I’m writing these reviews out of a sense of obligation I think more than anything. Maybe Doctor Who under Chris Chibnall just isn’t for me. That’s fine, I suppose, if disappointing personally. But can there really be people who prefer this middle-of-the-road, joke-free, characterisation-deficient, third hand version of the show to the carefully crafted scripts and charismatic leads we got from 2005 to 2017?

Listen, under RTD and Steven Moffat, the show wasn’t consistently wonderful, but both showrunners worked like dogs to try and get every script as good as it could be. And if I thought that Moffat’s attempts at multi-season arcs weren’t always successful, then at least he was trying something new. And, sure we got drivel like Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS every so often, but we also got wonders like The Girl Who Waited, The Doctor’s Wife, Heaven Sent and The Zygon Inversion. And the run-of-the-mill stories were all good, entertaining, well-made sci-fi yarns.

But in a recent interview with DWM, the new showrunner describes the most exciting part of his job as hiring good people and getting out of their way. Not for him, rewriting and rewriting other people’s scripts, cannibalising ideas he was saving for himself if necessary to make sure that a script with someone else’s name on it would work. No. Write a few scripts, let other people write theirs. Knock off for an early lunch. Hence the only half-decent scripts last year were the ones without Chinball’s name on them.

Best of these was probably It Takes You Away by Ed Hime, one of only two stories last year (along with The Witchfinders) to present anything remotely resembling an actual character dealing with a genuine dilemma, as opposed to a lot of hard-to-pronounce names and endless walking. So, I was excited to see his name on the credits of Orphan 55, but sadly, this is square in the middle of Chibnall Who with all of its faults and none of the virtues of last year’s effort.

So – briefly – Graham, who over the last few months has been taken on a life-changing tour of the universe is bafflingly thrilled to have won a free holiday. The holiday camp is rigorously ordinary, with no hint of a larger universe, and nothing you wouldn’t find at Center Parcs, save for a ludicrous and embarrassing “hopper virus”. Customer host Hyph3n (who looks like she is performing in a community theatre version of Cats but had to make her own costume from a leftover Spaceballs outfit) delivers some exposition and everyone starts dying at the hands of monsters who are only ever shot in close-up shaky-cam because the costumes are shit.

As uninteresting and thinly-drawn guests start milling about, wandering in and out of danger, it eventually transpires that this holiday camp is in the middle of a dead planet. One of the guests has been taken by the monsters, so the surviving cast all troop outside to get slaughtered. They have to wear a stick-on piece of technology because this is Chris Chibnall’s Doctor Who. And because it’s Chris Chibnall’s Doctor Who, this piece of technology never impacts the plot in any way at all.

The missing guest everyone is looking for gets killed off-screen. Then it turns out – buh, buh buum – that this is actually Earth and the monsters are the remnants of humanity. This has approximately one tenth the emotional impact of Peri walking around Marble Arch tube (a place she almost certainly has never visited before) in the story The Trial of a Time Lord which a teenage Chibnall famously went on TV to slag off.

The compassionate Doctor has no interest in protecting the once-human monsters, but carries on cheerfully murdering them and getting other humans killed. A man who never listened to his smart-arse son starts listening to his smart-arse son, because that’s a little bit like character development if you squint. Somebody turns out to be somebody else’s daughter and blows everything up. Then the Doctor and friends suddenly appear back in the TARDIS because although the plot hasn’t resolved yet, the time is about to run out. Moral of the story – you should probably avoid single-use plastics.

I mean, Jesus.

I suppose this is worth two stars. I mean, things did actually happen which is a change from Rosa and Demons of the Punjab but if anything they’ve wildly over-corrected, stuffing this episode with so much “action” that it all becomes a meaningless blur. And again, nothing for the regulars to do; again, no supporting characters make any impact at all; again, all of the science fiction concepts are third hand; again, nothing really makes any sense. Even Jodie Whittaker looks like she’s going through the motions.

2 out of 5 stars