"...It could have been sorted out over on ITV over.
half-an-hour (even with a commercial break
for stringy cheese and dog food)..."
Early 21th Century, Earth.
Welcome to the Games.
The London 2012 Olympic Games.
EPISODE ELEVEN REVIEW
This story has the curse BOOM TOWN circling above its head.
An episode that has failed, over many months, to find a reviewer amongst the eyeofhorus.org.uk contributors. Nobody want to touch it with a high-jump pole; "boring" one said, and another "I made two cups of tea during the episode, and not even THE TWO DOCTORS had me doing that!"
So, is FEAR HER as unattractive aberration that belies the title of "entertainment" or "drama"?
The production was fantastically quirky, exemplified by the domestic "kitchen-sink soap" (more in the vein of Phil Collinson produced, SEA OF SOULS ) setting of a London estate and enhanced with witty repartee that covered everything from Club Med to edible ball bearings to an ITV fictional detective. DOCTOR WHO scriptwriters have an incredible - and unenviable - job description and task to produce original (or, if not strictly original, subtly plagiarised so not to be a complete rip-off) plots, engaging characters and entertaining dialogue. This is exacerbated if the episode is a replacement (for Stephen Fry's THE 1920s episode) and if the setting is a well-worn contemporary Earth (and filmed in the middle of winter for a middle of summer dateline).
Life is both challenging and interesting for a WHO writer.
The story construction, like, it seems, like a number of previous SERIES 2 stories, is a compilation of ideas and action set-pieces (many of which we have seen exploited extensively in the series already) Sellotaped together to stretch to the 42 ½ minutes needed to fill the space either side of the title sequence & (increasingly laboriously long) credits.
The question is do the joins make sense or, like another eyeofhorus.org.uk reviewer said, was it a "two cup of tea episode" or not?
An alien inhabiting an earthling is nothing new but the concept that the "occupant" is doing so not for evil (negative) again but for the personal (positively misinterpreted) gain of "company" for "play" - a need to be belong. A need that is manifested by forcibly "stealing" friends and capturing them in pencil drawings. A complex issue that could have been truly threatening if the "host" had not been a young child but an adult. Could this story plotline be described loosely as an "alien-peer-paedophile"?
And then the cat is abducted. And then a Time Lord.
So, perhaps not.
And that is it really. A kid with a attitude problem with transient characters and the set-pieces acting as the Sellotape. It could have been sorted out over on ITV over half-an-hour (even with a commercial break for stringy cheese and dog food). However, the challenge being to make the situation genuinely threatening, scary and entertaining for the prime audience - children.
It probably did. But I am sure that it was Tennant and Piper that kept their attention and not the unfolding story. When the plot takes second place to the leads is when alarm bells should ring at BBC WALES.
Tennant's Doctor was on top form, cruising the streets and back alleys of the estate as if he owned them. His character has become very eclectic throughout his first (of two ½) series with the Doctor not only being able to "detect" the remnants of ionic power with his hands, but a carefree attitude toward cleanliness as his digit-dips into jar of marmalade.
He propensity for, as I call it, "gobbing" (see DOCTOR WHO - THE CHRISTMAS INVASION) - verbally spewing out everything and anything as if silence offends.
Doctor (commenting on his lack of affection for a cat): Being threatened by a cat in a Nun's wimple.
Doctor (to Rose): Keep 'em peeled, Lewis.
Rose: It's easy for you to say! You don't have kids.
Doctor: I was a Dad once.
Rose: What did you say?
Occasionally, it seems that he just says something to shock without actually meaning it, in the same way that LITTLE BRITAIN's Daffyd announces "I'm the only gay in the village". It is a self-affirmation for the Doctor, perhaps, or verbal wordplay to keep his travelling companion on her/his toes. Shock for the sake of it.
Piper has created an unforgettable character, silencing critics and fans that accused BBC WALES of "stunt casting". In fact, Rose Tyler and Billie Piper could be indistinguishable if you squint and waggle your head from side-to-side whilst sitting on top of a spin dryer. Try it; it works. In FEAR HER, Rose attempts to take on the role of the Doctor (whilst he is incapacitated in crayon) saving the day with the aid of a pickaxe. Whether it was pedestrian direction (Euros Lyn) or Piper's lack of conviction, her heroic exploits were lacklustre and half-hearted.
And, for me, that sums up FEAR HER . Unpolished (as opposed to tarnished) and like a Christmas cracker - it was colourful and "Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without one" but inside it there's nothing but throwaway nonsense (a old nosy-neighbour gran, a covert racist, a wardrobe hiding threat, TV news coverage). But at least the predicted "whimper" was silenced with a "bang" that would echo through the preceding episodes.
Rose (to the Doctor): They're trying to keep splitting us up. But they never ever will.
Doctor: Never say never ever.
Rose: Nay! We'll always be okay, you and me. Don't you reckon Doctor?
Doctor: There something in the air. It's coming
Doctor: A storm's approaching.
FEAR HER did exactly what it asked to do. Be cheap and be quick.
At the start of this article, it was admitted that several reviewers did not want to comment on this story as they regarded it as SERIES 2's version of the maligned BOOM TOWN.
I think they are wrong, and I urge them to re-watch the episode.
BOOM TOWN is more entertaining, intelligent and crafted. Sadly, FEAR HER gives unsuspecting viewers a warning in its very title.