Written by Richard Curtis the writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love, Actually, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones' Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Bean and of course episodes of Black Adder and Mr. Bean, I had pretty high expectations and hopes for this episode as I've loved all of these works. He's the writer of my absolutely favorite romantic comedies because unlike many films from that genre, he remembers the comedy bit is actually important.
This episode has gotten stellar reviews and has been raved about as the best episode of the series so far on message boards but I must admit I think its my least favorite of the season. That's not to say its bad or there's anything wrong with it, but it just didn't excite me like most of the other episodes have.
I liked the thinly veiled references to Rory with Amy crying but not knowing why and the Doctor mistakenly calling Van Gogh "Rory".
An interesting side note is that the painting Van Gogh signs "For Amy, Vincent" was actually painted in 1888 and the episode takes place in June, 1890. I would say he just signed the painting to Amy but his reaction to her suggesting he paint sunflowers seemed to indicate he never had done so before. So its either a mistake, artistic license by Curtis or Van Gogh was so ashamed of that painting that he did not mention it to Amy at the time.
The exploration of depression and its effects on the psyche of people was interesting but perhaps people with more melancholy dispositions or those with bi-polar disorders might have gotten more out of it than I did. I get very depressed at times but I'm not subject to sudden mood swings like Van Gogh was. (Outside of occasional "that's it" moments but they aren't even truly sudden, I just hide the rage and frustration building up inside me very well. lol)
Great performances all around but I think I would just call it a good solid episode rather than the "classic" its being touted as.
Here's my comparison of each Doctor's eighth stories:
1) The Empty Child by Steven Moffat
2) The Satan Pit by Matthew Jones
3) The Tomb of the Cybermen by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis
4) Pyramids of Mars by Stephen Harris (Pseudonym of Robert Holmes and Lewis Greifer)
5) The Reign of Terror by Dennis Spooner
6) The Mysterious Planet by Robert Holmes
7) Arc of Infinity by Johnny Byrne
8) Vincent and the Doctor by Richard Curtis
9) Colony in Space by Malcolm Hulke
10) The Greatest Show in the Galaxy by Stephen Wyatt