This post will contain spoilers for the tenth Matt Smith episode, Vincent and the Doctor. For such a famous painter, it's amazing the number of pronunciations we have for his name, Van Gock, Van Goff, Van Go (if you're american), I couldn't even estimate the dutch pronunciation! It was a [spoiler]nice opening with Bill Nighy, being, well Bill Nighy as an art gallery guide[/spoiler]. "Bow ties are cool...."
There were lots of lovely touches in the episode. The comment about '[spoiler]Dark Night, very Starry[/spoiler]' as the trio walked along to Vincent's house.
The set designers were inspired on this episode, bringing the world of Van Gogh to life. They did such a fantastic job.
The [spoiler]steampunk device which looked like a car mirror[/spoiler] was good fun, but a bit MacGuffin-like. It would have been more believable to make [spoiler]the monster only able to be seen indirectly (unless mad), and for the device to be a car mirror from a box of junk he had lying around[/spoiler].
I got the impression that it is meant a throwback to something seen in very early 'Who' - but I can't place it.
The device did give rise to one of my favourite lines: [spoiler]"This is the problem with the impressionists.... not accurate enough, this would never happen with Gainsborough or one of those.. proper... painters... sorry, Vincent."[/spoiler]
Tony Curran did extremely well as Vincent, and seeing [spoiler]Vincent swerve into a depressive episode, with a quick recovery, when the Doctor announced he would leave soon was particularly powerful to illustrate his unstable condition.[/spoiler]
The self portrait held up by Tony Curran is currently in Detroit. I thought it was a little bit of a shame that they didn't emulate Van Vogh's palette which was seen as they walked to the church - a very minor point, but one which would have been very cool.
I loved the painting sequence, [spoiler]the boredom of the Doctor was great to watch: "I remember watching Michaelangelo painting the sistine chapel. Wow! What a whinger! I kept saying to him: 'Look! If you're scared of heights, you shouldn't have taken the job mate'..... And Picasso, what a ghastly old goat, I kept telling him: 'Concentrate, Pablo. It's one eye... either side of the face'..... Is this how time normally passes? Reeallly Slowly.... in the right order.... If there's one thing I can't stand, it's an unpunctual alien attack." [/spoiler]
The monster was almost incidental to the episode, the main point of the episode was the character piece. [spoiler]The Doctor was concerned that their presence would put Van Gogh at risk, and that the paintings in the Musee d'Orsay would disappear, yet he takes the calculated risk of taking Van Gogh to the Musee d'Orsay - they return expecting to see many more paintings, but Van Gogh died on schedule - time can't be rewritten being the message, no doubt this will all come together in the next few episodes with 'The Crack' being resolved[/spoiler].
I do think it's a shame that a real feature in a Van Gogh painting was not able to be attributed to the adventure, or the existence of a real painting in its entirety ([spoiler]the sunflowers don't count[/spoiler], as Amy knew about them beforehand).
Again, I really enjoyed this episode, tying a real feature of a painting in at the end would have really put the icing on the cake.
If you want to see Van Gogh paintings for yourself, then the Van Gogh Gallery will help.
In the 'preview' for the following episode, [spoiler]we see an advert for a Van Gogh exhibition on the fridge (just above a photo).... and what is that shell thing in the Doctor's ear[/spoiler]?