Sunday 6 June 2010

Vincent and the Doctor

The Doctor and Amy meet Vincent Van Gogh and an invisible monster.

This is not an historical Doctor Who story, it is an episode about an historical character. As it is all focused on one character, there is not a huge room for much of a plot or for other characters and this is reflected in the quality of the story.

Before you get halfway through this story, you know what is going to happen. The Doctor and Amy meet Vincent Van Gogh, they will confront a monster, Vincent Van Gogh will be saved and as you might guess, they show him his future greatness. Not much room there for an interesting story. No room for us to see the Doctor dealing with an impossible situation and interacting with a range of characters. With the one-story episode format, it is inevitable that you get pithy stories like this. Maybe on some level this works, but it does not feel like classic Doctor Who. Particularly irritating was the Doctor's inability to defeat the monster. It weakens his character too much.

Although the scene with Van Gogh being taken to the art museum to see his own work being celebrated was quite moving, it was all horribly sentimental. It seems that Van Gogh brings out everybody's sentimental side.

I find it difficult to see Van Gogh as the greatest artist ever, as this story seems to advocate. I think a good deal of the enthusiasm for Van Gogh is rather infantile. He is an artist who appeals to the juvenile tastes of the times.

Tony Curran does a decent enough job of portraying the tortured artist. Its nice to see Doctor Who dealing with mental illness in a sensitive way.

I am a little bothered by the Doctor's conclusion that the face in the picture must be 'evil.' Since when has the Doctor put so much stock on appearances? The monster is one of the better monsters of the new series. I am just bothered that the Doctor could not come up with a way to foil it.

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