It has taken me a long time to get into Doctor Who. A long time. Only recently after a promise to my younger siblings has The Doctor fallen through the cracks and found a home in my little heart. You’ll have to excuse me for it, when it comes to television I am wholly ignorant and chose to reside happily in my film world. But working for a site so impassioned for Doctor Who and being perhaps the one member who didn’t Doctor Who every day meant that I was way behind the rest. I missed what they were all enthused about, I couldn’t see it and chose to only see the bad effects or strained cheesy monsters.
But I am currently sat here watching episode after episode without any other push from other Doctor Who fans. In fact, this was all me; I had a bite and now I can’t let go because it has all finally clicked. I don’t quite want to let go.
I can tell you the exact moment in which the show caught me off guard, presenting aliens and monsters in a ridiculously human way. The episode was Vincent and the Doctor and after reading an article here, I feel more compelled to enthuse on so much about this one particular part of the show. Vincent and the Doctor tells the tale of the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond who are inspired to go visit the famed French Painter after spotting a monster in one of the paintings. When they go to his era and his time, they find out very quickly that he is superbly talented yet horribly plagued by a mental disorder. A mental disorder that would lead to his suicide.
Putting the monster a side for a second, Vincent and the Doctor is a really powerful episode. Written by Richard Curtis, it isn’t any wonder. Curtis is well known for bringing poignant humanistic characters with human stories that are complex and wrought. Here, his eloquent writing is just as powerful in the small time slot given. He manages to paint a picture of a man who was haunted by demons. The reason that this is so powerful is because Curtis understands the misplacement of emotions someone suffering from depression has. Van Gogh, at times, could harness the beauty and the swirling colours of the world that has been cruel and unkind. Van Gogh manages to take in the excitement that Doctor and Amy bring.
In this episode, it could have easily been left there. Our double act visit Van Gogh, see his paintings and fight a monster. But the aching beauty that comes in this episode is the need to show Van Gogh just how influential his work becomes. Well known, Van Gogh is never appreciated and dies, unfortunately, not knowing his genius radiates through time. The Doctor shows him as well as getting an expert Doctor Black to tell all just how vital and important he is. It is gut wrenching to watch Van Gogh overdone with this knowledge; so exultant in it. Not only is Curtis impressively showing off his own love for Van Gogh but the fantasy of letting a broken mind know how vital it is in the world is a terrible need for some.
In particular, Amy who spends most of the episode hoping to save him. She is so earnest trying to help Van Gogh realise his potential and how special he is in history. She truly believes that she has saved him, that from the brink of his sorrow, she has reached and pulled him back from the edge. When she finds out she didn’t, her heart break is resounding.
In the darkness, though, you can still offer support and that help will mean the world to them.
And in that moment, I saw what Doctor Who was for everyone. I saw what it was for me. It was emotions, fantasy and it was life; the good stuff and dark. Neither negates the other. They just swirl around in the darkness, a battle of fire and colour. Through time, forever.