The Doctor and Amy are especially excited with the gallery for Vincent van Gogh.
Many of van Gogh pieces are displayed, including “The Church at Auvers (1890)”. However there is something irregular discovered on the painting – a small alien image within a window pane. The Doctor quickly takes Amy back to 1890 where they locate the troubled artist that upsets the locals, cannot pay his bills, and is able to see an invisible monster that no one else is able to see.
This is a great, heartfelt episode that is hampered by plot.
I haven’t seen much black and white Classic Who, but it’s my understand that when the show started it functioned as an after school teaching tool (something that fit perfectly on PBS state-side). I like the idea, but I probably would not have loved the heavy, out of place exposition about historical events that would inevitably come with shows trying to teach you something.
The nice thing about this era of Who, before it went strictly goofy sci-fi, was that it didn’t always require some alien threat. Some of the danger came from the historical circumstances the characters found themselves in.
This is an element that I wish hadn’t died out as the nature of the show changed, and this episode is a perfect example of why.
While the plot of this episode is average at best, the character work between Amy and Vincent is amazing. It’s definitely hampered by the lame alien threat, though, and I wish the alien hadn’t been there at all.
Sure, it might be dangerous to have an episode of a rollicking space adventure that does not feature a rollicking plot, space, or adventure, but I think it’s a gamble that could have paid off handsomely here, based on what goes on outside of the alien threat. Vincent is an interesting character, and his depression is tied in nicely with the more metaphorical depression that Amy is going through (without even realizing it – ouch).
The alien has so little screen time that it becomes overly obvious how unimportant to the story it is. Plus, whenever it shows up, it eats up time that could have been further devoted to Vincent’s late-in-life plight.
The episode is also responsible for some of the most beautiful imagery the show has ever had. I mean, that scene near the end when Vincent “shows” The Doctor and Amy what life is like through his eyes is amazing both visually and emotionally.