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Review: Vampires in Venice

Vampires in Venice is the sixth episode in 31st Season of Doctor Who.


Have I mentioned that I love the humor of this season of Doctor Who? “Vampires in Venice” sees the Doctor taking Rory and Amy to Venice so they can have a date only to come across a school of what appear to be vampires, only of course they’re really aliens about to destroy Venice. This sixth outing is filled with very funny moments. It’s also not a bad story, capitalizing on the current vogue of vampires but with a twist. Unfortunately, though, the story does fail to combine the rather serious with the frankly hilarious, and the flow doesn’t work.

Let’s start with the funny. I love the humor. It seems like there is more humor being scripted, and more humor within the nature of the characters. Matt Smith’s take on the Doctor, for example, as a slightly klutzy eccentric, physically awkward and socially inept alien makes for a lot of humorous situations. I loved the scene with the Doctor jumping out of the cake at Rory’s stag-do and just making such mess of what he’s trying to do.

Rory and the Doctor together are also a very funny combination. The two look around the same age which leaves the impression that these two are peers, and yet because of the Doctor being so much older, they’re really not. The vibe between the two is of a slight rivalry over Amy, and yet how they are not rivals at all is well played and worked out in this episode – the scene with the torches (flashlights to our American friends) is just classic.

Arthur Darvill is brilliantly cast. He imbues Rory with a physicality that is different to the Doctor’s but no less awkward. Rory is the heir to the Mickey throne though but the key difference this time is that the Doctor is supportive of Rory’s relationship with Amy (perhaps he has -- or maybe the writers have -- learned from the whole Rose-Mickey mess). I loved Rory standing up to the Doctor and to Vamp-Boy. I’m pleased he’s been invited to travel in the TARDIS. I love the old Who where the Doctor had both a male and female companion; it would be nice to see that going forward.

If the boys are naturally funny, so too is Karen Gillan. Her Amy continues to be quirky and fun. She has some great expressions and again, she has a great physicality in the way she plays Amy; twisting her hands, fiddling with her hair. It’s all small touches that add up. Gillan, Darvill and Smith are a great trio.

Obviously, one of the key relationships after the ending of the last episode (Amy trying to kiss the Doctor for those who’ve managed to forget – and I wish I could) is that between the Doctor and Amy. I have to admit that I like that the series is going down the route of Doctor and Amy as friends. However, I’m not thrilled with the way they’ve done it. Why did Amy need to kiss the Doctor at all? And as a grumpy old woman I’m not thrilled with the “it was after a life and death situation and she would have kissed anybody” note either. No. Just No. Way to undermine a brilliantly feisty and vivacious woman who knows her own mind and who would know who it was that she was kissing!

That said, the way that resolution played out wasn’t my only issue with this episode. Really the humor didn’t marry with the death of an entire species at the end of the story, even if it was creepy fish aliens that looked vampires thanks to a whizzy bit of technology. The scenes between the Doctor and Rosanna (Helen McCrory) [Three mentions of whom in this issue is quite bizarre – Ed.] were good, added some nice tension and frisson between the adversaries, but they just seemed completely out of place in an episode otherwise filled with farce and laughter. As a result there are moments where the episode seems to stutter and overall it does end up feeling very disjointed.

I do have to give credit that the story does provide a nice twist on the vampire theme and doesn’t jump completely on the bandwagon of Twilight. I also have to say that the production values of shooting abroad to get a real Venetian feel to the buildings and location is great. Presumably this ate the budget because the Doctor climbing up on the top of the spire to turn off the generator looked as false as the times in the old Batman TV series of the ‘60s when Robin and Bats would climb up a wall and stop mid-way to talk to a random celebrity.

All in all, the episode definitely has its flaws but Gillan, Darvill and Smith are fabulous assets. They really carry the episode through, and make “Vampires in Venice” a very enjoyable romp, even if this is not quite Doctor Who at its best.

Previously published at Geek Speak Magazine.




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