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