The Greatest TV Episode of the Decade? It’s Doctor Who‘s “Vincent and the Doctor.”
When talking about the greatest TV episode of the last decade, many have their own takes, but I cannot stop going back to Doctor Who and its episode on Vincent Van Gogh. “Vincent and the Doctor” aired back in 2010, focusing on the life and work of the famous painter. When the Doctor (then portrayed by Matt Smith) realizes that there is an alien race in the background of one of Vincent’s paintings, he has to go back to visit him with Amy Pond (Karen Gillan).
The episode is structured like many of Doctor Who‘s historical episodes. The Doctor and his companion go back in time to visit a figure in history, we learn more about said figure, and the Doctor and his companion carry on their merry way. Maybe it’s because of the sad nature of Vincent Van Gogh’s life or maybe it’s just the beautiful writing of Richard Curtis, but there’s something so special about the episode.
One of the moments that has stayed with me ever since I first saw the episode was Van Gogh seeing the impact that his paintings had on the world in the future.
Truly, I don’t think I’ve ever watched that scene and not cried over it, because even though Van Gogh still commits suicide, he is changed for the better by meeting Amy and the Doctor, in a way that results in Amy Pond inspiring his famous sunflower painting and Van Gogh dedicating it to her.
Historical fiction can often be fun, but there’s something about “Vincent and the Doctor” that brings to life the importance of these historical figures. Van Gogh was troubled and focused his energy on how terrible he found his work to be, because of what people at the time were feeding into him. He was filled with self-doubt, and the episode gave a look into appreciation and the importance of lifting each other up while we are here and can see our own potential.
It’s the episode that inspired me to study theater in college, the episode that cemented Eleven as my favorite Doctor, and the one that reminded me of the beauty of art and what television can really do for us all. So yes, to me, “Vincent and the Doctor” is the greatest episode of television of the last decade. To be fair, I might think that it’s the best episode of TV of all time.
I leave you with this parting quote:
“Hold my hand, Doctor. Try to see what I see. We’re so lucky we’re still alive to see this beautiful world. Look at the sky. It’s not dark and black and without character. The black is in fact deep blue. And over there! Lights are blue. And blue in through the blueness, and the blackness, the winds swirling through the air… and then shining. Burning, bursting through! The stars, can you see how they roll their light? Everywhere we look, complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes.”
We wish we could see the world in the swirling colors that Van Gogh did, and to this day, I praise “Vincent and the Doctor” any chance I get.
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