Sunday, June 27, 2010

Review: Doctor Who episode 5.10: Vincent and the Doctor

I could sit here and bitch about this episode. About how there were moments of awkward embarassment, clumsily handled interactions between Vincent van Gogh and the invisible monster. Or I could bitch about all the little, cloying , pointless, "oh look we've got van Gogh in our episode! Here are all our van Gogh references!" jokes. But I'm not going to. I'm not going to, because this episode was actually great.

Sure, it had its problems. It wasn't perfect. But the moment when van Gogh walked into the art gallery and received all that praise he should have gotten during his life time, well, it was transcendental. It was the happy ending van Gogh deserved, and the fact that it was only possible for him to receive that ending in a show about time travel shows two things: 1.) we live in a stupid world, were stupid things happen all the time; 2.) story telling is us humans' way of rectifying this inherent stupidness, and when it does, it can be magical.

As far as I can see, there have been two main complaints lobbed against this part of the episode. The first complaint is that it is over-sentimental goo. To this, I say, "I don't care." I have no other response. I understand your position, and feel no animosity towards you for holding it, but fuck off. I don't care.

The second complaint is one that I don't even really understand. The complaint is - if van Gogh knew that he would be regarded as the greatest artist of all time, why would he still kill himself in six months? To this, I respond, "he's clinically ill. He has depression. People with depression don't exactly think about things rationally. Nor do moments of happiness negate the clinical illness." And also, "what, so no successful people ever killed themselves? While you were watching Gus van Sant's Last Days, did you sit there and think, "I just don't buy that this guy would kill himself. Look at him, he's successful, famous, adored. What is his problem?""

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