After being trapped in the dark with nasty, malevolent creatures of stone and terror, this week on Doctor Who we’re having a fun little jaunt with The Vampires Of Venice.”
Some very quick thoughts: This is a solid episode, not great, but not a let down or a bore of any kind. After the little entanglement between the Doctor and Amy in her bedroom at the end of last week’s episode, the Doctor pops out of the cake at Rory’s stag party (I do believe we call them “bachelor parties” stateside). It sets the tone nicely and really shows the kind of humor this new version of Doctor Who is all about…
For all the people who’ve said so far that the Steven Moffat era of the show kind of mashes up and echoes and nicks bits and pieces from the RTD era, well… I kind of agree with you now. The Weeping Angels being sucked into the crack at the end of last week’s “Flesh And Stone” was very reminiscent of the Daleks and Cybermen being sucked into the void at the end of “Doomsday.” And “The Vampires Of Venice” (which was filmed in Croatia, by the way) reminded me quite a bit of series 3’s “The Shakespeare Code,” with aliens hiding in Earth’s past, hiding within the human culture’s superstitious nature and their fears of supernatural, mythic creatures (just substitute witches for vampires here)(and weird fish aliens with legs!) while also trying to resurrect their race, fallen to the ravages of the “the silence” and the crack.
It’s not something you need a “perception filter” to see through, but still. And that’s not to say that there’s not innovations, cause there is. Moffat’s is indeed inventive and enthralling and his direction of the story is revealing new facets all the time. In fact, I kind the little glimpses of the formula that’s worked so well here and there, it’s own special take on science fiction despite what Terry Pratchett says, as “The Vampires Of Venice” shows. It’s not a new classic, but it’s good, fun Saturday night TV.
Also, Rory is part of the adventure (at least for a few episodes, and his arrival really puts Amy Pond into more perspective. And I like Rory, but he reminds me of Mickey Smith, who really helped define Rose Tyler for us, and, of course, perplex us even more about her character. The same for Amy here. But I find it fascinating that we actually get less of a character in Rory than we did in Mickey, and I seem to like him more. It’s kind of funny watching him as he accepts his destiny of always being inferior to the Doctor (quicker than Mickey ever did), and still doing things like trying to learn about science and theories after the incident with Prisoner Zero.
Plus, he got not exactly some nice jabs in at the Doctor, but some truth. When Davros revealed to the Doctor “his soul” during “Journey’s End,” it was that the Doctor does alter his companions. He plucks them out of the ordinary world and show them that they’re part of something bigger and huger and more amazing and strange than they could ever image. Plus he shows them that life doesn’t have to be a passive thing, something to be survived until you can’t survive it anymore. You can walk through the universe amazed and you can take the parts you don’t like and try to change them for the better, just as the Doctor does. And so, of course, his companions try to do that. And they try to impress the Doctor. And whenever you struggle to impress someone else, you become a bit of a danger to yourself, don’t you?
But the Doctor will always be the Doctor, won’t he? And Rory will always be a male nurse. And I think his acceptance of that is what makes him much more interesting and admirable. We only need one Doctor and we’ll always need male nurses. I guess.
In fact, if I have a real quibble about this episode, it’s that it’s existence seems solely based on it’s ability to slightly advance the larger plot this scene with the cracks and “the silence.” In fact, “the silence,” which we heard “will fall” in the series opener, is mentioned what feels like a hundred times in this episode. And we’re given a little bit of a glimpse of it. Like all of the arc stories in the nu-Who, we’re peaking at the larger story through little cracks at the series progresses, but it feels like we’ve gotten a lot more of that this series, having already been told that River Song will be back when “the Pandorica opens” at the end of the series. Can’t wait.
Next up: It’s five years later, and the Doctor finds Amy and Rory married, Amy’s pregnant, Rory’s got a douchey ponytail, there’s creepy old people around, and Toby Jones talking about dreamworlds vs. reality…