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Published on June 10th, 2010 | by Christian Cawley

Vincent and the Doctor Reaction

Doctor Who - Vincent and the Doctor stars Tony Curran as Vincent van GoghA little later this week, the reaction round-up – I’ve been trying to calm down after seeting over so-called Doctor Who fan Gavin Fuller’s attempt at a review in The Telegraph.

It hasn’t worked.

Short of turning this into a personal attack on someone who clearly is a fan of Doctor Who 1963-1989 (perhaps not even that late) can I just point out that anyone who wrote this review (presumably for money) either:

  • was pissed
  • was reading
  • wasn’t watching at all

Fuller’s review doesn’t just express a dislike of the episode – it betrays the fact, through several “plot holes” that were clearly explained and related in the script, that the guy (a former Mastermind champion, no less) has no more business to be reviewing Doctor Who than BP have opening a chain of coastal resorts.

On a more positive and relevant note, SFX finally awarded a new episode of Doctor Who 5 stars! Their summary is perfect:

…this is a genuinely magical episode of Who, high on atmosphere (the cobbled, monster-bothered night-streets of Provence) and bursting with charm (just watch Smith and Nighy bonding over their bow-ties, all Four Weddings English awkwardness). It’s reliably witty, of course – Curtis’ Doctor is a riot, whether namedropping that “ghastly old goat” Picasso or lamenting, “Is this really how time passes? Really slowly, in the right order?” – but there’s a striking note of melancholy, too.

SFX have been threatening full marks rarely of late, so its good to see that for them at least the current series has given us a great episode.

Sam Wollaston, reviewing in The Guardian, expressed hidden love for the episode in a series of back-handed compliments alternating with affected dislike for Richard Curtis’ work.

There are jokes too, because this is Curtis. It’s witty and clever; a starry night is suddenly, magically, The Starry Night. At times it’s ever so slightly irritating; yes, yes all right, we get and know that VvG wasn’t appreciated, even by himself, during his life, no need to go on and on about it.

The Independent’s Tom Sutcliffe appeared to greatly enjoy the episode, particularly the late scenes as van Gogh was brought forward in time to an exhibition of his work at the Musee D’Orsay… a moment which begs an interesting question:

It didn’t do to think too hard about the implications of this invention, given what actually happened in history. Did Vincent then go back to Arles and think “I really must be going nuts if I believe in time travel. I’d better end it all”? If you didn’t think too hard about it though it worked.

Finally, Gallifrey News Base reported that Vincent and the Doctor was watched by 5 million viewers according to overnight figures, a total that includes BBC HD and one that is also likely to increase as delayed viewing is factored in.

With 29.4%of the available audience tuned, the relatively low 5 million however made Doctor Who the 2nd highest rated broadcast of the day.


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

7 Responses to Vincent and the Doctor Reaction

  1. avatar Rick714 says:

    Fuller sounds like an over-inflated, pompous windbag who likes to bring attention to himself by going against the grain in all ways possible. As far as I’m concerned, he’s got about as much credibility as a “reviewer” as anyone else who’s blogging—an that’s pretty much everyone these days.

    Anyone who can turn a sarcastic phrase gets heralded as a “reviewer” these days. They’ve really set the bar low for what passes for “credentials” over the past several years.

  2. avatar Carn says:

    Yeah, I’m surprised people like that even have a job reviewing things when clearly he can’t do it.

    Can’t say I really pay attention to many reviews. Prefer just experiencing something myself and form my own opinion. Sometimes it agrees with the general public view and other times it varies hugely different.

  3. avatar mabtycoon says:

    This was possibly, amoungst some impressive competition, the worst thing to come into Dr Who since Russel T Davies.
    I dont usually weigh into these things because, mostly, I think people are so ridiciously happy to see The Dr back on the screen they’ll take any old rubbish and give it a positive review.
    This is, simply, not Doctor Who.
    Remember the original Star Wars films? Weren’t they good?!
    Remember the prequels that came after them? How terrible, how badly written, badly shot, badly acted they were? How successful they were. People loved them because they were ‘Star Wars’, they didnt HAVE to be good. They just had to ride the coat tales of people WISHING to relive the original awe.


    As an example, we havent had ANY philosophy from new Who. Where are the Genesis of the Daleks philosophical tussels? Where was the obvious philosophical paradox with the Silurians? Go back and watch Peter Davison or that Master of Men, Jon Pertwee fight, internally, over the issues involved in a choice like that.
    You dont HAVE to have any of that when the Dr knows everything, has a screwdriver (that used to be JUST a screwdriver) that can do ANYTHING. He doesnt HAVE to be cunning when theres a magic button or a plucky young Brit to make it up for him.
    The whole charm of the old Who was the Doctor himself was a little ragged round the edges. You weren’t sure he’d pull it off, but these days it seems simply BEING The Dr will suffice. And, whilst I’m here, in the old Who there was actually SCIENCE in the science-fiction. Explain to me, if at all possible, how a sonic screwdriver (a screwdriver working with sound waves, which is all it used to be) can boost the signal of a mobile phone so it works anywhere in space and time. Fiction sure, but not science, no sir. But I digress…

    All this episode proved is that Richard Curtis likes Vincents paintings. And couldn’t he have just tweeted that, and left us all alone?
    My own review goes something like:
    “The Dr and Vincent fight a giant invisble space chicken”
    Because that sums up the episode quite nicely, and in no more time or effort than it deserves.
    This reviewer you’re spitting it about is just telling it like it is, this episode has no imagination, no real plot-arc-continuity, no character development and nothing interesting to say or add.

    That godless pusher of audio atrocities, Big Finish, did an audio adventure where the Daleks take Shakespeare out of time and the world collapses into chaos, I find that more beleivable than Vincent and the Dr fighting a giant invisible space chicken.
    This new Who is a total failure.
    We should have ended with Survival (does anyone watching these days even remember that?) but here we are, wallowing in the aftermath of every failed attempt to make this work since Eccelston said “Run”.
    I feel lighter, it’s good to share….

  4. avatar IanOTimelord says:

    I really enjoyed this episode, and found out a lot about Van Gogh. The end where he is taken into the Tardis and brought to the gallery was wonderful, almost brought a tear to my eye.
    A friend thought this was what they had wanted Dr Who to do when the show started, educate people.

  5. avatar Rick714 says:

    Ian? Agreed.

    mabtycoon? You’re funny.

  6. avatar bluebox444 says:

    Whoa, mabtycoon. Calm down. I agree that the episode had its weak points, but there’s no need to throw the whole of NuWho out the window. Actually, I came close to agreeing with you wholeheartedly many times before the airing of “The Eleventh Hour”, so I understand where you’re coming from. I completely disagree with you about Big Finish, though. Obviously you haven’t heard any of their latest works.

    Anyway, I didn’t care for Vincent and the Doctor, but it seems that the very things I disliked about it were things that other people loved. So I guess I can’t really say that the episode was wonderful or terrible in and of itself. It was an episode that some people liked and other people didn’t like. We’ve had those before; we’ll have them again. (It sounds like next week’s ep will be one of them, judging by TotalSciFi’s review. They HATED it.)

    The main criticism I have of Vincent and the Doctor was that it didn’t seem to fit the mold of Doctor Who very well. It was a story that might have worked well in a different context, but it didn’t really mesh with the Whoniverse, particularly when paired with plot devices that have been used many times before (albeit successfully). Matt and Karen were brilliant, as usual, and I loved the scenes in which Amy seemed to be remembering Rory. I also liked Tony Curran as Van Gogh. I just wasn’t too impressed with the monster, I guess. A Weeping Angel would have been perfect in a story about a painter (“What if ideas could think for themselves? What if our dreams no longer needed us…?”)

  7. avatar Paul Cavanagh says:

    mabtycoon – sorry old chap, you lost me when you started off by sniping at RTD. Call me a traitor if you will, but I’m a complete Russell fanboy – I just don’t get Russell bashing – would you rather that we were still relying on New Adventures for our Doctor Who fix? However, I always enjoy a good rant, so please keep your entertaining posts coming!

    As for Gavin Fuller – I’d just like to point out to the Torygraph that I’m available for reviews…

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