S31 (5) 10 – Vincent and the Doctor

Home Forums Episodes The Eleventh Doctor S31 (5) 10 – Vincent and the Doctor

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    Craig @craig

    @blenkinsopthebrave Totally agree. Curran is excellent. Matt Smith said last night on Twitter that Curran slept all night in the bed before the anger/depression scene to get in to character. He really is fantastic in the role, that’s why I liked his little video tweet the most.

    @jimthefish I forgot about “Yesterday” which my parents made me watch and that was okay, mostly because the actors were really good. Haven’t seen “About Time”. But both seem reasonably high concept, alternate world type stories so maybe this was a “moment” for Richard Curtis.

    Craig @craig

    @jimthefish A little anecdote. I was seeing an Australian girl around 2003 (roughly) and “Love Actually” was on the TV one night and all her flatmates wanted to watch it. So I sat quietly and watched it, hated it all over again, but when it finished they all said how much they loved it.

    I couldn’t contain myself and started my rant about how bad it is, how it exploits the tragedy of 9/11, then makes fun of a kid running through airport security (how can you reconcile those two parts of a story’s theme I don’t know?), and the awful, really awful, like, terrible, terrible treatment of the female characters.

    The relationship managed to survive that. But then we went to Australia for Christmas to see her family. And her Mum said “I’ve rented my favourite Christmas movie for tonight”. Yes, it was “Love Actually”. My girlfriend looked at me with a “shut your face” look. So I shut my face.

    We didn’t last much longer though. I’m not saying it was Curtis’ fault, there was a lot more going on, but I think he may have played a part.

    winston @winston

    @craig   That was as good as it gets! This is one of my faves and my daughters absolute favourite episode.The only thing that stops me from watching it more often is just how sad it is. We both cry at the end every time.Poor Vincent, that’s all I can say and poor Amy who thought she had fixed him. I have family members who suffer from and are treated for depression and Curran’s portrayal is very real. He was excellent and this is one of the most human portrayals of a historic person on Who.Of course just my humble and non-critical opinion.

    The scene where Vincent casually pulls a painting off the wall and covers it with white paint to the horrified gasps of Amy and the Doctor is very funny as are many other parts of this episode. So it is funny and sad and hopeful.It has all the feels you need.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    Well, Richard Curtis getting the blame for romantic gloom rather than vice versa. There’s a certain irony there, I suppose.


    I agree. It’s Curran’s performance that makes this episode and it’s definitely the best portrayal of a historical figure in Who. Only Vinette Robinson as Rosa comes even close. Normally they have a much more broadstroke, almost Horrible Histories edge to them. (Yes, I’m looking at you Simon Callow.)

    And I must admit that this rewatch has prompted me to finally read that copy of Lust for Life that’s been sitting on my shelf unloved and untouched for years.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Agreed. Everything just works with this one: not just Curran’s performance, but Karen Gillan’s performance as someone grieving but not understanding why. And then there’s Matt Smith, being nice to Amy without being able to explain why.

    It all just – works. A dramatic poem on the subject of depression and grief.

    janetteB @janetteb

    Finally caught up with Vincent. For some reason I have not re watched this episode often perhaps because it is a bit sad but it is really more uplifiting. The Doctor cannot “mend” Vincent, he cannot change what will happen but he does give Vincent the knowledge that his life has not been wasted, that he woks are going to be appreciated one day and that he will bring joy to so many people. If only, if only, that were real. The ending of the recent episode about Tesla reminded me of this story, when Yaz realises that they cannot save Tesla but here the Doctor does not simply walk away. He is able to still make a difference.



    Missy @missy


    Wonderful story. I am biased because my admiration for Van Gogh’s work began when I was around 11 years old, and have five prints (large ones) on my walls.


    Rewvian @rewvian

    This episode sees the Doctor and Amy meeting Van Gogh, who on top of his mental health is being tormented by a large bird/horse monster that is invisible.

    Amy and the Doctor end up staying with Vincent and are confronted by the monster, and afterwards the Doctor retrieves a device from the TARDIS that he was given (by a two-headed being), which enables him to determine what kind of creature it is by having it look into a mirror.

    While Vincent is working on a painting and waiting for the monster to show up during another instance, the Doctor gets comically bored of experiencing the slowness of time, in the correct order.  Eventually the monster appears in the building Vincent is painting and the Doctor runs off to try to communicate with it.  Amy once again promises not to follow the Doctor, but does the opposite.

    The Doctor tries to talk to the monster but is unable to successfully.  He has an aha moment and realizes that the monster is not only invisible, but is blind and unable to see.  While defending the Doctor and Amy from the monster with his easel, Vincent ends up fatally stabbing it.

    A scene towards the end of the episode sees Vincent looking at the stars with our heroes, and noting how colorful the sky and the stars look if you stare at them long enough.  It gradually begins to look like a Van Gogh painting.  In a scene that I had no recollection of, the Doctor actually brings Vincent to modern times and shows him his paintings at the museum, and has the curator there explain in his own words how great a painter he was.

    After leaving Van Gogh, Amy and the Doctor return once more to the museum to see if he has been inspired to make more paintings.  Nothing has changed.  But then, suddenly, Amy notices a painting of sunflowers in a vase, with a note for Amy.  (I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a new painting, or if the message was new, or what.)

    I thought it was a pretty good episode and that Vincent was well-cast.  It was kind of progressive to have this episode where it speaks about mental health to some degree.  I feel like I should have more to say about the episode, but that was essentially it.  I thought the monster was kind of lame-looking, but it was interesting to make it impossible to see as well as unable to see anything.  I’m not sure if there was any explanation about or meaning for why it was blind.

    And I guess technically Vincent Van Gogh was a companion to the Doctor.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    Impressions of Vincent and the Doctor –

    Isn’t Bill Nighy the perfect art gallery curator?

    And of course the Doctor is being extra nice to Amy because she’s lost Rory – and can’t remember him. “Why are you being so nice to me? It’s suspicious”. “There’s nothing to be suspicious about.” “Okay, I was joking – why aren’t you?” She’s sharp, that girl.

    But it’s rather charming to watch Amy making an immediate hit with the prickly Vincent van Gogh. (Incidentally, I’m a philistine – I don’t dislike van Gogh’s work but I prefer Turner, Monet or Sisley and their slightly more controlled style to Vincent’s wildness.)

    Interesting that Vincent can see the monster but the Doctor can’t. Actually, the monster is pretty naff, but that doesn’t matter too much for this episode.

    I thought Vincent’s sketch of the Krafayis was pretty good, surprised Doc’s gizmo couldn’t ID it, there was no call for Doc’s snark about Gainsborough would have been better. I would have liked to see the gizmo try a Picasso!

    I always thought van Gogh lived around north-east France and Belgium. But the rough roof slates in the lane where the Doctor goes seeking the monster look more like the Alps or the south of France to me (but maybe the north-east has roofs like that, I don’t know that region). And the dry-looking country bordering the stony lane that the three walk down to get to the church looks very south-of-France to me. Google tells me that Vincent did spend much time in Arles, south of France, up until shortly before his death. So, it looks as if Doctor Who (the show) got it right. (And further Googling tells me it was shot in Trogir, Croatia, on the Adriatic coast. Okay, near enough, scenery-wise). The church in the picture, though, was at Auvers near Paris, after Vincent moved there. I guess the show is allowed to mix things up a little bit. The painting is in the Musee d’Orsay though, so they got that right too.

    But it’s a charming little scene walking down the lane.

    The Doctor’s gizmo is pretty useless for combat, since it only shows the monster up as a mirror image – which means the Doctor has to attack facing backwards. Vincent on the other hand, is pretty damn courageous. I felt a bit sorry for the monster when it finally died. About 12 minutes before the end, which demonstrates that the episode really wasn’t about the monster at all.

    And then there’s the marvellous scene of Vincent in the Musee d’Orsay (which prompted someone to post a Youtube link on a discussion site which pulled me back into Doctor Who a decade after I lost touch with the show). Vincent looks at a couple of Monets and a Sisley before the Doctor drags him into his own exhibition. The scene with the Curator (Bill Nighy) is just lovely. As is the curator’s puzzled look as he tries to make sense of the fact that someone who looks exactly like Vincent van Gogh has just embraced him.

    Sadly, against Amy’s hopes and expectations, Vincent still shot himself on the appointed date. But the Krafayis has disappeared from the painting of the church at Auvers, and the sunflowers have acquired a dedication to Amy.

    This is a minor episode, I think, a bit like The Lodger that followed, but very pleasant.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @rewvian   To answer your points – I think in the case of the sunflowers painting, the painting was there before, just the message is new (because they changed history just that little bit).   But of course the message had ‘always’ been there.   The same way the Krafayis quietly disappeared and had never been there.

    I think the monster was blind either through age or accident, and that was probably why it couldn’t keep up and had been abandoned by its pack.

    ‘Vincent’ was very well cast, he looked remarkably like his self-portraits.

    winston @winston

    @dentarthurdent   This is an excellent episode that gives me all the feels. It is my daughters favourite episode and like me she cries at the end no matter how many times she watches it. The idea that Vincent could find out (by a handy trip to the future) that his work still survived and is loved and admired by so many is very emotional. Now that is a cool thing to do with a Tardis.

    Stay safe

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