THIS EPISODE TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVEL "THE PRICE OF
PARADISE" AND THE
TV EPISODE "ARMY
DESTROYS THE EARTH &
YOU'RE A BAD GIRL,
'THE COMPLETE SECOND
SERIES' CYBERMAN HEAD
AMAZON EXCLUSIVE DVD
BOX SET (BBCDVD2122)
RELEASED IN NOVEMBER
LONDON 2012, AND THE
DOCTOR AND ROSE SET
OFF TO SEE THE OLYMPIC
GAMES, ONLY TO FIND
TERROR IN THE MOST
24TH JUNE 2006
This year’s budget episode is Life on Mars’ co-creator Matthew Graham’s Fear
Her, a hastily-written episode that I understand was commissioned to fill the gap left by Stephen Fry’s unfinished episode. I don’t think that I’m being unduly harsh in saying that
this is perhaps the worst episode of the season thus far - particularly considering level of
the competition - but even so, there is still a hell of a lot to love.
For me, the greatest strength of Fear Her
is its humour. Last week I thought that Love
& Monsters was funny, but at times this ep-
isode had me rolling in the aisles. Scenes
like the Doctor coming face to face with the
burly father; the whole “fingers on lips!” sequence; and, of course, 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 this one up from being a relatively poor
episode to a thoroughly endearing one.
Ironically though, another of this episode’s strengths is in fact the relative cheapness of it all. What could be creepier than children going missing on a normal, suburban street in the not-too-distant future? Although it’s been done before, the ‘spooky little girl’ angle really works, particularly when brought to life by a young actress with the intensity of Abisola Agbaje. That
voice she does is downright disturbing.
Furthermore, Chloe’s strange power is fascinating - only in Doctor Who could you have one of your main characters being attacked by a scribble! The effects shots in this episode may be few and far between, but when they are used they look terrific. The cartoon boy coming
to life in the pre-title sequence is especially horrific; he looks like something lifted from the artwork of a Radiohead album!
What’s more, Fear Her is an outstanding story for Rose. Whilst it is the Doctor that 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 do something on her own – in a fortnight’s time she’ll be gone and so Fear Her is really her last chance to really show what she can do.
“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!”
And the axe-wielding Billie Piper certainly doesn’t disappoint
Even when the Doctor is still around, in Chloe’s bedroom it is
Rose that does the explaining, and it is Rose that really stands
up to Chloe’s Mum Trish (Nina Sosanya of Teachers fame),
blaming her for making Chloe feel so isolated. It’s also only
fair to mention that Piper looks stunning in this episode too –
New Earth standard.
The story’s conclusion is very uplifting and reminded me very
much of the “everybody lives!” climax to The Doctor Dances
last year; even Murray Gold’s score is lifted in part from that
episode. The Isouls’ pod needs some love to bring it back to
life, and so Rose throws it into the Olympic Torch which the Doctor then carries all the way into the Olympic Stadium! It’s
a wonderfully enriching Doctor Who moment, a definite calm
before the storm.
On a 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 most viewers, but I’m certainly glad that the revived series is a definite continuation of the show that began back in 1963 with the Doctor and his granddaughter Susan. Whether Susan actually is his granddaughter or not is another matter entirely (I suppose it depends where you stand on
the whole ‘Other’ issue…) but regardless, it’s the latest in a long line of lovely little touches that certainly sit well with this fan.
“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, but is Rose going to die? Personally I hope not, but I really can’t see any other way of getting her to leave the Doctor; she would rather die. On the other hand though, if they kill her off, millions of children are going to be scarred for life, not to mention a fair few grown-ups too. Nobody even liked Adric, and look what a mark his death left on the nation’s youth...
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
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