The Doctor and Rose land in London as the 2012 Olympic Games
are about to begin. In an ordinary suburban street, something
extraordinary has been happening. Children are vanishing into
thin air, as an unhappy little girl sits in her bedroom drawing
pictures. Are the two somehow eerily connected? The time travellers
must uncover the truth in time to save the many people gathering
for the Games' opening ceremony...
beginning of Fear Her, which kicks off the final volume
of episodes from Series 2 of the new-style Doctor Who,
reminds me somewhat the final story of the old version of
the show, Survival. In this, young people from an ordinary
suburban street were also vanishing into thin air. Both stories
also feature a cat, though in this instance the feline is
a victim rather than a cause of the problem. In fact, several
episodes this year have borne comparison with Survival.
As the Doctor (David Tennant) recalls here, he recently faced
intelligent bipedal cats, the Sisters of Plenitude in New
Earth, while the musical score to School
Reunion included some very Survival-esque
electric guitar sounds.
It's ironic that one of the livelier Sylvester McCoy stories
should be compared with what is arguably the least eventful
instalment of the 2006 series. This is an indication of how
fast-paced and visually exciting the show has become. Some
things never change, though. Just as in The
Claws of Axos and The
Curse of Fenric, the inclement weather (despite
the fact that it's supposed to be the height of summer, you
can see people's breath misting the air) is attributed to
the previous year's Boom
Town (and several second-to-last episodes of
Star Trek), Fear Her is the relative calm before
the storm that is the two-part season finale. The Doctor rams
home the point at the end of the story when he informs Rose
(Billie Piper) that a storm is coming.
episode, written by Matthew Graham (The Last Train,
Spooks, Hustle, Life on Mars) is also
notable for the Time Lord's revelation that he "was a father
once". This caused a few ripples among fans and casual viewers
alike, though it's hardly revelatory when you think about
it, because the First Doctor used to travel with his granddaughter.
However, if you're one of those fans who believes that Susan
wasn't really his granddaughter, then you can assume that
he's referring to his adopted daughter Miranda from the novel
it offers few real surprises, Fear Her is well acted
and contains its fair share of moving moments. In fact, it
makes better viewing the second time around, when one's enjoyment
is no longer tainted by eagerness to get to the next story...
The Doctor and Rose land on Earth to visit Jackie, who
is keenly anticipating the arrival of her father - even though
he died several years ago. So who is this mysterious ghostly
figure, one of many apparently friendly apparitions appearing
all over the world? The answer lies at the Torchwood Institute,
run by the sinister Yvonne Hartman, who has been monitoring
this activity and watching over a mysterious sphere...
OK, I admit it - I was wrong! In my review of New Earth
I predicted, incorrectly, that the Face of Boe would reappear
(because he says as much to the Doctor) and that the Cybermen
would arrive to upgrade the new human population of New Earth.
Maybe Boe will come back next year instead.
writer Russell T Davies pays off on previous episodes' references
to Torchwood. Army of Ghosts finally takes us inside
the sinister organisation (which is similar to the covert
department C19 in the Doctor Who novels Who Killed
Kennedy and The Scales of Injustice), in preparation
for the new Captain Jack spin-off series. Tracy-Ann Oberman
is compelling as the Institute's supremo Yvonne Hartman, though
I did find it hard to take my eyes off her attention-grabbing
cleavage (which I reckon is augmented by some of Torchwood's
captured alien technology). Ironically, a scene from EastEnders
watched by the Doctor and Rose features the ghost of Den
Watts, a character who was killed by Chrissy Watts, as played
by Tracy-Ann Oberman.
instalments had also hinted (or outright declared) that this
two-parter would be Rose's final story. Of necessity we must
therefore also sadly wave goodbye to the rest of her clan,
including, of course, her mum Jackie (Camille Coduri). Davies
makes the most of it by writing plenty of brilliant Jackie
scenes, including her amusing first trip in the TARDIS, during
which the Doctor requires her to pretend to be an older version
of Rose: "Here she is: Rose Tyler! She's not the best I've
ever had... a bit too blonde. Not too steady with her pins.
Just last week she stared into the heart of the Time Vortex
- aged 57 years." "I'm 40!" "Deluded, bless! Do you need anyone?
She's very good at tea! Well, I say very good, I mean not
bad. Well, I say not bad..." Great stuff.
recurring motifs of this series include a character, usually
the Doctor, at some point saying, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry"
(listen out for that) and the Time Lord declaring something
to be impossible. Further to such declarations in The
Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, it is intriguing
to note that the other names for the Void (the nothingness
that exists between parallel universes, through which the
sphere has passed) include Hell. Could the Void be the place
from where the Beast came? Was he protected from the destruction
of a previous universe by some kind of Void Ship? The Doctor
does state that the sphere would be capable of surviving such
to that some killer music by Murray Gold and the mother of
all cliffhangers, and we have ourselves a winner.
The Doctor, Rose and Jackie have discovered the shocking truth
that the ghosts are not as friendly as they initially appeared.
Confirming his worst possible fears, the Time Lord comes face
to face with his two oldest and deadliest enemies - not only
the Cybermen but also the Daleks! As the two terrors battle
it out, the human race is caught in the middle. The Doctor
can stop them, but he will risk losing Rose forever...
There was me thinking that a meeting between the Daleks and
the Cybermen might be the production team's long-term plan
for Series 3. But wait, was that an extermination effect I
saw in the trailer at the end of Fear Her? Yes, it
was! The Daleks are back, and they're taking on the Cybermen,
and it's a fanboy's wet dream come true! This is not a spoiler,
because the monsters are clearly depicted on the DVD's front
only real criticism of Doomsday is that it feels a
bit too rushed (apparently, the original cut over-ran by more
than five minutes) so maybe this story should have been a
three-parter. I would certainly have welcomed more and lengthier
battle scenes, but I suppose the series' budget still has
its limits. (Incidentally, in case you're wondering when this
episode's TARDISODE occurs, I believe it fits in at the scene
change at time index 28:35.)
we do get is some excellent verbal sparring between Who's
greatest ever monsters. Their childish refusal to be the first
party to identify itself to the other is hilarious, while
Dalek Sek's boast of "We would destroy the Cybermen with one
Dalek" is reminiscent of the Supreme Dalek's declaration in
Daleks' Master Plan that "One Dalek is capable
of exterminating all".
we also get is, like last year's The Parting of the Ways,
another moving story of separation and loss. Anyone who doesn't
have a lump in the throat by the end of this episode must
be an emotionless cyborg. And anyone who feels that the "death"
of Rose is a cop-out should ask themselves how they thought
she could possibly have related the events of her own demise
I will miss Rose - and Jackie, and Mickey (Noel Clarke) too
- but this is undeniably a fantastic send-off.
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