There’s something fishy about Doctor Who this series. First, it was Fish Custard. Then, there was a space whale. Now, it’s Fish From Space.
Bird’s Eye should make The Doctor their spokesperson.
“The Vampires of Venice,” written by Toby Whithouse, doesn’t actually have anything to do with vampires. Alien piranhas, more like. The Saturnynians, whose queen has saved the males after their planet was destroyed, arrived in 16th century Venice, where their queen plans to sink the already waterbound city and create and repopulate a new home. Repopulate a new home with only males? Yeah, The Doctor noticed that, too. Turns out that the plan is to round up suitable single young women, turn them into their kind in a vampire-like fashion, and pair them with the Piranha Boys.
Of course, all that isn’t really what this episode of Doctor Who is about, either. It’s about Rory and The Doctor whipping them out and seeing whose is bigger.
Then Amy whips hers out, and it’s bigger than both of theirs combined.
“The Vampires of Venice” kind of makes me want to write an episode of Doctor Who and title it “Ménage à TARDIS,” (©Teresa Jusino) as Rory thoroughly casts off “Tin Dog” status and proves himself to be a man, and a boyfriend, to be reckoned with. For once, The Doctor feels threatened, and it’s clear he’s unprepared for fiancé backtalk.
As I’ve been watching “classic” Who, I’ve really enjoyed the times when The Doctor has traveled as part of a trio. It’s a great dynamic, particularly when The Doctor travels with a man and a woman: Doctor, Barbara, Ian; Doctor, Vicki, Steven; Doctor Polly, Ben; Doctor, Zoe, Jamie. Even when romance is hinted at, as in the case of Ian and Barbara for example, it’s never allowed to overshadow the adventure of the episode, and it doesn’t include The Doctor. While I certainly have no problem with The Doctor being a sexual being (in 900 years…you’re gonna have some sex!), and I don’t have a problem with him falling in love with a companion or two, in the new series it’s become a thing. There’s been a romantic element between Doctor and companion for both Nine and Ten; requited in the case of Rose, unrequited in the case of Martha, and overemphasized as a non-issue with Donna, an expected thing that had to be constantly refuted or clarified. Hell, even Jack Harkness kissed The Doctor.
Now, with Eleven and Amy, all the press leading up to their debut and a majority of the subsequent fan reaction seem to be expecting them to get it on, despite the comments to the contrary from Moffat, Smith, and Gillan. Despite the kisses on Amy’s forehead, and despite the fact that she’s going to be marrying someone else. Yes, she kissed The Doctor at the end of the last episode, but in that moment she was a child seeking adult comfort. (I know that in my last review I praised her as a sexually confident woman—but check out the comments on that review. I’ve revised my opinion.) There was nothing loving about it. As of right now, I’d say that on both sides there’s nothing romantic between them. Do they love each other? Yes. But they aren’t in love with each other.
Which brings us back to the wonderful Rory, played by the incredibly talented Arthur Darvill. Rory is great, because not since Ian Chesterton has there been a man traveling in the TARDIS with the Doctor. They’ve all been boys, despite their ages, but Rory is most definitely a Man, which is beneficial to both Amy and The Doctor. Amy needs someone mature to be her anchor, to balance her. The Doctor needs someone to challenge him, so that he can be better and not take his own superiority for granted. Rory is capable of doing both. I couldn’t help but compare him to Mickey, Rose’s love interest who did some time in the TARDIS. Mickey asked Nine to lie to Rose so that she wouldn’t find out that he was too afraid to go traveling with them. Rory asked Eleven to lie in order to get Amy back in the TARDIS to keep her safe. Rose had to lead a frightened Mickey around all the time, while Amy has, in Rory, the benefit of someone who thinks this time travel business is really cool. Mickey’s the kind of guy who’d leave Rose when she’s just gone through something scary to go watch some game on TV. Rory’s the kind of guy who drunkenly calls Amy from his stag party to tell her he loves her just before the stripper shows up. Mickey was always scared senseless even with a big gun, or even behind a computer screen. Rory acquits himself well in a fight despite his fear using only a broom. Most importantly, Mickey always deferred to The Doctor. Rory, from the very beginning, would never give up equal footing.
While these qualities might make a lesser character a chauvinist, it’s clear that Rory doesn’t want to dampen down anything about Amy. He jumps in to protect her only when absolutely necessary, and as he’s known her since they were children he knows what a strong-willed Alpha Female she is; he chooses to marry her anyway, most likely because of the kind of person she is. When Amy slighted Rory with sarcastic remarks, or made him pretend to be her brother and not her fiancé, I wanted to strangle her, because Rory is completely undeserving of her bad attitude. Even better, he didn’t silently sulk in those moments. Mickey would’ve sulked until forced to explode in a childish fit of rage. Rory calls Amy on her crap just as easily as he calls The Doctor on his. Rory and Amy are good partners for each other. Thankfully, Amy came to her senses, kissed him, and invited him to travel with them in the TARDIS. I look forward to watching them become champions for each other, with The Doctor there to lead them along, their shared adventures forging an unbreakable bond between them.
Now that I’m done praising Rory to the skies, I have to point out that this is the funniest we’ve seen Matt Smith since fish custard. His Ricky Gervais-esque awkwardness when coming out of the cake at the stag party was priceless, and his entire performance showed his extensive range. For me, he’s already blown away David Tennant a million times over, and this episode pretty much cemented that opinion for me.
The story itself was great, in that it was fast-paced and unobtrusive. The Saturnynian plot was just clever enough to be interesting, while just simple enough to allow the real story—the story of how The Doctor brought Rory into the fold to remind Amy why she loves him and how they come to function as a unit—to shine. This was a great episode, and a wonderful introduction to the newest member of Team TARDIS.
My only question? How in the hell did Rory’s stag party shirt fit that Venetian? Rory is a skinny dude, and Isabella’s father is a big guy! I guess it, like the TARDIS, is bigger on the inside?
Teresa Jusino was born on the same day that Skylab fell. Coincidence? She doesn’t think so. She is a contributor to PinkRaygun.com, a webzine examining geekery from a feminine perspective. Her work has also been seen on PopMatters.com, on the sadly-defunct literary site CentralBooking.com, edited by Kevin Smokler, and in the Elmont Life community newspaper. She is currently writing a web series for Pareidolia Films called The Pack, which is set to debut Fall 2010! Get Twitterpated with Teresa, Follow The Pack or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.