Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Blogtor Who Top 50 - No. 7

Here it is! Blogtor's personal countdown of his 50 favourite Doctor Who television stories, one a week till the big day in November 2013. Now, just to point out, this choice is purely my own. So don't expect reasoned debate or objectivity. Or even the need to please every fan out there. This is my list, and I stand by it. I will also add that I've seen every Doctor Who story released (at least twice), so I feel like I know what I'm talking about. Anyway, enough chittle of the chattle, let's begin...

VINCENT AND THE DOCTOR
First broadcast 5/6/10 starring Matt Smith

Regardless of whether or not you agree that Van Gogh, the titular Vincent of this tale, is the "greatest artist of all time" I think by the end of this episode everyone fell in love with the man, if not his paintings.

Richard Curtis, a new boy to Who when he wrote this (and, to date, hasn't returned, sadly) demonstrated, with some supreme style, just how powerful Doctor Who can be. Just how funny, compelling and, ultimately, heart-breaking time travel can be. I don't mind admitting that I teared up with some severity during Vincent and the Doctor - a testament to both the writing and the actors involved.

Tony Curran (also magnificent in Red Road if you haven't seen it) pulls off the artist and his mental issues immaculately - which, considering this is a "tea~time family" show is no mean feat. For example, the scene where we find Van Gogh face down on his bed crying will scare you more than any of the aliens and monsters The Doctor has previously faced in his many adventures across space and time.

It's not handled lightly either, his depression forms a significant part of the plot and is addressed head on, as it were. And the ongoing repercussions from the previous story (Cold Blood, which saw the "end" of Rory) are felt in a very real and meaningful way. But, being a Curtis invention, there's laughs to be had too. Matt Smith, as always, is delightful (though does have to face a few demons himself, saying, "Sometimes winning is no fun at all") with some wonderful physical manoeuvring and verbal dexterity (inviting himself to stay with the artist is high~larious).

The first scenes with Van Gogh meeting Amy and The Doctor are also particularly amusing and we find Curtis' Provence full of regional accents and a wonderful excuse for the artist's "accent." And the writer finds time to stick in a cowboy motif with Gallifrey's finest stating that he's "new in town" whilst later on Van Gogh appropriates his iconic hat, easel and brushes like he stepped out of a Spaghetti Western. And it's got Bill Nighy! Just witness his bow tie~based interaction with Matt - sublime.

Karen Gillan is at her best too and, like her co-stars, has much to think upon - both in happiness and sadness. There's light touches from her (the sunflower scene and in the Krafayis attack) but it's in the final moments where Amy Pond really shines as the heartbreak we're all feeling comes through on screen. It's an engaging, tearful moment.

The set design and direction are by some stretch the finest this in the season; from Van Gogh's bedroom to the various attacks of the "invisible" monster (the "monster" being a very small, though interesting, part of this story) and some striking point-of-view shots; in particular, the scene where the trio are lying on the ground staring into the sky; a gorgeous scene, again showing us that Doctor Who can be very different every now and again.

Vincent and the Doctor includes a number of incredibly difficult choices for everyone's favourite Gallifreyan, questioning the very nature of time travel and the results of his "meddling" (even questioning his use of the sonic!). Crucially, however, this is a story about one man, Vincent Van Gogh, and his pain. There's no happy end in that sense, Curtis is clever enough to show that "bad things" happen to good people.

Though this is certainly an emotionally-fueled forty~five minutes or so we do also get the "good things", thankfully, resulting in one of the most memorable and beautiful outings for The Doctor and his companion. Memorable and beautiful, just like a Van Gogh painting itself.

See Nos. 50-8 HERE

 

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I can't agree, due to three simple words: giant invisible chicken.

Anonymous said...

Nice story and very emotional. But the way the writer messed up VanGogh's timeline and even geography of his last couple of years put me off a bit. I know it's just a TV show and everything is famously 'timey-wimey' but it was really distracting. On the other hand I realize that very few people know when and where Vincent painted the pictures we see in the episode (or really care)...

ailaG said...

Photo from Cardiff at a filming location :)

When I was there I took a few like this one with the iPad, inspired by the Angels Take Manhattan ones people took in New York. This one is from this fantastic episode.

First Matt Smith episode I saw (apart from End of Time II). I'm a late bloomer when it comes to Doctor Who.