Monday, 10 May 2010

Doctor Who: The Vampires Of Venice ( review with spoilers )

"Blimey, fish from space have never been so..... buxom."

After the widescreen epic that was the last two-parter, this week's trip in the Tardis is a lighter story, almost a "romp" as nobody but journalists would say, which still finds room for bloodied fangs and human fish-bait.

"Any where you want, any time you want. One condition: it has to be amazing!"

The Doctor, concerned at Amy's recent "Do you fancy a shag?" moment, whisks her and dopey boyfriend Rory back to sixteenth-century Venice, in the hopes of rekindling their romance. Here, the new Tardis team discover the exclusive girls' school run by Signora Calvierri is a front for vampiric aliens who plan to sink Venice and populate the Med with their rejuvenated aquatic race. In an attempt to rescue a Venetian boat-builder's imprisoned daughter, Amy is fanged by vamps, Rory takes on a sword-wielding alien, armed only with a broom, and the Doctor probably wishes he'd taken them to Butlin's instead.....

As usual with single-episode Who, the story zips along without much regard for logic, taking many narrative short-cuts and dodging plot-holes as it goes. The boat-builder and his daughter are cyphers and the aliens' physiology is suspect. And, it has to be said, the climax involving the Doctor climbing a tower to dismantle some alien tech is far too familiar for anyone who's watched The Idiot's Lantern or Evolution Of The Daleks.

However, apart from a few dodgy CGI moments, the whole thing looks fantastic, with the Croatian city of Trogir standing in handsomely for Venice. The beautiful backdrop of alleyways, arches, palaces and courtyards provides a perfect setting for the Hammer-horror pastiche of torch-wielding heroes and "pale, creepy girls who don't like sunlight". And the star-turn this week comes from Helen McCrory, regal and commanding but ultimately tragic as the guardian of a dying race, who shares some wonderful scenes with Matt Smith.

"One city to save an entire species. Was that so much to ask?"

And the Crack In Time arc makes its obligatory appearance as Signora Calvierri talks of the last days of her planet, Saturnyne:
"There were cracks. Through some we saw silence and the end of all things."

So, all in all, a fun episode, rating a good Three-And-A-Half Bow Ties.

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