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Monday, 26 June 2006 - Reviewed by Joe Ford

I thought for the first five minutes of this episode that it might be hurt by following up another down-to-Earth episode with Love and Monsters but those fears were soon dissolved when I was dragged into this powerful, quite brilliant in its own way, story. And whilst there are influences here, notably the Excorcist, the Shining and even Doctor Who’s own Deadstone Memorial, it manages to subvert all of these and become a genuinely smashing episode in its own right. It is so bizarre, I seem to be enjoying all of the not so popular episodes this year (I adored Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel and Love and Monsters) and having difficulty with what the majority thinks are classics (The Idiot’s Lantern was trad Who but far too dull and The Satan Pit was a major disappointment after a stunning first episode in The Impossible Planet). Fear Her is (judging by the Outpost Gallifrey poll) another episode which has divided viewers but personally I thought it was very necessary, it brought the focus back on the Doctor and Rose (especially Rose), it provided some real scares after last weeks lighter episode, it hinted at greater drama to come in the coming weeks and most importantly, it managed to be a deeply serious episode, almost an adult drama without losing its audience to stifling borderm. For what is the sleeper episode of the year, the one which bides time whilst we wait for the finale that is no mean feat.

I probably wont be popular for saying this but I thought this was Billie’s best performance to date. I expect all the Father’s Day fans will crawl out of the woodwork and bludgeon me to death now but everything she did in this episode felt effortless, and after all of the smugness and jealousy Rose has radiated earlier in the season it is just wonderful to see her back to being supportive, resourceful and hugely entertaining to watch. Come The Idiot’s Lantern I was ready to admit I thought she worked better against Eccleston’s Doctor but The Impossible Planet and Fear Her have turned all that around. Piper and Tennant exhibit a natural chemistry now which doesn’t feel forced by the scripts (unlike say the beginning of New Earth) and their detective work at the start of this story is fabulous to watch. Rose gets to be intelligent without stealing the Doctor’s limelight and exhibits a personality of fun without forgetting that it is a very serious situation they are trying to solve. I loved the sense of curiosity she had, especially after she opened the garage and was attacked by the scribble…she never learns and like the rest of us cannot resist pulling open Chloe’s cupboard when it eminates strange noises! Piper’s performance when trying to egg the truth out of Trish whilst trying to stay sympathetic is very sensitive and her anger towards Chloe when the Doctor is stolen from her is palpable. I love that they gave Rose a chance to shine on her own before she bows out in the finale, her struggle to find the spaceship, to get it home and then save Trish and Chloe from the monster in the closet sees Rose at her all time best. If you ever wanted to know why Billie Piper won best actress in the BAFTAs last year watch Fear Her again and soak in her naunced performance.

But lets not forget David Tennant’s contribution, which is (as ever) vital to make the episode work. Not to repeat myself but just three episodes ago I was ready to declare Eccleston’s Doctor my favourite of the two, simply because Tennant did not seem to take the role as seriously and goes a bit crazy too often for my liking. I genuinely think Tennant has found his niche now, of all the episodes to convince me that he really is the Doctor I have always loved Fear Her was the one. Its that mix of eccentric and serious that Tom Baker mastered so beautifully that Tennant has exacted now, unpredictable as hell, crazy about life, desperately trying to help others and uncomfortably close to his best friend. Tennant is such an attractive man and his zest and energy just adds to that attraction. He is supplied with line after line of acidic wit in this episode that just adds further charm. He is reminiscent (talking absently to himself), manipulative (using his words very carefully to work his way into Trish’s house), deeply caring (stroking Chloe’s hair as she talks of her possession) and yet surprisingly awkward when trying to appeal to Chloe in a childlike way. My mother pointed out that it is fascinating to watch Tennant in the role because every week he reveal something new about his character, a fresh emotion is peeled away which makes the character so rewarding and (considering his spec as a 900 year old alien who travels through time) believable. His revelation that he was a dad once is almost skipped over it is so brief but it opens up a world of possibilities.

I thought that setting the episode in one street would limit its potential but Matthew Graham (creator of the excellent Life on Mars) proves me wrong. Making this such an intimate and believable setting only served to highlight the horror of the situation. Lets not forget that this episode deals with some very frightening (and real life) horrors such as children being abducted and abusive fathers. It is only due to the shows exhaustless format and juicy science fiction style that it manages to imply these terrifying dramas in a supernatural fashion. The parent’s anger in the street as they start pointing the finger at innocent people feels very real and Trish’s quiet terror at the thought of her dead husband is genuinely frightening. Simon thought the climax of the story was going too far for the show, having a manifestation of Chloe’s dad screaming out that he is going to hurt her and his dominating shadow stretching along the hallway but I couldn’t disagree more, it is refreshing to see the show pushing its boundaries and daring to frighten its audience this much. I would imagine any home where abuse is the order of the day found this unbearable but it is worth reminding the outside world that behind closed doors these terrorising things do happen.

That’s not to say that there is no imagination here. It would be easy to rely on real life dangers and forget about the SF angle but Graham mixes the two effortlessly and whips a surprisingly potent script. There is more than a touch of the X-Files episode Scary Monsters here (where a child’s drawings of horrid things come to life) but this feels more magical and yet more clinical and thus more real. I adore the scribble monster, what an excellent idea and seeing the boy in the picture run towards the camera screaming is an amazing concept. Chloe later on drawing the Doctor and the TARDIS cranks the suspense up brilliantly and suddenly we are presented with astonishing visual of the stadium full of spectators suddenly, inexplicably empty. Great, great ideas. The red-lit cupboard screaming abuse whilst Chloe hurriedly scribbles a picture of the Earth on the wall is a very memorable climax too, as usual there has to be a worldwide threat but what an imaginative way to do it! I can think of a few repeated Earth-in-danger ideas the show has toyed with ad nausem but this is something entirely original.

I feel I must compliment both Euros Lyn (the best looking director on the planet) and Murray Gold. I was pretty hard on Lyn’s treatment of The Idiot’s Lantern, not because he did a bad job, on the contrary it was effortlessly executed but unfortunately the script was totally schizophrenic and thus so was the direction, switching from domestic drama to film noir to horror in the blink of an eye. Fear Her is a much tighter script which knows exactly what it is focusing on and Lyn’s direction is extremely tight, milking the horror on the everyday street for all it is worth. The climax was especially effective, Lyn not shying away from the drama and squeezing every bit of horror out of Chloe’s drawing of her Dad coming to life. Murray Gold’s contribution to this show is largely debated and whilst I am mostly in favour of his style I understand that he does milk the sappiness and drown out the action at times. So it pleases me to see how much he understands the tone of this story, mostly cranking up the tension with some very scary music but also pushing us towards the climax as Rose has to fight on her own.

Fear Her surprised me a great deal just like Boom Town did this time last year, it was not the forgettable filler I was expecting but instead turned out to be one of the most thoughtful and desirable episodes of the entire year. Given its limited setting it is shockingly scary in places, hugely imaginative and achingly poignant. Not only that but it might just be the most adult drama Doctor Who has served up in many a year.





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Monday, 26 June 2006 - Reviewed by Steve Manfred

This review is going to be a bit strange in that I really quite enjoyed this episode, but at the same time, I feel that a key mistake has been made regarding the season as a whole. "Fear Her" has a lot in common with the other episode that was made in this production block with this production team, which was "The Idiot's Lantern." Both have alien happenings going on in an ordinary London street... both have one of our regulars being removed by the villain halfway through (so that the other actor can move over to the other episode and carry it the rest of the way)... both involve the Doctor and Rose intruding into an ordinary home to confront the menace... both take place next door to a major historical event (Coronation and 2012 Olympics)...and both have a nasty dysfunctional father that's part of the problem. It all feels rather like the unfortunate parallel-plotting problem that beset season 25, where we had "Remembrance of the Daleks" and "Silver Nemesis" using much the same plot, with one of them being an all-time classic and the other an all-time silly story, except this time I think the order is reversed and the gulf between their quality isn't as big. And yet the comparison is invited because they're so close to each other in this season, and though "Fear Her" is the stronger episode, it almost feels like it should be weaker because "The Idiot's Lantern" tried to do it first, only not as well. (It's even got that other season 25 trademark of the creepy little girl.)

Where "Fear Her" scores over its sibling episode is how the characters in it seem much more real and believable, and how it manages to keep the action going and come up with a few inventive twists along the way that "Idiot's" didn't as much. For example, there is the conversation on the street between everyone in the neighborhood where they all start blaming each other for the missing children. There's real concern and fear and lashing out here of the sort I would expect to see in this situation. The way the Doctor and Rose get into Chloe's house is also more real than their simply barging in like they did in "Lantern," by simply baiting the mother who really would like some help and almost leaving until she finally invites them in. The motivation of this week's alien is more inventive too, how it's just a child that needs love for itself and heat for its ship, and doesn't really know how to go about getting them, and so it literally makes it's own friends since it thinks it's stuck there. The Wire was just hungry. And the thing doesn't just sit there and wait for the Doctor to beat it either... it counterattacks and takes him prisoner like everyone else, giving Rose a good scare at the same time. And just when we think it's all over, the dad drawing is made real and threatens Chloe and her mum. There was also more to the investigation in the first twenty minutes than there was in "Lantern"... this seems to be turning into my theme here... "like 'Idiot's Lantern', but more."

Along the way there are a number of nice character moments between the Doctor and Rose of the sort that were a bit forgotten about in the first half of the season but have been making a comeback since "The Impossible Planet." One of these is Rose doing the deducting for once and the Doctor having fun watching her do it. Another is the moment when Rose is hearing the noise in the garage and tells herself "not gonna open it... not gonna open it" before she actually does open it. Best of all is her discussion with the Doctor in the TARDIS about what kids are like, which leads him to reveal to her that he was a father once. This completely throws her for a loop, but he doesn't notice and before she really knows it they're back where they were before... but that's still there as something she knows now and is yet another thing that she hadn't begun to think about him. And with this I think we can see a very subtle story arc that has actually been running right the way through the whole season and which I expect to really come to a head in the finale, where she's slowly realizing that there's more to this man than she had bargained for, and I suspect this will be something that eventually drives the final wedge between them.

This episode does have flaws of its own not related to its being in the same season as "Idiot's Lantern." One of these is a logical problem I have with the Olympic torch run sequences. After the 80,000 people all disappear from the stadium, would they really have kept the torch run going like they did? Surely they'd have stopped it as soon as the news got out for fear of the same thing happening to those watching the run! Another thing I didn't much care for was how about halfway through it goes into Chloe's house and then stays there for too long a time, and we get Chloe and the Doctor explaining the whole plot to us during the "Exorcist" scene rather than having it shown to us through a process of discovery. This might have been down to the amount of time there was to find the answer in the story and the budget on this one, but I really do feel it's breaking the "show, don't tell" rule of visual media here. A scary way to have done this would've been to spend a brief amount of time actually in the drawing-world, but I gather the budget wouldn't run to all that animation. Still, this is a rule best not broken and it needed some more thought to avoid it. Another problem is simply how bog-standard the little-girl-gets-possessed-by-an-alien idea is by now, though this is somewhat rescued by the different type of alien it is and its motivation being loneliness rather than conquest or destruction.

Thinking positive again, there were a lot of other little moments that gave the show a lift. The ones that come to mind are:
The gag of the TARDIS door landing up against the bin and the Doctor having to rotate the ship 90 degrees to be able to get out.
The "heat" puzzle on the street and how the tiny pod went for the freshly-laid tar. Quite nice.
The Doctor getting prickly feelings in the back of his hand when he got near the points where the kids were taken. Was this meant to be a call-back to the similar feelings he got in "The War Machines" way back in 1966?
The guy who lays the tarmac was fun, and how he's excited at the end when Rose has saved the pod and stops and thinks "what did you do?"
The scribble monster! I would've loved a lot more of these actually. Maybe they could've had a bunch of these attack the people in the stadium, rather than have them disappear, and then afterwards they could've claimed that it was all part of an elaborate opening ceremonies stunt.
Yes, it's sappy and saccharine, but I loved the conceit of the Doctor picking up the torch and lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremonies. Had he just done it to do it, I think I would've hated it as some seem to, but the fact that the pod was still in the torch and needed a bit of a hint from him to get back into space makes it legitimate. This also brings to my mind something I recall from the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and how it seemed they wheeled out every single Australian-born celebrity the world has ever heard of and dredged out every Australian cliche, no matter how overdone or outdated, and put it on display for all the world to see and enjoy again. They even had a man singing "Waltzing Matilda" at one point, for crying out loud. When I think of that and of what we've seen here in this episode, I can't help but think that either the opening or the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics could very well have a "Doctor Who" moment or sketch or staged event of some sort in it, being as it is, one of Britain's top TV exports to the world. Perhaps a flotilla of Daleks will attempt to attack the ceremony and the Doctor stops them or somesuch thing. And David Tennant, if you're reading this... consider...all you need to do is match Tom Baker's longevity record and you can maybe do the scene in "Fear Her" for real in 2012.

And one not-so-little positive... David Tennant and Billie Piper really did very fine work this week, both with the extra chemistry they seem to have found with each other in these last few shows, and also with how they related to the guest characters.

Now, overall, this feels like it should be a 7 out of 10 episode, but that's what I gave "The Idiot's Lantern," and I think this is noticeably better than that was. I feel like I should go back and dock a point or two from "Idiot's" seeing as this episode played the same game better than it did. So yes, 7 out of 10 for "Fear Her," and a revised grade of 5 for "The Idiot's Lantern."

And as for the season as a whole, I really don't like that two of the stories turned out so very, very similar. One or the other should have been scrapped or postponed to next season, and if it were me, "The Idiot's Lantern" would've been the one I pushed or torpedoed. I appreciate the production difficulties that said that two episodes had to have such similar settings, but look back at "The Ark in Space" and "Revenge of the Cybermen" and see how different those two stories turned out to be while maintaining the setting. I hope this is a lesson that is learned for next season.





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Monday, 26 June 2006 - Reviewed by Andrew Haglington

So the dumbing down of Dr. Who continues...

After being part of the campaign to bring back Dr.Who for many years and thoroughly enjoying the novels during the intervening years, especially the ones published by Virgin (when the BBC were no longer interested in having anything to do with Dr.Who), I am sad to say I haven't even saved a recording of the last seven episodes of the new series, as I know I won't want to watch these episodes again.

Series two. Overall, despite the werewolf - just not enough bite. Perhaps they are missing the Daleks, who will surely return for some much needed sense of genuine menace in series three.

As for the most recent offering Fear Her… Ooooh! The scary badly drawn scribbles of a little girl sitting in her bedroom are coming to get me - I'd better hide behind the sofa with terrifying monsters like that! Or maybe just reach for a rubber…

Turn the page Russell T Davies! Time to move on from all this smug silliness and generally being too concerned with being a comedian, and get back to some proper classic Dr.Who and some interesting, absorbing, dramatic, and intelligent writing.

Fear Her is by no means a classic episode of Dr.Who, and like The Idiot’s Lantern and Love & Monsters, it’s certainly not going to be remembered for the right reasons. Despite the title, there was little to fear in this uninteresting story set in a suburban London street of the near future.

And oh… Not London again!! London, London, London, London… What is this obsession with London? Why does our favourite Timelord choose to visit London over and again? And not even the most interesting bits of London! Suburbs. Council estates. Shopping centres. And so on… In the end, I have begun to understand the Tardis can travel anywhere - so long as it is in London!

If it has to be a story set in England on Earth, couldn’t it be Sheffield or Birmingham or Bristol or Plymouth just for once? If it’s just an ordinary street, then why not let it be a city other than London for crying out loud!

And if they really do have to visit London, lets have really scary slimy monsters in the dark recesses of the Underground, or lots of classic nasty Daleks coming up out of the Thames!

Was I the only one to cringe when Fear Her turned out to be yet another story featuring London with the forthcoming Olympics? I imagine not. The hype and propaganda surrounding the Olympics will be bad enough in five or six years time - we hardly need it to start now - so this felt a bit like telly ads promoting Christmas shopping in August. Too early for this. Plus, the story was just not good enough. Kids are disappearing. An alien has taken over a little girl in a suburban street. Not much happens really. Altogether, very much done on the cheap.

The groan of it being London again, and there being nothing much to ‘fear’ apart from an alien petal in a little girl, and that daft ending with the Doctor carrying the Olympic torch were very much off kilter and I’m guessing totally missed the mark with most fans.

I’m even starting to go off Billie Piper - instead of being so impressed with her in the last series, I’m finding the new ‘clever dick’ Rose increasingly irritating.

But it’s this dumbing down of the new series and aiming so much of it at an audience of young children that has really took the polish off the show’s return to our screens. As it turned out, The Christmas Invasion was an omen of what was to come, but strangely enough New Earth, Tooth and Claw, School Reunion, and The Girl in the Fireplace were all excellent and thoroughly enjoyable...

New Earth had it’s moments, a clever premise, and some excellent action shots in the lift shafts, and for it once it wasn’t set in London or even on this planet, which was a relief.

Tooth and Claw was clever, with the Matrix style fighting monks and the combination of Queen Victoria and the beast, and being set in Scotland in a remote country house did give it something extra.

School Reunion was superb. I thought the reappearance of Sarah Jane and K9 worked really well, and the whole thing was handled sensitively - and it enhanced the Dr.Who-ness of the series. My personal favourite episode, and I’d love to see more coming across the best of the old characters in future stories - after all, there are lots and lots to choose from! We might even find out what happened to Ace and some of the others…

The Girl in the Fireplace was also a classic, which I really enjoyed. Really well done, with history and space elements combined as it should be, and a real charm and elegance to the writing. Magical. Very well thought out and handled with delicacy and care. Perfect Dr.Who. And I loved the horse crashing through the mirror - which was shamelessly stolen from the cover of the 1987 Stephen Donaldson paperback, The Mirror of Her Dreams.

So after a dodgy start with a killer Christmas Tree, Series Two of the new adventures of the Doctor was surging ahead and at this stage compulsive viewing…

Of course, it all went wrong with the appallingly dreadful new version of the Cybermen with all those endlessly long lingering shots of marching steel boots - as if we couldn’t guess what they were going to look like after all the previews and press releases. The entire history of the Cybermen, with Mondas and the weakness of gold was completely forgotten about. While the poor casting of a lacklustre ‘Trigger’ from Fools & Horses was just not believable. And why mess with the classic story of the Cybermen - somehow, this just didn’t feel right or appropriate. Especially as a proper Cyber head from the old classic series was featured in the Chris Eccleston episode Dalek in Van Statten’s museum.

I don’t think the incredibly disappointing new design for the characters helped at all - the new Cybermen look more like something off a children’s TV show than credible villains. Bitterly disappointing to dumb down one of the best Dr.Who baddies to this. From start to finish, Russell T Davies just got the Cybermen altogether wrong, and his credibility as the saviour of Dr.Who ended at that point.

Unfortunately, the mistakes in series two did not end there.

To my mind, The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances were by far the best episodes of series one, and fantastic Dr.Who, taking the whole show to a new level. Just what Dr.Who on TV should be. Startling special effects, good acting, an interesting look into an aspect of history that was hitherto not really explored, the excellent addition of Captain Jack, and the only truly frightening behind the sofa script since Dr.Who returned.

So I can understand the writers looking at following this up with more of a similar vein. Yet The Idiot’s Lantern seemed more like an attempt to secure future funding from the BBC establishment, and just too self-indulgent and dull for it’s own good - and oh dear, yes, London, yet again.

While Rose and the Doctor are getting more and more flirty and silly all the time. Now don’t get me wrong, Billie Piper is a very attractive young woman, but how much of the meagre 45 minutes screen time was wasted in showing off her 1950’s rock& roll outfit from the BBC wardrobe department?

The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit were better and almost rescued the decline, in a story much more like the best of classic Dr.Who, off world with a colony in danger from an unknown foe. After all, there is nothing wrong with doing more of what has worked before, keeping it simple and delivering what the public want.

Then Love & Monsters, and now Fear Her… Oh, dear!

Can someone please point out to the powers that Beeb, that Dr. Who is not and never was a children's programme!

The key audience is not under 10 years old!

I fear if things are allowed to deteriorate any further, then the next series will no doubt see an episode about a Dr.Who fan club vs. a Mr. Blobby alien, written by a 10 year old Blue Peter viewer as part of a CBBC competition to see who can write something more frightening than an episode of Tellytubbies. In fact, you can find more charm and more interesting stories on Postman Pat than in recent Dr.Who!

Please… Dr. Who should be based on the classic episodes of drama - aimed at intelligent adults - not based on episodes that made viewers cringe featuring giant Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts monsters and South Wales Hi Di Hi holiday camps featuring Bonnie Langford having a tantrum. Isn't this what lost viewers and got the old series cancelled in the first place?

If every episode in the Sylvestor McCoy era had been like the gripping Wolves of Fenric or the classic scene with Daleks shooting at a baseball bat wielding Ace as she smashes through the glass window, then I don't think Dr. Who would ever had been cancelled in the first place.

And now we have Peter Kay in a green rubber suit in Love & Monsters commenting that "It tastes like chicken"? Ridiculous! Almost as bad as the ludicrous ‘Keystone Cops’ running left and right through doorways in the opening sequence! How could they do this to our show? You have to suspect that David Tennant and Billie Piper were too ashamed to be in this episode any more than absolutely necessary!

If Blue Peter want to produce a TV show, let them have a competition to influence an episode of Eastenders! Maybe one about the London Olympics coming up soon!

I’m pretty sure that Jon Pertwee would not be at all happy with the way things are going. And while I like David Tennant as an actor, I feel sorry for him being made to portray the character in such a childishly silly and falsely forced gung-ho manner. We can only hope that a more serious Doctor will emerge after Rose is killed off… So fingers crossed!

So now we have two more weeks of long lingering cyber boots stomping around, while they say, “We are going to get you!” without actually getting anyone, and more long-lingering shots of Billie Piper’s exit from the show… But maybe then, next year, if they haven’t completely lost the audience, we can get back to some proper serious Dr.Who.

If the BBC seriously want to do silly childish dumbed-down Dr. Who for kids, why not simply put together a spin off series for the under tens? They could call it ‘Teachwood’ and set it in a school (in London of course) where the teachers have been taken over by aliens, or feature a story about a young child making people she draws disappear and almost spoiling a sporting event… “By Eck!” as the Doctor from a planet with a north would have said, now that would make a fine series of Dr.Who.





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Monday, 26 June 2006 - Reviewed by Angus Gulliver

That's more like it! After the disappointing filler episode we are back on track. I enjoyed "Fear Her" a lot, and if it felt at times more Sapphire & Steel than Doctor Who there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that once in a while.

The Doctor and Rose travel to London for the 2012 Olympics, he quipping that the last time the Games were in London the opening ceremony was so good he had to go back and watch it twice. But strange things are happening on a residential street close to route the Olympic torch will take. Children and animals are disappearing, and it all seems to have something to do with a little girl who stays in her bedroom drawing pictures.

The Doctor and Rose both investigate, clearly having fun and playing Inspector Morse and Lewis games. The Doctor senses some sort of energy on the street, whereas nobody apart from an elderly lady seems to have noticed anything - apart from the obviously missing kids.

It is Rose who notices something odd about the girl peering out of her bedroom window, and we are treated to a frightening scene with Rose alone in the girl's bedroom realising there is something unusual inside the closet...

Cutting a fairly long story short, the girl herself isn't evil, nor is the alien that has in effect posessed her. It simply misses its billions of siblings and has been taking the children and pets in an attempt to feel their love. The Doctor, himself captured in a drawing and unable to directly help Rose realises this and manages to communicate via the drawing that Rose needs to find the entity's space ship and introduce it into the Olympic torch so it feels the love of the thousands upon thousands of fans.

Here is my only quibble with this story, the climax was over too quickly. Otherwise Euros Lyn's direction was more impressive than his last outing (The Idiot's Lantern, complete with strange angles) and paced well. Visually the effects were superb, especially the scribble monster created when the girl gets angry and simply scribbles on paper in frustration.

Not on a par with 'The Girl In the Fireplace' or 'Tooth & Claw' but a thoroughly worthy story, and the climax gave Rose perhaps her last triumphant moment before the final two-parter. The teaser clearly hints at trouble ahead for her which contrasts with the up-beat tone of this story.

7.5/10





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Monday, 26 June 2006 - Reviewed by Calum Corral

I think this episode represents part of the problem of the second series to date. While I enjoyed it all the way through, I felt it lacked the gravity of last season and some of it was a bit tired. Another dreary housing estate, another mystery alien in a run of the mill household, and instead of Rose disappearing this week, why don't we make the Doctor disappear. It just seemed to be a bit like The Idiot's Lantern all over again - except set in 2012 with a more modern approach.

I thought the premise of the girl and cartoons coming to life was a bit dull and not really all that scary. We have had some utterly brilliant episodes in the series so far but this just could not excite me, and while the ending was marvellous with the Doctor running with the Olympic torch, the general idea behind the story seemed somewhat flimsy.

The story just seemed to lack a sparkle. There have been some cracking episodes so far but I think we could have seen the return of a few more of the Doctor's old foes. While Russel T Davies rightly wants to introduce some new terrifying monsters, he should remember that the Cyberman and Daleks have been very successful, and I am sure bringing back the dastardly Ice Warriors or even the Yeti and the Great Intelligence would be fascinating, and capture the appeal of a new generation. These monsters were great for a reason - they were well created and suitably scary!

Fear Her just never seemed to get going and lacked general purpose and direction. Even the Doctor's Tardis arriving the wrong way round was a bit odd? What was the point in that? The reason probably is that it has never happened before but even so, pointless.

On the plus side, the end of season finale looks fantastic.





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Monday, 26 June 2006 - Reviewed by Adam Leslie

The Doctor Who team have a second stab at The Idiot Lantern – on the eve of a huge public spectacle, people are disappearing from a suburban London street while a shady family member covers up the truth; meanwhile a disembodied alien visitor plans to use the television broadcast of the spectacle for their nefarious ends, and the Doctor and Rose enjoy a tea party and lay down the law in other peoples’ homes – and pull it off a little more memorably and with more confidence.

And like the Impossible Planet two-parter, this is a mish mash of imported ideas: Twilight Zone episodes ‘The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street’ and ‘It’s A Good Life’, The Shining (“Danny’s not here, Mrs. Torrance”), and, probably most blatantly, Bernard Rose’s underrated 1988 chiller Paperhouse, in which a bedridden 10-year-old girl’s drawings come to life in her dreams, providing her with a real-life playmate and a demonic absent father figure who stalks her through her surreal nightmares.

As with The Idiot Lantern, the running time meant that the end was rushed and somewhat trite. There was an appalling howler in the shape of the BBC News 24 commentary, which was stammering over the disappearance of 80,000 spectators one moment, then narrating the progress of the Olympic torch the next. I really think that the Olympic torch might be a little irrelevant at that point. Some of the humour was a bit silly, and I’m really not sure about Doctor 10’s enthusiasm for the Olympics in general (try picturing Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker or… anyone else running with the torch with such gusto).

Having said all that, the programme did actually work for me. The themes were scary and well-handled, David Tennant was very confident and had some great presence, and two of the early gags were genuinely laugh-out-loud funny (the TARDIS door joke, and the line about the Earth being the only place in the galaxy that bothered to invent edible ball bearings) By and large, even though The Idiot Lantern was terrifying in parts, I would have preferred to have seen this show take precedence over the earlier adventure with something a little more original in TIL’s place.