Category Archives: bill nighy
“Vincent and the Doctor” is one of those history episodes of “Doctor Who.” They used to do these all the time way way back in the old days of the show. We’ve had a few in the new series. The recent Dalek adventure in World War II springs to mind, as does the older “Daleks in Manhattan” two-parter, and then there were the episodes with Agatha Christie, Queen Victoria and Shakespeare. This one falls more in line with the historical personage than just standard period piece. The personage in this case is Vincent van Gogh.
Geek that I am, my first exposure to van Gogh was in the Peanuts comic strip – Snoopy had one of his paintings in his doghouse. Later, I learned what a genius the man truly was, even if he was a mad genius. As one of the greatest post-impressionist painters of all time, his work still resonates and affects the art world even today. And yeah, he’s a perfect choice for a character in a Doctor Who episode. Of course his presence in this episode begs one question, is his name pronounced ‘van goff’ or ‘van goh’?
Notable this time out is that “Vincent and the Doctor” is written by Richard Curtis, more famous for Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and one of my favorite films Love Actually. He even brought along one of his favorite actors, Bill Nighy, for a pleasant cameo as a present day van Gogh expert. Good stuff.
Despite the ending of the last episode “Cold Blood,” Amy Pond seems pretty upbeat in this one, but of course she doesn’t remember she lost, or even had, a fiancée. It is a good upbeat though, and there is good chemistry between Amy and the Doctor this time. She is big and flamboyant. I like Amy here. Did Rory really make that much of a difference in her life? There’s a great moment when the panicked Doctor calls Vincent “Rory.” He’s taking Rory’s death harder than the clueless Amy.
The episode is highlighted by many beautiful visual references as well as several bad puns to van Gogh, his life and his work. Amy taunting the artist with sunflowers comes off just as well as Rose trying to get Queen Victoria to say “I am not amused” back in “Tooth and Claw.” The performance of Tony Curran as van Gogh plus the music of Murray Gold produce a perfect shattered portrait of the tortured genius. The music has been notably stunning this season.
The story has the artist, along with our TARDIS crew fighting off a stranded monster, the Krafayis, a miracle of the non-special effects of the invisible – almost a homage to Forbidden Planet at times. Look for inky cameos of the first and second Doctors, along with some frightening moments, and a powerful powerful ending that I won’t spoil.
So until next time, remember… “Sonic never fails.”