S5(31)E06 – Vampires of Venice – Broadcast Discussion

8th May 2010 • Blog Post by Seb Patrick •

Posting this one early today, rather than scheduling it for the time of transmission – partly as a reminder to people who might have missed it that tonight’s episode starts at the earlier time of 6pm, and partly to try and wake up the site a bit since you buggers have been unnaturally quiet for most of this week. So, what’s doing? Vampires, in Venice and stuff. Rory joins the TARDIS crew. By the writer of the sorely underrated “School Reunion”. It won’t be as good as last week, but it could still be pretty acecore, right?

Seb Patrick once met Paul McGann, who immediately pretended to be Mark McGann. He writes for Den of Geek, BBC America, Film4 and the official Red Dwarf website, among others. He owns over thirty toy Daleks and wishes the Dapol factory tour was still open.

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19 Responses

  1. Andy M

    Not got terribly high hopes for this one tbh. To judge it before it’s even aired, it seems like one of those episodes where they’ve just thrown a random collection of “things that would be cool” together and come up with the title before anyone sits down and bothers with any of that “plot” nonsense.

    See also: Sarah Jane! And K9! In a school! So we can call it ‘School Reunion’! Not underrated, is what I’m saying. ;)

  2. Andy M

    Also: Dear The Big British Castle

    Please to stop twatting about with the start time of your ‘Doctor Who’ tellybox programme.

    Yrs, etc.

  3. Mammalian Verisimilitude

    I just about cringed to death in the pre-titles sequence there.

  4. Michael Warren

    Largely ‘meh’ on that one, I’m afraid. A fair amount of poor CGI also didn’t help. The alien design wasn’t too bad, though.

    Next week’s looks really interesting, though…

  5. Michael Warren

    I did think Matt Smith was excellent in it, mind.

  6. VS

    I couldn’t understand the ambivalence to this one before airing and certainly can’t agree with them post. Obviously not a classic but a good solid episode with a bit of classic feel about it, as a gut reaction probably Tom Baker-ish. Some very good dialogue too, with some cracking funny lines and moments.

  7. Andy M

    I’m glad I was wrong, that was pretty good. Really funny script I thought. Some really poor CGI and “the Doctor turns off the bad” saves the day yet again though. I wish they’d make more use of the setting in historicals, this didn’t really go any further than “Venice is full of water”.

    Next week looks AMAZING. It looks like The Mind Robber, which is one of my favourite Who stories. Or maybe The Celestial Toymaker. And Karl Rove!

  8. Nick Ridley

    Of Venice. Of.

    I enjoyed it. Especially since there was none of that pretend-you can’t-see business.

    Suspicious undercurrent of incest though…

  9. > I just about cringed to death in the pre-titles sequence there.

    Conversely I nearly wet myself laughing. The reaction, the dialogue it all felt absolutely perfect.

    Infact I thought the episode overall was very strong. Full of ideas, good performances, some strong dialogue in placed. Defintely above average and a much more enjoyable ‘standard’ episode than the RTD era.

    Exciting trailer for next week and hopefully a dark, intriguing brain-teaser to follow.

  10. Seb Patrick

    Yeah, I liked it. Slightly better than Victory but not as good as any of the Moffat scripts. But easily the best Episode Six aside from Dalek (which, as we all know, doesn’t really count in terms of normal analysis).

    I like Rory a lot. He’s like series 1 Mickey if series 1 Mickey was actually good. Crucially, he’s not stupid, and he’s got a sense of humour. And I’m loving the idea of this new companion dynamic. “Got my spaceship, got my boys” was a great line.

  11. Andy M

    I don’t normally watch Confidential but they just used a snippet of ‘Cry Little Sister’ as a backing track which made me laugh a lot.

  12. Andy M

    easily the best Episode Six aside from Dalek (which, as we all know, doesn’t really count in terms of normal analysis).

    We demand graphs.

  13. > I don’t normally watch Confidential but they just used a snippet of ‘Cry Little Sister’ as a backing track which made me laugh a lot.

    They used ‘Bad Day’ by Blur last week which made my tiny world explode.

    I’m not sure I feel it now, but about 20 minutes into this episode I was actually thinking hmm… okay post-Moffat I wanted Cornell, but maybe Whitehouse wouldn’t be a bad choice.

  14. ChrisM

    I liked it. Quite a simple story but one who’s resolution (unlike last weeks, otherwise great episode) didn’t rely on the timely appearance of a cosmic occurrence or reverse-the-polarity type shenanigans to save the day. Alien-fish-lady* uses machine to set off weather related destruction. They destroy machine. Simple, but it makes sense.

    That’s not to say there wasn’t holes. I’m thinking mainly of the reasoning behind the fact you can’t see the girls reflection. The explanation they gave is that your mind can’t understand what it’s seeing… so it cancels it out and you see nothing.

    As a kid I used to find close up images of bugs scary. Partly due to their weirdness, their, yes, alienness, and the fact that at first glance you can’t always see which bit is which. I saw them though. I didn’t see a blank screen. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been so smegging scared would I? And trust me, I found them more frightening than those critters in this episode. (That’s not a criticism of the creature design though, I thought it was great.) The brain doesn’t work like that! And even if it did, the Doctor has a broader scope of awareness than us. If the girls really looked like buxom, insectoid fish, that’s what he would have seen in the mirrors.

    It also poses the question, if your mind cancels out their true image then why didn’t they appear to vanish when their perception filter devices deactivated? I suspect that’s easily answered in the queen’s** explanation as to why their teeth remain, i.e. your mind’s sense of threat cancels out the, er, other cancelling out. Although that doesn’t entirely make sense considering she was talking about how they look with the filter, and the teeth are hardly the only threatening thing about their appearance.

    Also, there’s the way these creatures react to sun. I understand it’s only being uncovered in direct sunlight which is fatal to them. It’s just that there was one scene where the girl they were in the process of rescuing (I forget her name) ends up back in the arms of the fish-folk due to her cowering away from sunlight. In the next scene we see her in the light of day standing on a pier along with a whole bunch of fish folk about to become fish-food for the ‘men’. I might have missed something there though.

    They was a pretty minor issues in an otherwise good episode though. The whole ‘companion with boyfriend and jealousy’ stuff felt a bit repetitive considering Rose and Mickey but I liked The Doctor’s changed attitude to these circumstances. That part of the reason he brings Rory along is because he’s seen the break up of past companion relationships.

    I also appreciate the 3-dimensional nature of the Queen’s character. She is a cold blooded character but one who is ultimately trying to save her own species.

    *Actually I thought they looked more insectoid. If they’re fish they’re certainly of the crab/lobster invertebrate, surely?

    **I’m not entirely sure she is a ‘queen’ but being the matriarch of an insectoid race that’s how I see her.

  15. Mammalian Verisimilitude

    ChrisM – it was cloudy when they shoved her off the jetty. I presume that has something to do with it.

    In other news, just a thought – Silence Fell almost immediately after Amy said “My work here is done” and entered the Tardis.

    In TBB & VicDal, the cracks also became visible as/after she left.

    The exception was in ToA/F&S, where the crack actually saved her life, and got wider & wider as she got more and more panicked… And in TEH, where Amelia prayed for someone to fix the crack, and up the Doctor popped…

  16. ChrisM

    “ChrisM – it was cloudy when they shoved her off the jetty. I presume that has something to do with it.”

    That would make sense. Makes one wonder just how much an increase in sunlight it takes though, but never mind, it’s consistent.

    I also got an explanation on another site for the lack of reflection perception disparity thing I mentioned. A poster reckoned it was actually the perception filters inability to alter a reflected image which resulted in the lack of reflection rather than the Doctor’s mind ‘cancelling out’ the alien’s true appearance from the mirror.

    In my defence, that thought did occur to me, but that wasn’t how I heard the explanation. Then again I found it difficult to catch a lot of dialogue partly due to the quick-speak at low volume for which New Who is renowned (and the booming background music often doesn’t help, although the balance did seem better this episode).

    “In other news, just a thought – Silence Fell almost immediately after Amy said “My work here is done” and entered the Tardis.”

    Good thought. With all the other events it was easy to forget that end bit, but at the time, it made me wonder. That was a strange shot too. I was half expecting to see another crack, but then the camera seemed to fly through the tardis key-hole…cue next trailer for next episode. Very interesting.

    Despite all my nitpicking* I’m enjoying this series.

    *Partly due to my own misunderstanding and general thickness rather than the programme’s fault.

  17. si

    I couldn’t understand the ambivalence to this one before airing and certainly can’t agree with them post. Obviously not a classic but a good solid episode with a bit of classic feel about it, as a gut reaction probably Tom Baker-ish. Some very good dialogue too, with some cracking funny lines and moments.

    This.

    I really enjoyed it. Not a classic by a long shot, but a good bit of fun, which is, after all’s said and done, what Who should be.

  18. Mammalian Verisimilitude

    About Amy being bitten – her next scene after the bite works from that PoV has her visibly listless/exhausted, and to that end her delivery of the “engaged” line is unlike her delivery of any other line in the whole series, and even the kick is played as a last-of-her-strength gesture of defiance. They’ve obviously taken quite a bit of blood, a couple of pints anyway, even if not yet enough to kill her/”drain her dry”. And that could be taken to reinforce Rory’s point earlier about the dangers of trying to impress the Doctor.

    But after that, she’s wrestling about in her bonds like it never happened, and bouncing about like normal the very second Isabella lets her out.It’d have been far more effective at reinforcing the dangers if she’d stayed listless (and needed to be helped out by first Isabella, then Rory), until at least the scene where the Doctor heals her neck wound.

    Not the only odd writing/directorial choice this series (not even the only one in the same episode – why the hell does the Doctor adopt an out-and-out threatening manner when Rory shows some brains rather than just going “bigger on the inside”?), but this one especially hurts the story, I think.

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