With a “does exactly what it says on the tin” title, and an author whose name promises a particular compound of humour and sentiment, there were going to be no surprises in this episode of Doctor Who.
In Richard Curtis we have the other interesting new-to-Who writer of season fnarg. Interesting mostly because it was the real Richard Curtis, writer of Four Weddings…, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones etc. rather than because of any question of whether his brand of Romantic Comedy could be applied to Doctor Who. Of course it could. It was, rather well, already, by Russell T. Davies.
Van Gough made rather an appealing “historical guest” character (at some point I’m going to have to post about accents in Doctor Who) but the monster of the week was passable at best. There wasn’t, unless I missed it, even any attempt made to explain why Vincent could see it directly, and the Doctor could only see it in the mirror (was it a mirror?) because it was a diverting an mildly entertaining side story to pass the time. The real meat of the episode was in the closing minutes in 2010 Paris.
Bill Nighy was excellent in the pre-title sequence, and really illustrated what an absolutely outstanding Doctor he would have made. I was surprised when the episode continued without him, as I’d thought it was going to be a guest role rather than a cameo, but again, it was the Vincent at the Quai D’Orsay scene in which he was the (co-)star that was at the heart of the episode. It’s what Richard Curtis does so beautifully, and it wasn’t a “rom-com” scene at all, but a very affectingly realised moment of connection between the lonely mad Vincent and a man who represented the multitudes of appreciative audiences that admired and revered his work after his death.
So it was a, like many Curtis films, a bit uneven but with a brilliant and beautifully crafted speech at its heart.
I still prefer Love and Mosters, though.
And was this the first time this season a commercially released song has been used in the soundtrack?