Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Impossible Countdown - Vincent and the Doctor

Dear Blog, it's been a while.  Sorry!  I was cheating on you with this thing called real life that I discovered.  Don't worry, the affair is over now and I'm back in your virtual arms once more.  However, it seems fitting that on my return you've served me up with Vincent and the Doctor, a story that I find deeply offensive so consider my punishment over, please?  Oh bugger, you mean there's still The Big Bang to come???

Right, we'll start with one of the many elephants in the room about this one.  I have deep issues with it.  I hope you don't mind if I don't go into toooo much detail but through the course of my life I have been troubled with various things such as depression and self worth.  Whereas a lot of people championned this story as being a wonderful depiction of mental issues, I found the Doctor's actions deeply upsetting and highly distasteful.  Thankfully there are plenty of other things for me to comment on without troubling you with my history, but suffice it to say that if the Doctor told me that I wouldn't be appreciated until I was dead...  well it wouldn't take months between me stepping out of the police box and ending it all.  As soon as the TARDIS was gone, I would be too.

Anyway, on with the rest of the episode.  It's going to be difficult to comment without harping back to the mental thing so this might end up as a rather shorter than normal review!  Now, I'll freely admit that I knew very little about van Gogh before this episode.  Thanks to QI (if you've never seen QI then you have REALLY missed out) I know that everyone pronounces van Gogh incorrectly (ah the wonders of the Internet.  I am, of course, pronouncing it perfectly as I type) but I guess that's just the TARDIS translation unit stuck on "commoner".  The one thing I did know though is that he only had one ear, thanks to a moment of depression, a prostitute and a knife.  This episode is explicitly set in June 1890 which is a pity as the ear incident took place in December 1888. I'm guessing though, as they could barely afford CGI in this episode, they couldn't afford makeup to hide one ear.  Something else also rather conveniently skipped over (given the love interest between Vincent and Amy) is the fact he was quite possibly riddled with STIs by 1890.  Still, it's a family show so let's not bother with gory, sexual truths.  Let's concern ourselves, instead, with the "plot" of the episode.  Invisible monster goes on the rampage, Doctor acts goofy, Vincent saves the day, Doctor acts like a complete bastard.

Starting with the invisible monster.  A chicken crossed with a horse that only Vincent can see.  Now, I don't really remember any real explanation of why Vincent is the only person that can see it, why it shows up in mirrors, why no-one's seen it in a mirror before or what the hell was actually going on with the worst looking monster since the Myrka but combine all these things together and the alien aspect of this episode really irritates me. The implication is simply "Vincent is special so he can see it" but this really doesn't make any sense to my mind (perhaps I'm special in the other direction).  Why does it show up in the mirror?  It's another episode all about perception (the running theme of season five) but it's probably the worst one of the lot on that front.  We just have to accept that (magically?) whichever of Vincent's suspected STIs or mental disorders is convenient enough that it allows him to see it.

Next on my list of notes is the fact that the Doctor has a Godmother.  Don't know why but this really bothered me.  It suggests that Gallifrey and/or the Time Lords had religion (something not indicated up to this point) and that there was a clear mother/father type role (so bye bye looms then). I suppose I should see this as a very minor point but, in an episode that's already spectacularly irritating me, it's one of those minor points that my brain blows out of all proportion.  Unlike the Doctor's actions which I think my brain is justifiably irate at.

The Doctor, oh Lord of Time and complete smug git when it comes to saying what's fixed and what isn't (which my brain is mulling over as another set of ramblings), knows full well that Vincent will pull the trigger on the revolver.  Yet he still seems to delight in giving Amy false hope that Vincent's trip to the future will somehow prevent this from happening.  He takes Amy back and allows her to go to the exhibition again, knowing she's going to be more than just a bit unhappy at the lack of new Vincent paintings.  I've already made it clear how I feel about Vincent's treatment but I think it's worth noting that the Doctor has no qualms about upsetting Amy in the slightest at the end of the episode.

Various other things irritate me about the episode, such as how light it appears inside the church at the end given how dark it is outside but the last thing I'm going to say about this abomination of an episode is that it's the 11th Doctor changing time without any hesitation whatsoever.  I've not seen van Gogh's sunflowers in real life but it seems that the Doctor has no problems whatsoever in letting van Gogh changing the painting so it now has "For Amy" scrawled across it (in English???).  Time has changed.  The rules have changed.  They haven't changed for the better.  It's a paradox story (the Doctor goes to investigate an alien seen in a painting but his actions prevent the alien being painted so why did he go back in the first place?) which I detest and the actual plot of the episode is also seriously questionable.

A bloody awful episode that I've now watched twice and never ever want to see again.