Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

"Yours is bigger than mine."

"Let's not go there."

Yes, let's not.

We're almost half way through this series, and I'm finding myself repeatedly settling upon the adjective 'unfinished'.

I suppose a suitable synonym would be 'unpolished'.

The Vampires Of Venice checks the basic boxes of a regular Doctor Who outing but, I reckon, suffers from a disjointed narrative, uninteresting characters, and comedy that repeatedly falls flat.

Oh, and yet more zombies.

Doctor Who has always come with its faults, but it is quite disappointing to witness it tripping over on so many scores all within the same episode.

It's also set in Venice, a popular holiday destination that a great many viewers, myself included, will have visited, and therefore have trouble recognising in a show that has clearly not been filmed there.

Unwisest of all is this family show's descent into innuendo, which clogs-up the story, subtracts likability from the characters and erodes the old feel-good tone.

This is Doctor Who right enough, but it's a cold, cruel, heartbroken version in which even the main characters care little for trampling on poor Rory's feelings. Despite the Doctor's good intentions in taking Rory and Amy on a date to rebalance their relationship after he has inadvertently messed things up, he must know the damage that his constant jokes and rapport are causing.

The opening scene shows us the Doctor nonsensically entering Rory's stag-party through the stripogram's cake, instead of just using the door, and then proceeding to tell him in front of everyone that his fiancée has just cheated on him.


The awkwardness of the characters in this scene was nothing to the awkwardness that I felt as a viewer. Surely this was the polar opposite of what the writers had intended.

The Doctor: "Funny how you can say something in your head and it sounds fine."

It's unfortunate that the author apparently imbued one of his characters with this wisdom, but didn't follow it himself.

There is a nice joke at one point when the Doctor flashes his psychic paper at someone, only to realise that he has accidentally produced his library card. This has a photo of the first Doctor on it, which would be a great nod, were it not for that time-honoured rule of comedy that the audience has to like you before they'll laugh with you.

In the circumstances, I just didn't feel like laughing. After all, there was a good chance that the next line might be a joke about William Hartnell's penis.

The plotting was disastrous too, with the Doctor breaking into the aliens' lair using his sonic screwdriver, only to a few scenes later rack his brains trying to device a complex way to break back in a second time. Not only does his earlier method elude him, but so does the notion of using the TARDIS, so he irresponsibly has Amy infiltrate the ranks ahead of him, despite the very high danger to her.

At another point the Doctor suddenly produces a huge rod-shaped battery-powered lightbulb from one of his pockets. This would have come in extremely useful against the Angels last week. I suppose that would be why he now carries it, but a line to excuse this was carelessly absent.

What makes this all such a shame is that the indie filmic style this week was a welcome change from the usual Hollywood feel that the show normally aims for. The scene in which the Doctor puts his hands over everyone's mouths while he thinks through the problem offered us a glimpse of what makes the eleventh Doctor so inspiring. But that's just it. I'm now in this show to watch him, and hoping for Amy to leave soon.

There were also a couple of nice design ideas, such as Guido wearing Rory's modern t-shirt when they swap outfits, and the old/new technology that the Doctor disables at the end, but these flashes of cleverness don't match the rest of this episode's confusion.

Victory Of The Daleks closed on the plot-development that Amy could not remember the Dalek invasion of Journey's End, but the following episode didn't open with the Doctor trying to follow-up on this.

Last week's episode Flesh And Stone finished with the Doctor quite concerned about the crack in the universe and Amy's connection to it, bundling her off into the TARDIS apparently to pursue the matter further, but this week again he seems to have forgotten the matter. Under the surface I think he's trying to restore Amy's life to the state that it was in before he took her away, but I need reassurance when the rest of his motivations are so hard to make sense of.

Tonight's episode finished with the Doctor and Rory noticing that the atmosphere around the TARDIS had very suddenly gone silent. I don't expect the next one to begin with him investigating this.

I'm sorry to sound so negative, but with neither substance nor style, this episode just didn't stand a chance.

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