Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Reviews


List:
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by A.D. Morrison
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Angus Gulliver
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Calum Corral
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Adam Leslie
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Billy Higgins
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by James Tricker
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Geoff Wessel
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Simon Funnell
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Ian Larkin
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Joe Ford
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Mike Eveleigh
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Simon Kelly
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Steve Manfred
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Alan McDonald
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Patrick Leach
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Eddy Wolverson
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Robert F.W. Smith
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by James Maton
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Andrew Haglington
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Paul Hayes
26 Jun 2006Fear Her, by Frank Collins

Matthew ‘Life on Mars’ Graham has – while surely attaining the accolade of most unimaginative and flat title in the series’ 28 year history – delivered a refreshingly subtle episode, empowered considerably by the directorial restraint of Euros Lyn. Fear Her benefits considerably from following the appallingly silly Love and Monsters, and comes off better all round than the overly crammed and ill-developed Idiot’s Lantern, the episode with which conceptually it shares most in common.

Both Graham’s and Gatiss’s episodes heavily borrow from the creepy oddities of PJ Hammond’s Sapphire and Steel, and significantly from one particular story of said series, the fourth assignment canonized as ‘The Man Without a Face’ in S&S fan circles, in which a faceless entity traps people inside photographs: Lantern used televisions for this purpose and Fear Her uses a child’s drawings. Simply due to the fact that Graham gives a satisfactory explanation as to the ontology of its extra-terrestrial picture perpetrators – an intriguingly ‘sensitive’ and ‘empathic’ fairy-like race, nicely realized as tiny celestial jellyfish with equally miniature space-pod to match – and their unusually innocent motives, and that Lyn directs unpretentiously (a world away from his slanted-angle pretensions in Lantern – a style only ever successfully managed in the noir-ish Happiness Patrol – and with an element of suspense, Fear Her is the more successful of the two S&S-inspired episodes. Graham also borrows from the first S&S adventure and its themes of nursery rhymes as incantatory catalysts for supernatural/alien manifestations; a theme also prominent in the fourth S&S storyline. The creepy suggestion of a phantom father appearing – in this case also a dead one – via his shadow hovering on a wall is also strongly reminiscent of the – more sinisterly shot – apparition in said S&S story one, but it again works well here in Fear Her, tapping into the worst of children’s fears: the impostor parent. As in S&S story four, the main protagonist(s), The Doctor, is eventually trapped in a picture, manipulating his own entrapment to suggest a solution to his human companion (as do Sapphire and Steel when trapped in a photo). But Fear Her still succeeds by the skin of its teeth as being something worthwhile and interesting in its own right via its inspired play on the sometimes sinister innocence of children’s pictures, and the opening animation is a striking image which sadly wasn’t used enough throughout the episode – in fact, the only similar moment was when Rose noticed the face on a drawing had changed into an angry expression on a second glance. I felt these strikingly distorted pictures weren’t featured enough which was disappointing, but the bizarre attack of the giant scribble was a nice diversion halfway through and the Doctor seemingly rubbing out a tangible object was a clever touch.

But Fear Her also borrows heavily from the ingenious plot of The Tomorrow People’s early classic, The Blue and the Green, in which an alien disguised as a schoolboy paints bizarre pictures of his home world whose colours change periodically, manipulating the emotional behaviour of the onlookers from passivity to aggression. Roger Price, creator of said series, possessed a prolific and highly original imagination which was sadly frequently let down by poor acting and production standards (in some cases, ‘poor’ being an understatement: superb and inspired though most of the Tomorrow People plots were, their realisations were mostly home-made production-wise and sometimes the show, with its predominantly juvenile cast, resembled a ludicrous medley of Doctor Who and Why Don’t You?). But The Blue and the Green is widely regarded as his best storyline and its potent influence is tangibly echoed in Graham’s episode. The weird ontology of the entities in Fear Her is also uncannily reminiscent of the Denjali in TB&TG: while the former channel their gestalt-like empathetic synergy through human innocents and their drawings, the latter travel and migrate on human brainwaves, culminating in their swarming away from Earth on the power supplied by the human race falling asleep and dreaming. Yes, quite bizarre indeed, but thoroughly original. Graham’s – unconscious? – plagiarism manages to justify itself through the highly affecting use of children’s distorted drawings, as opposed to Price’s use of garish planetary abstracts. If Who stories are going to be derivative then they may as well be derivative of inspired sources, and so far this season the choices have been well made, producing in Tooth and Claw, The Girl in the Fireplace, (to some extent) Idiot’s Lantern and Fear Her, some of the most imaginative concepts to come out of the series in a long time. Season 28 reminds me, with its jarring but oddly complementary mixture of conceptual innovation and peripheral nostalgia (Sarah Jane, K-9, Cybermen) of the massively under-rated and misinterpreted Season 20 (wherein reunions with Omega, the Brigadier, the Timelords, the Guardians and legion companions and enemies – i.e. Five Doctors – intermingled with highly imaginative concepts such as Manussan archaeology, sailing ships in space, and the uniquely dissected character of Visla Turlough).

With its blatantly contemporary suburban setting and vanishing children/youths, Fear Her most closely resembles Survival, last story of the original series; but these similarities are only ostensive, its plot and concepts being very different to Rona Monro’s script. It’s also really refreshing to have an episode focused on a different family to the Tylers for a change. The young girl’s performance is well-balanced and to be honest in some scenes she comes across as less of a kid than the Doctor himself. The Doctor’s effortlessly childish and fun-loving persona is still rather irritating in places, however, Tenant gets enough ‘serious’ moments to carry the story along to its fairly satisfying conclusion. Even his torch-carrying at the Olympics is ultimately justified by his using the flame to catapult the aliens’ pod back out into space.

Criticisms aside – and there are a fair few more that I don’t think it’s really worth going into, as they are quite minor ones on the whole – Fear Her is a pretty strong episode, nothing spectacular, but certainly more enjoyable and satisfactory than its conceptual cousin, Lantern. One does tend to feel often with the new series that some episodes only just miss the mark due to lack of subtlety in direction and atmosphere, and Fear Her eschews its full potential mainly due to speeding through its strengths (i.e. the animations, the shadows on walls etc.) rather than exploiting them fully; but then it’s difficult to create and sustain a truly chilling atmosphere when up against the clock (so far only Empty Child and Impossible Planet have managed this, both significantly two-parters – Unquiet Dead (screaming lady) and Tooth and Claw (pre-transformation scenes of the black-pupiled lycanthrope) were forced by similar time restraints to go more for the shock tactic, though both expertly done). Fear Her gives it a good try and succeeds on its own levels, delivering a plot which fits its 45 minutes pretty well and doesn’t promise what it can’t deliver. Having said that, while I watched fairly engaged throughout, I kept thinking to myself ‘yes, that bit’s straight out of Sapphire and Steel, but atmospherically it’s still not a patch on it’. But it was a good effort.

7/10.

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That's more like it! After the disappointing filler episode we are back on track. I enjoyed "Fear Her" a lot, and if it felt at times more Sapphire & Steel than Doctor Who there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that once in a while.

The Doctor and Rose travel to London for the 2012 Olympics, he quipping that the last time the Games were in London the opening ceremony was so good he had to go back and watch it twice. But strange things are happening on a residential street close to route the Olympic torch will take. Children and animals are disappearing, and it all seems to have something to do with a little girl who stays in her bedroom drawing pictures.

The Doctor and Rose both investigate, clearly having fun and playing Inspector Morse and Lewis games. The Doctor senses some sort of energy on the street, whereas nobody apart from an elderly lady seems to have noticed anything - apart from the obviously missing kids.

It is Rose who notices something odd about the girl peering out of her bedroom window, and we are treated to a frightening scene with Rose alone in the girl's bedroom realising there is something unusual inside the closet...

Cutting a fairly long story short, the girl herself isn't evil, nor is the alien that has in effect posessed her. It simply misses its billions of siblings and has been taking the children and pets in an attempt to feel their love. The Doctor, himself captured in a drawing and unable to directly help Rose realises this and manages to communicate via the drawing that Rose needs to find the entity's space ship and introduce it into the Olympic torch so it feels the love of the thousands upon thousands of fans.

Here is my only quibble with this story, the climax was over too quickly. Otherwise Euros Lyn's direction was more impressive than his last outing (The Idiot's Lantern, complete with strange angles) and paced well. Visually the effects were superb, especially the scribble monster created when the girl gets angry and simply scribbles on paper in frustration.

Not on a par with 'The Girl In the Fireplace' or 'Tooth & Claw' but a thoroughly worthy story, and the climax gave Rose perhaps her last triumphant moment before the final two-parter. The teaser clearly hints at trouble ahead for her which contrasts with the up-beat tone of this story.

7.5/10

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I think this episode represents part of the problem of the second series to date. While I enjoyed it all the way through, I felt it lacked the gravity of last season and some of it was a bit tired. Another dreary housing estate, another mystery alien in a run of the mill household, and instead of Rose disappearing this week, why don't we make the Doctor disappear. It just seemed to be a bit like The Idiot's Lantern all over again - except set in 2012 with a more modern approach.

I thought the premise of the girl and cartoons coming to life was a bit dull and not really all that scary. We have had some utterly brilliant episodes in the series so far but this just could not excite me, and while the ending was marvellous with the Doctor running with the Olympic torch, the general idea behind the story seemed somewhat flimsy.

The story just seemed to lack a sparkle. There have been some cracking episodes so far but I think we could have seen the return of a few more of the Doctor's old foes. While Russel T Davies rightly wants to introduce some new terrifying monsters, he should remember that the Cyberman and Daleks have been very successful, and I am sure bringing back the dastardly Ice Warriors or even the Yeti and the Great Intelligence would be fascinating, and capture the appeal of a new generation. These monsters were great for a reason - they were well created and suitably scary!

Fear Her just never seemed to get going and lacked general purpose and direction. Even the Doctor's Tardis arriving the wrong way round was a bit odd? What was the point in that? The reason probably is that it has never happened before but even so, pointless.

On the plus side, the end of season finale looks fantastic.

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The Doctor Who team have a second stab at The Idiot Lantern – on the eve of a huge public spectacle, people are disappearing from a suburban London street while a shady family member covers up the truth; meanwhile a disembodied alien visitor plans to use the television broadcast of the spectacle for their nefarious ends, and the Doctor and Rose enjoy a tea party and lay down the law in other peoples’ homes – and pull it off a little more memorably and with more confidence.

And like the Impossible Planet two-parter, this is a mish mash of imported ideas: Twilight Zone episodes ‘The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street’ and ‘It’s A Good Life’, The Shining (“Danny’s not here, Mrs. Torrance”), and, probably most blatantly, Bernard Rose’s underrated 1988 chiller Paperhouse, in which a bedridden 10-year-old girl’s drawings come to life in her dreams, providing her with a real-life playmate and a demonic absent father figure who stalks her through her surreal nightmares.

As with The Idiot Lantern, the running time meant that the end was rushed and somewhat trite. There was an appalling howler in the shape of the BBC News 24 commentary, which was stammering over the disappearance of 80,000 spectators one moment, then narrating the progress of the Olympic torch the next. I really think that the Olympic torch might be a little irrelevant at that point. Some of the humour was a bit silly, and I’m really not sure about Doctor 10’s enthusiasm for the Olympics in general (try picturing Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker or… anyone else running with the torch with such gusto).

Having said all that, the programme did actually work for me. The themes were scary and well-handled, David Tennant was very confident and had some great presence, and two of the early gags were genuinely laugh-out-loud funny (the TARDIS door joke, and the line about the Earth being the only place in the galaxy that bothered to invent edible ball bearings) By and large, even though The Idiot Lantern was terrifying in parts, I would have preferred to have seen this show take precedence over the earlier adventure with something a little more original in TIL’s place.

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As with Love and Monsters, this episode smacked of “end-of-budget filler” and, compared to the lavishness of Episodes 5 & 6, 8 & 9 and (I think it’s safe to assume) 12 & 13, well, it didn’t compare, did it?

However, money (like size, or so I’ve been reliably informed) isn’t everything, and you can still tell a good story without big-name casts or CGI. So, was Fear Her a good story? It certainly had a good central idea – children disappearing from the streets after being drawn by a possessed 12-year-old girl, with The Doctor and Rose called in to investigate. By “called in”, of course, I mean the TARDIS landing casually in the next street and, hey presto, another instant adventure! As I’ve said before, still not much room for foreplay in New Who (well, not the 45-minute version anyway) it’s wham, bam, let’s get down to it.

That’s the nature of the beast these days, but it is rather like going straight to the chorus of the song without the intro. That said, there were some good, scary moments as The Doctor and Rose closed in on Chloe’s secret, and Rose being attacked by a “scribble” was a clever idea and well-realised. The nightmare “Dad” in the cupboard played on a traditional fear of monsters lurking in the cupboard, and was another “behind the sofa” moment for those of that ilk.

However, there were also large sections of the episode when my mind went wandering, and one of the problems here was little affection for this week’s guest cast. No particular problem with the actors, but New Who does attempt to build up characterisation, and that’s very difficult in this short format. Here, I suppose there was an allusion to domestic violence, but I think the point – if they were trying to make one, might be guilty of over-analysis here – was rather lost. And didn’t we kind of do all this in The Idiot’s Lantern anyway, which wasn’t a million miles away from Fear Her in overall concept either?

I have a suspicion that the 2012 setting was chosen purely to realise the scene of The Doctor picking up the Olympic torch. And OK, why not? It was a bit cheesy and, personally, it was more likely to make me wretch than weep, but it was a bit of fun, and was a reasonable way to wrap up the story.

In truth, it rather started and finished without me caring too much about what was going on. I didn’t hate it – I NEVER hate Doctor Who – but it’s reasonable to compare it to other episodes, and I couldn’t put it above many, if any, this season.

Fear Her was reminiscent of a Sapphire and Steel episode (no bad thing) but the suburban setting, the vanishing children and even the cat actually reminded me more of Survival, which was one of my favourite McCoy stories (admittedly, it’s not a huge list) and which had actually had more depth to it than Fear Her. It really needed more time to build up the mystery, and allow the story to develop. As no fan of the 45-minute format (I’d rather see 10 episodes at an hour in a series, or five two-parters and three one-parters in the current shape) and feel we’re not getting the most out of some good stories – this being a case in point. What are the chances of a single episode ever winning a season survey, do you think?

As ever, no real quibble with the quality of the writing. I’m a big fan of Matthew Graham’s Life On Mars, and I thought there was some good material in Fear Her, especially for the lead actors. And plus points were decent performances from David Tennant and especially Billie Piper. The latter is so good, she could easily carry the lead in a series. And, the better the material, the better her performance. It hasn’t always been the best for her this season, but that hasn’t been Piper’s fault – she’s been terrific, and is really every bit as much a star of the show as Tennant.

Probably the clearest example of my lack of enthusiasm for Fear Her was that the best thing about this episode was the closing scene and the thrilling trailer for the first part of this season’s denouement. It was absolutely terrific and, even the most casual of viewers is bound to make a return date for Army Of Ghosts based on that. Fear Her was the calm before the oncoming storm and, like the calm, we’ll probably quickly forget it – but I think we’ll always remember the storm . . .

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Phew- a welcome return of the show known as Doctor Who after last week’s strange interlude. A brief word, however, about last week: despite my disliking of Love and Monsters, I was absolutely delighted to be proved wrong about the audience figures for the episode which were actually up on the Satan Pit, and it is even better news that the figures for Fear Her are an improvement still. I shall refrain from further alarmist concerns about viewing figures therefore. As for my hasty and uncharacteristically blunt review of episode ten, I should perhaps praise RTD for provoking in me the sort of reaction that made me type what I did. But whilst accepting that the number of reviewers prepared to give the experiment the benefit of the doubt outweighed those who weren’t, I still cannot find it in me to change my opinion of the episode itself. I have praised RTD stories I’ve enjoyed and sincerely hope he will again produce the goods with the season finale, but if episode ten is the future rather than just a one-off, I would contend that the show’s future would be short-lived.

Fear Her, however, was something of a little gem ( or is it that I am just relieved that we are back on track after last week ) written by the man who brought us the highly enjoyable Life on Mars. This appeared to draw ( no pun intended ) on various sources, including Sapphire and Steel ( again! ) and most notably the Exorcist, where yet again we have the premise of something potentially evil lurking in suburbia, although the story is no less entertaining because of this. I didn’t find the collection of neighbours particularly animated or convincing but I suppose I’ve been slightly spoiled by the brilliant cast assembled for episodes eight and nine which made this lot suffer by comparison.

This was an episode that returned Rose to the role of the saviour of the day but this time coming as it did as an exception rather than the norm it didn’t irritate me or appear to undermine the credibility of the Doctor to the extent that it did in the last season because there it seemed to happen with monotonous regularity. In this story her powers of deduction, began in the Idiot’s Lantern before being unceremoniously cut off in their prime by the Wire, are extended and she gets a chance to do a convincing Jack Nicholson impression with a pickaxe. By all accounts she enjoyed it and it shows- perhaps the episode was named after her? I can sympathise with those who have felt her character has been treated rather unevenly this season to say the least but I felt that they got it about right for this story.

There is much to scare the children here. The kids who have become confined within the paper that Chloe has drawn them on can still show their anger at being trapped, so that their facial expressions on the paper can change; and the evil Dad lurking at the back of the wardrobe- the very stuff of nightmares. It was a nice touch to have the residual energy lingering on and still posing a danger even after the alien threat is ended by the location and subsequent charging up of its spaceship. And so Chloe and Trish, together, have to confront their fears and defeat the energy- this could have been a blunt and unsubtle “ Doctor Who takes on domestic violence” piece but instead is handled in such a way that it feels fully part of the story.

As for the Doctor conveniently stepping in and running with the Olympic torch this to my surprise didn’t annoy me and I actually found it quite funny, but perhaps this was because it caught me on a high of post Love and Monsters relief where usually I might have cringed.

And then the scene is set for the RTD finale, not so much because of the Doctor’s warning of trouble ahead, of something sinister approaching, but because of his refusal to ratify Rose’s assertion that nothing can split them up. “ Never say never” is all he will say. Looks like Rose’s dream of that shared mortgage is in jeopardy.

A welcome return to form, Fear Her scores a solid 8/10.

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There's really not much to say about this one, I'm afraid.

As much as everyone complained that "Love and Monsters" was filler, I really think this one qualifies. Despite the neato-keeno background of the London 2012 Olympiad, this one was pretty inconsequential I thought. (And did we HAVE to have another episode of Daddy Issues? Huh? Did we, really?) Neat concept about the drawings, but, meh. I had an overall feeling that I'd experienced this episode before, and not just because of the seemingly shoehorned foreshadowing of the 2-part finale. Which makes it, preciesly, like this season's version of "Boom Town." Same placement in the season and everything. Replace Eccleston's revelation about seeing the words "bad wolf" everywhere with the "there's a storm coming" and there you have it, "Boom Town."

No, seriously. Back in 1996 I'd written a multi-part fanfic about a colony where a lonely child was stealing people out of thin air and into another dimension. I'd even riffed on the Doctor being able to smell something in the vicinity of where the people had disappeared (although I'd mentioned brimstone instead of graphite). Now, while it's strange that this should later turn up in an episode, it just goes to prove that there really are only so many thoughts you can have in Doctor Who.

But WAIT A SECOND. HANG ABOUT. A tiny species in a tiny spacecraft, crashlanding on Earth, possessing a human host and able to move people out of thin air into another dimension?

Frak me, this is frickin' "Evening's Empire!"

You remember "Evening's Empire," right? 7th Doctor/Ace comic strip in DWM circa 1991, written by Andrew Cartmel (McCoy-era script editor) and drawn by Richard Piers Rayner, who would go on to draw the comic that the Tom Hanks movie The Road to Perdition was based on? Infamous because it was never completed in DWM and had to come out as a comic special a couple of years later to see the completion of it?

No?

Well, trust me, this is it. Close to it, anyway.

So, yeah, maybe there really are only so many story ideas one can have for Doctor Who anyway.

Moving on -- next episode. Yes, for all the foreboding and all that happy crap about Rose...

It seems that Ann Coulter is in charge of Torchwood.

Oh, and the other thing.

It ain't just Cybermen there. Rewatch the trailer. Distinctive laser-blast sound effects, and very distinctive way of dying seen within that trailer.

It ain't just Cybermen. I may just have to squee next episode.

*whistles*

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As fans we really can give the producers of Doctor Who a hard time. In the old days, producers got so little feedback (except ratings) that they could blithely carry on making a mess of the show (stand up John Nathan Turner) almost unfettered by fan criticism. But every now and then, you start to suspect that we've gone too far the other way. I know that lots of people hated Love and Monsters. Someone complained in the OG chat room this evening that the production team's risks had not all paid off. So what? Would you rather a bland show that DIDN'T take chances, that didn't have a go at getting outside the box. Noone complains when Joss Whedon or Chris Carter turn a show's format on its head and experiments. Who remembers Buffy's "Hush" - for my money one of the most exceptional episodes of television ever produced, or more obviously "Once more with feeling".

I write this because I can already imagine the complaints about "Fear Her". So let's get something straight: this episode was a filler, virtually a bottle show: almost entirely filmed outside on a modern estate. It can't have cost all that much to put a red light in a cupboard and get someone to shake the doors. But who cares? They've got to make some of the episodes cheaper so we can have a great finale and great episodes like the two parter set in space a few weeks back which was, for my money, phenomenal. Nobody, not Joss Whedon, not Chris Carter (stand up - Millennium!) gets it right every time. So thank God that they did something with the budget. It wasn't a great episode of Doctor Who, but it wasn't terrible. Russell's kept leaving Rose on her own this season (do you think he might be trying to tell us something?) thinking the Doctor isn't coming back. So, OK - Russell we get it.

Look, it wasn't a great episode, nor a great script. But it wasn't bad either. In fact, I was surprised at how quickly the time went when I was watching it. In fact, it was still better than New Earth, my least favourite episode of the Second Season so far. Although I'm sure that my fellow reviewers will probably slate it - I think a lot of the criticism will be unfair. This was a filler episode and I don't think anyone was pretending anything else. But who cares about "Fear Her", after the trailer for next week. It was worth sitting through tonight's episode just for the trailer!

The trailer for S1's season finale opener was pretty good, but pales into insignificance behind what I saw tonight. I wasn't planning on watching the trailer, but the moment that the Doctor Who music faded suddenly leaving behind the ethereal "Doctor" incidental theme (oooh ooh ooh oooh!) (which I LOVE, by the way - Murray Gold's music continues to get better and better) I was hooked, hooked, hooked. Rose's voice over left me breathless with excitement, fear and foreboding. I definitely saw, I definitely saw (Look away now, spoilerphobes) a dalek weapon shoot someone as clear as daylight - but whether it was from a dalek or from the Torchwood people who have stolen the technology, who knows. I'd be willing to put money on the Daleks appearing in the next two weeks. The whole thing looks fabulous, exciting and I wonder how I'm going to make it through the week. Everyone - just get over "Fear Her", you'll be panting for more RTD Doctor Who next week! I swear it!

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Fast-paced, intriguing and with a suitably epic feel... But enough about the trailer for next week's Army of Ghosts, what was Fear Her like? Yes, you've got to feel sorry for writer Matthew Graham, lumbered with the dodgy episode 11 slot, forever to be known as 'the cheap filler episode before the big season-closing two-parter'. Last year it gave us Boom Town, which, I confess, was better than expected. But then I wasn't exactly expecting a lot...

But enough already - what about the episode in hand? Well... um... it was, er... all right, I guess. I don't recall hiding my eyes in embarrassment (well, perhaps just the once) or having to negotiate any unbelievably bad plot holes. But at the same time I didn't particularly find myself being drawn into (sorry) an exciting story. Possibly because there wasn't one.

After doing 'different' last week, Doctor Who tackled 'small'. An insignificant corner of a bland housing estate and only two real characters, apart from the Doctor and Rose. Nothing wrong in that. But you do need something - a bit of danger, a bit of intrigue, something to stop the viewer's mind from wandering. And the story of a small floaty alien thing possessing a lonely 12-year old girl in an attempt to meet some new friends wasn't it.

Both Abisola Agbaje as Chloe and Nina Sosanya as her mother Trish turned in good performances, unlike the actors playing the light-relief council worker and the 'pensioner who senses something's wrong', both of whom seemed to be reading their lines off cue cards, possibly for the first time. And Huw Edwards really ought to stick to (proper) newsreading.

The Doctor casually drops his 'I was a Dad once' line into conversation, which was obviously a bit of a bombshell for Rose, but not for folk that remember he used to have his granddaughter along as a travelling companion, once upon a time. Reasonably sinister use of a shadow and a red light and a voice growling 'I'm coming to hurt you' (hurrah for old school effects!) gave the story a bit of a lift, but it was a case of too little too late, really. Then there's the cringeworthy climax, with the Doctor trotting along with the Olympic Torch while Huw Edwards blurts on about love. Aw, shucks. Then the Doctor chillingly mumbles something about storms coming for no real reason, apart from to drum up some excitement for the next episode.

I'll remember New Earth for its awfulness. I'll remember The Girl in the Fireplace for its greatness. But Fear Her, which was neither, I'm liable to forget entirely. Oh well.

So, just the Army of Ghosts/Doomsday two-parter to go. Can it give the season a much-needed lift? Let's hope so. A couple of thoughts crossed my mind after watching the preview. Firstly, with Rose saying that this is the last story she'll tell (or words to that effect), maybe she won't get zapped - after all, how's she supposed to tell the story if she's dead? And secondly, that looked and sounded suspiciously like a dalek gun at one point. Is Russell T Davies going to succumb to that classic teenage fanboy fantasy and pitch the daleks against the cybermen? God, let's hope not.

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I thought for the first five minutes of this episode that it might be hurt by following up another down-to-Earth episode with Love and Monsters but those fears were soon dissolved when I was dragged into this powerful, quite brilliant in its own way, story. And whilst there are influences here, notably the Excorcist, the Shining and even Doctor Who’s own Deadstone Memorial, it manages to subvert all of these and become a genuinely smashing episode in its own right. It is so bizarre, I seem to be enjoying all of the not so popular episodes this year (I adored Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel and Love and Monsters) and having difficulty with what the majority thinks are classics (The Idiot’s Lantern was trad Who but far too dull and The Satan Pit was a major disappointment after a stunning first episode in The Impossible Planet). Fear Her is (judging by the Outpost Gallifrey poll) another episode which has divided viewers but personally I thought it was very necessary, it brought the focus back on the Doctor and Rose (especially Rose), it provided some real scares after last weeks lighter episode, it hinted at greater drama to come in the coming weeks and most importantly, it managed to be a deeply serious episode, almost an adult drama without losing its audience to stifling borderm. For what is the sleeper episode of the year, the one which bides time whilst we wait for the finale that is no mean feat.

I probably wont be popular for saying this but I thought this was Billie’s best performance to date. I expect all the Father’s Day fans will crawl out of the woodwork and bludgeon me to death now but everything she did in this episode felt effortless, and after all of the smugness and jealousy Rose has radiated earlier in the season it is just wonderful to see her back to being supportive, resourceful and hugely entertaining to watch. Come The Idiot’s Lantern I was ready to admit I thought she worked better against Eccleston’s Doctor but The Impossible Planet and Fear Her have turned all that around. Piper and Tennant exhibit a natural chemistry now which doesn’t feel forced by the scripts (unlike say the beginning of New Earth) and their detective work at the start of this story is fabulous to watch. Rose gets to be intelligent without stealing the Doctor’s limelight and exhibits a personality of fun without forgetting that it is a very serious situation they are trying to solve. I loved the sense of curiosity she had, especially after she opened the garage and was attacked by the scribble…she never learns and like the rest of us cannot resist pulling open Chloe’s cupboard when it eminates strange noises! Piper’s performance when trying to egg the truth out of Trish whilst trying to stay sympathetic is very sensitive and her anger towards Chloe when the Doctor is stolen from her is palpable. I love that they gave Rose a chance to shine on her own before she bows out in the finale, her struggle to find the spaceship, to get it home and then save Trish and Chloe from the monster in the closet sees Rose at her all time best. If you ever wanted to know why Billie Piper won best actress in the BAFTAs last year watch Fear Her again and soak in her naunced performance.

But lets not forget David Tennant’s contribution, which is (as ever) vital to make the episode work. Not to repeat myself but just three episodes ago I was ready to declare Eccleston’s Doctor my favourite of the two, simply because Tennant did not seem to take the role as seriously and goes a bit crazy too often for my liking. I genuinely think Tennant has found his niche now, of all the episodes to convince me that he really is the Doctor I have always loved Fear Her was the one. Its that mix of eccentric and serious that Tom Baker mastered so beautifully that Tennant has exacted now, unpredictable as hell, crazy about life, desperately trying to help others and uncomfortably close to his best friend. Tennant is such an attractive man and his zest and energy just adds to that attraction. He is supplied with line after line of acidic wit in this episode that just adds further charm. He is reminiscent (talking absently to himself), manipulative (using his words very carefully to work his way into Trish’s house), deeply caring (stroking Chloe’s hair as she talks of her possession) and yet surprisingly awkward when trying to appeal to Chloe in a childlike way. My mother pointed out that it is fascinating to watch Tennant in the role because every week he reveal something new about his character, a fresh emotion is peeled away which makes the character so rewarding and (considering his spec as a 900 year old alien who travels through time) believable. His revelation that he was a dad once is almost skipped over it is so brief but it opens up a world of possibilities.

I thought that setting the episode in one street would limit its potential but Matthew Graham (creator of the excellent Life on Mars) proves me wrong. Making this such an intimate and believable setting only served to highlight the horror of the situation. Lets not forget that this episode deals with some very frightening (and real life) horrors such as children being abducted and abusive fathers. It is only due to the shows exhaustless format and juicy science fiction style that it manages to imply these terrifying dramas in a supernatural fashion. The parent’s anger in the street as they start pointing the finger at innocent people feels very real and Trish’s quiet terror at the thought of her dead husband is genuinely frightening. Simon thought the climax of the story was going too far for the show, having a manifestation of Chloe’s dad screaming out that he is going to hurt her and his dominating shadow stretching along the hallway but I couldn’t disagree more, it is refreshing to see the show pushing its boundaries and daring to frighten its audience this much. I would imagine any home where abuse is the order of the day found this unbearable but it is worth reminding the outside world that behind closed doors these terrorising things do happen.

That’s not to say that there is no imagination here. It would be easy to rely on real life dangers and forget about the SF angle but Graham mixes the two effortlessly and whips a surprisingly potent script. There is more than a touch of the X-Files episode Scary Monsters here (where a child’s drawings of horrid things come to life) but this feels more magical and yet more clinical and thus more real. I adore the scribble monster, what an excellent idea and seeing the boy in the picture run towards the camera screaming is an amazing concept. Chloe later on drawing the Doctor and the TARDIS cranks the suspense up brilliantly and suddenly we are presented with astonishing visual of the stadium full of spectators suddenly, inexplicably empty. Great, great ideas. The red-lit cupboard screaming abuse whilst Chloe hurriedly scribbles a picture of the Earth on the wall is a very memorable climax too, as usual there has to be a worldwide threat but what an imaginative way to do it! I can think of a few repeated Earth-in-danger ideas the show has toyed with ad nausem but this is something entirely original.

I feel I must compliment both Euros Lyn (the best looking director on the planet) and Murray Gold. I was pretty hard on Lyn’s treatment of The Idiot’s Lantern, not because he did a bad job, on the contrary it was effortlessly executed but unfortunately the script was totally schizophrenic and thus so was the direction, switching from domestic drama to film noir to horror in the blink of an eye. Fear Her is a much tighter script which knows exactly what it is focusing on and Lyn’s direction is extremely tight, milking the horror on the everyday street for all it is worth. The climax was especially effective, Lyn not shying away from the drama and squeezing every bit of horror out of Chloe’s drawing of her Dad coming to life. Murray Gold’s contribution to this show is largely debated and whilst I am mostly in favour of his style I understand that he does milk the sappiness and drown out the action at times. So it pleases me to see how much he understands the tone of this story, mostly cranking up the tension with some very scary music but also pushing us towards the climax as Rose has to fight on her own.

Fear Her surprised me a great deal just like Boom Town did this time last year, it was not the forgettable filler I was expecting but instead turned out to be one of the most thoughtful and desirable episodes of the entire year. Given its limited setting it is shockingly scary in places, hugely imaginative and achingly poignant. Not only that but it might just be the most adult drama Doctor Who has served up in many a year.

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"Fingers on lips!!"

A touch of 'Sapphire & Steel', a sprinkling of 'The Twilight Zone', a hint of 'Beasts'. Add my favourite David Tennant performance to date, great direction, a sparkling and quotable script, Andy Pryor,as per, doing an excellent job on the casting front...and stir.

Result? (Besides dodgy cooking allusions, that is?!) A delightful 45 minutes of television that I thoroughly enjoyed. Matthew Graham just seems to 'get' current 'Doctor Who'. Apart from the abusive (dead) father, there are no villains in this story; just a lonely alien being empathising with a lonely human child. The Doctor understands and, with a lot of help from his friend (Billie in great form...again) the day is saved again. (and he gets a cake decorated with ballbearings!!!)

Speaking of the Doctor...well, I've hardly been backward in coming forward with my praise for David Tennant, and here he gave a lovely performance, aided by great lines, sympathetic support and the ever impressive Euros Lyn. "I'm being facetious...there's no call for it." "I've got a colleague...Lewis!" "I'm not really a cat person..." "Thanks! I'm experimenting with back-combing...oh." "I'm help." And, most ominously, "Never say 'never ever'" ....all delivered with aplomb. Moments that had me cheering included the Doctor picking up and running with the olympic torch ("Feel the love"...Ahh, I'm just a hippy at heart, I think) and the and the *gorgeous" fingers on lips scene...bit of a "Go to your room" moment. If he carries on in this form, David Tennant might well become my favourite timelord, period.

Nina Sosanya and Abisola Agbaje performed well as the damaged mother and daughter, and Abdul Sallis gave a completely winning performance as Kel the council worker. He takes pride in his work! (the "council axe...council road" bit had me chuckling.)

Some 'previewers' refered to this as a low-key, "hemmed in" episode. Maybe. Maybe that's why I liked it so much. The (almost) present day settings need to be varied with more alien worlds, and I hope that will happen, but stories with this much zest and warmth I can live with! (and Season 7 is easily my favourite Pertwee season.) Childrens drawings. 'Evil' in a wardrobe. Paranoia on a normal street...it works. Aside; anyone pick up on a 'Survival' part one vibe? Especially when that darn cat appears...

No 'Next Time...' caption this week; just sombre music and a Billie voiceover. Some things about 'Army of Ghosts' have been revealed to me (Cheers, The bl**dy Observer!) but thankfully much is unknown. Can't wait...

Anal point-scoring mode...'Fear Her' gets a 9/10. I'm off to read the reviews of 'Love & Monsters' now...a quick glimpse has suggested my thinking it'd get a mixed reaction is something of an understatement!

That's why I really like this site...such diverse opinions. And no-one slags off other reviewers who might disagree with them...he says, cautiously leading up to the fact that 'Love & Monsters' has grown on him and gets 8/10, despite certain reservations.

Cybermen, Torchwood, Rose Tyler's "last tale" (no spoilers here).....Here we go.

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So another Saturday night and another sub-standard filler episode of Doctor Who. Fear her? Not really. Fear RTD? Definitely! You know, a lot has been said about this TV series over the decades with its men in rubber suits, silly stories and supposed 'wobbly sets', but one thing it would be difficult to accuse this show of is a lack of respect for its audience ... until now. It's alarming to see how - from the 'Christmas Invasion' through to 'Fear her' last Saturday - Doctor Who has become horribly formulaic, dull, smug and silly. Indeed, we may look back at this entire current series in the not-too-distant future and view it as nothing more than a warm-up act for Torchwood. The stories have been high on originality, but low on substance with an increasingly hackneyed and embarrassing 'monster of the week' structure to each episode. It doesn't seem to matter who or what the monster is, why it exists, where it comes from, or what motivates it (i.e. the 'pilot fish' of the Christmas Invasion, the cat nuns, the monks and werewolf in Tooth and Claw, 'The Wire', the demon/devil in the Satan's pit, the Absorbalov and so forth. All that matters is that it's a monster and it needs to be stopped. Oops, sorry, first it needs to threaten Rose so that the Doctor can get angry and righteous and then stop it (usually with a combination of sonic screwdriver and psychic paper). Then we can end the show with some long monologues explaining what just happened and the moral lesson learned. Of course, leaving some monsters mysterious is great (as with 'The Satan Pit), but there has been a long tradition in Doctor Who of starting with a 'monster', but by the end of the story we (i.e. the audience, the Doctor and his companions) come to understand this monster as something more complex - and often something much more challenging and/or terrifying. More than this, efforts have always been made to explain, or at least make some kind of sense of monsters and events within the narrative of the story told. Indeed, it's the Doctor's ability to reason through a mystery that has been the attraction of the series for young and old since the show first began.

What seems to have happened this series is a move from having an essential 'realism' to the Who universe, to an attitude that treats the whole world in which the story is set as an ironic in-joke that RTD can share with his audience. Even the Doctor and Rose seem to exit the TARDIS each week with a smug self-knowing grin waiting for the next 'monster' (nudge-nudge-wink-wink) to appear. This kind of irony can be used to great effect, and has been used on successful shows like Buffy, The X-Files, the various Star Treks, Lost, etc. But it only works as the exception to an established and respected rule. For RTD, his ironic take on Doctor Who IS the rule and as such it makes for stories which appear silly and childish to newcomers and embarrassing and alienating to existing fans. Worse still this ironic bit of fun then jars terribly with the sudden gear shift that inevitably happens midway through each episode when the monster becomes an actual (albeit short-lived) threat - again, usually to Rose - leaving the audience to reconcile these strained and conflicting elements in a very limited and often rushed time frame. The trouble is that there isn't an adequate pay-off for audiences wanting to go through this and as a result we have seen a steady drop in audience figures and general lack of interest in the show from the media. As it did in the late eighties, the show is fast becoming thought of as 'a bit of nonsense', or a kid's show. This is made all the worse by RTD admitting as much each time he is interviewed on Doctor Who Confidential and through his scripts which create and then hinge on his worrying mix of ironic childish silliness and adult innuendo. Of course what the makers of this series are forgetting is that great children's books, films, television, you name it, weren't 'good' because they were written for children. They were just good. Also they were not as a rule ironic, simply good stories that took themselves just seriously enough for the reader/audience to do the same. Arguing that we shouldn't take some of these stories too seriously because they were written for a young audience is a tired old excuse for rubbish and badly made TV. I don't know about you lot, but this excuse as used by both the programme makers and fans alike is something the children on my planet would find insulting ... now where did I last hear that?

Last Saturday's episode 'Fear her', like 'Love and Monsters' and the 'Idiots Lantern' before it, is an all too familiar form of this 'ironic' and ultimately corrosive attitude to good science fiction and fantasy storytelling. What is far worse in this episode, however, is that for a second week fans are short-changed in another blatant attempt to save money by having a 'monster in suburbia' story in which the Doctor and Rose become hermetically sealed in a tiny and dull earthbound world in which people merrily trust them enough to tell them everything they need to know and let them roam around their houses and streets as children vanish. A world were suitably ethnically diverse homeowners wander around their dead end street like characters in a computer game, and were 'cockerney' council workers not only take great pride in tarmacing a small section of road, but are also a great means of moving the story along with their senseless exposition. This kind of sterile fantasy of Britain is fine on other BBC shows like Eastenders, Holby City, Doctors (pardon the pun) etc., but its insulting and just plain weird on a show like Doctor Who. Add to this the (god it hurts just to think of it again) torch of love crap with the Doctor running up to light the Olympic flame!

Come on people! Please God, look at what I've just written - the Doctor carried the Olympic torch to the sound of a faux BBC commentary talking about love and unity!! As fans we've got to stop being apologists for RTD and start opening our eyes to what is going on. Our favourite TV show is being hijacked by a glossy, morally hygienic, and ultimately hollow British Broadcasting Corporation vision of England and Doctor Who. It's an insidious form of propaganda and we're the ones cheering it along for fear that if we don't then our favourite show will get cancelled! Yet with every uncritical and apologetic review we as fans are giving RTD and co. an even more powerful warrant to make this kind of nonsense and then to abandon the show (and its spin offs) when the BBC and all concerned have made enough money. If we are happy to sit and accept this kind of ironic simplistic rubbish as a good example of British television (let alone science fiction) then we deserve the show to be cancelled after Series 3 - which is undoubtedly what the BBC will do if viewing figures continue to drop (World Cup or no World Cup). One final thought, this series (like the previous one) is obsessed with 'those that get left behind'. Is it just me, or have we spent so much time in the company of these people that it is now us, the Doctor and Rose that are getting left behind? Left behind whilst the rest of the potential Who universe of time and space is left unexplored, as well as increasingly left behind more exciting and challenging imported TV shows.

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This review is going to be a bit strange in that I really quite enjoyed this episode, but at the same time, I feel that a key mistake has been made regarding the season as a whole. "Fear Her" has a lot in common with the other episode that was made in this production block with this production team, which was "The Idiot's Lantern." Both have alien happenings going on in an ordinary London street... both have one of our regulars being removed by the villain halfway through (so that the other actor can move over to the other episode and carry it the rest of the way)... both involve the Doctor and Rose intruding into an ordinary home to confront the menace... both take place next door to a major historical event (Coronation and 2012 Olympics)...and both have a nasty dysfunctional father that's part of the problem. It all feels rather like the unfortunate parallel-plotting problem that beset season 25, where we had "Remembrance of the Daleks" and "Silver Nemesis" using much the same plot, with one of them being an all-time classic and the other an all-time silly story, except this time I think the order is reversed and the gulf between their quality isn't as big. And yet the comparison is invited because they're so close to each other in this season, and though "Fear Her" is the stronger episode, it almost feels like it should be weaker because "The Idiot's Lantern" tried to do it first, only not as well. (It's even got that other season 25 trademark of the creepy little girl.)

Where "Fear Her" scores over its sibling episode is how the characters in it seem much more real and believable, and how it manages to keep the action going and come up with a few inventive twists along the way that "Idiot's" didn't as much. For example, there is the conversation on the street between everyone in the neighborhood where they all start blaming each other for the missing children. There's real concern and fear and lashing out here of the sort I would expect to see in this situation. The way the Doctor and Rose get into Chloe's house is also more real than their simply barging in like they did in "Lantern," by simply baiting the mother who really would like some help and almost leaving until she finally invites them in. The motivation of this week's alien is more inventive too, how it's just a child that needs love for itself and heat for its ship, and doesn't really know how to go about getting them, and so it literally makes it's own friends since it thinks it's stuck there. The Wire was just hungry. And the thing doesn't just sit there and wait for the Doctor to beat it either... it counterattacks and takes him prisoner like everyone else, giving Rose a good scare at the same time. And just when we think it's all over, the dad drawing is made real and threatens Chloe and her mum. There was also more to the investigation in the first twenty minutes than there was in "Lantern"... this seems to be turning into my theme here... "like 'Idiot's Lantern', but more."

Along the way there are a number of nice character moments between the Doctor and Rose of the sort that were a bit forgotten about in the first half of the season but have been making a comeback since "The Impossible Planet." One of these is Rose doing the deducting for once and the Doctor having fun watching her do it. Another is the moment when Rose is hearing the noise in the garage and tells herself "not gonna open it... not gonna open it" before she actually does open it. Best of all is her discussion with the Doctor in the TARDIS about what kids are like, which leads him to reveal to her that he was a father once. This completely throws her for a loop, but he doesn't notice and before she really knows it they're back where they were before... but that's still there as something she knows now and is yet another thing that she hadn't begun to think about him. And with this I think we can see a very subtle story arc that has actually been running right the way through the whole season and which I expect to really come to a head in the finale, where she's slowly realizing that there's more to this man than she had bargained for, and I suspect this will be something that eventually drives the final wedge between them.

This episode does have flaws of its own not related to its being in the same season as "Idiot's Lantern." One of these is a logical problem I have with the Olympic torch run sequences. After the 80,000 people all disappear from the stadium, would they really have kept the torch run going like they did? Surely they'd have stopped it as soon as the news got out for fear of the same thing happening to those watching the run! Another thing I didn't much care for was how about halfway through it goes into Chloe's house and then stays there for too long a time, and we get Chloe and the Doctor explaining the whole plot to us during the "Exorcist" scene rather than having it shown to us through a process of discovery. This might have been down to the amount of time there was to find the answer in the story and the budget on this one, but I really do feel it's breaking the "show, don't tell" rule of visual media here. A scary way to have done this would've been to spend a brief amount of time actually in the drawing-world, but I gather the budget wouldn't run to all that animation. Still, this is a rule best not broken and it needed some more thought to avoid it. Another problem is simply how bog-standard the little-girl-gets-possessed-by-an-alien idea is by now, though this is somewhat rescued by the different type of alien it is and its motivation being loneliness rather than conquest or destruction.

Thinking positive again, there were a lot of other little moments that gave the show a lift. The ones that come to mind are:
The gag of the TARDIS door landing up against the bin and the Doctor having to rotate the ship 90 degrees to be able to get out.
The "heat" puzzle on the street and how the tiny pod went for the freshly-laid tar. Quite nice.
The Doctor getting prickly feelings in the back of his hand when he got near the points where the kids were taken. Was this meant to be a call-back to the similar feelings he got in "The War Machines" way back in 1966?
The guy who lays the tarmac was fun, and how he's excited at the end when Rose has saved the pod and stops and thinks "what did you do?"
The scribble monster! I would've loved a lot more of these actually. Maybe they could've had a bunch of these attack the people in the stadium, rather than have them disappear, and then afterwards they could've claimed that it was all part of an elaborate opening ceremonies stunt.
Yes, it's sappy and saccharine, but I loved the conceit of the Doctor picking up the torch and lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremonies. Had he just done it to do it, I think I would've hated it as some seem to, but the fact that the pod was still in the torch and needed a bit of a hint from him to get back into space makes it legitimate. This also brings to my mind something I recall from the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and how it seemed they wheeled out every single Australian-born celebrity the world has ever heard of and dredged out every Australian cliche, no matter how overdone or outdated, and put it on display for all the world to see and enjoy again. They even had a man singing "Waltzing Matilda" at one point, for crying out loud. When I think of that and of what we've seen here in this episode, I can't help but think that either the opening or the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics could very well have a "Doctor Who" moment or sketch or staged event of some sort in it, being as it is, one of Britain's top TV exports to the world. Perhaps a flotilla of Daleks will attempt to attack the ceremony and the Doctor stops them or somesuch thing. And David Tennant, if you're reading this... consider...all you need to do is match Tom Baker's longevity record and you can maybe do the scene in "Fear Her" for real in 2012.

And one not-so-little positive... David Tennant and Billie Piper really did very fine work this week, both with the extra chemistry they seem to have found with each other in these last few shows, and also with how they related to the guest characters.

Now, overall, this feels like it should be a 7 out of 10 episode, but that's what I gave "The Idiot's Lantern," and I think this is noticeably better than that was. I feel like I should go back and dock a point or two from "Idiot's" seeing as this episode played the same game better than it did. So yes, 7 out of 10 for "Fear Her," and a revised grade of 5 for "The Idiot's Lantern."

And as for the season as a whole, I really don't like that two of the stories turned out so very, very similar. One or the other should have been scrapped or postponed to next season, and if it were me, "The Idiot's Lantern" would've been the one I pushed or torpedoed. I appreciate the production difficulties that said that two episodes had to have such similar settings, but look back at "The Ark in Space" and "Revenge of the Cybermen" and see how different those two stories turned out to be while maintaining the setting. I hope this is a lesson that is learned for next season.

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After the mixed 'Love and Monsters' comes an episode which is far more successful at giving us a good one-off story on a reduced budget.

'Fear Her' cracked on at a good pace, with the Doctor and Rose posing at detectives on a street where children are vanishing mysteriously and a local girl spends all her time penned up in her bedroom, surrounded by drawings of the missing.

Matthew Graham, writer and co-creator of 'Life on Mars', includes some nice allusions to his own series, with David Tennant and Billie Piper playing up the copper stereotype wherever possible. Graham also manages to slip several genuinely funny gags into the proceedings - the best probably being the Doctor having to repark the TARDIS when he can't open the door.

Despite the season-long issue of the episode being just a bit too well-lit (wasn't everything a little darker and moodier last year?), 'Fear Her' manages to create a genuinely unsettling sense of something nasty under the surface in everyday suburbia, with nods to 'Poltergeist' and 'The Exorcist' in the manner in which Chloe is possessed. The explanation for what is going on is quite nice, too. This is not a malevolent being looking to conquer or kill, it is a child who has lost its family and is acting out in anger against its loneliness. The London Olympics setting is used to good effect, also.

In the end, Rose manages to save the day without the Doctor, putting her nicely back in focus for the upcoming finale. If I have one criticism, it's that the foreshadowing dialogue which closes 'Fear Her' feels just a little shoehorned in, not to mention cliched ('There's a storm coming ...'). Still, the sight of the Doctor and Rose sharing a precious moment in the midst of celebrations is a nice way to set up the darkness to come.

And then we come to THAT trailer.

Clearly a lot of work has gone into the finale of season 2. This was not a standard 'next week' preview, but a proper build-up to something big. Even the music was ominous. So many questions ... was that a Dalek ray we saw a brief snippet of? It certainly seemed to share the same SFX and sound effect. Is Earth mergeing with the parallel world of 'Rise of the Cybermen'? Does this mean Mickey will make an appearance? And will Rose actually die?

I've genuinely no idea, for all The Sun's attempt at spoilage. It could be that Jackie and Mickey will be the ones to die, prompting Rose to abandon the Doctor in a Tegan-style, 'It's just not fun any more' moment.

Of course, the biggest surprise would be if it was Tennant who took the final fall, but I can't see that happening. Besides, I really want the Tenth Doctor to be given some darker material to work with next year, so I hope he's sticking around.

Either way, we've come to the last adventure of a pretty strong season. There have been some issues along the way and I don't feel the end has been built up quite as successfully as it was in season one, but I get the feeling we're in for something really special. Russell T Davies has promised payoffs not only for this year's setup, but for eveything which has happened since the show came back.

Count me excited.

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Not bad at all! I think this story is probably one of those episodes that will make more of an impression on the younger viewers, but from an adult point of view I enjoyed it very much too.

We were given a very intriguing and original story, which started off very well in what seems an ordinary suburban street, but then very quickly an atmosphere of uneasiness is established as you just know something is going to happen to that child! This pretitle sequence ends very chillingly with the child’s drawing coming to life – real nightmare stuff for any kids watching.

David Tennant is as engaging as ever in his performance with Billie Piper as his “Lewis”. I assume the Doctor was associating himself with Inspector Morse?! His first scene was hilarious when he lands the Tardis so that the door won’t open, but then rematerialises again in the right place. The Doctor is certainly much better at steering his ship than he used to be! Tennant also seems to be basing his performance on a dog, i.e. he licks everything (like the wall in “Tooth and Claw”, he goes down on all fours to study the lawn, and stick his fingers in a jar of honey! Very dog-like behaviour, but a great part of his characterisation!

The most chilling part of the episode was undoubtedly the drawing of the dead father. When Rose first opened the wardrobe doors I was almost expecting her to walk inside only to end up in Narnia, but thankfully it was a bit more original than that! I think what made it work well was the fact that when he was “coming down the stairs” towards the end we only ever saw his shadow. What you don’t see is always more chilling in my opinion.

It was great to hear Huw Edwards commentating for the Olympics too!

So all in all a fine tale. Nothing outstandingly brilliant and won’t be a “classic” for me, but it was certainly a well told and original story, which I’m sure kids will have been scared of.

And of course the “next time” trailer….. oh how I am looking forward to next week!! Those lines are there yet again though:

Q: “What are they?”
A: “Cybermen!”

I don’t care though as I think it’s gonna be fab.

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Last year we had “Boom Town.” This year’s filler episode is Matthew Graham’s “Fear Her,” an episode written quite literally to fill the gap left by Stephen Fry’s unfinished episode. I don’t think I’m being unduly harsh by saying that this is the worst episode of the season yet, especially bearing in mind the competition. In fairness, for a really cheap little episode, there is a hell of a lot to love about this episode. For me, it’s greatest strength is its humour. Last week I thought “Love & Monsters” was funny, but at times “Fear Her” had me rolling in the aisles. Scenes like the Doctor coming face to face with the burly Dad, all the “Fingers on lips!” stuff and the immortal line from Kel – “You just took a council axe from a council van and now you’re digging up a council road! I’m reporting you to the council!” – really dragged the episode up from being a (relatively) average episode to a quite decent one.

“Five, six, seven, eight. There’s a Doctor at the gate.”

Ironically, one of this episode’s greatest strengths is the cheapness of it all. What could be creepier than kids going missing on a normal, suburban street in the not-too-distant future? Moreover, although it’s been done before the ‘spooky little girl’ angle really works. What makes Chloe so frightening here is her intensity rather than her power. Abisola Agbaje brings so much to the part for someone so young, and that voice is just disturbing! Her strange power itself is fascinating, only in Doctor Who could you have one of your main characters being attacked by a scribble! The special effects in this episode may be few and far between, but when they are used they look superb – the cartoon boy coming to life in the pre-title sequence is quite horrific; he looked like something off the artwork of a Radiohead album!

Although it is the Doctor who works everything out about the Isouls creature that has taken over young Chloe, when he becomes one of her drawings it is up to Rose to save the day single-handedly. It’s strange to think that this is Rose’s last chance to really do something on her own – in a fortnight’s time she’ll be gone (one way or another!) and so “Fear Her” is really her last chance to show what she can do. Billie doesn’t disappoint – she kicks ass! Digging up council roads with council axes… Smashing through doors with axes… Rose rocks! Even when the Doctor is still around, in Chloe’s bedroom it is Rose who does most of the explaining, not the Doctor, and it is Rose who really stands up to Chloe’s Mum Trish (Nina Sosanya of Teachers fame) and blames her for making Chloe feel so isolated. It’s also only fair to mention that Billie looks absolutely stunning in this episode – we’re talking nearly “New Earth” standard!

The story’s conclusion is very uplifting and reminded me very much of the “Everybody lives!” finale to “The Doctor Dances.” Even the music is the same. This Isouls creature has taken Chloe over because she feels lonely, and the Isouls see that as suffering beyond imagination. The Isouls feed off each other’s love you see – not your typical Doctor Who baddie, I’ll admit. The Isouls’ pod needs some love and so Rose throws it into the Olympic Torch that the Doctor carries all the way into the Olympic Stadium! It’s a wonderful Doctor Who moment, a definite calm before the storm.

“Never say never ever.”

“We’ll always be okay you and me, don’t you reckon Doctor?”

“Something’s in the air. Something coming. A storm’s approaching.”

And so next week it’s the big one. We all know she’s leaving, and the question everybody is asking is “is Rose gonna die?” Personally, I hope not, but I really can’t see any other way of getting her to leave the Doctor. She’d rather die. Moreover, if they kill Rose millions of kids are gonna be scarred for life! No one even liked Adric and look what his death did to people!

On one final note, I’ve noticed that the writers have been much braver this year about slipping in more and more references to the show’s past, and “Fear Her” marks the biggest one yet. Blink and you’ll miss it, but in the TARDIS Rose says to the Doctor, “…easy for you to say, you don’t have kids,” to which he replies “I was a dad once.” It won’t matter to a lot of people, but I for one am glad that the new series is a definite continuation of the show that began back in 1963 with the Doctor and his granddaughter Susan. Whether she actually is his granddaughter or not is another matter, it depends where you stand on the whole ‘Other’ issue… but regardless, it’s the latest in the long line of nice little touches that certainly sit well with this fan.

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“Fear Her” was a super episode of Doctor Who, well written and directed, and decently acted; though some have found it forgettable, my own opinion is that it achieves excellence more than once.

I enjoyed this episode practically the whole way through, from the comedy of the Doctor’s awkward materialisation at the start to the splendidly uplifting finale as the Doctor lights the Olympic flame – though Huw Edwards’ voiceover is perhaps weak, and the whole thing is admittedly contrived (but not more contrived than “The Girl in the Fireplace”, and who complained about that?!). Though having a sports reporter, upon witnessing the disappearance of an Olympic crowd, babbling not once but twice about the flame representing love, courage and all that, is a bit odd, at least those fine virtues took centre stage, and the Doctor – literally – became their torchbearer. Even apart from the justification in plot terms of that finale (the alien ship needed the power boost and a helping hand from him), that symbolism made the indulgence more than okay for this viewer.

Yes, I was extremely impressed by that; and despite being sidelined in exactly the same way that Rose was deleted from the plot of “The Idiot’s Lantern”, the Doctor still managed to hold the episode together, with a fantastic performance from DT – and, while we’re on the subject, David Tennant earnestly telling a frightened woman “I’m help” is far preferable to David Tennant screaming “No power on this earth can stop me now!”, or somesuch rubbish. In my humble opinion, only one of those lines could really be spoken by the Doctor!

And while the Dr Who fan in me was thrilled by the Doctor’s offhanded comment about being a father (well of course he is – and yet in forty years, he has never actually come out and said so!), and the Sci-Fi enthusiast by the good conception and realisation of the alien around whom it all revolves, the television viewer was hugely impressed by the episode’s construction. The Doctor and Rose appear in a utterly normal street, discover some fairly normal people, and spend most of their time inside a very normal house – this was an episode of a major TV drama which could, with a bit of ingenuity, have been done fairly easily on stage** – more so even than “Dalek” or “Father’s Day”. “Fear Her” benefited hugely from the low-key settings, scenarios and effects.

The resolution of the plot was another brilliant high – with the Doctor gone, Rose must prove once again just how far she has come under his tutelage. Billie (aided by perfectly-judged direction) gives a stellar performance as she conveys Rose’s struggles to bring everything to a happy end; and just as she manages it, she has to contend with the monstrous drawing of Chloe’s father, coming to life in the cupboard upstairs! But Chloe and her mother manage to sort that one out fairly well themselves, showing, in turn, how far they have come – thanks to the Doctor. Good old Doctor!

Following Alan W. E. Dann’s rant about “po-faced, sexless, conservative” Who fans in the “Love and Monsters” reviews last week (and I am proud to be a conservative, in all walks of life as well as Who fandom), I would say this – “Fear Her” is a shining example of the kind of programme Dr Who can still be, even in 2006. It gives lie to the simplistic “radical versus conservative” argument – as Steven Moffat said on the “City of Death” DVD, previously Dr Who stories have been about maintaining a status quo (for those not in the know, City of Death ends with a fake Mona Lisa, underwritten with the words “this is a fake” in felt-tip, hanging in the Louvre), and “Fear Her”, with its mass-disappearances, doesn’t bother with anything like that; none of the new series episodes have. And yet! “Conservative” to its core – in that it retains Dr Who’s historic values and techniques, and starts with the TARDIS materialising and features the Doctor in most scenes (more or less) – “Fear Her” lives up to the promise of the new series, which things like “Love and Monsters” (despite all that episode’s initial promise) just don’t. It doesn’t have farting aliens, stupid jokes taking the mickey of the Royals, or barely-veiled references to oral sex, because it is stronger without those things. And, to be blunt, it is far, far better than most of the episodes we have seen hitherto.

**Actually no, maybe the drawings on A4 paper ‘coming to life’ would present a bit of a problem. But I’ve never made a production for the stage, so I don’t know!

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Yet another disappointing entry in this hit and miss 'New Who' season. Russel T.Davies commented that this season was to be lighter - by that I now gather he meant crap incognito.

After last weeks emabarrasment, the less mentioned on that the better, we have a story that notches up the dramatic intensity to nothing more hotter than a tepid cup of milky tea.

As in my opinion last years 'Boom Town' , its one of those stories that really didn't matter if it had been aired or not, a definate 'skip' forward on the forthcoming DVD releases.

The syrupy reason for the children disappearing was not particularly scarey (to see how its done properly see last years 'Father Day'-kid on a swing). Another major let down was the monster in the closet , a crude etching with red glowing eyes that puffs smoke.

Obvious to us all that the money for effects has run particularly dry by now but there was at least one redeeming instance 'the graphite attack' which moementarily built up ones' hope that this would be a good story, from then on it went completely the opposite and plodded along lamely with a few bits of 'fizz' scantily dotted here and there. The rest of the effects on display were feeble attempts at keeping us awake or not go and do something else.

I am sorry but the 'Flower Jelly Fish' - a sort of poor mans 'Matrix' worm did nothing for me either, it was awful, its' main purpose it seemed was to provide the story an ending to a wholely lacklustre affair.

With the cringe worthy vanishing spectator scenario and the Doctor lighting the flame of peace so the aliens could be released to go home this made me want to reach for the sick bag.

Nina Soonaya did a a good job as the fretful mother but her acting ability seemed seriously underused just like the main cast. Most of the time the script called for her to be worried and weirded and....very little else.

The child actress who played Chloe achieved admirable acting capability in and out of her 'possessed' scenes. These scenes were crudely executed however and on the whole were cheaply carried out by getting the child to hoarsely whisper when the alien speaks through her - this was bargain basement effects that caused potential vigour and robust thrills in these scenes to go completely out of the window. So all we had was a child sounding like she needed a good gargle with salt water and that folks was the 'menace'.

Tennant seemed hyperactive as usual squeaking and spitting out his lines throughout the irksome narrative, he seemed more happier and 'bouncy' than normal - probably a lot more than the viewing audiences.

'Fear Her' could have had potential if more care and effort had been applied to it, it wasn't creepy, menacing or scarey just wishy-washy sci-fi soap that seems to epitomise the style that T.Davies wants and is seeminglycontent with - how selfish.

I have drawn to the conclusion that this seasons scripts with the exception of a few rare beauties are to blame for the sheer lack of quality and enthusiasm this time around. Tennant and Piper can and have achieved vignettes of super drama in previous stories but this is constantly let down by unnecessary 'over-the-top' stupidity and far too many 'IN YER FACE!' moralist preachings. This instalment was a prime example of such shoddy fayre.

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So the dumbing down of Dr. Who continues...

After being part of the campaign to bring back Dr.Who for many years and thoroughly enjoying the novels during the intervening years, especially the ones published by Virgin (when the BBC were no longer interested in having anything to do with Dr.Who), I am sad to say I haven't even saved a recording of the last seven episodes of the new series, as I know I won't want to watch these episodes again.

Series two. Overall, despite the werewolf - just not enough bite. Perhaps they are missing the Daleks, who will surely return for some much needed sense of genuine menace in series three.

As for the most recent offering Fear Her… Ooooh! The scary badly drawn scribbles of a little girl sitting in her bedroom are coming to get me - I'd better hide behind the sofa with terrifying monsters like that! Or maybe just reach for a rubber…

Turn the page Russell T Davies! Time to move on from all this smug silliness and generally being too concerned with being a comedian, and get back to some proper classic Dr.Who and some interesting, absorbing, dramatic, and intelligent writing.

Fear Her is by no means a classic episode of Dr.Who, and like The Idiot’s Lantern and Love & Monsters, it’s certainly not going to be remembered for the right reasons. Despite the title, there was little to fear in this uninteresting story set in a suburban London street of the near future.

And oh… Not London again!! London, London, London, London… What is this obsession with London? Why does our favourite Timelord choose to visit London over and again? And not even the most interesting bits of London! Suburbs. Council estates. Shopping centres. And so on… In the end, I have begun to understand the Tardis can travel anywhere - so long as it is in London!

If it has to be a story set in England on Earth, couldn’t it be Sheffield or Birmingham or Bristol or Plymouth just for once? If it’s just an ordinary street, then why not let it be a city other than London for crying out loud!

And if they really do have to visit London, lets have really scary slimy monsters in the dark recesses of the Underground, or lots of classic nasty Daleks coming up out of the Thames!

Was I the only one to cringe when Fear Her turned out to be yet another story featuring London with the forthcoming Olympics? I imagine not. The hype and propaganda surrounding the Olympics will be bad enough in five or six years time - we hardly need it to start now - so this felt a bit like telly ads promoting Christmas shopping in August. Too early for this. Plus, the story was just not good enough. Kids are disappearing. An alien has taken over a little girl in a suburban street. Not much happens really. Altogether, very much done on the cheap.

The groan of it being London again, and there being nothing much to ‘fear’ apart from an alien petal in a little girl, and that daft ending with the Doctor carrying the Olympic torch were very much off kilter and I’m guessing totally missed the mark with most fans.

I’m even starting to go off Billie Piper - instead of being so impressed with her in the last series, I’m finding the new ‘clever dick’ Rose increasingly irritating.

But it’s this dumbing down of the new series and aiming so much of it at an audience of young children that has really took the polish off the show’s return to our screens. As it turned out, The Christmas Invasion was an omen of what was to come, but strangely enough New Earth, Tooth and Claw, School Reunion, and The Girl in the Fireplace were all excellent and thoroughly enjoyable...

New Earth had it’s moments, a clever premise, and some excellent action shots in the lift shafts, and for it once it wasn’t set in London or even on this planet, which was a relief.

Tooth and Claw was clever, with the Matrix style fighting monks and the combination of Queen Victoria and the beast, and being set in Scotland in a remote country house did give it something extra.

School Reunion was superb. I thought the reappearance of Sarah Jane and K9 worked really well, and the whole thing was handled sensitively - and it enhanced the Dr.Who-ness of the series. My personal favourite episode, and I’d love to see more coming across the best of the old characters in future stories - after all, there are lots and lots to choose from! We might even find out what happened to Ace and some of the others…

The Girl in the Fireplace was also a classic, which I really enjoyed. Really well done, with history and space elements combined as it should be, and a real charm and elegance to the writing. Magical. Very well thought out and handled with delicacy and care. Perfect Dr.Who. And I loved the horse crashing through the mirror - which was shamelessly stolen from the cover of the 1987 Stephen Donaldson paperback, The Mirror of Her Dreams.

So after a dodgy start with a killer Christmas Tree, Series Two of the new adventures of the Doctor was surging ahead and at this stage compulsive viewing…

Of course, it all went wrong with the appallingly dreadful new version of the Cybermen with all those endlessly long lingering shots of marching steel boots - as if we couldn’t guess what they were going to look like after all the previews and press releases. The entire history of the Cybermen, with Mondas and the weakness of gold was completely forgotten about. While the poor casting of a lacklustre ‘Trigger’ from Fools & Horses was just not believable. And why mess with the classic story of the Cybermen - somehow, this just didn’t feel right or appropriate. Especially as a proper Cyber head from the old classic series was featured in the Chris Eccleston episode Dalek in Van Statten’s museum.

I don’t think the incredibly disappointing new design for the characters helped at all - the new Cybermen look more like something off a children’s TV show than credible villains. Bitterly disappointing to dumb down one of the best Dr.Who baddies to this. From start to finish, Russell T Davies just got the Cybermen altogether wrong, and his credibility as the saviour of Dr.Who ended at that point.

Unfortunately, the mistakes in series two did not end there.

To my mind, The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances were by far the best episodes of series one, and fantastic Dr.Who, taking the whole show to a new level. Just what Dr.Who on TV should be. Startling special effects, good acting, an interesting look into an aspect of history that was hitherto not really explored, the excellent addition of Captain Jack, and the only truly frightening behind the sofa script since Dr.Who returned.

So I can understand the writers looking at following this up with more of a similar vein. Yet The Idiot’s Lantern seemed more like an attempt to secure future funding from the BBC establishment, and just too self-indulgent and dull for it’s own good - and oh dear, yes, London, yet again.

While Rose and the Doctor are getting more and more flirty and silly all the time. Now don’t get me wrong, Billie Piper is a very attractive young woman, but how much of the meagre 45 minutes screen time was wasted in showing off her 1950’s rock& roll outfit from the BBC wardrobe department?

The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit were better and almost rescued the decline, in a story much more like the best of classic Dr.Who, off world with a colony in danger from an unknown foe. After all, there is nothing wrong with doing more of what has worked before, keeping it simple and delivering what the public want.

Then Love & Monsters, and now Fear Her… Oh, dear!

Can someone please point out to the powers that Beeb, that Dr. Who is not and never was a children's programme!

The key audience is not under 10 years old!

I fear if things are allowed to deteriorate any further, then the next series will no doubt see an episode about a Dr.Who fan club vs. a Mr. Blobby alien, written by a 10 year old Blue Peter viewer as part of a CBBC competition to see who can write something more frightening than an episode of Tellytubbies. In fact, you can find more charm and more interesting stories on Postman Pat than in recent Dr.Who!

Please… Dr. Who should be based on the classic episodes of drama - aimed at intelligent adults - not based on episodes that made viewers cringe featuring giant Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts monsters and South Wales Hi Di Hi holiday camps featuring Bonnie Langford having a tantrum. Isn't this what lost viewers and got the old series cancelled in the first place?

If every episode in the Sylvestor McCoy era had been like the gripping Wolves of Fenric or the classic scene with Daleks shooting at a baseball bat wielding Ace as she smashes through the glass window, then I don't think Dr. Who would ever had been cancelled in the first place.

And now we have Peter Kay in a green rubber suit in Love & Monsters commenting that "It tastes like chicken"? Ridiculous! Almost as bad as the ludicrous ‘Keystone Cops’ running left and right through doorways in the opening sequence! How could they do this to our show? You have to suspect that David Tennant and Billie Piper were too ashamed to be in this episode any more than absolutely necessary!

If Blue Peter want to produce a TV show, let them have a competition to influence an episode of Eastenders! Maybe one about the London Olympics coming up soon!

I’m pretty sure that Jon Pertwee would not be at all happy with the way things are going. And while I like David Tennant as an actor, I feel sorry for him being made to portray the character in such a childishly silly and falsely forced gung-ho manner. We can only hope that a more serious Doctor will emerge after Rose is killed off… So fingers crossed!

So now we have two more weeks of long lingering cyber boots stomping around, while they say, “We are going to get you!” without actually getting anyone, and more long-lingering shots of Billie Piper’s exit from the show… But maybe then, next year, if they haven’t completely lost the audience, we can get back to some proper serious Dr.Who.

If the BBC seriously want to do silly childish dumbed-down Dr. Who for kids, why not simply put together a spin off series for the under tens? They could call it ‘Teachwood’ and set it in a school (in London of course) where the teachers have been taken over by aliens, or feature a story about a young child making people she draws disappear and almost spoiling a sporting event… “By Eck!” as the Doctor from a planet with a north would have said, now that would make a fine series of Dr.Who.

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Jacob Clifton, who writes the Doctor Who recaps over at the Television Without Pity website – and very good they are too – has a theory about the series. Well, actually he has many and varied theories about the show, which are often expounded upon at length in his pieces – never one to shy away from analysis and subtext, is Jacob – but perhaps chief amongst them is the idea of Doctor Who as an unconscious depiction of the United Kingdom’s low sense of self-esteem. “The Healing of Albion,” the idea than Britain and the British should be put through the wringer and subjected to all manner of evils before they come out clean on the other side.

He’ll certainly have a field day with Fear Her, if and when the US Sci-Fi Channel ever gets around to showing it. For one of the chief ideas the episode carries – and probably one of its most accurate – is the boost to national self-esteem and sense of worth that hosting the Olympic Games in 2012 will provide. We have seen before in just about every other country that’s held the Games that the pride and patriotism which comes from being chosen to be the custodian of the grand tradition of sportsmanship and something great and good about the human condition can be a boost to even those who are not directly connected with anything going on at the Games. Merely being there, in the country and seeing the verve and joy it brings to the nation, is enough.

Occasionally such pride and patriotism can go too far – I know that the Atlanta Games of 1996 made some people feel almost physically ill, and it’s perhaps very appropriate that this episode first aired in the UK the day before England played their second round match at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. An episode based against one of the two greatest and most-watched sporting events on the planet, being shown while the other one is taking place – no accident on the part of the production team, you’d think.

But the World Cup, like the Olympics – although the Olympics suffers this to a lesser degree, being mainly about individuals rather than groups – is often criticised for the flag-waving patriotism being only a stone’s throw away from nationalism, which leads us down the ugly path of superiority complexes and racism. In Fear Her we see the streets bedecked with Union Flags, although the number of them around and about is pretty tame compared to the swathes of St George’s Crosses currently covering English front room windows, car aerials and pub beer gardens.

There’s nothing wrong with getting behind your country and its representatives in a sporting event, and flying a flag to show your allegiance – indeed, the pride and passion and love and emotions of all kinds that such sporting events bring out in us all, the sense of togetherness and unity as we bind together to celebrate our nation is one of the few times when such a thing as Englishness ever exists – Britishness too, perhaps, as the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish seem strong enough in their own identities as individual nations even without the aid of sports teams.

Often a minority of morons will spoil it for the many thousands who do no wrong; they take it too far, sing the racist songs, get drunk and start violence. Less so now, but still idiotically. It’s happened the weekend this episode aired, with a tiny, tiny minority in Germany ruining the good reputation English fans have been building up there, so it was good to see Fear Her taking a stand and showing that sports events en masse can be a good thing.

That said, however, it did almost feel on occasions as if the episode could have just as easily been sent in the present day, with the 2012 setting used merely to provide that Olympic backdrop and the chance to throw in a few audience amusing novelties such as the idea of Take That, complete with Robbie, performing at the opening ceremony, or Shayne Ward bringing out a Greatest Hits CD. And whoever’s idea it was to get Huw Edwards doing the commentary ought to hang their heads in shame – getting real people in to play themselves sometimes works, as Andrew Marr showed back in series one, but Edwards is pretty awful here.

I do have to admit that Fear Her was not an episode I was especially looking forward to, mainly because of its writer. While I did very much enjoy Matthew Graham’s work on Life on Mars earlier this year, the previous effort of his I’ve seen – ITV’s 1999 post-apocalyptic serial The Last Train – was a clunker, and in every interview I’ve seen with Graham I’ve got the distinct impression that he doesn’t really ‘get’ Doctor Who. I know that’s a terrible arrogant and fannish thing to say, and many of you will doubtless think it’s simply because he’s not an out-and-out fan like most of the other writers on the current incarnation of the show. Not so – I never got the same sense of unease with Toby Whithouse or Tom MacRae when I read interviews with them before their episodes aired. Graham, however, just seemed too… Well, ‘ordinary’, I suppose. I’m not saying all Doctor Who scriptwriters ought to be hand-crafted by Telefantasy Angels, touched by Grace and handed down to us from high on a mountain top with their CVs carved on tablets of marble, but… Well, it’s hard to explain.

Anyway, the important point is that on the whole I was pleasantly surprised. The central concept of the episode is pretty damn good – the idea of a little girl who can snatch people into her drawings. Very Sapphire & Steel. The nightmare vision of her dead father, trapped in the wardrobe, was also superb, and probably conceptually the high point of the episode. I would not be at all surprised if the father was not featuring in a few real nightmares after this episode went out. There is also some very good interaction between the Doctor and Rose – when he thinks that she’s holding her hand out to him made me smile, and just before that when he reveals that he was, indeed, once a father. We’ve always known he must have had children at some point, in fact it’s practically the first thing we ever do learn about him, but it’s nice to have it referred to again for the first time in a very long time.

Mind you, not all of the Rose and Doctor scenes are spectacularly good. The very end of the episode, for example, where the Doctor broods on an approaching storm could not have been less subtle had it been painted luminous yellow and leapt up and down on the spot, singing Three Lions by Baddiel, Skinner and The Lightning Seeds in a screeching falsetto while holding up a large sign saying ‘This is foreshadowing events in the season ending two-parter!’ We do get the idea, you know – there’s no need to sledgehammer it home.

Aside from that, there was little to complain about – only the Doctor lighting the Olympic flame, which was ridiculously over the top and made even less bearable by Edwards’ continuing awful voiceover, really irritated me. The guest cast were all good – the girl playing Chloe especially, and it was good to see yet another Casanova co-star of Tennant’s in the form of Nina Sosanya, who I’m a fan of.

So, certainly not a stellar episode, and probably not one that will live long in the memory of the general audience or rate highly in the fan rankings. But a solid enough stop gap, marking time in the schedules before we come to what looks like a truly epic adventure to follow.

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I'm sorry, boys and girls, but for me that was quite possibly the dullest episode we have had since the series returned.

It's a real shame too. The story actually had some really great ideas in it, not all original, but good, strong ideas that were simply frittered away. The idea of a child's drawings coming to life was brilliantly built up in the pre-credits sequence and then very badly sidelined throughout the rest of the story. And this was symptomatic of the whole feel of it - cost cutting and down sizing to the degree that strong ideas are very sketchily developed.

And Euros Lyn seemed, for me, to be struggling to present the material in a dynamic way without blowing the budget. His direction had some very interesting touches - big close-ups moving into frame for example - but I just felt that the 'Brookside Close' feel of it all undermined any attempts to be visually interesting. There was a real struggle to generate tension too. Rose being attacked by the 'scribble' was great but it was a momentary flicker of a tangible threat within the story. And I'm sorry, but for a series that actually prides itself on being televisual, to reduce what should be the overwheming threat and fear of an abusive father to a lacklustre bit of red lighting and a shadow looming on the landing seemed to be really dismissive of the sheer visual power that the series has harnessed since its return. All that good work was undone with that cliched 'less is more' directing, lighting and editing in an ill -judged denoument.

I didn't feel that the 2012 Olympics setting was quite working either. It seemed very tacked on and a rather weak vehicle to move the story on. It was also highly predictable that the Doctor would swan off with the Olympic torch too. And Huw Edwards did this scene setting no fsvoours with his ham-fisted role as commentator.

I loved the sprinklings of humour, from the parking of the TARDIS, the mock Inspector Morse exchanges and to running gag of the cakes with the ball bearings on. Great little riffs that helped to lift it but not really enough to save it from wearing far too much of its message on its sleeve. The nods to the Doctor being a dad and the Shadow Proclamation were welcome too. The performances were, on average, very good, especially Tennant and Piper, and from Edna Dore and Nina Sosanya.

It's influences and inspirations were perhaps a little too obvious; much was lifted from 'Marianne Dreams' by Catherine Storr ( later televised as 'Escape Into Night' and the inspiration for the film 'Paperhouse' ) but also Wyndham's 'Chocky' kept nagging away at the back of my mind. There were also touches of 'The Excorcist' and 'The Omen'. However, I felt that there was too light a touch in both directing and scripting to really be able to generate any genuine scares on the back of these influences. It all felt very pale in comparison. The Doctor Who story it most resembled for me was 'Survival' and that story, as an example of the utterly fantastic erupting into mundane surburbia, wipes the floor with this. For me the fantastical elements really didn't have enough impact within the story to make it truly startling and convincingly menacing and exciting. The excitement seemed to rapidly drain out of the episode through a combination of small budget, muddled direction and variable acting.

Thematically, the episode is on stronger footing. There was an attempt to try and discuss child abuse and its affects on wives and children and the 'blame culture' that currently exists in society. I particularly thought the scene in the street where the residents seem happy to make the council worker the scapegoat for the events was strong and there was an undercurrent of racial intolerance mixed in too that made this a little more truthful.

The subsequent 'fingers on lips' scene was also for me a really good indication of how Tennant can be authoritative without resorting to a gimmicky performance.

I very much enjoyed the ideas about creativity and the mother/father complex. The child's drawings could be seen as projections that occur as the child/alien gets 'inside' other people, gets to know them and to 'create' them as characters around it/her. It's something we all do throughout our own lives. We invest life in the people around us from material in our own inner selves and this process allows us to discriminate between what is observed and what is invented to the degree that we can assemble sketches of our own personal complexes. Our own inferiority complexes can be assembled from people we end up despising. The living drawing of the father is a huge inferiority complex made tangible. And it lives in the wardrobe - the dark of the unconscious mind. A wonderfully rich notion tapping into both imaginary childhood fears and real family traumas.

The alien is symbolic of a creative impulse that must be utilised in order for it to remain healthy. Failure to use your inner potential can lead to impotence and a damaged personality. The alien uses the human girl to activate this potential in order to find 'love', to be replenished and to survive. Likewise, the creative act of singing, of using music, by mother and daughter to express positive feelings and reassert reality.

These are very strong ideas but they are rather under-developed in the story. I would love to have seen the drawings all come to life, which I believe was the intention, as I feel this would have been the powerful visual statement that, sadly, the episode excused itself from doing.

Low budget should not equal poor episode. Here, the script, full of good ideas, progresses in a very linear structure and the location is too confined. Ironically, this seems to have hemmed in the 'creativity' of the production team and despite some brief flashes of life, the way the story is delivered lacks pace and seems oddly joyless in counterpoint to the rather joyful resolution of its themes.

Good concept, good script and good performances but it ultimately fell flat.You sometimes find you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear and no amount of back-pedalling can save you! It's a neat summation of what is wrong with this episode, I'm afraid.

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