TV Review – ‘Orphan 55’ (Doctor Who)

SPOILERS ALERT!!!

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

It’s time for the third episode of Series 12 of ‘Doctor Who’‘Orphan 55’! This episode is by Ed Hime, who previously contributed to ‘Doctor Who’ in Series 11 with ‘It Takes You Away’. I enjoyed that episode and I was looking forward to what Ed Hime would deliver in terms of ideas for ‘Orphan 55’. 🙂

I had a fun time with this episode! It starts off from being a sunny holiday resort story to becoming a horror adventure in dark tunnels. There was a lot going on and it did seem to be all over the place. But for me, it all came together decently well with a surprising plot twist and an interesting moral message.

The episode has the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz cleaning up in the TARDIS after…a monster attack? I’m not sure what happened to be honest with you since it wasn’t explained what that tentacle was in the TARDIS. I’m still not sure if the tentacle was gone by the time the story ended. It might be still there.

Anyway, Graham finds what seems to be ‘coupons’ that can form a teleport cube. The Doctor warns Graham about putting it together and form the cube but it’s too late. The Doctor and her friends are soon teleported to Tranquillity Spa, which happens to be a holiday resort with an all-inclusive stay. 😀

Graham, Ryan and Yaz take the chance to enjoy themselves once they and the Doctor have been welcomed by their customer host Hyph3n. The Doctor meanwhile explores the place. I would’ve liked the first half of this episode showing the Doctor and her friends enjoying luxury at this Tranquillity Spa.

But soon the holiday turns into a nightmare when a physical breach occurs. The guests are asked to assemble for a muster drill and this is before it turns out there are creatures attacking the place. Pretty soon, the Doctor and her three friends along with other characters venture out of the Tranquillity Spa.

It transpires that Tranquillity Spa is a ‘fakation’ – a place designed to look like a vacation within a fabricated environment that is like a dome. It’s on a desolated planet identified as Orphan 55. The monsters turn out to be Dregs and the Doctor uncovers horrific truths regarding this Orphan 55 planet.

Now the episode does have a lot going for it. It would’ve been great if ‘Orphan 55’ was told as a two-part adventure rather than as a one-part adventure to allow us more time to enjoy the story and characters. Things do seem crammed in, but that didn’t stop it from being very enjoyably entertaining.

There’s also an issue regarding there being too many supporting characters to contend with. I get that this Tranquillity Spa place has a lot of guests and staff present, but I think a small group of supporting characters with the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz would’ve been far much better to appreciate them.

One of the episode’s strong points is how scary it is, especially with its monsters – the Dregs. I’ve never seen ‘Doctor Who’ monsters as scary as them. I found them quite horrific. Someone described them as being scarier than the Silence. I concur there. I wonder how the kiddies would have reacted to them.

It was interesting when it was revealed that one of the guests Bella, who happens to be a fake hotel critic, turns out to be the daughter of the security chief named Kane. It was also interesting to see the relationships of father and son Nevi and Sylvas and of the elderly romantic couple Vilma and Benni. 🙂

I enjoyed how the Doctor found out more about the Dregs in terms of what they’re doing on Orphan 55 and how they got on the planet in the first place. The Doctor mind-melds with the Dregs to see images of their past which are shocking! She also uses oxygen as this special weapon to sort them out.

Jodie Whittaker is excellent as the Doctor in this fast-paced, scared-filled episode. She has a lot to contend with so much madness is going on. She works things out pretty quickly with what’s going on via interacting with people like Kane in order to find out answers to some pretty disturbing revelations.

It was tense when Jodie’s Doctor got manhandled by one of the Dregs after getting oxygen from it and mind-melding with it. Thankfully she’s saved by Kane in the episode. The Doctor also manages to negotiate with same Dreg, understanding the language. Well…she’s a Time Lord after all! Why not? 😀

Tosin Cole as Ryan stands out of the three companions for me in this episode. I found the comedy stuff with him getting infected by a Hopper virus out of the vending machine pretty funny. Seriously, I couldn’t help laugh out loud with Ryan’s antics and getting hallucinations with the Doctor around. 😀

I enjoyed the sort-of semi-romantic relationship Ryan had with Bella when they teamed up together in the episode. Ryan and Bella get to have some nice scenes together, sharing things in common about their mothers. Ryan is against what Bella’s planning to do in terms of revenge against her own mother.

Graham and Yaz do seem to get the short straw in terms of character development throughout the episode. That’s not to say they’re too weakly developed. Bradley Walsh and Mandip Gill are very good and get the most interaction with the Doctor. But there isn’t very much to stand out about them here.

Graham is very keen about enjoying himself at Tranquillity Spa. He’s disgruntled when things go wrong once the physical breach occurs. Graham is also asked to help out when Nevi’s son is absent and they try to fix an engineering problem. I did find it funny when Graham said, “I’m a bus driver!” helping out.

Yaz has her moments when using oxygen to ward off a Dreg to save herself and Ryan during the Doctor’s plan to defeat them. She also helps Ryan with placing the bomb within Tranquillity Spa to blow itself up and the Dregs with it. I liked it when Yaz admired the Tranquillity Spa view earlier on. 🙂

It does feel though that companions like Yaz are getting underused again as was the case in Series 11. I hope that won’t be entirely the case and that Yaz and Graham get to have an episode each in Series 12 to make them stand out. This story has Ryan stand out. When will it be Yaz and Graham’s turn?! 😀

The guest cast are very good despite not getting much in terms of character development. There’s Laura Fraser as Kane, the hard-hearted security chief that the Doctor often has clashes with in this. I just found out that Laura Fraser was in the film ‘A Knight’s Tale’ with Heath Ledger, would you believe?

Gia Ré guest stars as Bella, whom Ryan befriends and she turns out to be Kane’s daughter. It was interesting to see how that gets unveiled and how she’s responsible with what’s happening regarding the Dregs attacking and such. The Doctor manages to persuade Bella to help and defeat this madness!

James Buckley guest stars as green-haired Nevi along with his son Lewin Lloyd as green-haired Sylas. I’ve only seen one person on TV with green hair like that in ‘Power Rangers: Time Force’. 😀 James Buckley is very well-known for playing Jay Cartwright in the E4 sitcom series called ‘The Inbetweeners’.

I did find Nevi to be wasted in this episode. With a stand-out name like James Buckley, you’d think he’d get a lot of character development. Mind you, it was intriguing to see that Nevi wasn’t a good mechanic like his son Sylas and that he could not solve any engineering problems without his son here.

The episode also features Julia Foster as Vilma and Col Farrell as Benni, the elderly romantic couple. I was shocked and saddened by how Benni got killed off by the Dregs in this. I did think Vilma was hysterical at times when it came to searching for Benni outside. She does self-sacrifice herself though.

There’s also Amy Booth-Steel as Hyph3n, who must be of an alien humanoid species that I can’t recognise as she welcomes the Doctor and her friends to Tranquillity Spa. She also lets the Doctor into the ‘linen cupboard’ area. There’s also Will Austin as Vorm, one of Kane’s security troopers in the tale.

When the Doctor, friends and guest characters go outside of Tranquillity Spa, they have to wear blue things on their noses to provide them oxygen as well as wear bulky wrist devices to monitor their oxygen levels. I did wonder if the Doctor would look silly with one of those blue things on her nose. Thankfully not. 🙂

Like I said, the episode features a surprising plot twist. It turns out that Orphan 55 happens to be…the planet Earth in the future. I wasn’t expecting to see that! I did wonder whether we had landed on Ravalox from ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ story. It would have been nice if that were the case in this story.

But as the Doctor explains to Graham, Ryan and Yaz at the end, Orphan 55 could possibly be one of Earth’s alternative futures. So Ravalox might not happen in the end and the Earth’s destruction in ‘The End of the World’ might not happen in the year 5 billion. I am curious how Earth’s future will turn out.

The episode’s climax was a little bit clumsy but quite thrilling and gripping. Nevi and his son Sylas manage to escape whilst the Dregs are attacking on all sides via teleport. The Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz also manage to escape via teleport whilst Kane and Bella hold off the Dregs with their gunfire!

Bella and Ryan share a quick kiss before they part. I did wonder though how Kane managed to survive after she held off a Dreg for the Doctor to escape earlier. I assumed she was killed off. I did recheck those scenes on BBCiPlayer to be sure. It seemed Kane’s fortunate arrival by the climax was so sudden.

The Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz return to the TARDIS. Ryan is upset about what happened to Bella and Kane. Graham and Yaz also confront the Doctor about Earth’s future as Orphan 55. The Doctor gives them a moral message about how the future is in flux and how humanity can be better than that.

I quite like that final scene in the episode where the Doctor’s giving a moral message not just to her companions but also to us as an audience. Humanity does need to improve with the way things currently are since the Earth could end up devastated with a lot of war and political division occurring.

I enjoyed ‘Orphan 55’ very much. It is messy in places and there are issues with too many characters featured and not getting enough development. But I enjoyed the episode featuring some scary monsters in the Dregs as well as an interesting plot twist about Earth’s future and the moral message at the end.

Next week’s episode is called ‘Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror’ by Nina Metivier.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

2 thoughts on “TV Review – ‘Orphan 55’ (Doctor Who)

  1. I agree with most of your points but I found the editing fast cut & erratic, I’d wouldn’t shown the Dregs until the climax I’d used shadows or a arm or teeth close ups tease the audience what it could be, I found showing the monsters continually ruined the impact but I agree they were scary looking.

    Biggest issue for me was pacing this episode it moved so fast it substituted character drama giving us no introduction to those in the hotel so their deaths didn’t have a dramatic impact on me, I absolutely agree with you this needed to be a two parter as the story is good it just juggles too much into the running time.

    Performances good, Yaz underused again though, Jodie was on great form but James Buckley was wasted in his role & the old woman got on my nerves terrible actress so I was relieved when she died & the mom/daughter reveal wasn’t given enough time to process this would’ve worked if revealed near end episode 1 leading into second part again lost lot character drama being 50 minutes. .

    I put this one down to missed opportunity, if this been a two parter this could’ve been a classic but as it stands i rate it 3/5.

    You’d definitely given this plenty of character drama if you wrote it Tim, maybe if they’d dropped few characters might worked at 50 minutes I just felt it wasn’t allowed to breathe & as you say the Doctor & Co no sooner arrive it kicks off so again no build up to the hotel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my review and thanks for sharing your insight into this episode. Glad you agree with most of my points on it.

      I agree with you, the Dregs should’ve been held back before a final reveal in the second half of the episode. There was quite a lot going on and I can see what you’re getting at regarding the editing, pacing and such. I did find the Dregs quite terrifying and I’m glad you think so too.

      It’s a shame about this episode as I enjoyed Ed Hime’s ‘It Takes You Away’ the previous season. You’d think he’d provide a good one for this episode. But that might have something to do with the way the episode’s directed I expect. Hopefully a Target novelization might improve things regarding this episode. Glad you agree with me about this needing to be a two-parter.

      I think Jodie saved the show for me in terms of her performance of the Doctor whilst most things seemed to be haphazard. I wish Yaz had more to do in these episodes. I wrote for her in ‘Hank Prank’ last year and even I could find something for her to do as you read it yourself of course.

      I don’t know much about James Buckley and ‘The Inbetweeners’, but yeah you’d think he’d be given a more meatier role in this role and one with jokes. I did find Vilma hysterical at times and she needed to calm down. Perhaps Julia Foster didn’t know when to take it seriously during the episode’s production. 😀 Yeah it was quite sudden with the mother and daughter being revealed. It needed more time to be developed and Kane’s appearance at the end to help Bella was sudden, as I rechecked that scene at the end.

      I still like ‘Orphan 55’ as an episode. It’s clumsy in places but I can’t deny it being entertaining. I would’ve written it better, limiting the group of characters to a small number and yes extending it to two episodes would help. It needed breathing space whilst everything felt crammed in 50 minutes as you said.

      Many thanks, Simon. Don’t forget my review on ‘The Ultimate Evil’ by the way.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

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