Shiny Shelf

Doctor Who: Fear Her

By Eddie Robson on 25 June 2006

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

It’s perhaps unfortunate that ‘Fear Her’ comes straight after ‘Love & Monsters’ in this season, because after an episode in the company of Elton, stuck on ‘the slow path’, what we could really do with is a big old cosmic epic. But we’ve got to wait until next week for that.

This is because ‘Fear Her’ is the cheap episode of the season, set almost entirely on one street and with a villain who spends most of the episode concealed in the body of a child. I say ‘cheap’, of course back in the olden days of ‘Doctor Who’ they’d happily have staged Armageddon on this kind of budget and indeed they regularly did. However, as we’re repeatedly told, the bar has been raised since then – not least by ‘Doctor Who’ itself, which had a two-hundred-foot-tall Satan the other week.

Perhaps it’s due to the budgetary constraints that ‘Fear Her’ doesn’t completely convince, perhaps it’s something else. It’s nicely written: Matthew Graham has a good handle on the Doctor and Rose and the concepts are both imaginative and pleasingly weird (Rose getting attacked by the scribble is amusing, although some will doubtless find it silly). He even comes up with a plot-relevant explanation for why, although the episode is set in the summer of 2012, it’s visibly cold (the episode having been shot early this year).

In fact, although the episode isn’t as scary as perhaps it could be, and the moving drawings are under-exploited (again, probably for budgetary reasons), it all moves along well until the last few minutes. The Olympic Torch stuff is telegraphed a little too obviously and so seems cheesy when it actually happens, even though it does make sense, and the realisation of Chloe’s demon-father is too abstract to work as a credible threat.

It seems somewhat churlish to criticise an episode of ‘Doctor Who’ for failing to rise above its production limitations, given the amazing number of technical horrors I wilfully ignore when watching episodes of the old show, but it’s all about context I suppose. What it does demonstrate is that the show is still on a learning curve as it discovers how to do British TV sci-fi in the 21st century, as well as reminding us just how slick the 2006 season has been.

Line Break

By Eddie Robson

Comments are closed.