Monday, 1 February 2010

Doctor Who: Fear Her

“You just took a council axe from a council van and now you’re chopping up a council road. I’m reporting you to the council!”

It’s Doctor Who, in the surroundings of everyday suburbia, in fact deliberately and exaggeratedly so. Even the slight futurishness(?) of it being the 2012 London Olympics has lost much of its, er, futurishness over the last four years. This feels a bit uneasy- the mundane in Doctor Who basically exists only to be contrasted with the fantastic, and we just don’t get enough of that here. And I’m a bit uneasy about Rose visiting her own very near future. I’m sure the great Mr Blinovitch wouldn’t approve.

Of course, this isn’t actually a normal street at all- everyone’s far too neighbourly for that. This is normal everyday life as defined by television rather than reality, although at least it doesn’t go as far as something like Eastenders where the same few families seem to hardly ever venture beyond the same few square metres and hardly seem to encounter anybody outside their little group.

The teaser and the early scenes aren’t very promising- the premise, of a child’s drawings coming to life, doesn’t have a lot of obvious potential and the main guest star, Nina Sosanya, seems to be wasted in the role of a wet drip. And all this from the pen of Matthew “Life on Mars” Graham.

Oh, there are brief moments of charm and humour, up to a point. The council man is a nice bit of comic relief, although a little too broadly written in the context of the wider story, and there’s a good gag with the TARDIS landing. But it’s all a bit dull. Even the bit with the cat reminding me of Survival just reminded me of how inferior this is. Still- a cat, a box: I’m sure there’s a good joke involving the word Schrödinger in there somewhere.

On the other hand, there are less impressive bits- Huw Edwards getting overexcited, the, er, terrifying chalk drawing in the wardrobe, but just as the good bits aren’t good enough to achieve escape velocity from the general mood of “meh”, nor are the bad bits sufficiently bad.

The fact that the baddie is just a lonely ickle kiddie isn’t actually necessarily a bad idea, and could probably have been done in a way which wasn’t vomit-inducingly twee. Unfortunately it wasn’t. In fact, this is a story where everybody’s emotional lives only seem to work in a cute and superficial way. We hear a lot about the relationship between Chloe, her mother, and her abusive father, but there’s no depth to any of it.

Still- the Doctor tells Rose that “I was a dad once.” Bit of a bombshell there, although of course technically this was pretty heavily implied as early as An Unearthly Child for obvious reasons.

After a succession of cute and sentimental endings the thing finishes, but not before Rose pretty much says to the Doctor that they’ll be together forever and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong. It’s an odd one, this; not so much actively bad but passively lacking in anything of note, Doctor Who by numbers. This is the shortest review I’ve done for a while, but I’m finding it rather hard to say much about it. 2/5, the weakest episode of the twenty-first century so far.

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