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TV Review: BBC’s Doctor Who – “Fear Her”

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I didn't bother watching "Love and Monsters" the week before. I had given up on writing Doctor Who reviews and was very nearly going to quit the show itself. More so than last year, Series 2 has proven that the team behind the scenes has yet to gain a firm handle on the quality of the scripts they film. With Russell T. Davies behind the wheel, you can see some of his own episodes possibly don't even go through a script reading.

I was going to skip Matthew Graham's "Fear Her," the last stand-alone episode before the two-part finale of Series 2. I went ahead anyway, and came away feeling at peace. It's not a great episode, but its a nice little segue for the big revelations to come.

The Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose (Billie Piper) landed in London in the year 2012 for the Olympics. In a nearby neighborhood, children began to disappear from within plain sight. The only clue to solving the mystery was a little girl named Chloe (Abisola Agbaje) who spent most of her time drawing pictures in her bedroom — some of which, strangely enough, were of the missing children. The Doctor found out that Chloe was possessed by an alien whose secret plan could wreck havoc on the Olympic games.

This was standard-issue X-Files, but it was a nice calm before the storm of the two-parter we will get starting next week. That being said, there are a few old issues that have bothered me throughout this season. The first of which is the vocalization of the language from David Tennant's Doctor.

In the original series (1963-1989), you got a sense of every word spoken regardless of the quality of that particular episode. For the new series (at least this current season) the show had suffered from a lack of clarity from David Tennant, who by choice of the production team or not, has been unable to get a script (except for "The Girl In The Fireplace") that allows his Doctor to be clear in his diction at every point in the plot. The ADD-like personality of the Doctor can be done to enrich the story, but not if it ultimately detracts from it. For this episode, the script had a bit of that near the beginning, but picked back up once the mystery deepened.

The second problem was that the writers themselves lack understanding when it comes to the actors' performance abilities. Christopher Eccelston's time last year forced him to engage in episodes that would be more fitting for David Tennant's Doctor, whereas David Tennant's stories this year could have been fitting for Christopher Eccelston.
"Fear Her" I believe was more destined to be in the hands of Ecceslton's Doctor than Tennant's — although they would have to write out some of the comic bits in the first few minutes about the TARDIS having to be reparked.

The third problem was the lack of a KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) method. If you were going to write a script about the Cybermen, write a script about the Cybermen. Don't get into Rose Tyler's family, and Mickey's family all in the same episode. With "Fear Her," the story's distractions never strayed away from the original plot. Even when The Doctor ended up carrying the torch to light the Olympic Fire, it still stayed on course. In saying that, there's nothing wrong with dropping bits of character development here and there. What I am saying is that to do it, you have to be able to do one or the other — not all at once.

Speaking of the KISS method, I'm certain that won't be the case when "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday" starts. Overall, "Fear Her" was nothing great, but not as irritatingly terrible as the last few episodes were for me.

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