Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Fear Her"

It's a sad indicator of this series' quality that one of the other common contenders for the dubious title of 'Worst Doctor Who story ever' as mentioned in the last review is this, the very next episode. An even more obvious piece of needless filler, "Fear Her" epitomises the concept of the 'cheap' Doctor Who episode with no monsters, very few special effects and no sets. A lot of the basic plot is also extremely similar to that of "The Idiot's Lantern" only a few episodes before, involving an alien stealing some kind of essence from people, a very domestic setting, a big event being required to achieve the alien's plan, and one of the two main characters being taken out of action so that the other has to solve the crisis on their own, although in this case it is Rose who saves the day rather than the Doctor.
Even though this episode is crap I don't feel inclined to acerbically wail on it because it's more just tedious rather than irritating. I mean, the little girl is pretty annoying and the Doctor and Rose are still fairly smug most of the time but generally it just feels padded out and slow. They seem to transition between the Webbers' living room and Chloe's bedroom repeatedly so that you wonder why they keep moving apart from an opportunity to stretch out the scenes more and whatever point it wants to make about loneliness and child abuse and so on, that you have to open up to people to not be haunted by your past or something, is presented as a pretty thrown-in one-note message because the episode has absolutely nothing more to say. There's some fairly cheesy stuff too, like the scribble monster and the Doctor carrying the Olympic torch (how did he even get there? Did he take the TARDIS?) which seem to mostly make people at home chuckle briefly and then move on.
Speaking of the scribble monster, apparently it should be called the scribble creature instead because according to this episode's writer Matthew Graham, RTD said that the Doctor would never call anything a monster. Didn't the Doctor refer to humans as monsters in "The Christmas Invasion", penned by RTD himself? No wonder the show was so inconsistent at this time.
There's plenty of unscientific rubbish in this episode too, like how apparently 'ionic energy', which isn't even a type of energy because ions are charged atoms and atoms are mass, allows real things to become drawings and drawings to become real things. I worry that if I keep expecting Doctor Who to go down this 'real science' road I'm going to end up demanding a physics-accurate account of how the TARDIS functions or an anatomical description of the process of regeneration, the kind of staple elements of the show which I'm willing to take for granted, but nonetheless it's a stupid explanation for how the drawings happen. And can they move, or not? I think they blew everything which remained of the budget on that one shot at the beginning of the drawing running forwards so we have to assume that we just don't get to see it but it's still rather unclear. And if it needs friends, why would it make them so unhappy? And if the Isolus wants to play with its siblings, why does it stay outside the drawings feeling grumpy? Rose's "temper tantrum" explanation makes a lot more sense than the Doctor's "loneliness" explanation.
It's nice to see the Doctor mention that he was a dad once because Susan surely had parents and it's kind of funny to see what happens when the TARDIS lands with the door facing the wrong way and he has to turn it around without fully dematerialising but other than that there's not much more Doctor Who lore stuff going on either. One other thing - if the Isolus was going to put the whole Earth inside a drawing on the wall, if the wall is part of the Earth then wouldn't that mean that the drawing would end up... inside itself? Think about that one for a sec!
There's a lot of bad dialogue, especially the Olympic commentary which is melodramatic and ridiculous, as well as the Doctor admitting to being facetious, the textbook concerned-but-cautious mother, the boring alien, the fingers-on-lips scene and various other cringe-inducing moments and it feels like a complete waste of time. The Olympic setting is kind of interesting but other than that everything reeks of 'cheap and safe'. There's just no point to it. I'm not sure whether it's worse than "Love & Monsters" but it's certainly one of the weakest episodes of this or any series.

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