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Mâvarin and Other Inspirations

A Fantasy Writer's Journal

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NuWho Review Redux: Vincent and the Doctor
Re: Rate / Review "Vincent and the Doctor"

I feel churlish giving this "only" a 9. I absolutely loved it, and was on the edge of tears at the end.

Unusually for me, I don't have much to say about this one yet, even after having watched it three times. The portrayal of Vincent was utterly wonderful, so vulnerable and mercurial and lovable and real. It was thrilling to see all those famous paintings sitting unregarded in the artist's home, and the director, set designers, cinematographers etc. did an amazing job of recreating Van Gogh's Provence, with all the right colors and iconic images. The Starry Night scene, with these three wonderful characters holding hands and the sky transforming above them, was nothing short of magical.

As always when I'm tempted to rate an episode a 10, I looked hard for something flawed or inconsistent, or even something I didn't like. I thought the first time through that there was a problem with compressed time from night to day as the Doctor goes off to his TARDIS and gets the mirror / identifier gadget. Watching it again, through, I see the sky lightening with dawn as he approaches the TARDIS, and the implied lapse in time before he finds the gadget. Meanwhile, Amy and Vincent have presumably gone to bed, having been up nearly all night talking, as often happens in an intense new friendship. Nor is Vincent awakened the moment the Doctor gets back, we can assume, because breakfast is prepared before the "wakey-wakey" moment.

That leaves just one tiny thing to bother me in the entire episode, and that's the Doctor being so appallingly bad at deducing where the monster is based on Vincent's position and actions. In retrospect, I probably should not have docked the episode a full point for just that!


Tony Curran as Vincent Van Gogh

On Vincent's ability to see an invisible monster:

Indeed, it's a bit of a science fantasy trope, that the mentally ill can see what others cannot. In Quantum Leap, for example, people who were drunk or mentally ill could see Al's hologram, which normally only Sam could see. In Buffy, the people whose sanity had been stolen by Glory could see that Dawn was the mystical key, and that her human life prior to transformation was a lie.

And if you think about it, it fits in with the popular conception of some kinds of mental illness, the idea that the brains of such people operate differently, giving rise to a different set of perceptions. Which can be literally true in the case of people who hallucinate.

PS. I just want to link to this review because I love it and can snag episode quotes from it:
Flick Filosopher: ‘Doctor Who’ blogging: “Vincent and the Doctor”