pleases.
If you are going to complain about the liberties with real history, there are plenty - Van Gogh was not in Arles at that particular time, the Sunflower series were not painted then, the church in the painting is in the North, not in Provence at all and so on...
I just put anything like that down to Dr Who happening in a universe similar to, but not quite the same as our own... for instance, the 1960s stories about Nero and about the OK Corral gunfight are quite different in their details, and there was no UK manned mission to Mars or Jupiter in the 1970s or near-collision with our twin planet in 1986... ;)
Incidentally, if that was 'cheesy' - and there was certainly emotion and possibly sentiment, but it did avoid sentimentality - then I wonder what the complainants thought about that 'orrible episode with Rose's father, or the parting on the beach. *feels sick*.