Having tried to watch “Love and Monsters” and being unable to stomach more than five minutes, I’ve moved on to the next episode of season two, “Fear Her”. At this point, I’m sick and tired of nearly every Doctor Who episode being set on Earth. After the superb “Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit”, to be dragged back to terra firma for the rest of the season is tiresome. Very tiresome. Which means that “Fear Her” has a huge strike against it from the get-go that may perhaps be unfair, but it’s there nonetheless.
The story itself is reasonably enjoyable. It’s clear that this episode is the budget saver of the season, and that the absolute minimum special effects are used, which is fine. Taken alone, “Fear Her” is quite touching in some ways, with the lonely alien bonding with a lonely girl, and then causing trouble simply because both need friends. It’s refreshing to have a non-malevolent, non-invading alien who acts as it does simply because it’s cut off from its family.
The acting is adequate all around, even if it’s nothing special. The street in a crowded housing development could almost be my street, it’s so absolutely ordinary. With tiny yards, houses ten feet apart and a mix of age and race, it’s as mundane an environment as the Doctor’s ever been in, reminding me of “Survival” in some ways. The Doctor stands out a bit from the suburbanites with his behavior, but not as much as he perhaps should. Rose blends right in.
The ending is a mix of cheesy and clever. Drawing the little alien away with the good feelings from the crowd at the stadium is a nice solution to the problem, but the announcer is corny, and the Doctor lighting the Olympic torch with a huge toothy grin made me cringe. I never thought I’d say this, but I think I prefer Doctor nine’s “stupid ape” comments to Doctor ten’s “I love humans” rah-rah speeches and actions that we’re so frequently treated to.
I did enjoy the little exchange between Rose and the Doctor where the Doctor almost offhandedly mentions that he was once a father, which shocks Rose. It’s not quite at the level of the second Doctor and Victoria’s conversation about family back in “Tomb of the Cybermen”, but it’s a reflective comment by the Doctor that shows a little-seen side of the character.
The “fingers on lips” scene got a good laugh out of my wife.
And that’s about it. Taken alone, “Fear Her” is a nice, inoffensive, enjoyable episode of Doctor Who. Taken in context with the rest of the new series, it’s another mundane, predictible story with an alien that’s come to contemporary Earth and is causing trouble, a scenario I’ve long since grown tired of. I don’t care if the production team has to film in a quarry, they need to get out and explore the universe with the series. Show some creativity! Show some imagination! Use the show’s format!