Each week the Blogtor Who team give their first thoughts on the latest episode of Doctor Who. Here’s what we thought of the Orphan 55.

Please note we used a mop up picture to add spoilers space from those who need to see the episode first. 

Doctor Who - Orphan 55 - S12E03 - Yaz (MANDIP GILL), The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ben Blackall
Doctor Who – Orphan 55 – S12E03 – Yaz (MANDIP GILL), The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Ben Blackall

Susan Hewitt

Susan Hewitt
Susan Hewitt

Our earth is rapidly deteriorating.  We as humans need to take ownership of the damage we are inflicting on our planet.  Given the increasing global crisis, it is inevitable that Doctor Who would address climate change and the expected wars and famine that climate change would cause.

Orphan 55 shone the light on our global crisis but it didn’t jell together as a coherent story.  The story was essentially a repeat of Voyage of the Damned but without the character development, that story had.  Apart from Benni and Wilma, I found it hard to sympathise with any of the characters.  I also couldn’t understand a number of the Doctor’s actions or why she let so many people sacrifice themselves.

There were some good elements – the speedo humour with Graham, and Ryan’s poor pick-up lines – but overall Orphan 55 didn’t work as a story.  But I applaud the show’s creative team for addressing climate change.

BTW, for the Twitter commenters who were wonder about how the Doctor survived so long without oxygen – look up respiratory bypass system.

Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan, Blogtor Who Contributing Writer
Peter Nolan, Blogtor Who Contributing Writer

Wow. You couldn’t get a bigger contrast between writer Ed Hime’s previous story, It Takes You Away, and Orphan 55. While that was a slow-burning mood piece centred around a psychological drama, this is a full-on action/horror/comedy hybrid. And one of its best qualities is how smoothly it gradually descends from Doctor Who at its lightest and funniest into the darkest places the show can go.

From Graham’s Speedos and giant tentacles in mating season (a Hentai gag! In Doctor Who!) to a scathingly bleak prediction of human apathy and brutality. It also sees Hime give full flow to the ecological themes so evident in his theatre work. The Doctor’s fam has established effortless chemistry this season.  Yet, between this and Spyfall, it also feels like some of them have really been put through the emotional wringer. Could there be one or more departures coming as, like Tegan, they decide it’s stopped being fun?

Lianne Potts

Another very topical episode this week! ‘Orphan 55’ certainly didn’t pan out quite how I was expecting it to. It very much reminded me of episodes like ‘Voyage of the Damned’ or ‘The Impossible Planet’. In that sense, Ed Hime put an interesting spin on an established Doctor Who story format. ‘Orphan 55’ was also absolutely stunning visually, especially those exterior shots of the dome-like something out of Blade Runner! I think one of the most interesting parts of this episode (as with last week’s) was getting to see the ‘fam’ separated, particularly Ryan. I’ve not found I’ve quite connected with these companions even after a whole series, but I feel in these latest episodes I’ve finally started to get a proper sense of them. Another similarity I felt between this episode and the last was the lightning-quick pace, and the numerous twists and turns, which sometimes made it hard to keep track of what was going on. Nevertheless, this episode really stood out to me in terms of its characters – Laura Fraser particularly stood out to me as Kane, as did Gia Ré as Bella. Although some people might feel it was a little on the nose, ‘Orphan 55’s overall message about climate change is an enormously relevant and vitally important one, not at all hindered by some brilliantly unsettling creature design!
Andrea McQuire

Greta Thunberg + Planet of the Apes = Orphan 55. The lesson this week is, if we don’t look after the planet, Earth could become a dead place filled with the monstrous versions of what humans evolve into. This is a decent enough premise for an episode of Doctor Who, however, the execution here just didn’t work out very well.
For the last two weeks, we’ve been treated to the Chris Chibnall/Thirteenth Doctor era at its best.  The return of The Master, the companions acting brilliantly without ‘The Doc’, great storytelling and exciting characters for the TARDIS crew to meet and interact with.  The excitement of series twelve, however, has come to a screeching halt on Orphan 55.  We’ve had episodes before where we’ve got to know multiple new characters in the short space of a single episode – I’m thinking specifically of Midnight, which could draw some comparisons with this episode. Orphan 55, however, doesn’t quite give us the depth we’d like from our temporary chums.   The relationship between Kane and Bella could have been so much more and the casting of Laura Fraser feels like a missed opportunity.
If nothing else, surely Orphan 55 confirms that going on holiday is usually a very bad idea for The Doctor.
Trip Advisor rating: one star, would not go back.
Bedwyr Gullidge
Bedwyr
The Doctor and her companions teleport, via some peculiar contrivance concerning collecting tokens, to a holiday planet. We’ve seen this a few times before. Smile. The Leisure Hive. Midnight. Now Orphan 55 borrows elements from all three of these previous stories.
Firstly, a bold setting featuring an architectural marvel with impressive views which turns out to actually be on an otherwise uninhabitable planet. Cue a trip in a little vehicle across the planet’s surface that will inevitably get attacked. The creature doing the attacking on this occasion is a well-realised monster, shot in such a way as to maximise the scares, although some camera angles were very peculiar.
Sadly though the remainder of the episode is a mangled mess. For instance, why was there a need for 11 people to go out in search of Benni? Realistically this was so subsidiary individuals such as Vorm and Hyph3n could be quickly disposed of. It could’ve been worse, they could’ve shrieked another character’s name over and over again to cross from unremarkable to positively irritating. When Yaz tried to do something, other than poke her nose into Ryan’s conversation with Bella, the Doctor had already reached that particular epiphany.
Inevitably things unravel and viewers were presented with two major revelations in quick succession. One might’ve added an additional dimension to the story. But two smacked of simply throwing things in due to a lack of confidence or a desire to expand upon a basic ‘base under siege’ script.
I had reservations about how the Doctor was going to bounce back to her usual chirpy self following last week’s dramatic revelations but Yaz highlighted her recent poor mood. This then saw a Doctor who was particularly combative, going after Kane (where did she come from at the end?) before we even knew what was going on. With all of the Doctor’s dialogue and excessive exposition it was no wonder she ran out of oxygen! Her managing to isolate the ‘lead’ Dreg was not only convenient but ultimately pointless. Any Dreg would’ve sufficed to get out of that particular situation. To top it all off her final message about humanity being capable of changing it’s future and averting such an ecological catastrophe was handled with all the subtlety of someone trying to repair an exquisite time piece with an electric drill. Heavy-handed is the only apt description
Doctor Who continues next Sunday 19th January with ‘Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror’ on BBC One and BBC America.

The time: the earliest years of the 20th century. The place: New York City. Inventor Nikola Tesla is at war with his rival Thomas Edison. However, there’s an even greater threat in their midst…
Written by Nina Metivier. Directed by Nida Manzoor. Guest-starring Anjli Mohindra, Goran Visnijc, Robert Glenister, and Haley McGee.

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