Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityExtraIDOFearHer-300We have heard your challenges, and we have answered! The first installment of our new “In Defense Of” series tackles one of fandom’s least-beloved stories, “Fear Her.” Join Deb, Katrina, and (eventually) Liz as they do their best to see the good in “Fear Her.” Deb has some interesting observations about Rose. Kat experiences a shocking revelation. And Liz proves (to no one’s surprise) not-very-good at staying consistently positive.


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Comments on: "Verity! Extra! – In Defense of ‘Fear Her’" (23)

  1. Blue orchid?

    • Black Orchid, perhaps? If so I enjoyed the story, but the harlequin costume is in desperate need of defense.

      • Oh, come on! The plot is terrible but the fancy dress costumes (and Tegan Charlestoning) are the best bit! I love that Davison managed to get a harlequin costume in the same colour scheme as his usual outfit.

        (Cute note, the Lady of the House wears a French Court costume which was later worn by Sophia Myles as Madame Du Pompadour in The Girl in the Fireplace)

      • Tansy! Stop trampling our future podcasts! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ^E

      • I’m SORRY! It’s so hard to not jump on these. *zips mouth*

        Seriously I can talk about Black Orchid for at least an hour on my own, there’s plenty more where that comes from!

  2. Ray Adamson said:

    Hmm… well,i never.Fear Her is the first candidate for an ‘ in defense of’ then.I only have minor issues with a supporting performance and the exaggerrated reference to the Olympic games .It’s a slight shame that the cat didn’t want to be involved though,surely it wasn’t anything to do with Matthew Grahams writing?I worry that the more extreme antipathy directed towards Fear Her is actually because the story has Rose resolving everything instead of The Doctor.The most regular complaint i ever hear about any new story or series of Doctor Who now is always that it concentrates too much on the companion rather than The Doctor.Although some people seem to think it was acceptable for Ace. Come on.I thought ‘Fear Her’ succeeded as an attempt at a Twilight Zone style Doctor Who story and i like the science fiction strangeness in Suburbia thing it has going on.I think it’s concepts of people disappearing and becoming drawings is maybe slightly stronger than the storys’ characters,although it’s plotting is quite solid.I do question how much of the attitude of indifference towards it is because of it’s positioning of’What would the Doctor do, if Rose wasn’t around?Just before she’s gone. Maybe the whole subject of parental abuse isn’t ideal family entertainment in a Doctor Who story.I don’t think i needed it twice in season 2,even if it was handled sensitively.

    • Emily said:

      This is a bit off-topic, so sorry in advance. But about the common complaint that the new series is too much about the companions…personally, I think that this IS a problem, but not exactly in the same way. I think the problems come up when the stories and plots revolve around the companions, their melodramatic relationship issues, and the big secret about what makes them super-special out of the entire cosmos.

      I want companions to play big, crucial roles and do awesome things and be good at what they do, perhaps as good as the Doctor himself. But I don’t think the stories should revolve around EITHER the Doctor OR his companions – it should be about what they do when they land somewhere, and how they interact with the people they encounter. Having character-building experiences as they do so is great, but not every storyline in the universe should revolve around them, imo. I miss the intergalactic wanderer Doctor of old, who just picks people up along the way. People don’t need to be half-timelord or have multiple lives throughout the timeline in order to be special.

      • Ray Adamson said:

        Well,i think your opinion is quite a popular one Emily since it does seem to be a regular complaint about any contemporary Doctor Who.I don’t agree with it and i don’t like it, though.There’s just been way too much of main characters not being properly involved in stories before for large periods of the programmes history.I found it far more annoying when the only thing regular characters had to do was faint regularly or eat as much they wanted instead of featuring significantly in what’s going on.I think it’s quite laudable that Doctor Who now is always attempting to demonstrate the quality of it’s regular actors and creating storylines around them.It does seem strange to me that people who go on about how revolutionary Ace was when so many stories were centred around her can be so enthusiastic about criticising it now when it’s somebody else.

  3. James C said:

    This was a good episode, and as proof of concept for your ‘In Defense of’ series it performed admirably. Indeed I think that the smaller panel is an asset here as it lets the panel dig deeper. Listening to Liz change gear after her late arrival (nice editing, by the way) was delightful. If I was to make a suggestion it would be to lose some of the ‘let’s go around once more’ at the end and to use that time to dig into one of the themes or contentious points that came up in the discussion. For example, to debate the pros and cons of the lighting or to talk a little more about the abusive parent backstory. Actually there’s an episode theme for you – when DW handles real world issues: everything from the allegorical Pertwee stories to Fear Her to Donna’s attempt to escape her life being branded as the clueless temp.

    On to Fear Her itself: I watched this again recently and while never actively disliking the episode before, I did enjoy it more this time around. I was helped in this having listened to the Ood Cast talk about the story (it’s a segment on the ’22 Short Stories about Doctor Who’ episood, which I recommend as the most distilled serving of Ood Cast excellence). Fear Her a simple story reasonably well told, with only a bit too much Olympic fervour and an unsympathetic performance by the Chloe Webber actress for my tastes. I think that the lighting and eerie technicolour cleanness of the whole thing works – it suggests an England that has been prettied up for the world to see, but in which there are still monsters behind those perfect facades.

    Street maintenance as metaphor: no matter how hard you try to make things perfect, unless you dig deep, the monsters will keep coming back.

  4. Kevin Neeman said:

    Deb might have been mentioning my “In Defense Of” suggestion when I wrote “Defend Martha Jones as a companion.” Now, I don’t dislike Martha at all. I like the character very much. But since I’ve seen years of Martha-bashing, it would just be nice to hear an under-rated companion get a bit of positivity.

    Anyway, I liked “Fear Her,” but I thought “Doctor lighting the torch” bit was so corny that I wanted to yell, “Oh, come ON, now!” ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oh I’m so glad to hear you meant it positively rather than as a challenge! I agree that the Martha bashing has got ridiculously out of hand. It bugs me so much that one unpopular aspect of her character (the unrequited love angle, obviously) has grown and grown over the years to the point that you never hear anything ELSE about her.

      At risk of over-linking to myself, I tackled this topic here –

      • Kevin Neeman said:

        I agree as well that the unrequited love arc distracted from a really strong, intelligent female character. Your blog was well-put and a great read. Thanks for the link.

  5. Hi all!

    Great episode, I love it when a plan comes together! In lieu of a ‘my two cents’ post I will refer you all to one of my recent WHO50 blog posts, in which I watched Fear Her with 4 kids of varying ages and discussed it with them afterwards

  6. Great episode, although I must confess I remain unconvinced of the merits of “Fear Her.” Perhaps another viewing will help in that regard.

    If the Verity! team is looking for a real challenge, how about defending “The Twin Dilemma”? I’m a diehard Sixth Doctor fan and I loathe this story (it’s even worse when watched immediately following “Caves of Androzani” — never has the phrase “from the sublime to the ridiculous” been so perfectly illustrated). Needless to say, it would be quite a feat if any of you could pose a strong defense.

    • The TARDIS wardrobe scene in which the recovering concussed Kevin McNally stumbles in, chooses a randomly awful garment made of shiny blue glitter nylon, and then discovers that happens to be the place where Peri hid the clip from his gun earlier, is one of the great comedy sequences of Classic Who.

      That’s all I’ve got.

      • Thanks for accepting the challenge, Tansy! As daunting as it was, I appreciate your effort.

        There is a school of thought that claims the entirety of the wardrobe department in Colin Baker’s tenure constitutes a comedy revue. Given the available evidence, I’m not inclined to dispute their findings.

  7. Never had a problem with Fear Her. Sure, it’s not the greatest episode but I can think of at least 6 stories (9 episodes) that I like less. Not to say that I don’t like them (except Love and Monsters – no possible redemption for that one) but in the list in my head, for their have to be lists, Fear Her is definitely nowhere near bottom.

  8. I’ve always liked Fear Her! The Olympics portion gets a bit silly, but I like a bit of silly. And Rose shows that she’s more than competent without the Doctor to tell her what to do.
    Every episode can’t be deep and thought-provoking and epic- that would get exhausting.

    From a parent perspective, I like that it’s bright/sunny/kid-centric, because that’s fun for my own kids. They are young enough that the dark part of the abusive father don’t really register with them. They like other children, they like drawing, and they like Chloe. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. 1. Finally a character with my name
    2. It’s easier to watch now that we’re not embarrassed about the Olympic opening ceremony in advance
    3. I love the pencil scribble monster – lovely
    4. Well done to Liz – who managed to be way more positive than expected!

  10. Having always liked Fear Her, I don’t see why it needs defending. I would have found it helpful if you’d started the “defense” episode by explaining what is the complaint against the story and then defending against that specific complaint. Just jumping in with anything you like about it seems rather random, and doesn’t help me understand why the story needs defense.

    • Thanks Heidi, that’s a salient point. I’ve never had a problem with “Fear Her” either, and I’ve never quite understood why it needed defending either.

      That said, our request was for listeners to suggest stories/characters/items/etc. they don’t like so we can find the good in them. Quite a few people suggested defending “Fear Her,” but no one (that I noticed) gave any specific complaints, so the panel simply covered all the things they like about it.

      In the future, if people mention precisely what they dislike about a story, we’ll try to tackle those issues head-on. Then again, we might agree with those specific criticisms. Our goal is to find the good in something that’s unloved by at least one person–even if that means stretching quite a bit to find nice things. (I’m sure eventually we’ll have to talk about very silly things to squeeze the positive out of the stuff we ourselves aren’t fond of!)

      We don’t want to require listeners to come up with specific complaints if they don’t feel like it (though they’re welcome to). Sometimes you simply don’t like a story and don’t want to (or can’t) explain why. Those stories still deserve defending! ๐Ÿ™‚

      When it comes down to it, when someone says they don’t like something, listing a bunch of good things about is *is* mounting a defense. Yes, it may be a rather random one, but random fun is kinda the point of this whole Extra! exercise. Also, we want to avoid dwelling on the negative for these shortie eps and use the time to cover the good stuff. I’d be willing to bet that most of the items suggested will have oodles of coverage of their failings. I could hit the googles to see why people despise “Fear Her,” but I’d rather just think about what I like about it!


  11. Fear Her was actually the first Doctor Who episode I watched on my own. My sister showed me Blink in parts on YouTube after being introduced to Who at her college (this was 2009, I think), and a few months later, I was home alone with PBS on and oh, there’s that show my sister was talking about!
    I thought the “scribble monster” was clever, forcing a random 2D scribble into 3D form. There are a few things in this episode that could probably be cleaned up and used as seeds for new stories; playing with dimensions again ร  la Castrovalva, or altering how a monster is perceived, such as this:
    I did like Fear Her when I first saw it, but not enough that I remembered to check the TV schedule for Doctor Who again the next week; watching it a second time after I’d managed to get into the show properly, a few years later, it didn’t come across as well. Probably didn’t help that it the second time I saw it was on BBCA reruns when the actual 2012 Olympics were about to start, there were non-fans in the room, and I was aware of how good Doctor Who could actually be, compared to what was happening on screen.
    I agree with most of the reasons put forward by fans as to why this episode is bad, but between it being the first episode I saw, and that I can see where it could have been improved, I just can’t summon up the bile for this one.

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