So! I've seen "Vincent and the Doctor", "The Lodger", and "The Pandorica Opens" since the last time I posted to this thing (I've gotta stop waiting until I've seen three episodes and then post about them all at once), so, what did I think?
Vincent and the Doctor--I ended up liking more than I thought I would...Vincent Van Gogh is my mother's very favourite artist and so I grew up hearing about his tragic story from a young age, she's had prints of his Starry Night and Sunflowers up on the wall ever since I can remember, etc. So I was concerned as to whether they'd treat him seriously, or do the typical "Whee it's a whirlwind tour through history where we can meet any random historical celebrity we want, yay!" Ya know, closer to the "Young Indiana Jones" or "The Radio Adventures of Doctor Floyd!" kind of attitude. (Mind you, I like both those shows...)
But no, they treated Vincent's genius and insanity both with the best kind of respect I could've hoped for, and didn't over-romanticise him either. The part where they look up and see the stars the way he sees them? If the rest of the episode had been written any differently, that would've bothered me as over-the-top cheesy awestruck worshipful, but here, it was just weird and beautiful. And this is a line--in fact, perhaps THE line--that New Who has been extremely unsuccessful in straddling in all four seasons of the past, so that's kind of amazing.
And the sunflowers...and the way they recreated actual paintings of his out in the real world (the cafe! my god!), and the whole thing with "You have lost something recently, haven't you?" and Amy crying when she doesn't know why oh dear...
My one problem with it was the scene where they took him to the present day--I was all, "WHAT?! No, seriously....WHAT?!" I know there are no more laws of time if there's nobody around to enforce them, but cheese and crackers, Doctor! And the Linkin Park or whatever pop music in the background--did that really need to be there? People have pointed out that modern-day music has been used on Who before but...has it ever actually just BEEN the background music, like, a normal, integrated part of the soundtrack? For example, when they used "Tainted Love" and Britney Spears, that was on a device somebody was playing. It wasn't, like, OUR, the audience's, background music for a scene.
Anyway. Goodbye, dear Vincent. Perhaps they'll listen now.
On to "The Lodger". This one hit me as...odd...the whole way through. I hate to bash on it as it was written by Gareth Roberts, whom I have praised before but it seems I have two entirely schizoid opinions of him. His episodes on "Sarah Jane Adventures" are among the best on that show, capable of throwing in the occasional really freaky, sci-fi-ish, even heart-ripping bit that transcends the kiddishness without going so dark that kids couldn't watch it, and his Big Finish audios can be HILARIOUS. (Seriously, look up "The One Doctor" sometime.)
However...his works on New Who proper are, without fail so far, ALWAYS the ones that make me roll my eyes in disbelief that I could have POSSIBLY just actually, for real, witnessed anything that stupid. "The Unicorn and the Wasp" with somebody who's half-wasp and the Doctor eating and spitting all over the place grossly..."The Shakespeare Code" with freaking HARRY POTTER SPELLS being used to repell witch-aliens, really?!, and now this.
He seems to, come to think of it, kind of do the thing that I normally like--i.e., injecting a bit of the other style into something to balance it out a bit. Who can get dark; he injects silly. Sarah Jane can get frivolous; he injects serious. As somebody who seems to have that kind of a sense of "balancing" myself--I pick out the comedy relief character in a mostly dark series as my favourite (Wally West on "Young Justice")...but then pick the one who has any seriousness to them at all in a mostly shallow, screwball comedy (Germany in "Axis Powers Hetalia"), you'd think I'd be on board with that. But it seems it only works with the writing style of one series and not the other, for Roberts.
Anyway. What I'm on about it is that it was not the actual plot...so much (although ENOUGH with the Power of Luv business!) of "The Lodger" that threw me off, as the whole, overal...feel, of the episode. It was just so fast-paced and off-kilter and...WEIRD! I don't know Eleven very well yet, true, but I still felt he was out of character this whole time. He was just so...off. It wasn't just the not knowing ordinary Earth stuff that we all assumed he had known for a long time by now, but just...I dunno. Expressions. The way he moved. The way everything moved. The whole thing just felt so...OFF that I spent the entire time going "Okay, Doctor, you can drop the act now, you're done dazzling your way into the apartment, time to start acting like yourself now..." and it was just...yeah. I dunno.
The whole FEEL of the episode felt off and jarring and just...not right. It was very, very distracting. It's not the humour, the quirky ordinary middle-class characters or the slice-of-life-ness I object to, it's the overall...everything.
And now we come to "The Pandorica Opens". As with these two-parters, I usually feel like I shouldn't comment until I've seen the whole thing and can knowledgeably say what I think about the whole story, but I'm already three episodes behind on this blog, anyway. What did I think?
Well...the Doctor's "Wembley Stadium Moment" is indeed as stupid as others have said. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one. Back in the day, I would've RAAAGGGGEEEDD about this, but at least this time we don't have people literally praying the Doctor back to life as Tinkerbell Jeebus and/or the Companion being in love with him at the same time as he does his "I AM SO AWESOME AND BADASS, YOU CAN JUST GIVE UP NOW!" speech to the heavens. So it could've--and HAS--been worse.
Rory is back...as an Auton...okay. That's...weird. Until we find out more about WTF?, that's all I have to say about that. Except that the underplayed-comedy way they had the Doctor finally realise "the obvious" in that scene didn't bug me--it read as about right for the character and was funny.
Amy's favourite subject in history class was Ancient Rome, huh? Interesting...as that's one of my personal favourite areas of history too, but NOT for the same reasons as her ("invasion of the hot Italians..." indeed. :P) Nah, in my case, I got ensnared by "I, Claudius" and the like. Anyway. The Roman army is one of "the most dangerous forces in the universe", huh, Doctor? Against SPACESHIPS?! With like, entire-continent-destroying lasers that can get you before you can even think about organising a phalanx? "Grandpa Rome" was pretty badass, Doctor, but I dunno about THAT. One of the most badass in EARTH history, sure. In the UNIVERSE, however, no.
All the coincidences NOT being coincidences was interesting...the slow pan over all the aliens was cheesy (and like others, I'm disappointed that they gave all these names but then DIDN'T show anything we haven't seen since 2005! They promised Draconians and Zygons, I want Draconians and Zygons, dangit!) and I have to say, I didn't guess what was in the Pandorica until the last moment, when it was obvious what they were about to do. I mean, we've run into extremely dangerous uber-beings before (such as the thing in "The Satan Pit") so I figured it could be one of those?
And how the FREAK did all those spaceships "zoom about" in the same orbit without crashing into each other?! Geez, guys.
EDIT: Also, River Song defacing the OLDEST MESSAGE IN THE UNIVERSE to say "Hello, Sweetie" just to get the Doctor's attention.. Or is that what it always said...now? Time travel is confusing. At any rate, WHAT THE FUCK? Did you come up with no other way to send him a message? Have you never heard of phones? Or Twitter? Or carrier pigeons?
(And I really--I mean, REALLY--more-than-half expected the message to say: "WE APOLOGISE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE".)
And then there's the oddly underplayed "death" of Amy...oh. (And the crack. THAT CRACK appearing on the viewscreen of the TARDIS itself, inside where it's supposed to be safe! (shivers) Ooh...not good...))
Overall? A bit cheesy, but I'm curious to see how it plays out. Not the worst season-ender story I've seen so far on this show, by a long shot.
In other news, I DO have other stuff I want to talk about besides Who, really...but as long as I keep futzing around and not posting until I've seen at least three episodes and have to review them all at once in one post, that will have to keep. I just don't post often enough on this thing, in general. But this is still a step up from when I used to not post at all for several months, so, who knows.
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