Doctor Who and Impressionism

I know this is supposed to be a blog about Polish music, etc., but I’d like to talk about this week’s Doctor Who episode (as aired on BBC America).  There is a connection to Polish folk dancing… for me that is, but more about that later.

Even though I watch the old shows now on DVD, I was never a fan  of Doctor Who, that is, until Christopher Eccleston first uttered the immortal phrase:  “Run!”,  all the way until David Tennant tearfully said:  “I don’t want to go!”

Those shows had a very real feeling, and I laughed and I cried and I loved.  But this new series with Matt Smith seems to have gone back to the cartoonish look for me.  Nothing wrong with the Doctor, but there are some annoyances in the scripts, and the production gives the show that old “wobbly set” look, doesn’t it?

That said, I love the latest episode:  Vincent and the Doctor !! I even cried !!

First of all the look fit perfectly with the Impressionistic style of Vincent Van Gogh !  (I loved what they did to the sky !!) And the story line was not the usual … the Doctor fighting a monster, with a historical figure like Dickens or Shakespeare along for the ride…  This show was about Van Gogh, with the monster as incidental.

Now, I’m not a fan of Impressionism, nor of Van Gogh, but I was totally able to feel Amy’s awe at being in Vincent’s presence, and the thrill of  being in the artist’s home, surrounded by his paintings.  I had that same experience when the Mazowsze Polish Folk Song and Dance Company’s head choreographer, Witold Zapała invited me to Karolin to watch him work with the dancers.  It just doesn’t get better than that !!

Of course, with Doctor Who, this is all the  more poignient because Amy has recently suffered a loss, which she does not remember, and Vincent Van Gogh is also not long for the world.   The best part, of course, was the ending, when the Doctor transports the artist to the future so that he can see how beloved he has become in our time.  The actor playing Van Gogh did a remarkable job in conveying his emotions.

As for the monster…well, the Moral of the Story is that Vincent saw things that the rest of us cannot.  That is why his paintings look the way they do.  I finally have an understanding and appreciation of the Impressionist.


About Łowiczanka

I'm a former dancer who loves all things Polish, especially the music... whether it be folk songs and dances from Poland, or polka music from Chicago. Oh, yes, and I love pierogi !
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8 Responses to Doctor Who and Impressionism

  1. richardsblah says:

    Interesting blog. I also loved the way that episode explored the idea that great artists really do see the world differently. And I liked that it avoided any cliches about the monster being Van Gogh’s personal demons made real, or whatever. There was something in Tony Curran’s performance that definitely resonated with me emotionally, and his joyful realisation at the end that he will eventually be understood was what pushed me to tears. Great episode.

    I’m of the generation that grew up watching original Doctor Who; with Pertwee, Baker and Davison. Back then, the shonky sets and crappy special effects only served to illustrate how great some of the scripts were. They had to be! It took me a very long time to warm to the new shows. I found both Eccleston and Tennant to be rather weak actors in the role, compared to their predecessors. Matt Smith, however, has been a revelation. I have to say, I’ve found the production values of Smith’s season to be a lot better than those of Tennant’s. More location-based, less tacky coloured lighting. I love Doctor Who again! 🙂

  2. Persia says:

    I guess it depends on when you started watching Doctor Who when it comes to which Doctor and which style of show you like.
    The”wobbly set” cartoonish look, as Lowiczanka calls it, and the simplistic writing put me off from the older series, but Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee were great Doctors ! I really started watching with Chris Eccleston. The show suddenly looked like real-life, and not sci-fi.
    At first I was sorry to see the 9th Doctor go, but then I totally fell in love with David Tennant, who, I believe, completely became the Doctor. I found myself laughing out loud, especially with Donna as his companion. And I couldn’t believe that was actually crying when he had to wipe her memory. The show was so real !!
    I do like Tom Baker and Matt Smith, but the new series seems a throwback to the old series … which is a disappointment to me, but not to older fans, like Richardsblah. (That said, I, too, loved the look and feel of the Vincent story.)
    Ok, so my vote goes to David Tennant for best Doctor, but Troughton and Pertwee and Eccleston are my runners-up!

  3. Dale T. says:

    We’ve been talking about the various Doctors, but what about the writers?? They have a lot to do with what makes the Doctor good or bad. Steve Moffat had written some of my favorite episodes: Blink, Empty Child, and Girl in the Fireplace, but this season his writing has been disjointed, and he has been steeling from his own past storylines.
    While I liked that he had the Doctor establish a relationship with an 8 year old Amy, that idea he stole from his own Girl in the Fireplace !
    And when he brought back the Weeping Angels, he totally changed what they were all about, by making it a bad thing that Amy was looking at them ! Then, with the ‘Angel Bob’ voice, he copied the ‘data-ghost’ from ‘Proper Dave’, et al in Silence in the Library. Also when a person was touched by the angels, no mention of them being sent to the past, instead, they disappeared totally from existance, no one remembered they existed. What?? Moffat ruined his own creation !
    Thankfully there are many Doctor Who writers, so even though one episode might be bad, another turns out to be great, like Vincent and the Doctor. That episode has renewed my faith in the series.

    • Joe says:

      One small point I would amplify, is that exposure to the chronal energies from the Crack in the Universe is what wiped Rory (and the clerics) from history, not the touch of the angels.

      Still, Moffat has earned a pass from me, and I’m willing to watch whatever he puts on the air – even if it’s late.

      • lowiczanka says:

        Yes, you are right, it was the crack, not the angels who wiped the clerics from existance.
        But there were a couple of other additions to the Angels mythology that I, too, found annoying…. like Amy’s counting, and their absorbtion of radiation from the crashed spaceship. Too many unrelated details about the Weeping Angels. I liked them better in Blink, when they were simple, but terrifying !
        Their appeal was that they sent people back in time.
        However, Moffat is still my favorite writer. I think he has just been trying too hard to make the series a success under his watch.

  4. Joe says:

    Perhaps the “wobbly set” look you are alluding to is a side effect so the producers’ intention to give the series a “fairy tale” look and feel (though if I was a child and somebody told me a “fairy tle” with the Weeping Angels in it, I probably would never sleep again!

    I am a fan of van Gogh, so when the episode made “Starry Night” come alive, I was really moved. Not as moved as I was when van Gogh got to visit the future, but turning the real sky into a painting was a master stoke by the storytellers.

    Amy boggling over meeting van Gogh made her feel very real. I think most people would react the same way. Just imagine being there when the Grand Moff and crew are making DOCTOR WHO!

  5. Linda Rubin says:

    I agree the starry night animation was pretty impressive, but this is no way to appreciate Van Gogh. If you get a chance, expose yourself to some of his original paintings. I could not help weeping while touring the LACMA exhibit years ago. Packed with visitors as it was, I was overwhelmed by the emotion that went into the creation of those sculptural paintings. You could get up close enough to see the thick paint brushed on each canvas. One of my favorites was of a pair of well worn boots. Don’t know why but it was incredibly moving.

  6. Meints says:

    Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to search out any individual with some original thoughts on Doctor Who. Love your blog !

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