Vincent and the Doctor is the best episode of Doctor Who ever written. Fact. The acting is perfect and the script coherent, rarities in the show pre Moffat and Smith’s tenure. The ending speech given by the Doctor to explain to Amy why Vincent still ended up committing suicide, despite there seemingly having cheered him up is particularly touching.
The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.
What’s more this episode in particular deals with tremendously hard topics – depression and suicide – with compassion and understanding that – given that it’s a Saturday tea-time kid’s show – beggars belief. Not only does the episode deal with these difficult topics, it manages to do so without becoming weighed down by them. At times it’s light and airy – Amy’s heavy handed gift of sunflowers – and at times deeply comic – – it never strays too far from it’s roots though.
The use of a monster that no one can see is in itself a subtle way of referencing depression. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. With his sensitive handling the show communicated a very strong message about the difficulty of dealing with depression in others and it did so in such a perfectly balanced manner it threw into sharp relief Russell T Davies’ handling of gay rights issue which – whilst laudable – were amateurish and heavy handed. Despite still having overall misgivings about the over reliance on time-travel gotchas in Moffat’s Doctor Who, episodes like this give me hope that we will see more well written episodes in the future.