Saturday, August 23, 2014

Doctor Who--"Fear Her"

“Fear Her” was a last minute (in television production terms) replacement for a script weitten by comedian Stephen Fry. Fry’s episode was rumored to be set during the first world War and effects heavy, so it has been postponed until next season and presumably rewritten due to the departure of Billie Piper. The episode had the feel of a fill in episode. Like “Father’s Day” in the first season, it plays on high emotional to distract from the fact the entire episode takes place in only two settings.

The episode begins in a London neighborhood where the Olympic torch is about to pass by on the way to start the 2012 games. An old woman is walking down the street when she feels some sort of evil presence. She sees two young boys playing soccer and admonishes their parents to get the kids inside. The father scoffs, but inside a neighboring house, a little girl sits down to draw one of the boys. When she does, the boy disappears.

The TARDIS materializes twice in a comedic sequence that appeared to be a time filler for the script running short. The Doctor strolls along babbling on, but rose notices three missing kids signs posted and calls his attention to them. The Olympics will have to wait. The Dotor investigates the yard where the boy disappeared when he is approached by the boy’s irate father. An argument ensues in the middle of the street between parents whose kids are also missing. The Doctor manages to calm the situation and decides he and Rowe need to snoop around further.

They do so, and Rose sense a commotion in a nearby garage. When she opens the door, she is attacked by what appears to be a balled up tornado. The doctor uses his sonic screwdriver (a handy little thing, natch.) to stop it. He carries it into the TARDIS for analysis and learns that it is made of graphite, like pencil lead. It appears to be a drawing come to life. The Doctor and Rose believe they should talk to the little girl secluded up in her room. Her mother at first refuses to talk with them, but relinquishes after the Doctor assures her he’s there to help.

The Little girl’s name is Chloe and she has not been acting herself lately. Her abusive father died recently, but it seems to be more than just that. Chloe refuses to talk to the Doctor at first,. Rose begins to sneak around the house and into Chloe’s room when she hears a disturbance in the closet. There is some sort of creature there--a personification of nightmares Chloe has had about her father. The doctor rushes in to rescue Rose and to try reading Chloe’s mind. When he does, he discovers Chloe is possessed by an alien child separated from its siblings. The alien has a childhood lasting thouands of years and it needs to be around its siblings to create an imaginary world for them to play in. Without that, the alien has been forced to steal other kids to poulate its world. The Doctor instructs Rose and Chloe’s mother to take away all writing utensils while he searches for the alien’s crashed ship.

They are unsuccessful, as Chhloe has hidden some in a doll of hers. She draws a picture of the TARDIS and the Doctor. The two promptly disappear. Ose demands Chloe return the Doctor, but she refuses. Rose realizes the only thing she can do is earch for the ship herself. Sh asks a road worker if he has seen anything unusual. He has, in an area he poured fresh cement over days before in preparation for the torch to pass by. Rose grabs a pickaxe from his truck and starts swinging, much to his chagrin. Someone she manages to not destroy the ship. Talented girl that Rose Tyler. In the meantime, the Olympic stadium is full of spectators waiting to see the torch lit. Chloe draws the stadium crowd and everyone disappears.

Rose panics to discover this while seeing the disappearances on television. Rose beats down Chloe's bedroom door with the pickaxe, but she still has no clue what to do next. She notices the drawing Chloe made of the Doctor has changed. he is pointing to a representation of an object that he was retrieving from the TARDIS originally. Rose needs to recharge the ship, but how? It dawns on her that all the emotions the Olympic torch represents might just do the trick. While she tries to reach the torch runner, Chloe begins drawing the planet Earth on her bedroom wall.

Rose can’t get to the runner, so she desperately throws the tiny ship towards the torch, which is good enough to recharge it. Talented girl, that Rose Tyler. The alien senses its ship is fixed and flie off to it and rejoin its siblings. As it does, Chloe returns to normal and all the kids and the stadium people.. The doctor seemingly does not, but the manifestation of Chloe’s father does. She and her mother are trapped in the house as the nightmarish version of her father heads down the stairs to them. They can’t escape the house and Rose, aware something is going on, can’t get in. After a tense moment, the father disappears before we ever get a chance to see it and without any real explanation, for that matter. But the Doctor is still gone--that is until the torh runner collapses on television and the doctor appears to carry the torch the rest of the way. Mercy, how cheesy. At the end, there is a big celebration, but the Doctor muses there is a storm brewing.

For all its fauls, this was a nifty little episode. Much lik the Doctor muses, “ear her” was a calm before the strm o the two part season finale. There were some logical flaws as I pointed out, but the episode didn’t take them seriously, so why should I? There was a throwaway line in which the Doctor admits he was a parent once, much to Roe’s surprise. I’m guessing that is a nod to the First Doctor whose companion was said to be his granddaughter in order to avoid the appearance of hanky panky that would have corrupted young British minds in the 1960’s. A more knowledgeable Whovian can perhaps shed more light on the matter or correct me if necessary.

One other note--they are laying Rose’s departure awfully thick. They have gone beyond foreshadowing to beating the veiwer over the head with it. It is to the point that they can’t logically kill her off or fans will see it as cheap writing. Like Elton speculated last week, I think Rose and her mother are going to pay a price, but I believe Jackie will join the choir invisible and that will either prompt Rose to sop traveling in the TARDIS or otherwise dispose of her while still preserving her life. Russell T. Davies’ statement that the door is open for her return not only plays that out, but hints she will probably make at least one future appearance regardless once Billie Piper leaves the show. We’ll see. Idle speculation at the moment.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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