Doctor Who – Fear Her

Reinstated from Scary Rob’s Doctor Who Blog

So much for my attempting to review all of this series. As you may have noticed, things have been somewhat busy for me for a while and just as I came out of that busy patch, I missed a couple of episodes. Well, I say ‘missed’, they are on videos waiting for me in Cambridge but that still buggers my reviews of The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit and Love & Monsters. This is a bit of a shame, as far as I’m concerned at least, because I’ve been enjoying this series immensely after its shaky start. I’ve really felt able to get my teeth into some of these episodes in a way that I never quite managed with the previous series. Admittedly, there were some stories I did love from last year but very few of them really felt like Doctor Who; they seemed to be like some kind of rebooted spin-off. This series, however, has all the gothic horror and wonder of its predecessors and really feels like it could go anywhere, rather than being confined to the horrendous limitations imposed by Russell T Davies of tying back to the Tyler family as often as the writing team can get away with it.

Fear Her is a case in point: a real test of what the format is capable of. Here we have a near-future Earth setting without so much as a reference to Rose’s family and some great leaps of imagination. The villain of the piece is so sinister to begin with, yet so Doctor Who. The best episodes have always been the ones where there are no moral absolutes, where the monsters have real motivation for what they’re doing and the Doctor is searching for a way to make as many people happy as possible.

There are so many ways this episode could have gone wrong. It could have over-sentimentalised the family relationship at its centre or trivialised it or left too many loose ends hanging. Instead, it managed to strike a good balance and even redeem a mistake on Mark Gatiss’ part from The Idiots’ Lantern. Having had that sort of relationship with my dad, the sentimentalised ending of that episode struck me as unbelievably crass. Quite frankly, the kid should have spat on his dad as he left, not carried his case for him – forgiveness for years of abuse doesn’t come instantly. Fear Her showed us a more realistic picture of the feelings of an abused family: a daughter in fear and mother so relieved it’s over that she doesn’t want to relive the experience in any way, shape or form.

And I’m impressed with the trailer for the next episode, too. It feels a little bit like an X-Files season finale, with the level of apocalypse the end of every sci-fi show needs. If Army of Ghosts can deliver on its trailer, we’re in for an exciting couple of Saturdays.

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~ by Scary Rob on 27 June, 2006.

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