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14 May 2010 @ 07:01 pm
The Vampires of Venice  
My initial thoughts after watching the Vampires of Venice was that it was a fairly run-of-the-mill runaround. It's never going to be one of the Doctor Who classic episodes, but it's enjoying itself doing a Hammer Horror rip-off and is lifted by Helen McCrory's sympathetic performance as Rosanna.

So this isn't really a review. It is merely masquerading as one. What I thought was the single most interesting part of the episode was the comparison between Arthur Darvill's Rory Williams and Noel Clarke's Mickey Smith. So I'm going to talk about that instead.

I assume the comparison is intended to be deliberate. We have scenes, such as the one where Rory, sat in front of several kegs of gunpowder, is clearly excluded from the Doctor and Amy's conversation which so closely mirrors a scene at the start of The Girl in the Fireplace that I can't believe it's coincidental. If you assume that we are being deliberately invited to make a comparison then Rory is, to a certain extent, either a criticism or a homage.

Initially, much of the dynamic between the Doctor, Amy and Rory looked like a mirror of that between the Doctor, Rose and Mickey. There was a hint of difference in the moment where Rory refuses to be over-impressed by the TARDIS interior but the real signal that this was a different dynamic was when Rory convincingly called the Doctor on the danger in which he places his companions.

On the whole then, I think Rory is intended as a criticism of RTD's Mickey character. That's very interesting, in and of itself, given the Stepford wife-like conformity with which those involved in the production of NuWho think all of it, without exception, is wonderful. Presumably it is also a deconstruction of the idea that the Doctor and "chosen" companion have to exist in this intense, exclusionary relationship. I loved the twist at the end of the episode in which Amy emerges as the dominant personality of the group, not the Doctor, more signs that this iteration of Who is far more genuinely interested in the companion than previous versions.

All that said, Amy and Rory have very little chemistry. As fififolle observed, Rory and the Doctor have more chemistry than Rory and Amy (although possibly Fifi would say that). Rory's moment of triumph was oddly under-whelming and no one really sold it as the moment when both Rory buys into the Doctor's lifestyle and Amy becomes confident about Rory.

We've already seen a very different take on the companion from Moffat's tenure. We're now seeing a very different take on an enlarged group and, in particular, we're seeing hints of something never before seen in Doctor Who, even in the early days of William Hartnell. A show in which, even though the Doctor is the hero, he isn't, always, the leader.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/6357.html.
Susan: wholil_shepherd on May 14th, 2010 06:37 pm (UTC)
I would argue with you about that last paragraph. My thesis is that, structurally, Ian is the hero and Barbara the heroine of the first series of the Hartnell Who, at least.

Other than that, many good points.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 14th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
I'd argue that although Ian is the hero, the Doctor is the leader. The dynamic certainly takes a while to settle and in The Unearthly Child Ian is mostly making the decisions as well as doing the heroics. We're also not seeing a clear reverse of this. The Doctor is often, if not mostly, making the decisions, but Amy gets to call the shots a lot more often than we're used to.
Susanlil_shepherd on May 14th, 2010 07:04 pm (UTC)
The Hartnell doctor is not the leader through any inate ability, but because he controls the TARDIS. In fact, this is the inate difference between a leader and a commander. So I'd suggest that, because of his position of power, the Hartnell Doctor is a commander rather than a leader. In many stories, Ian and/or Barbara make the decisions that finally defeat the enemy (whoever that may be.)

(Warning: watching The Keys of Marinus the other day may have affected this opinion.)

Edited for wine-influenced typing errors.

Edited at 2010-05-14 07:05 pm (UTC)
bunn: Hiverbunn on May 15th, 2010 08:02 am (UTC)
The reproofs from various people about the danger in which the doctor places his companions / Earth / Britain are starting to seriously bug me.

What's wrong with taking risks in a good cause? And plot after plot has shown that in the Doctor's universe, staying home and keeping your head down isn't all that safe anyway!

I suppose in a fairytale setting you need to set up the opposition of safe home / dangerous other but I do wish they would leave out the health and safety scolding, it's starting to get very tired.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 15th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
I think the point they are often trying to convey is that the Doctor is reckless about the danger - the realisation, um, frequently fails to be consistent about that which does rather undermine the argument.

But I think the point of that scene was more about Rory standing up to the Doctor, the Health and Safety thing was more about setting that up than a message-from-Fred authorial criticism of the Doctor and Amy... I think.
Philip Purser-Hallardinfinitarian on May 15th, 2010 08:37 am (UTC)
The Moffat era's criticisms of the RTD era are immensely subtle, but they're there. I'm increasingly convinced that the commentary on Amy retaining her Scottish accent in an English village is a commentary on Tennant's mockneying-up, for instance.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 15th, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting point. I wonder if they're going to do anything about the "hubris" thing RTD often played with but never resolved. Another parallel that really struck me was the moment where the Doctor and Amy have their terribly excited "it's vampires!" discussion under Rory's disapproving gaze - so like the moment in Tooth and Claw between the Doctor and Rose.
Isobel: [whoniverse; martha glowy]einodia on May 16th, 2010 01:47 am (UTC)
i noticed that similarity to T&C as well - hi, sorry, here from who_daily - and in addition to the Mickey commentary, i thought of both Jack and Martha (and both earlier and less clearly canonical companions, as well) when the Doctor played off Amy's left-field attempt to turn himself into a one-night-stand as a simple reaction to multiple life-or-death situations. as Torchwood and various other, less Who-based, platforms have made mention, being in those situations can bring people closer together simply because they underwent those experiences together; i wonder if the Doctor's audience is meant to consider the handling of Amy's interest as a commentary on that tendency of the companions to think themselves in love with the Doctor.

also, re: Tennant's accent: i'd heard that the mockney was RTD overruling the actor because RTD didn't want the Doctor to seem like he was 'touring' the UK?
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 16th, 2010 08:45 am (UTC)
That's interesting. It must be said I did kind of roll my eyes and think "oh no! not again!" when Amy came on to the Doctor but it looks rather different if you take it as a commentary on what went before.