Doctor Who – The Vampires of Venice

Not sure I have a lot to say about this one. It’s not bad, exactly, just very run-of-the mill and reminiscent of quite a few episodes from the Russel T Davies era, notably historical-comedy-horror romps like ‘The Shakespeare Code’, with maybe a dash of the tower climb from ‘The Idiot’s Lantern’. It’s villains by numbers, aliens by numbers (nice FX though) and action by numbers. As per Season 3 the aliens are yet again fleeing the season arc.

Despite its horror credentials this is primarily a comedic episode and this is actually where it’s most successful, with Rory in particular sharing a few good moments with the Doctor and Amy as he trails along behind them in bemusement. I particularly liked the Doctor’s faintly menacing grumble that he likes it when his new arrivals say it’s bigger on the inside.

Matt Smith is decent here, and seems to be channelling Troughton more than usual on a couple of occasions, but he’s a little scattershot this week. When he’s good he’s very good, but a lot of the time he’s eccentric to the point of losing the rhythm of the script.

Amy remains quirky, spiky and a little hard to get to know. So much so that it’s hard to believe that she and Rory are getting married in the morning. They’re not exactly Bogart and Bacall. It’s slightly odd that we switch to Amy being the all-important key to everything and Amy needing to be pointed back in the direction of her fiance. I got the impression that the date of the wedding was all important, and that seems to have been quietly shuffled to one side, though I’m sure it’ll reappear. Also I’m not sure that the Doctor’s theory that she and Rory need to experience PERIL holds water. It makes sense on its own terms, but the Amy we’ve seen was already fleeing her wedding before she experienced that peril — or at least before she experienced it without Rory around.

Overall, this was a bit meh. Solid, but meh. Even the FX are quite variable, with some half-decent attempts to simulate Venice (although Dr. Who Confidential sprung to send Matt Smith to Venice, so you’d think they could have done that earlier and got some good shots of him wandering about in costume!), but some really ropy work during the tower climb at the end. Ah well.

Next week will either be great or a big budget episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures, I can’t decide.

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