Doctor Who Reviews: Fear Her (SPOILER WARNING!)

By: 14th Lord

Matthew Graham, perhaps best known for his work on the BBC's “Life on Mars”, “Ashes to Ashes”, “Bonekickers”, and “Eternal Law”. As I haven't watched any of that, and think it might be a bit extensive of a research project to comment on his full writing capabilities. Unfortunately, the only samples of his writing abilities come simply from his writing on Doctor Who, the episodes “Fear Her” and the two part, “The Rebel Flesh”, and “The Almost People”

While I have to concede that a person who has won 6 awards, 5 for his work in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, with the 6th for a episode of This Life, I can honestly say that his work in Doctor Who doesn't show off this skill.

Fear Her I remember as perhaps near the top of my list of my least favorite episode of the 10th Doctors run on modern Doctor Who. The premise is simple. In a ordinary household, there's a child with unimaginable powers that can reshape the world. A problem child of course is something all parents can relate to, but give a scared child godlike powers, and you have a nasty case to deal with. After watching Night Terrors, I stopped for a moment to think about the episode, it was amazing, dark, creepy, and highlighted how a child can see the world to those who've grown and forgotten simple fears, whether it be the scary landlord and his dog, or the wheezing elevator. Night Terrors while many might gripe that it feels like a rehash of Fear Her, I beg to disagree. Night Terrors is Fear Her done right.

There's many problems with the episode Fear Her, not even considering the fact that Mattew Graham has outright stated that it wasn't made for the adult audiences in the crowd, but the children.

Fear her begins the same way you'd imagine a normal sitcom would begin, out of the field with the city dwellers enjoying the daily life, when we notice something dark afoot. A poster for a missing child. Panic a foot, and we see a child in the window, and immediately know something's afoot as she begins to draw, singing a nursery rhyme. Drawing at unimaginable speed, the drawing suddenly comes alive as another child disappears. From here one we have a exciting and odd premise for a creepy episode.

The Doctor and rose make a stop in time for Olympics 2012, noticing missing children posters. Well, Rose notices, the Doctor kind of wanders off talking about edible ball bearings until Rose yanks him over. It isn't long before the Doctor runs off to enjoy some grass.

A mom notices something afoot with her child, glancing at her window whenever a sudden disappearance occurs, and while the Doctor inquires of the mysterious vanishings. While she can tell something's afoot with her child, who threatens to “draw her” if she doesn't leave her alone. Can't have interruptions when it comes to drawing cats. Of course, the cat goes and hides in a box for no reason as Rose chases after it, so that it can inexplicable vanish.

While its not unusual for child actors to, well, be bad actors, it doesn't help that the writing for her lines is awful, to say the least. Everything out of her is blatant exposition, flat and monotone.

Of course from the get go there's no mystery in how or what is causing the incidents, and neither is it a mystery for the Doctor and Rose for long as they discover the source to be the little girl named Chloe. While the episode makes attempts at being creepy, with the monotone little girl, the living drawings of children in horror, it comes off as a hamfest, and the directing of the girl to constantly whisper while acting possessed, doesn't help matters one bit.

The Doctor and Rose discusses she who shall be referred solely as "Mom" about the disappearances, and Chloe who has been acting odd for sometime now. During the discussing, we learn her highly abusive father passed away in a car accident some time ago, and Chloe continues to have nightmares about him to this day. It also becomes quickly apparent that Mom is a very neglectful mother, and never even brought up the death of her husband, Chloe's father to her, because she sees no point in it. Of course the Doctor and Rose points out she's a idiot.

Making his way into Chloe's room, the Doctor puts her into a psychic trance so that he could speak directly with the alien inhabiting the girl. Not that they had an difficulty prior as it seems its been the alien talking through the girl the entire time, but an excuse to show off the Doctors Time Lordy powers, is an excuse enough in its own. We discover a solar flare caused the alien entity known as the Isolus, that's possessing Chloe to crash into earth. The Isolus are powerful empathic beings, capable of creating whole worlds to play in. Unfortunately for the earth, they're used to large families of millions, and anything less is unbearably lonely to them, thus the grand drawing kidnappings. As long as the Doctor can find the creatures space ship though, all will be well. Not that it'd be any difficult as the Doctor is able to rig up a contraption to quickly find it. Unfortunately for him, Chloe has perhaps the worst mom in the world, who after discovering that her daughter kidnapped half the neighborhood, let her follow the Doctor to his Tardis, run back home, and draw him. To be fair, she did try taking all the pencils in the house, how was she to know that her daughter for some random reason decided she'd need a secret stash of pencils in the case of such a epidemic, and hide on inside a doll.

Realizing the Doctor's suddenly missing, Rose quickly runs back to Chloe's house and demands her to free the Doctor. Of course she refuses in that annoying whisper yell voice. Rose is at a panic, and tells her mother not to leave her out of her sight as she tries to get to the bottom of things.

Without the Doctor's help, it's now up to Rose to rescue the day, with the only clue for the space pods whereabouts being that it enjoys heat. Luckily for her, right in front of the house is a city employee, just sitting at the new pavement job on the street that he just completed, bragging about it to no end, because who doesn't feel paving a street perfectly flat as a accomplishment worthy of awards. Rose quickly puts two and two together though and begins to dig in that very spot, much to the street workers horror, and finds the space pod in seconds.

Running back in, Rose comes to a stark realization, a point the viewer should of noted from the beginning of the episode, that Chloe's mom is an idiot. Apparently by Rose's demand to not leave her insane child who can abduct people into drawings with nothing but a piece of paper and a pencil, Chloe's mom misunderstood her to meaning leave her alone. That's right, Rose isn't gone for 5 minutes before her mother begins neglecting her child, in a room filled with paper and pencils.

The entire audience of the Olympics is abducted into Chloe's drawing. Of course that's not enough for the homicidal alien and she begins drawing the entire earth on her wall, as a demonic drawing of her father begins to come to life. The space pod isn't coming to life and the alien threatens to let out Chloe's demonic father if they try to stop her. With the chips down, the street worker notices the drawing of the Doctor move. There's a drawing of the olympic flame near it.

Of course the majority of the time the Doctor survives or resolves a issue thanks to pure dumb lucky, but still you have to admit, this has been a very lucky day as the runner with the Olympic flame will be passing the front of Chloe's house. Within the span of 10 minutes, the street has gone empty with Rose digging in it with a pick axe, to completely crowded as the flame holder on his way through. Running outside, Rose is unable to get close enough as police officers hold her back, because she can randomly dig in the middle of the street, but they'll be damned if they let her cross the line. All isn't lost though as the pod begins to awaken with life, all that's required to bring it back to life is Rose tossing it towards the flame, which homes itself straight into it.

The day is saved. Instantly recognizing her ship has come back to life, the alien Isolus leaves Chloe's body, leaving the earth and returning everyone back to earth. Well, the day would be saved if it wasn't for the fact that apparently, the Isolus was a douche, and didn't just return everything she drew back to life, but also decided to bring to bring to life Chloe's demonic dad. Just for shits and giggles of course.

The Isolus alien inside her has been refusing the Doctor and Rose's help because it 'loved Chloe', how else do you prove you love someone then giving them the gift of their nightmares. Its okay, a little singing is all that's required to save the day and make demon dad disappear because shut up, it does.

Still the Doctor's no where in sight despite everyone being restored, and on TV, Rose watched as the runner holding the Olympic flame collapses. Things look bleak but finally, we discover where the Doctor has made himself off to, grabbing hold of the torch, he brings it and lights the flame, allowing the Isolus's ship to reach full power and return home thanks to the power of love, because the Olympic flame apparently embodies love, as we learned earlier. With the image of the Doctor carrying the Olympic flame, we've reached our cheese quota of the week, and the episode at last comes to a close.

Non-Reoccuring Characters 2/10
When discussing a episode of Doctor who, the majority of the cast will be one shot characters you'll never see again, yet it's important that these characters are not just memorable, but feel real. Whether it's a alien mercenary gunning down our heroes, or a stay at home dad that's a slight on the dim side. The characters in Fear Her though can be summed up in a word, idiots. We have the street worker who seems to do nothing but pave the road in front of Chloe's house, talking fast while not saying anything of substance. Next we have the neighbors who I'm pretty sure were never given names. Then we have Chloe's mom who wins this reviews award for Worst Parent Ever, for constant child neglect, of a child she knows is possessed by a crazy alien, but still decides it's a okay idea to leave her alone in her room with a paper and pencil that she can abduct people in mass with.

Plot 4/10
The plot is simple and while attempts to start up as a creepy mystery, reveals everything from the get go, leaving the viewer with no suspense. There's nothing to engage you into the plot and no depth, relying heavily on everything being conveniently a light jog away, and Chloe's mom and the Isolus possessing her daughter being complete idiots. While I rate a plot that can manage to bring eveyrhting conveniently lined up to make the episode work a 5, the plot of this episode was particularly underwhelming. It's a shame, since it feels the premise could be great for a dark and creepy story, which the episode seems to attempt going towards, while at the same time having no idea how to do so and giving up after the first 10 minutes.

Fun Factor 6/10
Rose and the Doctor's chemistry is amazing as always, and there's quite a few fun bits spread throughout the episode, whether it's just the two discussing the dilema, or the Doctor running with the Olympic Flame. While the episode does have its fun moments though, there's nothing particularly fun and engaging going on, enough to take you away from the shoddy characters, writing, and cheesy premise, earning it a average score, but gaining a point for having the Doctor carry the Olympic flame, the one fun point to bring up about the episode.

Directing and Writing 3/10
Creepy little girl? Who isn't sold by this concept? Hire a terrible child actor, give them terrible lines to read and directing them to talk in a highly annoying whisper yell voice? That's a quick way to ruin a episode. The biggest problem I find is that the idea feels solid to me, yet this episode is so poorly put together that its on the painful end of the scale to watch.

Overall 3/10
Do not recommend. This episode is easily skipped and brings no character or story development to the mix. If you want the concept of a creepy child and a dark presence hiding in the closet, Mark Gatiss revisits the concept in Night Terrors, introducing a nursery rhyme that was so gorgeous, it was reused excessively the remaining few episodes of the season.

Watch Vote: Skippable

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