Doctor Who - The Vampires Of Venice (S05E06) - Episode review
After a disappointing four-episode slump, regular readers of my Doctor Who reviews will be glad to hear that Toby Whithouse's Vampires Of Venice completely turned things around.
This was the crucial storyline that we should have had three episodes ago - the one the brings together The Doctor and Amy and her fiancée Rory. Just like the presence of Mickey Smith as Rose Tyler's boyfriend helped us establish her character, that funny rivalry between Doctor and boyfriend helps us learn so much more about the companion.
We got to see Rory's relationship with Amy, and we got to see how that dynamic was affected by shoehorning The Doctor in. Nice to see that Rory hadn't been idle since the Prisoner Zero incident - he's been reading up on scientific theory, so he's at least aiming to be on an intellectual par with The Doctor.
The much-anticipated "vampires" of the episode title turned out to be nothing more than yer usual "displaced alien race looking for new planet". Which was a bit of a shame, but no way was Doctor Who going to leave us with a supernatural threat when a scientific explanation would have done.
It was still an interesting turn though - from Helen McCrory's matriarch vampire to Alex Price's simpering mummy's boy (the scene where Rory calls the vampire's mother ugly is priceless). And yes, there were similarities between Vampires Of Venice and the Series 3 story The Shakespeare Code: a perceived supernatural threat in a historical period turns out to be alien-based. Basically, just swap witches for vampires.
But that's okay, and we can't criticize, because Doctor Who from time to time recycles old stories. Which is why we have so many of the "base under siege" tales. What matters sometimes is the execution, and Vampires Of Venice succeeds because it's a straightforward storyline, told in a humourous fashion. It finally gives the lead characters a chance to breathe - from The Doctor and Amy's glee at discovering vampires to the wrap-up at the end where Amy invites Rory to join them.
The biggest criticism I can fire at tonight's episode was the CGI at the end was terrible. Just awful. Not a good time to have cheap effects in the week that people are complaining about the cost of flying Matt Smith to Venice for an episode of Doctor Who Confidential.
The high point for me were some fantastic comedy moments: from a 900 year old Gallifreyan popping out of a wedding cake to a Venetian man wearing Rory's stag night t-shirt, there were laughs a-plenty.
Add to that Rory's broomstick fight with Francesco and Amy's rescue, blowing him up by reflecting sunlight on him. Like vinegar on a Slitheen. And of course, The Doctor's hilarious discovery of the vampire girls in the basement while simultaneously retreating was pure comedy gold.
How apt that the creator of Being Human, Toby Whithouse got to write a vampire episode? It was an episode that wasn't terribly hung up on the series arc,, instead giving us a look at our TARDIS-dwelling heroes just hanging out and having fun investigating some weirdness in Venice.
I certainly feel a lot more comfortable with The Doctor and Amy now though. Glad to finally see it! And those previews for Amy's Choice, they look like a lot of fun too! Faith in Doctor Who restored, hoorah!
Quotes from this episode
- Rory's on his stag night. The Doctor pops out of a wedding cake: "Rory! That's a relief! Thought I'd burst out of the wrong cake...again."
- The Doctor bumbles his way through telling him about Amy: Tell you what though...she's a great kisser. Funny how you can say something in your head and it sounds fine...
- The Doctor: Think of it as a wedding present, because frankly it's either this or tokens.
- Rory discovers the downsides of psychic paper: "According to this, I'm your eunuch."
- The Doctor tries the direct route with the villains: "Tell me the whole plan!"
- "Makes you wonder what could be so bad that it doesn't mind you thinking it's a vampire."
- Rory wants to know what happened between The Doctor and Amy: "I'd like to know. I'm getting married in 430 years."
- Rory: "And you kissed her back." The Doctor: "No, I kissed her mouth."
- Rory complains about The Doctor's effect on his companions: "You know what's dangerous about you? It's not that you make people take risks, it's that you make people want to impress you."
- Rosanna: "We ran from the silence. From the cracks. Some were tiny, some were as big as the sky." Remember when the aftermath of the Time War was displaced alien species?
- Rosanna: "I will bend the heavens to save my race, while you...philosophize."
- Rosanna: "One city to save an entire species, was that too much to ask?"