Astute viewers may notice some similarities between The Vampires of Venice and Toby Whithouse's previous Who script, School Reunion – voracious monsters disguised as humans; the low-key confrontation between the Doctor and the monsters' enigmatic spokesperson; the façade of a prestigious school; the companion's boyfriend playing lemon. By and large it all works well again, freshened up with a change of cast and a spot of location filming. Where it falls down is the ending.
The vampire girls have been dramatically dispatched, Amy and Rory have taken care of the Mummy's boy vampire, and all that's left is for the Doctor to talk chief vampire Rosanna into surrendering. Except that there's still ten minutes of the episode left to fill, so we have Rosanna switching on a machine that magically creates environmental chaos in Venice – including an earthquake, but not the tidal wave the Doctor says should follow – a bit of Batman-walking up the side of a bell tower, and the Doctor flipping the single switch that magically restores the Venetian environment to its former pristine condition. Switch the weather on, switch the weather off, sorted. Instant bobbins.
The episode was doing all right up until then. Nothing too taxing, just a pleasant spot of Hammer homage – ah, the old brushed-back hair and white shifts – and some pretty Croatian locations. (Well done, Croatia.) An innocuous, lightweight episode, a bit of a mid-season breather before next week's tricksy episode and the next two-parter.
Is it just me, or do all the best scenes in this episode have Rory in them? And yet I'd say it's not Rory himself, but the way the Doctor (and in the sword fight scene, Amy) plays off him that brings the scenes to life. I'm a bit hum-ho about Arthur Darvill, or at least about the way he's playing Rory – perhaps he'll grow on me. But the scenes are fantastic – the Doctor producing his ACME strip-light and awkwardly crashing the stag party are comedy gold, and there's some nice perceptive banter from Rory about the Doctor's character.
That's pretty much all I have to say about The Vampires of Venice. It'd be a fairly ordinary monster run-around if it weren't for the zingy comedy dialogue lifting it up, and the slack ending pulling it back down. I think it probably deserves a 6 out of 10.