Saturday, May 08, 2010

My Review of Doctor Who's 5x06: "The Vampires Of Venice"

Written by Toby Whithouse
Directed by Jonny Campbell

The Doctor (to vampire girls): “Tell me the whole plan! One day that’ll work.”

You would think with Being Human under his belt that writer Toby Whithouse would’ve had his fill with vampires but it seems that he can’t get enough of them and now they’re invading the world of the Doctor and not for the first time either.

As with werewolves and witches in the new series, the vampires that we were given this episode were not just going to be straight up vampires. Nothing is ever really allowed to be supernatural in this show, there always has to be an alien undercurrent to it and with the vampires here, they’re alien.

But the fun of thinking that we’re dealing with straight up vampires isn’t shattered too early in the story, though as a long time viewer, I was trying to guess the moment it would be announced that the vampires under Rosanna Calvierri would be identified as aliens. I was about maybe five or six minutes off from my estimation.

So, Venice – it’s as good a location as any for alien vampires (or fish aliens to be precise) and it might have been a bit too on the head had this been Transylvania as well. Besides the goal for Venice was a romantic one. The Doctor wanted to give Amy and Rory a romantic present. Venice was the place to go and for Rory, it’s definitely an eye opener.

With the last two episodes, the dynamic with the Doctor, River and Amy proved yet again that two companions is actually a perfect mix for the Doctor. Of course, his method of getting Rory on board could’ve been a bit better. I laughed when he jumped out of the cake but I did a face palm when he told Rory that Amy was a good kisser as well. Seriously, Doctor, did you have to?

The fact that Rory didn’t clobber the Doctor in front of his mates showed a good level of self-restraint but this was also an episode that was going out of it’s way to show viewers as to why Rory deserved to be a companion. You could also draw some much obvious parallels to him and Mickey as well if you want.

Rory had massive issues with Amy’s travelling with the Doctor and at one point in the episode, he did want to have it out with the Doctor over the kiss but he also knew when and where to help in a crisis as well. Particularly when it came to the vampires/fish aliens of this episode.

While Amy was running after Francesco, Rory was busy tending to see the girl that he tried to bite from. Similarly when the Doctor got himself electrocuted, Rory made sure to check that he was still breathing. Good to see Rory’s compassionate side and nursing being used in this episode. Almost makes me miss Martha Jones a bit.

However while Rory was good in that department, he certainly wasn’t happy with the idea of Amy going undercover at the Calvierri school to try and learn more about the menace of the week. He predicted something bad would happen to Amy and it very nearly did when Rosanna quickly worked out that she was being sent in as a spy.

You have to admire Amy’s determination. It was stupid to go in there after Francesco had seen both her and Rory hours earlier but it didn’t stop her from doing it nonetheless. There was also some good humour too when Amy decided to give Rosanna’s offer of 10,000 husbands a miss in favour of the one she’ll soon have. Atta girl, Amy.

As for the vampires in their pure form – they didn’t really look like fish to me so I was glad that we didn’t see much of them that way, even when the perception filters were beginning to stop working for them but as villains, it definitely was reminiscent of baddies we’ve had before but with much more depth added to them.

Rosanna chose the Earth to snag as many female suitors for her children as possible because there was nowhere else for her race to live. Her world was gone and she didn’t seem to at first want world domination, even if she was stealing girls and using rumours of the plague to scare the locals.

Also in an odd twist, the Doctor didn’t offer her an alternative, even after she considered the idea of a partnership with him. Maybe there weren’t any other planets he could offer her or had the right to but it definitely stood. Rosanna only seemed to go to extremes to prolong her race’s survival when he refused to help her.

Helen McCrory was a good casting choice for the role of Rosanna. Certainly one of the best female villains we’ve had in a while, her scenes with the Doctor were also the best. Rosanna did herself no favours by throwing Gallifrey’s destruction in the Doctor’s face and she definitely doomed herself by not remembering Isabella, the girl whose death she ordered halfway through the episode.

However when Rosanna chucked herself into the water towards the end of the episode, her parting words certainly stung the Doctor hard. He did look sorrowful that another species was wiped out but more importantly, it was the talk of silence and cracks that really began to worry him.

A key moment in this episode was having Rory oblivious to the silence, which surely has to be as alarming as Amy’s ignorance of the Daleks. Does Rory remember that invasion or is he also blissfully unaware of it as well? The Doctor better ask him soon because we’re nearing the halfway point of the season and already the Doctor’s had a bellyful of monsters telling him about the cracks, silence falling and the Pandorica.

Personally I have to admit that this approach to the arc is a bit refreshing. It’s just now we need to see the Doctor tackle it more head on and sort of let Rory in on it too. I genuinely believed the Doctor when he told Rory that he didn’t want him and Amy to drift apart, hence the Venice trip but I also want him to be honest about everything else as well.

Another noteworthy thing about this episode as well was Amy’s attitude towards Rory. She went from being slightly apprehensive about the Doctor’s motives for bringing him on board to being in love with the idea of travelling in time and space with the two most important men of her life. Amy Pond, it looks like for a while you might get to have your cake and eat it.

Also in “The Vampires Of Venice”

I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was a little disappointed that Arthur Darvill didn’t get his name in the opening credits.

The Doctor (re Amy): “Now then, Rory, we need to talk about your fiancé. She tried to kiss me. Tell you what though, you’re a lucky man, she’s a great kisser.”

Rory showed zero surprise once inside the TARDIS, annoying the Doctor in the process. Also, like Mickey, Rory’s been doing some studying since 2008.

The Doctor: “I owe him a chicken.”
Rory: “You owe Casanova a chicken?”
The Doctor: "Long story, we had a bet."

Rory: “Did you miss me?”
Amy: “I knew I’d be coming back.”
Rory (re the Doctor): “He was right. It blocks out everything else.”

About five years ago, David Tennant played Casanova, so the reference will undoubtedly please a lot of Tenth Doctor fans.

Vampire Girls: “I’ll ask you again, senior, who are you?”
The Doctor: “Why don’t you check this out?”

Francesco: “Have we met?”
Rory: “Just got one of those faces.”
Francesco: “I wasn’t talking to you.”
Rory (re Amy): "She's got the same face because she's my sister."

Francesco was played by Confidential narrator, Alex Price who also appeared in the first season of Toby Whithouse’s Being Human as Gilbert.

Rory (re Amy): “You said she kissed you?”
The Doctor: “Now? You want to do this now?”

Rory (re portable sunlight): “Yours is bigger than mine.”
The Doctor: “Let’s not go there.”

Funnily enough while both Amy and Rory wore 16th century costumes at different points in the episode (while Guido wore Rory’s stag jumper), neither of them did any cod accents for the Doctor to reprimand them on.

Rory (to the Doctor): “You know what's dangerous about you? It’s not that you make people take risks, it’s that you make them want to impress you. You make it so they don't want to let you down. You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you're around.”

Amy: “And if I survive?”
Rosanna: “Then there are 10,000 husbands waiting for you in the water.”
Amy: “Yeah sorry, I’m kind of engaged.”

Rosanna’s throne was the source for the generator to change the living conditions for her kind on Earth as well as that creepy bell tower as well. I loved the William Hartnell appearance on the library card as well.

Rosanna: “Your question?”
The Doctor: “Why can’t we see your big teeth?”

The Doctor: “The people upstairs are very noisy.”
Guido: “There aren’t any people upstairs.”
The Doctor (to Amy/Rory): “I knew you were going to say that. Did anyone else know he was going to say that?”

Rory definitely wins awards for serious dorkiness with the love heart picture of him and Amy on his stag shirts and the comedy fight scene with him and Francesco.

The Doctor: “Rosanna, please help me. There are 200,000 people in this city.”
Rosanna: “So save them.”

Rory: “You stink of fish.”
Francesco: “Well I’m hardly gonna smell of cheese and biscuits.”

Why didn’t Amy actually help Rory when he was taking on Francesco? Wait, a minute my bad, she killed him with sunlight as well giving Rory that kiss.

The Doctor: "I told you, you can't go back and change time. You mourn and you live. I know Rosanna, I did it."
Rosanna: "Tell me, Doctor, can you conscience carry the weight of another dead race? Remember us. Dream of us."

Amy: “Hey, look at this. I’ve got my spaceship, I've got my boys. My work here is done.”
Rory: "Pfft, we are not her boys."
The Doctor: "Yeah we are."
Rory: "Yeah we are."

The trailer for next week certainly seems to be a big one for Amy. After all, the episode is named after her. And this one was filmed in Croatia rather than Venice itself.

It’s episodes like “The Vampires Of Venice” that make me glad to be a Doctor Who fan because while there’s some serious shit ahead, this is a show that knows how to have some bloody fun. The ‘vampires’ might not look all that great in their original form but they’re a fantastic menace and while Rory raises more than obvious comments about the dangers of the Doctor, there are times when he still managed to find himself swept up in the excitement as much as the Doctor and Amy.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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