Orphan 55

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    Craig @craig

    Orphan 55

    The Doctor and friends take a well-earned break at a luxury resort spa but, as usual, things don’t go to plan. They soon discover that the resort is hiding a number of deadly secrets.

    This is written by Ed Hime who wrote “It Takes You Away” last series. As I said on that post, he has mostly worked in theatre and radio drama for the last 20 years. He’s also written a few episodes of “Skins” and written six original dramas for BBC 3, BBC 4 and BBC 6. His work is known for its social consciousness and black humour.

    It is directed by Lee Haven-Jones who also directed last week’s “Spyfall part 2”.

    It guest stars Laura Fraser who was in the BBC’s adaptation of “Neverwhere”, the film “A Knight’s Tale” and “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”, and James Buckley who is best known as Jay, the foul-mouthed fantasist from Channel 4’s “The Inbetweeners”.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Well, that was a kind of Planet of the Apes AU wasn’t it – only this time it’s environmental apocalypse rather than nuclear apocalypse which is (very much) on our minds.

    I quite liked the Doctor’s blunt speech about humanity needing to change, and it being up to us. I wish she’d completely broken the fourth wall and just looked straight to camera for the whole speech.

    I enjoyed the focus on Ryan, who got to go off on his own for some of the episode, as it gave us more time to breathe with him (as I mentioned wanting last week in relation to each companion). I do like Ryan’s character very much. He’s gentle, a bit out of his depth (as you would be, chucked into alien environments) but trying to feel his way through, with a good moral compass.

    Some elements present might be mirrors, if we are going to re-visit the Doctor’s relationship with her Gallifreyan family as part of the Timeless Child arc: the broken Mother-Daughter relationship (where the mother had abandoned her child, as far as the child was concerned) and the Green-haired Father-Son relationship (where the father wouldn’t listen to his child, until the very end).

    We know about Susan, but we don’t know about Susan’s parent (the Doctor’s child) and I continue to wonder if that mystery might unfold itself.

    I Googled “Orphan 55” to see if it meant anything, and there is an “orphan” cannabinoid receptor encoded in the GPR55 gene: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GPR55

    Coupled with the genetic mutations, thanks to environmental apocalypse, of humans into the “Dregs”,  there seems to be a genetic alteration theme running through both Spyfall and Orphan 55, which makes me think that may be connected to the Time Lord arc. Perhaps the Time Lords’ did genetically engineer “time-sensitives” by experimenting on children.

    Spider @spider

    Hmmm, after first watch have to say overall I was very underwhelmed by this one  – did have great promise and initially the threat of the Dreg was very good but then it lost me with a nonsensical everyone aboard the transport (the only reason everyone seemed to come along was in order to sacrifice themselves rather obviously at various plot points) then seemed to be mostly running about for no actual good reason.

    Did not really connect with any of the other cast, the father/son green haired ones just annoyed me. Broken mother/daughter relationship was more interesting but I never really got that invested in it – not sure why.

    Searching for positives (because I really did want to like this!) a good episode for Ryan which was nice. Felt he was short-changed in the first 2 episodes. Moment that really made me laugh out loud was when Ryan contracted the hopper? virus at the start the Doctor has the throwaway comment about: just remember the bats aren’t real and then you see him flailing about in the background.

    Also liked that the Doctor runs out of oxygen first because she talks too much – that was a nice touch. Apart from, I thought the Doctor was supposed to have some sort of respiratory bypass? Ahhh maybe she used even THAT up with too much chat.

    All in all I felt it was an entire episode where we were lectured on climate change and choices and blah blah. And while I do believe these things are very very important I just did not like how it was done here – it felt all a bit too forced.

    After such a good start to the series I personally feel this was a huge backwards step.Once again, great ideas, great promise – not executed as well as it maybe should have been. Gah! So frustrating!


    Mudlark @mudlark


    It wasn’t just Planet of the Apes which came to mind; there was more than a hint of Alien in the editing of the first appearance of the Dregs as they invaded the dome, before they were revealed as humanoid in body.

    … only this time it’s environmental apocalypse rather than nuclear apocalypse

    It was shown to be both, I think.  Environmental catastrophe -> large areas of the planet uninhabitable -> mass migration of survivors on an unsustainable scale -> social and political chaos ->war …. ?  I would have to watch again to be absolutely certain, but I’m pretty sure that the Doctor’s explanation evoked a glimpse of a nuclear explosion .  The message was delivered with all the subtlety of a steam hammer which will doubtless annoy a lot of people,  but then the time for subtlety is probably long past.

    The pace of the action was surely hectic enough to hold the attention and satisfy even the adrenaline junkies, and there was a lot of running in corridors for the traditionally minded. Amid the mayhem the brief interludes centred on the relationships between individuals were a useful counterpoint and a chance to focus on the personal,  and the exchanges between Ryan and Bella were particularly telling since it expanded on what we have already learned about Ryan.  The word Orphan in the title can also be seen as having a particular resonance in relation to those two, since Bella is alienated from an absent mother, while Ryan’s mother died early on and his father has largely been missing from his life.


    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    I thought quite often this was quite an old fashioned Who. The ‘Dregs’ standing in a desert surrounding, just a lot of the setting and atmosphere.

    I liked what the Doctor had to say here, but I worry about it. A good message to feed kids today, but even if many of them learn it, it’s a bit on the latish side. This a few decades ago would have been good. I worry that people watching this today will either agree with it (because they already do) or take unction. I don’t know if it will make converts in significant numbers to do any good.

    My first thoughts had been nuclear related, because that was what I was taught to worry about as a child. (Not that that has done much good on a whole).

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    @spider Yes, the, “Bat’s aren’t real part” was definitely funny – I enjoyed that.

    @mudlark and @miapatrick – Perhaps it was a combo of nuclear and environmental catastrophe, as you say. The nuclear element might better explain the genetic mutation of humans into Dregs, which did, you’re right, somewhat resemble the Alien (also an apex predator).

    The Dregs were very scary, I can imagine, for kids, and it was particularly gruesome that poor old Benni begged to be killed after they’d got hold of him, presumably because they were playing with their food?

    I wondered if that marriage proposal of Benni’s, at the end of a long relationship, and then one of them dying shortly after, had unpleasant resonances for the Doctor, in terms of her loss of River (I am still holding out hope that we will get a River/ WhitDoc reunion, although I know River’s story was apparently “done”, as she’d reached Darillium).

    @mudlark – yes, the “Orphan” of the title has a number of resonances. Not least for the Doctor, who is now, as far as she knows, orphaned (again) in terms of not having most of the rest of her species alive and well on Gallifrey.

    I said, on T’Other Place (which is particularly grim today) that this seemed to be another “re-cycling” of earlier Nu Who, in that the Ecclestone Doctor takes Rose to The End of the World just after he has lost Gallifrey and is grieving its loss. I always thought that was fantastically dark of RTD, as essentially the Doctor takes a very young Earth woman to experience the shocking destruction of her planet, on her first trip in the TARDIS, almost so she can get a glimpse into the enormity of loss he is suffering. That was pretty morally grey (talking about grey Doctor morality, @jimthefish).

    Now we have WhitDoc ending up on Orphan 55, apparently “accidentally” (but maybe the TARDIS was responsible) on a ravaged Earth with her human companions, after just discovering Gallifrey has (apparently) been destroyed all over again.

    The re-cyling definitely has to mean something here, I think. It’s so apparent.

    It must be to set up a moral question, about the difference between the Doctor and the Master. Because, in The End of the World, the Ecclestone Doctor (we know now) believed he had destroyed Gallifrey, for the greater “good” – i.e. to ensure the end of the last great Time War – an incredibly morally grey decision, which led him (as we saw later) to repudiate the War Doctor regeneration as not worthy of the title “Doctor”.

    Now, the Master has (apparently) destroyed Gallifrey (or rather, the great citadel and, as far as we saw, all the people) because he also discovered something unconscionable about the Time Lords.

    So what makes the Doctor different from the Master?

    We know that the answer in The Day of the Doctor (and elsewhere in Nu Who) has been that his/her companions, have ensured the Doctor engages with compassion.

    I think, in giving that speech to Yaz and Graham and Ryan at the end, about how the future earth they’ve seen doesn’t have to be that way, must partly have been a pep-talk to herself. She has saved Gallifrey once before, so she can do it again. The image the Master showed her doesn’t have to be permanent. Time can be re-written.

    Indigo-1 @indigo-1

    Hello. New here. I felt compelled to make an account so i could say, with all due respect, that this was the worst episode i have ever seen. I couldn’t finish it. It’s a farce at best and a travesty at worst.

    What has happened to my beloved Doctor? The writing, directing, acting, story, characters… everything i have come to love about the show is gone, and replaced by complete drivel that i can’t imagine even children enjoying.

    I have so much i want to say, i don’t know how to get it all out. The whole lot, from show-runner to grip boy should be sacked immediately and start things over. Poor Jodie. Given such a rich character and then have to play it so one dimensional.

    I miss you, Doctor. Regen soon.

    Your fan,

    The true orphan.

    Peace Frog @peacefrog

    Just signed up today after being a very shy lurker but passively engaged since the Matt Smith days…yes, that long.  🙂

    Every time I that I’ve seen somebody new sign up just to come in the door and say nothing but how much that they hate the new show or episode or new Doctor makes me want to throw up. Sorry to anybody with weak stomachs.

    What is the purpose of this type of behavior?

    That was a rhetorical question. We all know what the purpose is.

    Somebody hurt their very sensitive feelings and they just have to run off to tell somebody about it. If another person displayed the sort of childish behavior that they did themselves, then they would be foaming at the mouth to call that person a “snowflake”.


    If you want to call somebody a “snowflake” just because they might actually take the time to be sensitive to the other people who live on this planet and educate themselves about topics that they don’t understand, then so be it.

    We need more compassion around here…not less.


    Might want to learn about the earliest use of the word “snowflake” as a political dig at someone too.


    Peace Frog @peacefrog

    I’ll be back for a proper introduction “On the Sofa” later, I promise.

    winston @winston

    Hi all!  Just watched and I liked it.I thought it was scary, funny and a little gory and I like corridors and running, “promise me you will run” “when I say so RUN” so much running I am tired. The Dregs were very bitey and very hungry and people getting dragged away by their feet always scares the heck out of me. The Doctor was busy saving people, fixing tech and talking up a storm including a bit of banter.So I liked it quite a bit. Anyway I look forward to watching it again and also reading your comments and theories.

    Wow! Are we scary in the future or what? Although I am sure I know some of their ancestors.lol

    DrWhoOpinion @drwhoopinion

    I have never signed up for forums, but Orphan 55 was so disappointing. With the first two episodes of Season 12 getting off to such a great and refreshing start, this episode just lost me and my wife as fans. Soooooo tired of political correctness being preached to me. The first two episodes was a genuine old school Dr Who plot, with saving a world, and good guys and bad guys. By an old school plot I am referring to pre-Moffat. He just made the plots unbelievably complicated as to not be attractive to any new viewer. Having a female doctor is fine, but the stupid story lines of Season 11 along with mediocre characters built on “inclusiveness”, only made the series embarrassing and boring. Season 12 was off to such a fine start, and then Orphan 55 just burst the excitement bubble that BBC was learning how to do good Dr Who shows again. Nah, back to the lousy crap of Season 11.

    And changing the subject, what is up with these new writers at BBC. The F Bomb is pervasive in all shows. It is a reflection of the low standards of character development, as well as just lazy English – choosing the F Word instead of really expressing yourself clearly. At least Dr Who does not have any F Bombs. However, it is the same immature writers preaching to us through their scripts, as journalists preach their political opinions to us. So tired of this. Is there any maturity left in this field?

    Peace Frog @peacefrog

    “Soooooo tired of political correctness being preached to me.”


    Textbook case here.


    Wouldn’t have to preach at this point in human history if some kind of progress had happend…it didn’t.

    DrWhoOpinion @drwhoopinion

    Peace Frog,

    I would love to have discussions on any subject, but I would not want to preach my opinion as a writer of a show, if I were one. It’s like athletes hijacking the USA national anthem for political purposes. Sure they may have the right to protest, but that does not mean they should do it. As a viewer of sports, please leave the opinions at home. Let’s see the game, and let’s watch the show.

    Is that really an unreasonable request?



    Peace Frog @peacefrog


    Why wouldn’t a writer not take the opportunity to express their own world view in their work.

    Seems like a perfect time to do it.

    Protests can’t wait for a convenient time to take place. They wouldn’t be very effective if they did.

    What if Dr. Martin Luther King kept waiting for just the right time or venue for his now famous speech?

    Should he have tried to get his detractors approval ahead of time?

    We would still have slavery in the United States if others had used your flawed line of “reasoning”.

    Apparently you have never watched the show before, if you had then you would have noticed the progressive messages that have been there from the beginning.

    Anything that I missed?


    Peace Frog @peacefrog

    I’ll just continue with my train of thought while I’m waiting.

    It wouldn’t be a giant leap to say that art in any form has always been a reflection of the person that created it.

    Going back to the very first cave paintings. What purpose did they serve?

    Did that person do it just for the sake of drawing on the walls?

    I don’t think so.

    First they are sending a clear message.

    I exist.

    Second, they have the sense to know that others exist and might be trying to communicate something.

    A picture of a bison drawn by a native American might be saying –

    I saw this animal in this area. Or this animal is important to me and my people.

    Beyond that you start to get into more complex messages.

    Depictions of religious ceremonies, astronomy, abstract thoughts.

    What I’m saying is that the message is always there, subconsciously or not.



    syzygy @thane16



    his episode just lost me and my wife as fans. Soooooo tired of political correctness being preached to me.

    Fucking hell what utter bullshit. You’re still fans. That’s why you’re here. Also so you can complain about actual MANNERS. You’re new here too? I don’t think they take requests. Most members tend to the Left. Well, no, not really.

    And you can’t argue against manners without getting shirty about my swearing because then you’d be preaching. See how it works, now?

    PC tick

    Old School tick

    Complicated tick

    unattractive tick

    lousy tick

    crap tick

    pre-Moffat who is stupid tick

    You’ve met all criteria of a troll. Have a nice day.

    @peacefrog totally right.

    I’m 52. Have NO idea why I’m writing like a pre-schooler but I honestly, can’t ever stand the “oh, I’m throwing all my toys in the bin because I hate Doctor Who now. Wa wa.”

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by  syzygy. Reason: screwed the name up. They couldn't be bothered with the whole spelling. Says a lot
    syzygy @thane16

    So, is this a Tranquility Base -thingy? I thought Midnight was set on a Tranquility Base? Could be completely wrong. So far no-one has mentioned this (because either my memory is wormy & I don’t have a clue, or any connection exists only in my mind).

    Anyway, sorry about the troll reaction. In future, I will mind them as I would an orphan habitation -or a dreg. Best to close one’s eyes, let ’em yell or kick & then carry on; breathing normally.


    Peace Frog @peacefrog

    I had a bad allergic reaction to a fabric softener over the holidays, and my doctor said my blood pressure was 200 over 130.

    And that if I didn’t calm down, it wouldn’t be long before I had a stroke or heart attack

    Therefore…I’ve been trying to exercise more restraint.

    Ha ha!  🙂

    Peace Frog @peacefrog

    Also, I’m very glad to be able to talk to you after all these years of reading your posts.

    Can’t wait for your comments on my musical postings in the other thread.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @peacefrog hi, great introduction to the forum! I’m glad you’ve finally signed up.

    Vervain @vervain

    Dear @drwhoopinion

    Congratulations on your appointment to the role as a personal reality paradox & difference engine.

    You manage to say something I totally agree with only to then have me vehemently disagree with your reasoning once you explain why you think so.

    I ask you to re-evaluate this statement which you seem to have posted without a hint of sarcasm:
    It’s like athletes hijacking the USA national anthem for political purposes.

    Not surprised you have trouble with Moffat’s pacing and complexity if you believe that using a political song to make a political point is hijacking.  <- Plenty of sarcasm  for you to take umbrage at there, but wait there’s more, a bonus ad hominem!

    Sports people, that’s their platform/arena that’s when they can have the most impact – seems to make sense from an objective marketing point of view . Talking of points of view, the right to protest when engaged in is almost always done so from a sense of duty – the seeming incongruity of my championing tolerance for different viewpoints whilst lampooning yours is not lost on me, but is actually the result of false equivalence.

    As I seem to be talking to a sports fan id like to ask you whether you stop being a fan of whichever team you follow if they lose a few games? Have a bad season? Temporarily have a crap coach?

    Now that we say I’m a “X”  fan rather than the original Im a “X” fanatic its become shorthand for liking something not loving it  -given lexicographical temporal inflation just liking something in the social media age is the equivalent of a fairweather fan who will watch something if they happen to be channel surfing and happen across it.

    I will always be a fan, even if I happen to think this episode was mostly drivel.


    Indigo-1 @indigo-1

    Hello again. Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t ‘hate’ the show. I’m disappointed. I LOVE the show – as a whole, but this regen., and this episode in particular is awful, just patently bad. It’s not what it used to be, it’s not would it could be, and to use a delicate word, not what it should be.

    I’m not a troll. I’m not hear to illicit negative emotions, the opposite really, I hope that you can recognize that the vain caricature this show has become is not acceptable, and insist that it be returned to its proper place, a show of quality and some dignity.

    Being a fan doesn’t mean giving blanket acceptance to what ever they choose to do with the show in a show of indiscriminate solidarity, but rather to encourage the best of what it can be in an honest show of support. I don’t hate the show, i hate what they have done with it.

    Thank you.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    ‘I hope that you can recognize that the vain caricature this show has become is not acceptable, and insist that it be returned to its proper place, a show of quality and some dignity.’ guys – don’t we have an acronym for this? Think @jimthefish coined it…

    @indigo-1, no, being a fan doesn’t mean giving blanket acceptance – in that, it doesn’t mean you have to like, or agree with, anything. This site has plenty of critical assessments of different episodes.  We don’t all agree. But we do accept that one person might like an episode very much, and another person dislike it, without anyone pretending, or just being slavishly loyal. And many of us have seen enough of old Who to know that quality has varied, considerably, over the years in different runs. While I think this is a flawed episode, with some good bits, and while I’ll probably always prefer Moffat’s version to CC’s, I’m well aware that Doctor Who changes, firstly, with different regenerations, secondly, with different show runners, thirdly, with different eras.

    If you’re not a troll you’ll be able to explain what in particular you disliked about this episode – but only if you can avoid the terms SJW, PC, or anything being forced down anyone’s throat.



    Peace Frog @peacefrog

    You want them to return it to the show that it used to be. Right!

    You mean when it was being run by Moffet then. He was my favorite too. Too bad that he never tried to include any kind of “message” while he was in charge.

    Not Moffet?

    RTD then. Great!

    He let 10 turn into a walking cliche there at the end. But he did bring back the show and his big two part episodes to end the season were some of my favorites.

    Parting of the ways/Journeys End and The sound of drums/The end of time are ones that come to mind.

    Maybe you can tell us which era that you want the show to go back to?

    Unless that era exists nowhere else besides your own mind.






    MissRori @missrori

    @miapatrick I had a similar feeling as you about exactly how much the poor kids can take away from this episode — especially depending upon who their parents are.  For those who don’t know, I’m in my early 40s but also an autistic.  I live at home with my family, and rely upon them to get around (working a job to pay rent, etc. in exchange).  I was lucky enough to be born to a loving household, but my mom in particular has grown very conservative over the years.  She still can’t forgive me for voting for the current POTUS.  So while it would be nice to pound the pavement and stump for change, that’s not really an option for me; I didn’t have a good high school experience and never rounded up a crowd of “meatspace” friends to turn to as a support network.  I’ve read a lot about families torn apart by political differences of late, and the lack of empathy really is an impediment to being the best we can be.  Of course that’s a theme of this episode — the disconnect between generations — and notably just about all the “family” groups presented end up perishing.

    Obviously, the Doctor needed to give us some pamphlets about how to follow our convictions without ruining our families!  I have searched for information on this but come up awfully empty!  😀

    @juniperfish It’s pretty obvious this base-under-siege story is thematically tying into the fate of Gallifrey arc, that it’s possible that 13 can fix what became of it or at least its people.  I do wonder how, though, it can serve as a larger metaphor for what’s going on right now.

    Also, the reveal that the Dregs breathe in CO2 and expel O pretty much made a lot of this story a pretty blatant lift from the early Studio Ghibli film Naussica of the Valley of the Wind.  I wish they’d followed the conflict between the Dregs and the rest in the direction that film ultimately took it, but I can’t say more without going into spoilers for the movie 😛

    Peace Frog @peacefrog


    Thanks….it should have been.

    I only had around 10 years to work on it.  😀

    Peace Frog @peacefrog


    Sorry I forgot to tag you in my post.


    MissRori @missrori

    (eeeek)  I can’t edit my previous post, but I meant to say that I didn’t vote for the current POTUS!  My whole dilemma sounds ridiculous without that correction 😀

    Peace Frog @peacefrog


    I don’t know anybody who did. Wonder how he managed to win?

    With apologies to the Beatles and the former C.C.C.P.  –

    “I get by with a little help from my comrades, I get high with a little help from my comrades….”

    Rob @rob


    I think The Green Death probably did the environmental argument more subtly and maybe more powerfully. That is because the message was spread over several episodes.

    I found this episode a curates egg.


    That the dregs were originally the poor and dispossessed after the rich and powerful left the mess behind and buggered off to a new world,  then I presume after they died off the new dominate life form on an Orphan Planet become The Dregs

    The green message

    The Doctor, JW is nailing it

    The Companions are a fascinating combination and hitting their stride

    The unresolved did they survive, did they deserve to survive

    On the not so positive side

    The story was rushed, the Dregs were a stupid then intelligent then stupid then intelligent monster/victim, plot not having an internal logic


    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    @missrori I absolutely love Nausicaa and I totally agree – it wasn’t the Dregs’ fault that they were the way they were – a broken eco-system had resulted in their genetic mutation, so it’s a shame the Doctor couldn’t communicate with them more as a species.

    I agree with you @rob , it wasn’t clear what level of sentience they had. Were they “mindless” predators, or did they have some kind of intelligent social organisation? Presumably the former, or the Doctor would surely have tried speaking with them (they didn’t seem to possess language).

    This article is quite good @missrori (using some of the academic data on persuasion) on techniques for persuading errant relatives!


    If you have a loving family, that’s great, and important, and finding ways to tap into that love is better than falling out.

    Anonymous @

    I say that I resent the way Jodie Whittaker has been lumbered with 3 companions, while previous male have managed with one. She gets so little time of her own that the role has become almost unimportant. The stories in her first series were poor and so far the second series looks to be just as bad. Having just watched Orphan 55 the stories seem to be aimed more for pre-teens than a wider audience. I have watched and loved Doctor Who since the very first Dalek story and think that the current stories are the worst that I have ever seen. Can’t they just give a good tale and stop trying to teach us lessons?

    Peace Frog @peacefrog


    “I have watched and loved Doctor Who since the very first Dalek story and think that the current stories are the worst that I have ever seen. Can’t they just give a good tale and stop trying to teach us lessons?”

    Watch this….

    Just me using your very own words.

    How old were you when you first started watching Doctor Who? What year did the first Dalek story come out anyway?

    “Having just watched Orphan 55 the stories seem to be aimed more for pre-teens than a wider audience. ”

    Hmmm…..if I posted the first thing that popped into my Peaceful head, then my time here on this wonderful forum would turn out to be very brief.  😀

    Wouldn’t want that to happen, so someone else can deal with that one…please.

    “Can’t they just give a good tale and stop trying to teach us lessons?”

    What lessons did the young you learn from all that time spent watching Doctor Who way back then?

    Did I leave out any of your words besides your Username?







    Craig @craig

    I have to admit I didn’t like this one. Such a disappointment after the first two episodes (which I thought were a vast improvement). It may have been my after-dinner G&T (which usually improves an episode) but the pacing seemed terrible.

    There was no build up, we were straight into the action and then there was so much wasted time in the transport. They could have cut so much of that and spent some time on character development. I was reminded of “Midnight” and how that cramped, isolated scenario was done so much better.

    And then the end – taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I honestly laughed out loud at the dialogue. Who thought that was a good idea? The only redeeming feature is that it reminded me of Tim Minchin taking the total mick out of pop stars like Michael Jackson or Bono who wouldn’t know subtle or subtext if they both punched them in the face at the same time.

    But this is good – take your canvas bags to the supermarket:

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    Interesting points re. Morality and the Doctor and I think we can say that Doc’s morality and system of ethics sometimes doesn’t resemble ours and is sometimes contradictory to what we’ve seen in the past (largely to do with individual writers). You could credibly argue, however, that the Doctor’s entire character arc from An Unearthly Child onwards was in cultivating a ‘more human’ sense of morality under the influence of his companions, ie. moving from a place where bashing a caveman’s skull in or risking exposing other people to radiation sickness just so you can go and explore a city to thinking and caring about other people (showing kindness in other words).

    I think it’s also fair to say that the somewhat friable current state of our world is informing the direction of Chibs’ era but I think you could overstate the sense of difference from previous eras. It could be more that Moffat and RTD had just as much interest in social issues but that their approaches to portraying it differ considerably (Chibs, I’d argue, just lacks subtlety in how he goes about it.)

    RE. Ker-Blam. I think the point — and failure — of Ker-Blam is that it demonstrated that the systems were not vital to the world, just the way that that world had fallen into thinking about them. There was no compelling reason for it to continue that way, just that it was less effort than changing it. And the Doctor is a revolutionary — stories from The Daleks, to Planet of the Spiders, to The Sun-Makers to Paradise Towers to Oxygen continually emphasise this. What are the Doc’s last words in Paradise Towers? — ‘That’s the sound of empires toppling.’ Sudden regime change — revolution — is the Doctor’s modus operandi. In fact, in terms of morality, it might be interesting to see a story where the Doctor returns to a planet where she’s previously instigated a revolt and deal with the messy aftermath that she usually conveniently disappears before having to deal with.

    It’ll definitely be interesting if, as you say, this is some kind of ethical character arc for 13, but I’m doubtful that that’s what we’ll see. As far as I can see, a definite trait of Chibs’s writing is a laziness in seeing his concepts through — largely unlike when RTD and Moff introduced moral concepts (they might have dropped plot holes but the emotional throughline was usually kept intact. Thus we see Silurian scientists  who are reptilian Dr Mengele until after the cliffhanger when they magically become nice guys. And I think 13’s characterisation is largely like that. He hasn’t thought it through, or rather he’s just a bit too happy to chop and change it to serve the short term needs of whatever story he happens to be working on at that moment. (Actually, my biggest problem with Skyfall was that it was trying to merge the heart and emotional drama of RTD with the twistiness and cleverness of Moffat and failed to do either.)

    Arbutus @arbutus

    Sigh. I hate that the minute any kind of social message is presented I catch myself anticipating the flood of negativity that is about to ensue. As others have said, ad nauseam, there has always been a place for these in DW. There has never been any “golden age” where this wasn’t true. And I so wish that people would remember that nothing — episode, series, regen, show as a whole — is “just patently bad”. It’s bad to you. This language is a real slap in the face to those with a different opinion.

    My problem with the episode was that it felt awfully kitchen-sinky. It didn’t feel very cohesive. Too many ideas thrown in and not enough attention paid to any of them. I felt that more could have been done with the parent/child theme, which I assume was the main theme of the episode. I would have better enjoyed the “planet of the apes” concept if it had been the main thrust of an episode of its own.

    There was a lot that could have been better enjoyed had there been more time. Ryan’s tentative approach to Bella could have had more space to breathe, as could Graham’s brief moment of fear for Ryan’s safety. Benni and Vilma’s fate was a straight recall of Ten’s Titanic Christmas episode (sorry, can’t recall the title), but could have elicited more emotion even so, had it not been one thing among so many others. (I did love Vilma’s delivery of her final line, “Which one of you hurt my Benni?”)

    It says a lot about the episode that my favourite moment was quite possibly the Doctor’s line about crayons and half a can of Spam. 🙂 Graham’s “Are you having a laugh, mate? I’m a bus driver!” was also pretty good.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    Welcome, @peacefrog! I too lurked a long time before joining in the fun.

    @thane16   Not sure if Midnight was a tranquility base, but it was certainly the same kind of place. Definitely a recall there, and that was one of my favourite Tennant episodes!

    @vervain   whether you stop being a fan of whichever team you follow if they lose a few games? Have a bad season? Temporarily have a crap coach?  This made me laugh. None of us would ever follow a team again if that were the case.

    @craig   That video is freakin’ awesome.

    @jimthefish   the Doctor returns to a planet where she’s previously instigated a revolt and deal with the messy aftermath that she usually conveniently disappears before having to deal with     Didn’t something like this happen to Nine?

    Anonymous @

    Hi Peace Frog,

    I didn’t mean to upset anyone. I have ASD so my communication skills are not always the best.

    Was 11 when I first watched Doctor Who, so it was probably 1963 or maybe 64.

    Don’t think I learned much from Doctor Who but it did give me an interest in history and science which got me to read a lot more.

    The pre-teen comment was just that I think the stories have become too simplistic and must have a message. Doctor Who used to be entertaining and any educational message was more subtle.

    And to Craig, thanks for reminding me how good Tim Minchin was when I could afford to see him live.

    Craig @craig

    @arbutus @peter3110

    Sorry, this is off topic, but I’m the Emperor. 🙂

    Tim Minchin is a world treasure! I’ve never gone to one of his gigs but I’m now going to make peter3110 jealous (sorry about that). I once went to a small comedy club in Crouch End, London and half-way through the night Tim Minchin turned up (unannounced) – he was a friend of the promoter. He’d just done a gig to several thousand people in central London. He then did about half his act again – to about 50 people. It was so small I was sat about 2 metres away. It was fantastic.

    BadWolfAlice @badwolfalice

    This may be something that’s been addressed in Doctor Who before and I’ve just forgotten about, but I’m confused by the Doctor saying that the time when this episode takes place is part of just one possible timeline. How does that work? Can the Doctor choose which timeline she wants to go to when she’s time travelling? Could she also go to the timeline where humanity survived? I know she’s said before that time can be rewritten, but how far does that go? Can time be rewritten by, for example, humans fighting climate change in their own time, or can it only be rewritten by time travellers? Are these questions even making sense any more? My head hurts…

    I’ve thought of one possible explanation that doesn’t throw up so many questions: perhaps Graham’s teleport cube sent them to a parallel universe – one that used to be more or less the same as our own, but diverged when humanity failed to address global warming. This would also explain why the Doctor didn’t go back to save Bella and Kane at the end of the episode; the TARDIS can’t move between different universes. Of course, this begs the question, how did the Tranquility Spa get hold the technology to do that? As far as I can remember, it’s almost impossible to move between universes. although of course the Doctor has done it before anyway.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    @craig you are indeed Emperor 🙂 And Tim Minchin is fab.

    @missrori @jimthefish

    Essentially, the whole of Nu Who, up until the “fix it” of The Name of the Doctor, has the Doctor as having committed genocide against his own people. In The Satan Pit, the Beast refers to Tennant Doc as “the killer of his own kind” and we eventually find out what that means.

    What I really loved was that this was a mystery, in the background (what exactly happened to Gallifrey and what was the Doctor’s role in it, including the emotional mystery of his deep grief and avoidance) which, very gradually came to light, until finally we met The War Doctor and realised the full horror of the Doctor’s actions.

    And yes, we can argue it never actually happened, in terms of the Doctor using The Moment, but I continue to believe that in one time-line, it did, and then in another, with the help of other incarnations and Clara, it was avoided.

    So, you can’t really get any morally darker than that – pressing that red button on the ultimate weapon, even though it was to stop a hideous, endless war raging across time.

    We also see the Nu Who Doctor take up arms (again, given he was on the front lines during the Time War) and go to war in A Good Man Goes to War.  Again, he’s in a pretty morally questionable state at that point – obviously he’s massively pissed off about Amy’s capture – and (and I remember we discussed this at the time) he’s complicit in the destruction of a cyber-ship.

    WhitDoc, by contrast, is the first regeneration to be truly “past” the Time War, because she begins her journey knowing Gallifrey is safe in its pocket universe (whereas Capaldi’s Doc still wasn’t sure if it had survived, and had to go looking for it). So, she appears, to me, at any rate, lighter, and able to be (like her costume, as I discussed last season) refracted light, a force for good, in the universe.

    Of course, now she is faced with a mirror of her Time War past – as her long-standing fremeny, The Master,  appears to be responsible for Gallifrey’s destruction, again.

    I do think Chibnall made a conscious decision that, as we see fascism resurge around the globe, WhitDoc would be actively anti- fascist, and I like that. I agree the “messages” are delivered through some overly emphatic dialogue sometimes, rather than being simply allowed to emerge from the stories. However, perhaps Chibnall’s view is that this is not the time for subtlety (which links to what you were saying @missrori), it’s a time to stand up and be counted.

    @badwolfalice asking some good timey-wimey questions, I see.

    I thought the Orphan 55 earth must be in a different time-line to The End of the World timeline (in which Ecclestone’s Doctor takes Rose to see the end of Earth on Platform 9). So, I assume the TARDIS can visit different time-lines, but not, without great difficulty, as previously established in Meglos, Full Circle and Warrior’s Gate, and in Nu Who in Doomsday, different universes.

    But the rules around time in Who are complicated, particularly as the Doctor so frequently tells us there are rules, and then breaks them!


    Peace Frog @peacefrog


    “Don’t think I learned much from Doctor Who but it did give me an interest in history and science which got me to read a lot more.”

    Is it just me or did you just completely contradict yourself within the space of one sentence?  😀


    Do I sound like I’m upset? I love Doctor Who. Not every episode that comes out makes my all time top list.

    But that’s okay with me. Perfection is boring….reach for the stars!!


    Just like the Doctor.


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Um. That script needed another draft. After the last two weeks, this week was very … well, I hope tonight was the ‘Oops, that one didn’t work’ episode.

    Okay, positives. The actors were giving it their all and the direction was pretty good. The Moral of The Week was using a sledgehammer, but at least avoided landing the kids with ‘we’re all going to die’ learned helplessness. This is a possible future, not ‘the’ future. Something can still be done to change it (true, dat).

    Negatives: for an SF-style episode with a climate-science moral, the science knowledge on display was bloody awful – I agree, @rob, I think the Green Death did this much better. Unless the Dregs burn magnesium or hydrogen, their fires would need breathable levels of oxygen to burn. Humans would be struggling, but they could breathe. Apex predators need something to eat – in fact, apex predators need an entire food chain – if the Earth is post-nuclear/post-climate change and the ground looks like volcanic sands, what are the local Dregs living on? Trees? There aren’t enough random tourists to support that many and there’s no sign of any other animal life.

    If it’s so easy to terraform Earth, why has it been left to one teeny tiny hotel sized resort start-up with a staff of four? Why on earth would you chase after a missing guest with every single member of the cast?

    In the end, my suspension of disbelief just kept snapping – there was one point where I actually yelled ‘that’s just b*ll*cks!’ to the screen, which is a first for Doctor Who. Most of this would have been perfectly tolerable if they’d either gone in a more fantasy direction (like this writer’s previous script, which was very good) or got someone to science-check the dratted script.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Another positive: Mandip Gill was doing some really good acting – completely horrified by one of the gruesome deaths. I wonder if she’s leaving at the end of the series? Or is going to turn on the Doctor? Either way, it feels like something is being set up – maybe a Tegan-style ‘I can’t cope with this any more, Doctor’.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    Doctor Who may be allowed considerable latitude with regard to strict scientific plausibility but, yes, from the most remotely scientific viewpoint this episode was cringe inducing. Even the ‘science’ of Kill The Moon could be rationalised up to a point, and was in any case less critical to the theme of the episode as a whole. Generally I try to pick out what is positive about any episode, particularly because I know that I am a little biased against Chibnall as a writer and showrunner in this context,  but there have been several occasions since he took over when my reaction to the ‘scientific’ premise has been, What the … ?

    Maybe the writer and Chibnall  et al. missed out on elementary science at school, or more likely they thought that the message was all that mattered and that scary monsters and a blizzard of action would be enough to blind people to the implausibility of the premise.

    In any case, if any life form survives the apocalypse and ultimate trashing of the planet, everyone knows it will be the cockroaches 😉

    Mudlark @mudlark


    Doctor Who … did give me an interest in history and science which got me to read a lot more.

    And if it did that it achieved exactly what it was meant to do in the original conception. It wasn’t intended to instruct in didactic fashion, it was intended to inspire.

    Have you seen An Adventure in Time and Space, the drama about the shows origins and early days? If not, it might give you a clearer perspective.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    My pet theory about Yaz is that she’s being set up to become disenchanted with the Doctor and switch sides to become the Master’s companion.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    Of course, now she is faced with a mirror of her Time War past – as her long-standing fremeny, The Master,  appears to be responsible for Gallifrey’s destruction, again.

    I’m not massively keen on Gallifrey’s re-destruction personally. It all depends how it plays out, of course, and as you say, we may see some sort of reset by the end of the arc but it seems to that Moffat took great pains to finesse the Time War and the destruction of Gallifrey for very good reasons. I can understand why RTD made the move in the first place — to declutter the mythology for a relatively clean reboot but the whole Lonely God/Oncoming Storm thing had the unfortunate effect of heaping a shedload of angst and, in the case of Ten, arrogant exceptionalism onto the Doctor’s shoulders. We only saw a Doctor freed of that burden in 12 and now I fear we’re back to the Doc being Lil Orphan Annie again. So I have reservations but am keeping an open mind on how it develops.

    That said….

    Good point about moments of moral darkness in the Doc’s character. It’s not something that is ever going to be fully resolved, I think. Perhaps it pays to remember that with the Doc we’re dealing with an ancient alien psyche that is trying to ‘learn’ to act human under the influence of the company he keeps. But that alien psyche is still there and there are bound to be relapses. (Rather like a chronic alcoholic who will fall off the wagon every so often?)

    As to alternate universes and the like, I am beginning to wonder if that’s going to play a part in this arc. I did briefly think when we saw the temporal maps in Skyfall that we were looking at alternate universes rather than the time-shifted ones we were presented with. Perhaps it was a hint that what we’re going to see belong to alternate universes after all. Maybe that wasn’t ‘our’ Gallifrey at all. (Weren’t there like Nine Gallifreys in the novels?) And it’s interesting that, as you say, it’s not a concept that Who has done a whole heap on. There was Inferno and then Pete’s World but isn’t that about it? Not sure E-Space can count as it’s still technically our cosmos, is it not?

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Just saw it. OK, I am not going to hold back on this one, but before I start, there are many regulars on this site who know how much I love this show. So, keeping that in mind:

    I thought this was really bad. There was too much happening too quickly (the point being that it was near impossible to relate to or reflect on anyone’s individual story), the “message” was so outrageously obvious that it was an insult (if we are accusing it of preaching to the converted …hell, I am one of the converted, and I thought the final speech was insulting). And finally (and I have mentioned this before) but the camera work is terrible. Too much of every single episode so far is filmed so darkly that it is almost impossible to see what is happening, much less a character’s expressions or responses.

    Basically, I am with @craig on this one, but more so.

    p.s. @jimthefish, I love your theory about Yaz, but I suspect that on the basis of what we have seen so far, it is wish-fulfilment. I really do hope you are right, though.

    p.p.s. Thumb in the mouth as a tender parting gesture…just…no.



    Ollie14 @ollie14



    agree with your assessment.


    i liked the start of the episode and their arrivals to the spa. But for me it was spoiled by a pretty weak ending again.


    No real unravelling to ‘save the day’ just things happening to fall into place, like the virus mutating with the fuel 3 to make fuel 4. As much as I liked the two-parter, it was the same. The Doctor went back to tamper with the Kasaavin’s software… why didn’t we see this! This is the emphatic clever ending we should be seeing.


    it doesn’t even have to be that clever. But for example, asylum of the Daleks, the Doctor used a teleport, but it was made to feel so euphoric.

    at the moment it’s like watching a crime drama for 50mins and then they find the murderer by just watching some CCTV, things just fall into place.


    at the moment for whatever reason I’m not quite feeling it. I’m willing to give it more time because overall I did like the two-parter and aspects of Orphan 55.

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