“Fish from space. Heh. Classic” – Doctor Who, Series 5, ‘Vampire in Venice’ review

Another good one.

I’m not saying it was great but definitely good.

Throughout this series, there has been a level of quality building up through the steady but occasionally slight and fantastical hand of Master Magician Moffat.

Could someone let her in and give her a jumper? Lucy. Lovely girl. Diabetic.

A fun, bewildering beginning.
I’ve always wanted to see The Doctor come out of a cake – if only he’d offered jelly babies. More thoughts on jelly babies to come later.

Rory’s immediate, sarcastic knowledge of the TARDIS was a good touch – even his acceptance of the whole situation was treated smoothly. Time travel, Venice, vampires – sure, why not? To a Rory who has already become a little angry [and tearful(?)] over Amy’s time spent with The Doctor, all of it is taken with the 21st century aplomb and blase we’re now known for.

But doesn’t Rory realise that taking a picture of someone out of time – in a time – might rip apart the universe? I hope we’ll get more of that later in the series.

More important than all of that was the wide shot of the newly ma-WHO-ssive TARDIS – those layers, that light – The Doctor’s steampunk goggles? Brilliant production team, brilliant. Thank you. I was hoping we’d see more at some point and there was even a suggestion of more as one of the many doors was shown too.

Do you like her Francesco?

I certainly liked the performance of Roseanna – a well tuned piece of acting from Helen McCrory that was as alluring as vampires should be – and most of the core group this time around. Matt Smith on constant wobbly, ‘think brain think’ form with more overall paternity was good but I felt could definitely have been darker at Roseanna not knowing the name of Isabella and a lot more remiss at dooming another race, though I very much liked his modest hand waving at saving the world…again. Arthur Darvill [Rory] was as mentioned before.

The only problem for me this time around was Karren Gillen and Alisha Bailey – the actress playing Isabella. Not because either of their acting was terrible – far from it – but they were given difficult situations and lines to handle. Amy’s stuck between ignoring and kissing Rory and poor Isabella’s given the job of drowning – few actors drown well, Alisha Bailey isn’t one of them, I’m afraid.

I say we take the fight to them.

Anachronisms abounded in Venice – Guido [Isabella’s father] was wearing Rory’s shirt! Brilliant little bits like that had me smiling throughout – for example, how did no-one notice Roseanna’s perception filter device? Ah, it was cleverly concealed by a fashionable dress.

From anachronism to self-referentiality. All the knowing touches: the one in the title of this review was crackling with fanboy glee – as was The Doctor both when he thought he’d found vampires and then when he realised they were, in fact, alien and it is a classic device but put very simply – ‘Fish from space…classic’; “Blimey. Fish from space never seemed so…buxom” had a real BBC Three element to it that harked back to RTD’s camp [yes, in both senses of the word]; while another political throwaway comment meant the show leaning back to its left-wing origins, comparing private education to vampiric cults? Yes please, Toby Whithouse. After all, Amy Pond is now “…from OFSTED.” 😉

We don’t discuss this – I tell you to do something Amy and you do it!
“Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.”

It was good to see the Doctor taking in and acting on what Rory said and Matt Smith did I fine job of pushing Pond away. Though I’m sure it could have been done ham-fistedly, the ‘You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves’ argument felt like a pretty natural one for the two of them to have. The “Yours is bigger” kind of arguments, fun as they were, felt just that – fun and flippant and nothing more.

That’s most of the good but the one bad thing I’ve noticed but been put off discussing by the level of quality for a while is THE ORCHESTRATION.

AM I WRITING IN CAPS? AM I?

I COULDN’T TELL BECAUSE THE ORCHESTRATION IS SO CONSTANT THAT I FEEL LIKE I NEED TO MAKE MY POINT REALLY OBVIOUS AND GUIDE ANY POSSIBLE FEELINGS YOU HAVE BEFORE YOU’VE TIME TO FEEL THEM.

Sorry about that but I really think that the BBC Wales Orchestra needs to take some time off. They don’t need to fill in everything. Just gives us the juicy bits – the importantly loud bits – please. I know that it’s also down to the director, the sound director, the editor and Steven Moffat’s final say but I can imagine being in their position and thinking that ‘…seeing as how the work’s been done…we should include it!’

However, I think it important that – if another season is commissioned as I really hope it will be – they learn a little from the shows of old. Not just RTD but even way before then – one of the scariest bits for me of Paradise Towers and The Curse of Fenric were their SUPER LOUD SYNTHS and jumpy violins [respectively] coming out of nowhere.

Utter silence…

BAM!

More silence please.

Do you hear that?

Indeed there will be more silences to come as each episode looks set to now have some pointer to the entire Series 5 story arc – will Moffat and Smith be able to unwrite the history of the Sister of The Water and make sure her entire species can survive somewhere else? After all, the TARDIS does have a swimming pool.

We shall see. In time.

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