Doctor Who: Vampires Of Venice review

This week in Doctor Who, something very predictable happened: The Doctor met a seemingly paranormal threat, and quickly exposed it as a science-fiction menace instead. Never mind the gay agenda and the Scottish agenda, there should be more talk about the “Ghosts are stupid!” agenda.

But that was inevitable, so hardly a criticism. Elsewhere, the not-really-vampires conspired to destroy Venice, whilst the Doctor tried to both save the day and match-make Amy with her own fiancée. He did so by interrupting the poor boy’s stag night in the most disappointing way possible, a scene I absolutely adored.

The arrival of Rory in the TARDIS is probably the biggest point of comment, especially since it seems he will be with us a while longer. And although he shares a few DNA strands with Noel Clarke’s Mickey Smith, the new chap acquits himself well. He seems a rare voice of common reason in the Doctor’s world of timestruck young women; as long as he keeps the jealous grumbling under control, he should be an interesting addition.

The blood-sucking villains, however, fail to convince as a genuine threat to our heroes, but do provide a mystery. As I remarked earlier, it was obvious they would be somehow alien; our interest lies in seeing how outlandish an explanation the Doctor provides for their apparent vampirism, and I don’t think it disappoints.

And the faux-Venetian look of the episode is a pleasant change, providing a sense of history and scale that the show sometimes lacks. Although Doctor Who does very well on its BBC budget, one sometimes gets the impression that there’s no corner of time and space which cannot be represented by a handful of corridors.

Ultimately, this was not a heavily experimental slice of Who, but it provides an interesting backdrop to throw the characters into. The new Doctor shows an increasing tendency to take his companions in hand, and Amy Pond clearly enjoys being the centre of attention. We basically tune in each week to go on another journey with these (fictional) people we like, and this was another fine jaunt.

A brief addendum: There was a small and fairly rubbish scandal during the week. It concerned Matt Smith being flown to Venice to film Doctor Who Confidential, wasting the precious licence payers’ precious money in the process. I watched the offending broadcast, and it was the first time in ages that Confidential hasn’t made me want to throw my shoes through the screen with its sheer content-free banality.

So, y’know, maybe spending some money would make it a better show. Just a thought.

Nick Bryan

Nick learned to read and write at an early age. This has developed into an unhealthy need to either write stories or consume them for later dissection. He reviews film and TV on Dork Adore and The Digital Fix, lives in London and enjoys a nice white beer.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thought this was a really funny episode – no surprise since it came from Being Human writer. The humour made up for the slightly underwhelming plot and I think the characters really shone.
    Agree about Confidential. I record it every week and every week I feel like self-harming after the 30-min segment showing one of the actors jumping off a ledge over and over, or being pulled up by a wire.

    • says

      Actually, yeah, “great character moments make up for slightly thin plot” would be a good description of both Vampires Of Venice and most episodes of Being Human…

  2. Rich says

    Guys, I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since I was 6, I’ve got all the books, all the existing stories not only on video but also buying them again them on DVD, never miss an issue of DWM and generally know far too much about it and I’ve still yet to watch more than 10 minutes of an episode of Confidential, if that. I promise I won’t report you if you also don’t.

    I enjoyed this weeks story, they managed to pack an awful lot in to 45 minutes, and it looked amazing.

    • says

      I usually end up watching Confidential at about 1AM after I’m too tired to do anything more worthwhile, and mostly sit there trying to work out who its target audience is: Clearly it’s aimed at people who’ve seen the episode, since they gleefully spoil the whole thing, but then why do they spend so long describing the plot and stating the obvious?
      And that’s before we get into the endless shots of people on wires that Katie mentioned.

      Anyway. Point being, this week’s Confidential was much better than usual, although still not exactly primetime superfun.

      • Rich says

        Well I guess if they keep making ’em then eventually probability must tend towards one of ’em not being entirely pointless. But, you know, generally the answers are going to be A) Greenscreen B) Actors enjoy doing stunts, as long as they’re not too dangerous C) How awesome are we? Very.

        Watching it not immediately after the episode is probably a good idea though. Personally I’m fairly Stalinist in my approach to the show, I only ever really watch the episodes once on original broadcast and then NEVER AGAIN. So far. This is an attempt to make it more like the experience of watching Old Who. Or at least my experience of Old Who, didn’t own a video until it had ended so it was only ever watch-once stuff for me. I’m looking forward to watching them again in 10 years time or so but I don’t want to ruin them through overfamiliarity.

        • says

          When watching officially sponsored making-of shows, I kinda expect a degree of “How awesome are we?” But don’t pad it out for 45 minutes if you’re unwilling to offer any insight beyond “This is how we did the stunts.” (And the answer is nearly always wires or explosives.)
          And “Here’s a musical montage of the episode you’ve just watched.” I’m not quite as Stalinist in my approach to it, but that’s too much repetition for me.

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