Doctor Who 5.06 - Arthur Darvill, Karen Gillan and Alex Price
Doctor Who 5.06 Vampires of Venice - (background) Rory (Arthur Darvill) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), (foreground) Francesco (Alex Price) © BBC

Having stopped Amy’s advances to him, the Doctor decides it’s best to take her and fiancé Rory to the romantic city of Venice in the 16th Century, but there are vampires there already. Or are there…?

Too silly. Too trite. What could, and should, have been a creepy story in dimly-lit Venetian buildings became just another fun lightweight romp. Presumably there were little actual darkened areas because this production team hasn’t got the hang of HD cameras in low light conditions – hence Amy’s flood-lit garden back on Earth.

Isabella (Alisha Bailey) and the 'vampires', none of whom seem bothered by the strong sunlight! © BBC
Isabella (Alisha Bailey) and the ‘vampires’, none of whom seem bothered by the strong sunlight! © BBC

About the only thing that really worked was the music, which seems to be toning down the over-the-top approach of these past few years. A pity that the sound mixing still fails to get the balance right, with some of the dialogue being lost in mumbles.

The writing has still not got over the fact that the Doctor has complete control of the TARDIS. So, yet again, why didn’t he just use it to get into Rosanna’s “castle”, rather than the highly implausible ruse by Amy to get inside? After all, what’s a tunnel doing in a city built on water? And since we know that the TARDIS can go into hover mode, the Doctor could have bypassed the ridiculous climb up the tower to sort out the alien device. OK, the TARDIS is not used because we need a story, but they can’t use it in one episode and forget it the next.

Over the series’ long history there has been one room that has often been mentioned, and sometimes seen, the wardrobe. Yet here the three time travellers walk out in 21st Century clothes and no one bats an eyelid. Amy’s miniskirt should have raised more than an eyebrow, and Rory’s printed t-shirt with a picture of him and Amy should have been a marvel to behold. I began to wonder of the travellers were actually there, failing to draw any attention – and that was after the Police Box seemed to materialize in the middle of a market place. Ludicrous!

The 'vampires', meant to be frightening... © BBC
The ‘vampires’, meant to be frightening… © BBC

The explanation of the vampires, including why we could see their fangs and that they did have any reflections was nicely thought out. It was then a shame, though, that having established that the ‘vampires’ only looked like humans, rather than actually change their shape, the ‘vampires’ in human form only ever took up the volume of a human, rather than the actual larger shape of the real creature. It’s an old mistake, but one that should have been considered. But then the ‘vampires’ were far too human in their attitudes, emotions, etc. Tedious…

Also boring is yet another lot of aliens who know of the Time Lords, that the Doctor has to say, yet again, that he is a Time Lord, and that Rosanna seemd to know about the Doctor. It’s all so parochial. Doesn’t anyone realize how big the Universe is, before even adding in the factor of time?

Thankfully, this story failed to reach the low points of earlier in the season, but not by much really. It wasn’t exciting, thrilling, creepy, or much of anything else…

[Rating: 3]

Jan Vincent-Rudzki

UK editor of Film Review Online