Doctor Who (5.6): Bite me space-fish…

It must be tough writing the episodes that fall between the Moffat-penned ones. Stories that would have been marked A* last year, are going to find themselves getting plain old As and Bs this year.

The Vampires in Venice has lots and lots going for it – a great writer (Toby Whithouse creator of the excellent Being Human, and writer of School reunion, new Who series two), fabulous location (even if it’s not actually Venice), stunning costumes and lighting, comedy potential (Amy’s great gangling fiancé Rory) and vampires (Hat Junior has been shouting “Vampires! Vampires on new Doctor Who tonight” for a disturbing proportion of the day).

There are lots of fine moments (more of those in a minute), but let’s get the carping out of the way first. Acknowledging that I’m not the target market for this, I just wasn’t grabbed and there wasn’t a peep out of Junior Hat either. (I know, normally I complain that I can’t hear what’s going on because she’s talking over the show – about the show – non-stop.) I don’t think she was scared, and I know I wasn’t.

I thought it was a bit of shame that Isabella died and I was moved by her brave father (the wonderfully understated Lucian Msamati – aka JLB Matekoni, Mma Ramotswe’s fiancé from The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency) leading the creatures to their mutual deaths – but that was about it on the emotional trauma front. I just didn’t get a sense of jeopardy – sorry guys.

That said, I don’t feel my 45 minutes were wasted. Even A- or B-rated Who is excellent value for money. Shall we bullet point again? I liked the bullet points…

  • First things first. One, the lovely little pre-titles scene where the Doctor jumps out of the cake, asks someone to find Lucy – the diabetic stripper – a jumper, and tells Rory that Amy’s a good kisser. Particularly enjoyed the embarrassed silence heading into the titles instead of the usual screaming/plunging/explosion type thing.
  • B (two): The Doctor slightly affronted by Rory taking the TARDIS in his stride. “I like it when people say ‘It’s bigger on the inside’.” But, not too affronted – a little tickled too I think.
  • Three – or C: Amy thinks she’s ‘done with running down corridors’ – she’s smart, but she knows nothing!
  • Four, or D, or that little IV in brackets they use in footnotes: The library card with William Hartnell’s face on it.
  • “Tell me the whole plan! … One day that will work.”
  • Who can blame the Doctor for thinking it’s Christmas – even I was delighted by the pale, creepy girls in their atmospheric cellar.
  • “Vampires? We hope!” Of course there’s something much worse than vampires – CGI monsters!
  • Any excuse for much wandering around in floor-length nighties with flaming torches and candles is to be welcomed.
  • Much as the Doctor welcomes the chance to battle vampires and escape the conversation with Rory about kissing Amy.
  • Remembering that even the Doctor’s pockets are bigger on the inside – as he brings out a two-foot UV lamp from his inner pocket. Let’s not go anywhere near the ‘size’ competition with Rory.
  • Rory’s perceptive insight into why the Doctor is dangerous; “You make them want to impress you, you make it so they don’t want to let you down. You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you’re around.” Especially considering he later comes back to help, and refuses to leave the Doctor even if he might get squashed, or blown up or eaten.
  • The slightly Norman Wisdom-esque movements of the Doctor as he’s electrocuted a bit.
  • The Doctor’s squeamishness at the thought of thousands of male space-fish swimming around the canals waiting for Mum to make them some compatible girlfriends: “I mean, I’ve been around a bit, but really that’s, that’s eurgh…”
  • The little space-fish gargoyle on Signora Calvierri’s balcony rail. Almost cute…
  • The literal off-switch on the storm-generator – a dig at the fanbois who hate deus ex machina-type solutions? (Be warned, this link goes to the highly addictive TV Tropes website. Don’t even think of clicking unless you have several hours to spare…)
  • The trailer for next week – I love a good mystery – this looks like it could be an absolute corker.

Posted by Jo the Hat


Filed under Dr Who

6 responses to “Doctor Who (5.6): Bite me space-fish…

  1. inkface

    I was enjoying this until our 7 year old said it was too scary and we had to turn it off. Surely the young Hat didn’t watch this? I wish they’d give us a handy scariness rating beforehand!

    • The only monsters that have really bothered her on Who so far have been the water-monsters from Mars (and I made sure we watched that in the morning, because even I wasn’t sure about them). She seems to be over her fear of them now though. Considering how many real life things make her anxious, it’s astounding that she loves TV scares so much. Any psychiatrists passing through here? Would love a professional opinion!

      • My 3-year old has a crush on David Tennant and has insisted on seeing every single one of his episodes. She hasn’t been scared by a single monster – except the pigmen thingys in Daleks in Manhatten.

        Her review was: “I don’t like oink-oinks. But I like Doctor!”

        I’m just happy I don’t have to watch Daleks in Manhatten again.

      • She has excellent taste then!
        My current difficulty is in trying to explain the whole Doctor Who broadcast timeline. The Radio Times article about Daleks included a picture in black and white (what do today’s five-year-olds know about monochrome?), and so she’s fascinated with the switch to colour (I think it was the Pertwee era), the fourth and fifth Doctors (my childhood era of Who) and so on. Sigh. I did bring it on myself though…

  2. inkface

    Well I’d guess she’s split off fictional fear from ‘real’ life, perhaps because she knows, whatever tangles the Doctor or whoever gets into, he’ll always be ok in the end. Not entirely unlike the way really awful things happen in fairy tales and nursery rhymes. The resolution is immensely reassuring. In real life, perhaps it’s not so clear cut. Or maybe she’s secretly been playing Grand Theft Auto and has got hardened to it all!

  3. Anne of Green Gables

    There were some genuinely funny moments – deliberately funny, I mean. Since the whole thing was *not* spoofed up, as was the first episode in this series, the humour worked much more effectively.

    And we had nasty space creatures (space fish??) disguised as vampires who were then disguised as humans. Complicated – but all worth it because the nasty space things were brilliant. A bit like a cross between a humongous spider, a shiny giant cockroach and something else even nastier with those long, bendy, grabbing legs.

    There was quite a lot of poetry and atmosphere, too, in the historic Venetian setting, with the costumes, buildings, canals and a gondola. Most of all, all those creatures under the water like drowned bridegrooms waiting to do something nasty to any human who came near the edge of the canal…creepy, eerie, tragic and weirdly beautiful.

    I haven’t even got a junior Green Gable any more to give me an excuse for watching the Doctor and his adventures…But who needs an excuse?