Right from the beginning of this episode Vampires of Venice felt like a very traditional Doctor Who historical episode. I consider this a good thing. Rather than start with the Doctor, we were given a little teaser of what the TARDIS was going to land in.
And then it was back to where we left off last week. I loved the Doctor’s entrance in the cake at Rory’s bachelor party. Rory is an interesting character. The obvious comparison is with Mickey, but Rory is much cleverer and more perceptive than Mickey was. Putting aside the comedic aspects of the character, there are several times during this episode where Rory challenges the Doctor.
And the eleventh Doctor reacts very differently to Rory when compared to the 9th’s reaction to Mickey. Not least in the way that he actively encourages Rory to travel with them.
Vampires of Venice was written by Toby Whithouse, who had previously written School Reunion, an episode I loved. He clearly has a handle on the characters and feel of a Doctor Who episode. He also has Being Human to his credit. A show that I haven’t seen but which receives very positive reviews.
This particular episode is not nearly as heavy with story arc relevance as the last couple. In essence it’s a fun stand-alone adventure. But there are a few references to the silence. It’s not perfect but it is fun from beginning to end. There’s some gorgeous imagery throughout the episode and some snappy dialogue:
“Blimey! Fish from space have never been so… buxom”
I loved the little fanboy moment where William Hartnell’s picture appeared on the psychic paper.
Story wise there were a few things that didn’t work though. Once again the episode seemed a little rushed and some scenes jumped about rather abruptly. Isabella’s dialogue in her death scene was kind of unneccessary and unconvincing.
I also have a few nitpicks. Why do people not react when the TARDIS lands right in front of them? Once upon a time the sonic screwdriver didn’t work on physical locks. Now it can even heal people. It’s an easy crutch for writers. Does everyone know about the Time Lords now? Special effects were a mixed bag. The alien itself looked great, but the electrocution and the shots of the Doctor climbing were cheesy.
On the acting front I’m loving Matt Smith’s mannerisms more and more with every episodes. Particularly the scene where he is figuring out what the alien’s plan actually is. This Doctor has poor social skills. Which fits his obvious intellect.
Karen Gillan hit all the right notes this week too. Particularly the expression on her face when the Doctor sends Amy back to the TARDIS.
So all in all this isn’t the knock it out the park success of Time of Angels or Flesh and Stone, but it’s fun from beginning to end.
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