Vincent and the Doctor: SPOILERS!!!!

Idiom's picture

Idiom - Posted on 05 June 2010

Well that was just stunning! Beautiful and moving and caring and touching. OK the monster story wasn’t up to much but this was about monsters of another kind. Those internal, terrible demons that afflict a fair few of us at one time or other in our lives. Those monsters which try to suck the very joy from our lives, try to make us stay in bed and forget the beauty of the world around outside. And it’s here that the focus of the story really is – how our own humanity and sense of beauty and worth can help us combat these things.

I was truly moved by this episode. Richard Curtis did a great job. The last ten minutes of this were simply some of the best Doctor Who that I’ve ever seen. And what’s better: my eight-year-old  daughter immediately took down a book about Van Gogh to read it. Almost fifty years on and the original mission statement going strong. I loved it. 10 out of 10.


odessasteps's picture


pretty heady stuff for a kids show.


I have to admit, I kind of expected Amy to shag Van Gogh, but I doubt Moffat would want his companion sleeping around (especially with a historical figure).


Glad we also had some small moments tying into the big narrative.

"Rory" "I'm not the marrying type."


As Idiom says above, the part with the parrot head monster was irrelevant and, to be perfectly honest, I was ready to switch it off. I'm glad I didn't because the last twenty minutes or so were one of the finest Doctor Who sequences ever.

The Doctor having the compassion to take Vincent into the future to hear how he is revered today YET STILL KNOWING HE WOULD KILL HIMSELF! was a fantastic touch. I was half expecting, like Amy, to see a gallery full of more paintings.

I can see myself returning to this story time and again. Best story of the season thus far!!!

Paul S.Mabley B.Sc.(Hons), MA

South Shields, England / Kitchener, Ontario

Skaroth's picture

Simply so much more than a viewing experience - brilliant!  I watched this in what started out to be a room full of people talking ..... by the end ALL were transfixed to the TV - freaking awesome!

Idiom's picture

I forgot to mention in my original posting that the ending to Vincent does resemble the ending to the Witch Hunters novel (which I thoroughly recommend if anybody has the chance). It was probably the part which I was least sure of in the book but works so well here.

Have seen only the first 20 min and the last 6. I must say the acting (except for Karen, but she's passable, the best we're going to get from her I think) is very, very good. The plot is a good one but again I can see what others say about the comedy overhshadowing any true tension: Amy scares the Doctor, going out just afater a girl got ripped apart and just because Amy got bored; the Doc does a very unfunny turn against an invisible monster who's not there and looks really stupid thanks to that; there's quips and puns and really no tension against which to play them. Add to that no real Doc/Amy relationship to speak of AND a bunch of scraps from better stories: SHAKESPEARE CODE, FIRES OF POMPEII, the Agatha  Christie story, UNQUIET DEAD, and maybe even LAZURUS EXPERIMENT (which wasn't as good but had that monster that was better) and you have a very unoriginal story that tries really hard. Add to all of that, the emotions about Gogh are forced and not really very touching to be honest. And another man hurt by Amy and who even kills himself. The story I've seen thus far isn't terrible but to be honest, it's not very different original or thought provoking either. The show had to do better and it's not really.


11th Hour: 1.10

Beast Below: 0.10

Victory of the Daleks 3/10

Time of the ANgels 10/10

Flesh and Stone 0/10

Vampires of Venice 10/10

Amy's Choice 10/10

Hungry Earth 9/10

Cold Blood 6/10

thus far VINCENT and the Doctor 4,5, or 6 out of ten


I feel like we've been cheated out of a story in this episode :-/  I'm repeatedly amazed to find people praising it...


If you go back and watch the episode again, pay attention to what is actually going on.  Nothing makes sense.  The "monster" was a horrible gimick that had nothing to do with what the episode was actually about - it was just thrown in there as an excuse.  Nothing tied together correctly.  And though I'll even admit, I got teary-eyed when *SPOILER* the Doctor took Van Gogh to see his art exibition, *END* the emotional hook was an ultimately inadequate savior of a pointless narrative.


I think if people watch it again, and look for the actual story, the general opinion of this particular episode will go down...

Dalzo's picture

If ever there was a case for Doctor Who going back and having the odd purely historical story then this was it. The thing with this episode is that the main storyline was about Van Gogh and the monster storyline felt like a means of getting to Vincent as opposed to the main meat of the story. Up until the last fifteen minutes this was a fairly standard runaround with a fairly unimpressive monster and a fairly subtle subtext regarding mental illness. I would have much preferred the production team to have taken the bold step of removing the monster completely and doing a tale where Vincent and his mental illness were the main thrust of the story. It could have been very interesting and, yes, educational. Although I don't think that we could go back to 1963 and have every other story be a purely historical, one or two episodes a season would be nice and may even be a way of saving some CGI budget for other monsters in the season (some of them have looked a little ropey this year) Speaking of the monster, I was relieved that the it was blind because there were several moments when I was shouting at the screen that it should have killed the Doctor (when he was running with his mirror device down those small streets) but this was actually explained.

So, for the first three quarters of this episode I was looking at my watch feeling rather apothetical towards this story. Then, the monster slain, Richard Curits could finally turn all his attention to Van Gogh and it suddenly became a wonderful, beautiful insight into the mans mind and how he may have viewed the World. The scene where the three of them were lying looking up at the stars and you see Van Gogh's painting start to form was breathtaking and the scenes where the Doctor and Amy took him to see the relevance his work has had on the World were unashamedly sentimental but that is no bad thing (and it allowed us to come back to Bill Nighy who whose character was brief, but wonderful!) and actually something which was more prevelant in RTD's era and slightly missing in this season.

Karen Gillan has come into some criticism on these forums but I actually don't think it is her acting that has put people off, I think it is her character that people are not liking. I actually know a couple of Scottish women who actually speak (with their eyes) and behave just like Amy so I find her acting believable. Although I can see why some may not like her character I am fortunate not to find her annoying at all. Maybe for the reason stated above.

Matt Smith has fully settled into the role now. I am slightly worried that he may have nowhere else to go so I am hoping that they will try to continue to evolve his character a little bit which, admittedly, is very difficult to do with the Doctor. However, before the beginning of the season Matt Smith promised that his Doctor would continue to change and grow throughout the season and he has. He started out speaking lines which were very suited to Tennant's Doctor but that certainly isn't the case now. His characterisation of the Doctor is very much his own now but I hope that his evolution will continue with every season!

I really, really want to give this a 5/5 because of the final fifteen minutes but I can't. The monster storyline was just too weak and unnecessary and as I stated above, I would have preferred the whole episode to have focussed on Van Gogh. It would definately have deserved a 3/5 but that protracted ending pushed it out of the average mold so a 4/5 seems right.

Yet ANOTHER strong entry to the season... Unbelievable!!!

odessasteps's picture


not sure why people would want a kid's show to spend an hour examining the mental illness of a famous historical person.


One can imagine the complaints to the BBC from parents about "good old Doctor Who" suddenly being about depression and suicide.


While the monster design/FX were not super, I don't think that was the point.

Dalzo's picture

It is quite possible for a childrens show to cover topics such as mental illness in a sensitive, enjoyable and educational way. Programmes like Grange Hill (a british childrens programme) dealt with this subject as well other important issues. It would have all depended on how they chose to do it. It would just have been a matter of setting the right tone, it could still have had humour and obviously could have had the beauty we saw towards the end of the episode. Maybe the "monsters" could have been representation for Van Gogh's illness. Either way, there is no reason why it would have had to have been a depressing 45 minutes. In fact, Doctor Who's sixth serial "The Aztecs" dealt with the subject of religion and human sacrifice, hardly a light hearted subject yet was an amazing story and was completely aimed at children!

My point is, that it seemed to me that Richard Curtis was far more interested in the character of Van Gogh than he was in writing about a monster. He basically said this on the "Confidential". So, instead of not wholly committing to the monster story maybe he should have focussed on what truly interested him. That way, instead of only having 15 minutes of exceptional Doctor Who, we could have had a full 45. As Doctor Who used to be a show with purely historical stories (and classic stories at that) where the TARDIS crew encountered real life people from history (such as "Marco Polo and Richard the Lionheart), I would have quite like to have seen a return to this format for this story as opposed to shoe-horning in an unnecessary monster!

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Either the continuity folks at the BBC are doing a terrible job this year, or one of the final stories of the season has to explain why Amy is behind the Doctor in one shot, but in front of him when the camera angle changes.

This whole series feels like we are having very short (30 min) stories with 10 min epilogues slapped on the end. Either about the cracks in time, Amy trying to get her rocks off, or in this case the inner turmoil of Vincent V G (and possible Amy trying to get her rocks off with him - She's not too fussy on a week to week basis).

Why does a Dutch guy have a Scottish accent??

Overall, a passable if a little brief this week. 3.5/5. Might have been nice if the monsters had been the Reaper's from "father's day', as I had thought they were in the trailer. Time was being interfered with after all.

Does this season have a Doctor light episode? Next week perhaps? Gavin and Amy?

Dalzo's picture

There won't be a "Doctor-Lite" this year as this production team did not need to film last years Christma Special meaning they only filmed thirteen episodes instead of fourteen. As they ARE doing a Christmas Special this year I assume there will be a "Doctor-Lite" episode next year. Like the "Gavin and Amy" joke, though!!!

One of the better stories this year so far.

- I agree with others that the monster in the story was pretty much a non-factor.  If they wanted us to believe that it was behind VVG's insanity and "demons", then it doesn't make sense that his life would've still ended in the same manner having defeated the monster.

- The scene at the end where VVG overhears the museum tour guide sing his praises was easily the best part of the episode.  It's hard not to get emotional while you see VVG react to the guide's response.

- Amy was tolerable this episode.  Doc11 and VVG did most of the talking so she was left with more of a minor role.

3.5 out of 5 for me.

Karen left with a minor role? DIdn't really feel that this ep but then again it may be why I feel she did a better job this time out. She's an awful actress. Anyway saw the rest and give it a 7 out of 10. I wanted to feel an 8 out of 10 but really didn't. The male leads give it their all and do a great job of acting, the story has its moments. I would have probably given it a ten out of ten if it had a semi happy ending: if the Doc's talk to the alien made it stop attacking, if he and Amy moved to the TARDIS to try to reunite it with its pack and Van Gogh follows...AND they find the aliens are now in the future, peace makers. One happy ending would be nice esp in DW...but as it stands it is just a routine monster in the past/historical person type ep with moments of greatness detailing his insanity...or whatever that was, depression.

A relatively innocent and grossly under-developed "monster" is killed as an excuse to talk about mental issues.  Bottom line, if you feel the need to announce a depression help line after your Doctor Who episode airs, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

Dr. Solar's picture

the episode would have been a bit better if they explained the monster more.

maybe it would have been better without the monster and just had been about van gogh's troubles but i think that would be too deep for doctor who.

but the best part was at the end when the doctor takes him to 2010 and shows him how people consider him one of the greatest artists ever.

that happened to a lot of writers & artists, there work didn't receive wide acclaim until after they passed away and they never got to see the mark they left.

Man Of The Atom

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