Orphan 55 has spurred plenty of debate online. It looks like
being one of the more controversial episodes of recent years, your classic love
it or hate it story. A straightforward plot with a not unexpected twist, it is
not immediately clear why it is causing such intense discussion. It just goes
to show that even without any key elements of Doctor Who mythology, such as
Gallifrey, Daleks or the Master, new episodes of the cult series will always
provoke impassioned reactions.
Written by Ed Hime, who made his Doctor Who debut with the well-received
It Takes You Away, it starts off, as did that one, as a Base Under Siege story
and then becomes something else entirely. Instead of crossing into another
dimension, Stranger Things style, this time we leave the fake environment and
like Truman (The Truman Show) we walk out of the lie and into a very different
reality, hitting the wall on the way out (sorry Graham).
Aside from some important undercurrents that we detected,
Orphan 55 is a self-contained affair that, barring any genuine surprise twists
saved for the finale, is a standalone story. Entertaining and filled with all
manner of winning ingredients associated with the series, that doesn’t make it
a classic by default. What if the recipes have been mixed up, or the amounts of
each ingredient incorrectly weighed? That could be a recipe for disaster.
Paul Driscoll is a freelance writer and author across a range of subjects from Cult TV to religion and social policy. He is a passionate Doctor Who fan and January 2017 will see the publication of his first extended study of the series (based on Toby Whithouse's series six episode, The God Complex) in the critically acclaimed Black Archive range by Obverse Books. He is a regular writer for the fan site Doctor Who Worldwide and has contributed several essays to Watching Books' You and Who range. Recently he has branched out into fiction writing, with two short stories in the charity Doctor Who anthology Seasons of War (Chinbeard Books). Paul's work will also feature in the forthcoming Iris Wildthyme collection (A Clockwork Iris, Obverse Books) and Chinbeard Books' collection of drabbles, A Time Lord for Change.