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Fear Her

June 24th, 2006 (08:59 pm)
current music: Bill Jones: Turn to Me

Excellent central concept, but a pity about several aspects of the execution. I wasn't as apprehensive about Chloe's powers as I think I should have been - and yet again this series only offers us the most half-hearted of technobabble explanations for the central mystery. I'd like to have known more about what happened to all the characters who were turned into pictures, for a start. There's a sense that they became part of some collective entity, or perhaps simply dwelt within the merged imagination of Chloe and the Isolus child, or both; but at the same time they showed signs of being individually conscious. I wanted to know their stories as well.

Doctor Who Confidential suggested that this episode was in part a homage to 'An Unearthly Child' back in 1963, particularly the pilot version, and there are a few clues that back this up. Chloe's surname is Webber, perhaps in honour of C.E. Webber who did most of the early development work on Doctor Who back in 1963, but whose ideas were ultimately out of step with what the production team wanted to achieve; the scribble which attacked Rose reminded me of that which Susan used to obliterate the hexagon she drew after being left in the classroom by Ian and Barbara during the pilot. Perhaps, as might be inferred from Matthew Graham's comment that he was asked to write something that would captivate his children, this was intended to be an episode which would focus on that child audience.

I found David Tennant's Doctor again only patchily credible, principally because of his shaky authority; his pop cultural references became too limiting, and remind me a bit of the malapropisms and misquotes which saddled Sylvester McCoy's performance in his first few stories. I'm not very keen on developments such as the entire Olympic stadium audience disappearing, and the Doctor then taking over the Olympic torch; this opened up what should have remained a claustrophobic story and begged too many questions about how the world's population would explain the phenomenon. Then again, they have had 'ghosts' walking around five years before the events of this story, following on from Sycorax, Raxicoricofallapatorians, and who knows what else, so humanity must be hardened to otherwordly phenomena by 2012.

New paragraph inserted 22:01 or so: Billie Piper and Rose, however, were very, very good; and the twilight of her relationship with the Doctor reminds me of that same period with the fourth Doctor and Sarah back in 'The Hand of Fear', referenced indirectly by that banter in the TARDIS over the hand-holding. We are left to wonder who is more dependent on the other - the Doctor or Rose? The fourth Doctor was prone to withdrawal when affection was mentioned - Sarah could protest at how she cared about him but the Doctor would then stride off. This Doctor is immensely tactile and shows emotion; but it's not clear how deep these feelings are, or how far he is savouring them from an Olympian distance, like the Eternals in 'Enlightenment' - he and Rose do seem to be at cross purposes.

Next week's episode looks far more enticing - but it's a pity that I feel that it's the story the series has been wanting to tell for the past five weeks, and everything else has been filler.


Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: June 24th, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC)

I liked this episode a lot more than last week's. But then it did play to my conceptions of fathers as enemy/burden and small children as irrational thugs. *pats Dr Who on the head for being wise*

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 24th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)

The Doctor mentioned that he was a father, once, during this episode. I don't think he was the sort who lurked in cupboards bathed in red light, though.

Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: June 25th, 2006 10:33 am (UTC)

He jumps out of roaring, materialising blue police boxes!

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: June 24th, 2006 10:12 pm (UTC)
South Park me

They are kind of codependent, aren't they...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 24th, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC)

Not quite as bad as our old friends of eleven years ago.

Posted by: helflaed (helflaed)
Posted at: June 24th, 2006 10:23 pm (UTC)

Good concept poor execution. If they were really aiming it at children then the didn't succeed. Maybe with older ones- mine just like monsters at the moment.

This was probably my least favourite so far. Next week looks good though- I'm going to get plagued about Cybermen all week.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 24th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC)

Looking at the Outpost Gallifrey forums it looks as if it has been successful with children a bit closer in age to Chloe.

I'm looking forward to the Cybermen too; and the purveyors of those extermination rays we saw in action; and the return of a few people we last saw earlier in the season, too.