Season 31, Episode 6 – The Vampires Of Venice, by Toby Whithouse

May 10, 2010

Oh Flying Spaghetti Monster, this episode was really annoying! I’m afraid that, after a terrific start, we’re in another of those mid-season slumps.

I can’t really find much to say about Vampires, although I’ll do my best.

The Doctor’s reasons for dragging Rory along on a date with Amy seem a little stupid – if it’s a date, why does he go with them? I mean, three’s a crowd, right? The current BBC love of crowbarring modern English colloquialisms and language structure into drama-pieces set centuries ago and in other countries is here in spades (especially in the scene with that guy who checked the Doctor’s papers), while Rosanna is just another of those slightly over-intense-but-civilised villainesses who enjoy wearing low-cut dresses/figure-hugging tops. The series keeps coming up with ladies like that, just ask Dervla Kirwan and Sarah Lancashire. And the concept of vampire fish is… well, it’s just plain silly. Why not call them piranhas instead of vampires, and then avoid all contact with Hammer Horror parodies? It’s not like the series is especially good at them is it?

Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are both at their absolute worst here, irritating like a tropical skin disease. Rory meanwhile is just a personality-clone of Mickey Smith, as he had been in Rose; a stereotype feckless, hanger-on boyfriend. Like Mickey before him, Rory has been made to look so tedious and cowardly that the audience comes to think it’s perfectly fine that Amy has decided to run off on her wedding night and have adventures and a night of getting jiggy with a strange man. No doubt, also like Mickey, Rory will gradually transform into a dynamic, tough super-hero figure as he journeys in the TARDIS. No original ideas, please, we’re British. The rest of the cast are largely in “we-know-this-is-rubbish-please-forgive-our-self-conscious-embarrassment” plank mode.

One major headache with watching NuWho that has carried on into this season is smugness. The rebooted series has always been – even back in the Eccleston season before the popular mania had started up – much too pleased with itself, with a suffocating air of, “We’re brilliant all the time, and if you don’t agree you’re just watching us wrong, or you’re too hetero to have a sense of humour!” This smugness has generally gotten worse year on year, and if anything, it’s worse than ever this year, even in the really good episodes early on. With all the silly quips and “Oh-gosh-aren’t-we-funny?!?” stagey delivery of lines, The Vampires Of Venice is possibly the worst episode of Dr Who I have ever seen for having too high an opinion of itself, all the more aggravating in that the usual answer is, “No, you’re not funny, you’re a bunch of smug tossers.”

The plot itself is another of those aimless runarounds, while the resolution just made me go, “Uh?” I mean… what exactly happened? The Doctor messes around with a bit of clockwork gear and then… the storm turns off? Uh?

Ah well. I’ll be kind and give it 4/10, although I’m not sure why, as I didn’t enjoy it any more than last week’s cock-up, and I gave that a 3.

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