Sunday, 6 June 2010

Vincent And The Doctor

This was an excellent comeback for the series after the quality dip of last week. It had a good monster, who was't what it seemed. It gave Matt Smith's Doctor weird gadgets for him to have fun with while running away from a monster, and some nice moments of Doctor boredom as he studies the painting of a masterpiece with palpable impatience. Best of all it had Van Gogh, a tortured genius who can see an invisible monster.

Tony Curran was terrific as Van Gogh, depressed but not over-doing it, still human and focused enough to be a credible painter. He played well off the leads and never begged for sympathy. The episode, like an earlier story The Unquiet Dead (with a dying Charles Dickens) gave enough monster moments for a Dr Who story but was primarily focused on character beats, a dying genius meeting an eccentric immortal time lord and his companion, then developing be the story of famous man who is losing his way. Now this can go wrong. The Tennant era, for all its good points, never got the famous character type of story right, only Moffat's The Girl In The Fireplace ever truly working, and that one wasn't quite as good as The Unquiet Dead or this one. When underplayed it can be a moving story. The people involved got the tone here perfectly.

Of course it was the Richard Curtis script. Famous from Blackadder and comic relief, his script was a lot more dramatic than expected. What was good about it is that it played fair with the audience, keeping the story simple, on the people, had plot points that were developed properly and made sense, and had a wonderfully slight, short story feel.

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