Thursday, June 10, 2010

Deborah Orr: 'Doctor Who made me cry'

I admit it. I wept at Saturday's episode of Doctor Who. But as my sons looked on, aghast, embarrassed and amused, I pulled myself together and thought: "Why is this being done to me, and is it necessarily good?"

I knew that my tears were produced by the pressing of emotional buttons. Vincent Van Gogh is, after all, the acme of tortured genius, a man born ahead of his time, and we're primed to weep at his story from childhood. So, it's hardly original for someone to alight on this tale as a tear-jerker, although it is pretty shrewd to think of placing it in a popular time-travel context, and executing the business with some style.

As my tears subsided, I noticed that further climactic scenes kept coming after climactic scenes had surely been exhausted. A quick check on the episode's scriptwriter, and all became clear. The element of surprise – even ambush – was new. But the feeling that I'd been gently monstered into life-affirming feel-good sobs by Richard Curtis was not new, not in the least.

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