The last two episodes I highlighted were pretty scary, so it’s time for a slightly more upbeat one.
Vincent and the Doctor
Written by: Richard Curtis
Aired: 2010, as part of Season Five
Featuring: the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond
Set in: Provence, France, 1890
Summary: The Doctor and Amy go back in time to meet Vincent van Gogh after the Doctor notices something “evil” in one of his paintings.
Unlike those in the last two episodes I highlighted,the monster in Vincent and the Doctor is far from the most interesting thing about the story. In fact, it’s a fairly weak villain that really just provides an excuse for the Doctor to go visit one of the most popular painters in history. Vincent is the heart of this episode, and it’s a large-hearted episode indeed. Every season of Doctor Who has at least one episode where we meet a famous historical person, but I think this is the best, simply because the actor (Tony Curran) makes Vincent more than a historical figure. He’s a living, breathing character who might be lacking in historical accuracy but is certainly not lacking in humour, pathos, or relatability. When he gives his speeches about the beauty of nature, it’s easy to imagine we’re really hearing the voice of the man who painted Starry Night.
The whole episode, in fact, is a celebration of art and imagination, full of beautiful images inspired by real Van Gogh paintings. It also gives great examples of the two ways people can respond to those who seem strange to us: either lashing out in fear, as the monster did (and as the Doctor responded to the monster), or by being kind, as Amy and the Doctor were to Vincent. And the museum scene at the end is one of the most touching moments in all of Doctor Who. This episode is the perfect thing to watch if you need cheering up after a hard day.
“Is this how time normally passes? Really slowly, and in the right order?” – the Doctor
“Sometimes winning is no fun at all.” – the Doctor
“Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world…no one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again. To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world’s greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.” – Museum Curator