‘Get away from her, you bitch!’ So says the Doctor, using a line straight from the Aliens movie. More than that, the styling of the corridor chase sequences and the early glimpses of the monster in episode 3 of series 12, entitled Orphan 55, are lifted from Alien. And the episode nicks terraforming and teleporters from Star Trek. And there’s more borrowing (call it homage if you like), from Hitchhiker’s Guide, and so on. But you know what? It all works. Indeed, it works extremely well. What a relief after the stinker that was episode 2. You see, we have a new writer on board for this latest outing – thank the heavens and all that’s holy (and unholy, come to that – whatever it takes). I’m going to track down this Ed Hime, whoever he is, and roundly congratulate him.
Why is the episode so successful? Well, there’s genuine jeopardy involved in the action sequences. People die. Important people. And the sequences move the story forward as well, to an inexorable and shocking reveal moment – the answer to the mystery of the planet known as Orphan 55. There’s an eco-message that I was completely down with, though others might whine it’s a touch preachy. Matter of taste, I suspect.
You can actually tell from the opening scene of the episode that it’s gonna be a good one, and that we have a decent writer doing the work. There are refreshing jokes (proper ones) that add new dimensions to the cast of characters. Bradley Walsh has been collecting coupons from the coffee machine that they have in the Tardis – the machine is upstairs, which is downstairs, or wherever it is in the folded space of the place. And he now has enough coupons to take them all on holiday. The Doctor says she doesn’t need a holiday – and then all her companions turn on her and say, ‘No, you really DO need a holiday. Trust us. You do. Really.’ It’s a telling moment, and the Doctor actually learns something new about herself (rare, these days). The coupons are put together and they’re all teleported to… Tranquility Spa! But it’s all too good to be true. Of course it is! It’s Doctor Who, after all.
I’ll leave it there, to avoid spoilers, blah, blah. If you’re one of the legions of fans who’ve switched Doctor Who off, you might wanna switch it back on for this one. (Oo, and Ryan gets a hot girlfriend for himself!)