Lucie has resumed her boring, pre-time-travel life in Blackpool; after all, there’s no way anyone the Doctor could’ve survived his battle with Morbius on Karn. But the Headhunter seems to disagree, strongly enough that she appears at Lucie’s door and shoots her. The Headhunter also has the TARDIS in her possession, and with Lucie aboard, sets the timeship on a course for the planet Orbis – a world where she says the Doctor is very much alive. Lucie finds the Doctor living among the Celtans, a jellyfish-like-race which exists in an uneasy truce with the warlike Molluscari…and she also finds that the Doctor has spent six centuries here and has completely forgotten her. Despite this, Lucie tries to help him save the Celtans from a new Molluscari attack. And in the background, the Headhunter is playing all sides against the middle, regardless of how many lives will be lost as a result.
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), Sheridan Smith (Lucie Miller), Andrew Sachs (Crassostrea), Laura Solon (Selta), Katarina Olsson (Headhunter), Beth Chalmers (Saccostrea), Barry McCarthy (Yanos)
Notes: The “time bullets” used by the Headhunter seem to have a similar effect to the slow-motion gunshot wound suffered by Gwen in the Torchwood episode They Keep Killing Suzie. The Doctor admits here that he’s lost track of his own age, and in any case he’s guilty of rounding it up or down to account for relativistic time, which is a handy throwaway explanation for why the tenth Doctor is only 900 years old, while the seventh Doctor – in his first adventure – was 953 years old, and the third Doctor was “over a thousand years old”.
Timeline: after The Vengeance Of Morbius and before Hothouse
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: A strange way to pick up from the Morbius two-parter that closed the second eighth Doctor/Lucie “season”, Orbis matter-of-factly tells us that the Doctor didn’t fall to his death, no questions asked, and Lucie’s off to save him. All fairly routine stuff, except that the Doctor has been living among sentient sea creatures so long that he’s lost his memory. I’m of the opinion that there are few plot/character devices in drama that are as cheap as amnesia or mind control, and Orbis doesn’t improve my outlook on that front.
The eighth Doctor and Lucie had a good thing going, a real partnership of equals that didn’t require anybody to have a crush on anybody else; Lucie doesn’t love the Doctor so much as she loves traveling with the Doctor. The amnesia plot throws an unnecessary complication into a relationship that was delightfully free of such issues. Though it could be that this was necessary to pad things out: the other plot, involving the two alien races poised at the brink of war, is largely an uninteresting land grab/illegal colonization story that relies on weirdness and only really gains a moral component at the very end. When things start flagging toward the end, a plot element from The Vengeance Of Morbius returns briefly – it’s just about the most interesting thing going here.
Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith make the most of what they’ve got in this story, though many of Lucie’s scenes are with the Headhunter, a role that merely requires an acid, icy delivery from Katarina Olsson. There just isn’t a lot of meat to Orbis – not the epic comeback demanded by that the cliffhanger that it inherited.