Monday, 13 January 2020

Doctor Who - Orphan 55

The Orphan Age

Doctor Who - Orphan 55
UK BBC1 Airdate: 12th January 2020

Warning: Here be spoilers.

Well this was pretty... to quote a friend... “Meh!”

I was less than excited when I saw the trailer for Orphan 55 because it looked like a standard, stereotypical Doctor Who story from the last few years. You know the kind... Doctor and companions arrive at luxury resort/planet/space station... take ten minutes to establish friends and characters and then hit the audience with the whole ‘actually it’s a bit of a deathtrap here’ spiel. And, guess what? That’s exactly what we got with this thing.

Actually, to be fair, this episode with Bradley Walsh’s Graham character activating some free tokens and teleporting The Doctor and companions out of the TARDIS and into a free two week vacation on a luxury resort wasn’t that terrible a set up, to be honest. Although it was pretty much the exact same set up as Kerblam! from last series. That being said, this one did manage to go down hill rapidly... primarily because a lot of the things which happen in it either didn’t make a whole lot of sense or were somehow contradictory.

So the fact that the luxury resort is held in by holographic walls and is actually built on an
orphaned’ world... so a planet that’s basically wiped itself out and is supposed to be empty and off limits... was all well and good. However, when it turned out to be the Earth in the future... well this was an unnecessary and unwanted plot twist and really doesn’t make sense in terms of series continuity with anything we’ve seen about the future of the planet before. And, frankly, the always good to watch Jodie Whitaker can go on about this being just one future for our planet in a host of possible timelines all she likes but there’s absolutely no evidence of that and... guess what? Our intrepid bunch of heroes don’t refute that timeline in any way, shape or form by the end of the episode so... yeah, I guess that future stands now, does it? As do all the other futures for Earth we’ve seen in the show. What happened to all those ‘fixed points in time’ moments we’ve been hearing about over the last few years? Makes no sense, right?

And the writing just generally seemed to be quite bad but I say seemed because it was, frankly, so sloppy that I suspect there must have been some production troubles with the episode. I really can’t believe this script was shot ‘as is’ because the dire contradictions and inexplicable incidents that made no sense would surely have been caught at the script stage? I’m guessing some scenes had to be improvised, rewritten or ‘written in’ without the time to worry about the consequences. This is all just a guess on my part but... well... watch it and see what you think.

So you had a lovely, elderly couple who became separated and when you did ‘hear’ the missing guy towards the end of the adventure... well, it seemed to make no sense. The character was hastily dropped out of the narrative, more or less, once he’d fulfilled his function to draw The Doctor and her companions out onto the surface of the planet. One wonders why they bothered building up these characters in the first place at all, to be honest.

But that was nothing compared to the amount of characters who sacrificed themselves to save the others by somehow offering themselves up to be... what, eaten? In order to slow a horde of creatures down? How was this working? How does one person slow a whole army of creatures down. And why does the young lad in this actually run off at some point? For no good reason other than to give the other characters something else to do, it seemed to me.

And for goodness sake, if you’ve set up the idea that leaving yourselves with a bunch of monsters and one gun which doesn’t really work because they can adapt to it is certain suicide... you don’t then suddenly have someone who was previously wounded and who selected this fate suddenly turn up from out of nowhere at the end, guns blazing, to buy The Doctor and the others more time to get off the planet. That makes no sense whatsoever. And should I mention that The Doctor didn’t bother going back in her TARDIS to save these poor buggers at the end? No, instead she made a really heavy handed speech about climate change which the audience really didn’t need to hear because, you know... we got it... and which went on for way too long. This was way beyond preachy.

Oh... and talking about the TARDIS. Once we’ve established that we're on future Earth in Russia... how the heck do the creatures understand Jodie Whitaker talking in English if they’ve evolved from Russians? The TARDIS is nowhere near them so the Universal translator which is projected in the near vicinity of the ship is not valid here. What’s going on? Have I missed something? Probably but... I’m almost past caring at this stage.

So, yeah, Orphan 55 was problematic at best and I’m going to try and forget this one. I’m also going to try and forget that the pre-order Blu Ray price for this series... for a measly ten episodes... is around £50. Seriously BBC? Do you think that’s anything approaching what this should be?

Anyway... as always I shall try and be a bit optimistic about what we may be getting in the next episode. Time will tell, I guess.

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