5.6 – “The Vampires Of Venice”
Giving Amy and Rory a romantic treat, The Doctor takes them to Venice in 1580. Mysteriously, the city is under quarantine under the orders of the Patron, Signora Rosanna Calvierri. They investigate further and discover Calvierri runs a school for girls; a school where the girls forget having any life before going there and develop a strong aversion to sunlight. Could these be vampires or something even stranger and more deadly?
Oh Amy. Yes, I knew you had a fiancé, but you were always going to be able to get to the church on time – we’ve got a time machine, for God’s sake! So, after 5 weeks of suitably short skirts, cute-as-pie flirtyness and blatant Scottish sauce, who the hell thought it was a good idea to bring that numpty of a fiancé on board the TARDIS? Who? Oh, yeah, it was Who.
Except, Rory is not really a numpty. Arthur Darvill nails Rory – he is a bit of a Norbert, but it’s quickly obvious why Amy loves him. Of course she’s in charge; there isn’t a man alive who could order Amy about (and what man would want to?) He treads a fine line between confused and seemingly stupid, but never trips all the way over. Ultimately he’s just honest. He’s goofy, spending time on his stag do trying to tell Amy how much he loves her again, but this is no weakness – it’s a strength. This is a man who is not scared to say how he feels, rather than just covering himself up in macho hardness.
He even rattles The Doctor. There are few people who walk into the TARDIS and declare that the inside is another dimension rather than just gasp. Rory can see that there’s something going on between Amy and The Doctor and he’s not afraid to pull The Doctor up on it (even while they sneak through tunnels towards a horde of Vampires). He’s also sharp enough to see where The Doctor leads his companions; how The Doctor has no idea of the danger he lets others put themselves in. And he’s brave – knowingly going up against a fang-faced vampire fish alien with a sword while armed only with a broom is a fight for a guy with some serious balls. Of course, Amy saves his life.
So we’ll forgive Rory for crashing our ongoing dates with Amy (who wears fishnets and boots and possibly her shortest skirt yet in this episode) as it adds an extra dimension to Amy’s character, removes the unwanted attraction to The Doctor (mostly) and gives her someone to share the magic with. As for the rest of the episode, who wouldn’t love a school full of saucy vampire girls? There’s definitely a nod to Hammer Horror here. Helen McCrory’s Rosanna is a suitably sinister yet attractive villain, who evokes some sympathy in the face of her species’ demise. Unlike those bastard Daleks or Weeping Angels, she really is just trying to save her race from imminent extinction. But her own arrogance proves to be her species’ downfall.
Lucian Msamati, another guest star who would later go on to Game Of Thrones, is impressive as distraught father Guido. If this story has one glaring failure, it is the lack of impact that Guido’s death has. He sacrifices himself, and effectively seals the fate of the Saturnyne race yet The Doctor and co barely mark his passing. On the whole though, this is a good old monster romp, which brings Rory into the TARDIS in effective style. Amy’s attempt to jump The Doctor in the previous episode is explained and forgiven. Amy and Rory are adventuring together and in love. No need to labour the point, is there? We may revisit this issue.
Perhaps if this had just been a story about Vampire fish aliens in Venice, it might have been just plain, formulaic but fun. But the inclusion of Rory gives us some real character stuff for all three leads without being heavy-handed about it. A not too fishy (sorry) 7/10.
Written and edited by Richard Barnes