A First-Timer Watches Doctor Who: “The Vampires of Venice”

Doctor Who


How does a free trip to Venice with your betrothed sound? Romantic? Relaxing? Culturally enriching? I’d say all of the above, but after watching “The Vampires of Venice” I’d be sure to read the fine print on that offer.

Some people might be a bit dismayed by the idea that Venice, circa 1580, is a city lorded over by alien bloodsuckers.

Other people, however, would be totally jazzed about it.

Similarly, some people might find having your romantic rival show up at your bachelor party to be a bit of a bummer. Others think that swapping places with a professional bikini-wearer and jumping out a cake in her place is an excellent way to make an introduction.

What some people may view as a benevolent ruler protecting them from a terrifying plague…

…others could see as the leader of an exiled alien fish race disguising themselves as a Venetian vampire.

One person’s simple ultraviolet light is another person’s rabbit hole of insecurity.

And so on.

The point is, this episode is all about perception: Amy’s perception of the Doctor, his of her, Rory (poor Rory) and his perception of his fiancee’s relationship with a Time Lord, etc.

There’s even that cool perception-altering device the fish lady Signora Calvierri wears to make her look human (to her own peril, eventually). She’s been using the thing to build up a following of “Sisters of the Water”—young women of childbearing age destined for her canal-dwelling alien sons, the so-called “10,000 husbands” she has hungrily waiting in the water to make babies and replenish the fish-faced race (snacking on unlucky humans as they bide their time).

Then there’s the Doctor’s oft-relied-upon psychic papers—identification props that display whatever information he wants them to. They play a big role in the episode, getting Amy, Rory and the Doctor into the city and having a hand in revealing the true identity of Signora Calvierri and her sons. (There’s an especially great moment where he goes to produce the papers and instead pulls out a library card—belonging to the First Doctor.)

Perceptions are changed during the show, too. The way Amy views Rory is altered when he, armed with only a broom and a snappy ‘yer mom’ joke, bravely steps up to fight a fanged vampire fish.

There’s also the idea of a lack of perception. Has the Doctor failed to see how big of a problem those cracks that have been following Amy are? He seems to think he can stave them off or outrun them—but they’re proving to be persistent. The Silence is definitely coming.