Thursday, 11 July 2013

Five Reasons to Watch 'Fear Her'... and Enjoy It!

Fear Her has quite a distinguished reputation in the Whoniverse. Fandom generally perceives it as the wooden spoon, the pits, the dregs, the standard by which all 'bad' Who should be measured, (some subsequent stories have been awarded the unfortunate accolades of Fear Her Part 2 and Fear Her Part 3...) But is this torrent of negativity justified? Is there no good to be found in this quirky little number from 2006? If you sense a little reluctance every time you reach for that season two box set, here's a few reasons why you should give the lonely Isolus one more chance...

1) "Not you too, Bob...!"
Almost everyone loves the Olympics, (even me, the least sporty person in the world!) Fear Her is set against the backdrop of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and adds some wonderful (and unique) moments to the Who canon. Who didn't punch the air when the Doctor swooped in to retrieve the torch from the fallen athlete? And what's not to like about Huw Edwards' questionable, yet highly amusing, performance as the BBC commentator?
2) "I was a dad once..."
The Doctor and Rose's scene in the TARDIS is a historical one, because it is the first time the Doctor has ever admitted he was a father. Did this finally end the debate as to whether Susan Foreman was his biological granddaughter...? I love the fact that this game-changing revelation was slipped, so sublimely, into a good old-fashioned "romp." It's worth watching the ep for this scene alone.

3) "Cake...?"
One of the things that makes the episode - and the closing scene in particular - is Murray Gold's amazing score, conveying all the hope, joy and love that's prevalent in Fear Her, such as Rose's love for the Doctor, and the Isolus' love for Chloe Webber. It really makes that simple moment on a housing estate look, and feel, like the stuff of a Hollywood feature. It's just a shame that piece didn't make it on to the official soundtrack. An outrage!

 4) "Put it in a big book about tarmacing..."
An oft-forgotten player in the Fear Her saga. Kel the tarmacer, played by Abdul Salis, turns in a wonderfully comical performance as the eccentric man from the council. His scene with Rose, in which he declares the magnificence of his beautifully smooth tarmacadam, is amusingly written and very well acted. Nice one.  

5) "If living things can become drawings, then maybe drawings can become living things..."
This episode would probably have frightened the life out of me had I watched it as a kid. Fear Her is quintessential Who, harking back to the shop window dummies from Spearhead from Space and the troll doll from Terror of the Autons. The idea that something very ordinary and real can suddenly become a major threat is the stuff of nightmares. Although the idea isn't as well executed as it could have been, (owing to the constraints of time and money), I think the concept deserves an appreciative nod.

Really, Fear Her struggles from the fact that it was written at the last minute, (with virtually nothing in the way of sets, budget, or CGI to help it along), and that it lives in the shadow of the epic two-part finale that followed, (featuring Daleks, Cybermen, Torchwood, Rose's departure AND Catherine Tate no less!) There is much to enjoy in those 43 minutes, and whilst it may never be anyone's Desert Island Who, there's something oddly reassuring about it... If this is as "bad" as the new series can get, then, really, we have nothing to worry about.   

Alex Skerratt

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