Black Orchid

Chase - Posted on 01 July 2009



The cast have a lot of problems with this if you listen to the dvd commentary but I don't know. I see their points I guess but I like the peroid piece setting. It's got the train, the costumes, the make up, the castle, the cricket game, the old fashioned cars and the old music. It also has Adric and Nyssa not understanding some of the game and the slang and expressions and that's funny and some of the jokey bits work ("Doctor who?" and "Worthy of the Master..." and "What do you do with a cocktail in a bath?"). There's also the confusion over Nyssa's Empire and Adric's background from the locals. And the Doc has some good lines, "Why didn't I leave after the cricket match"  and "Why do I always let my curiosity get the better of me?"  Everyone really tries in this and it's nice to have a historical setting without a monster but...but...the mystery really isn't much of a mystery and the disfigured man might as well be a monster. And the Doc roams a corridor, a passage, gets out of it and then finds another and roams it too. The cliffhanger is  a good one. Sutton really isn't up to the role of Ann really and she's just about got a handle on Nyssa. On the other hand Tegan is being made much more likable and personable. She now claims to want to stay with the Tardis crew. The Doc says he wanted to drive a train when he was a boy (did he have them on Gallifrey or was he able to watch videos of Earth trains? or what?). But the Doc playing somehow seems out of character, even though the Fourth Doctor claimed he used to play it well. I guess sometimes I  think of the Doctor as a great big geek who can't do those things, like dance or play sports but clearly he can. He also in VISITATION claimed to mingle with aristocracy but one can't imagine this Doctor, who lets Panna in KINDA call him idiot, being able to do any of it with any accuracy. Davison was keen on cricket...yeah soooo? Anyway it also seems a bit conceited for Nyssa to claim she was quite good at dancing and a bit...I don't know, okay I guess for Tegan to dance repeatedly. I LOVE the Adric must eat bits.

It's also a realistic touch to have him eat and eat and eat...which he doesn't do that much of but also to be awkward about dancing, which many teens/geeks couldn't and cant' do much of. He does give it a good try though.  


The TARDIS companions finally feel like a brother and two sisters. For example the pick on Adric for eating bit is just more like a brother gently being put down by his two sisters who are amazed at what he is doing. "Is that seconds? You pig. Just look at that!"  "Well I didn't have breakfast did I?"  "Sure you got enough there?"  "Don't you start?"  All this is played like a gentle tease, good naturedly rather than the harshness of the fights in FOUR TO DOOMSDAY, KINDA, and THE VISITATION. They seem to like each other and act as kinda fanily unit. Surely they'll have several more adventures together to further cement this relationship and even if the girls leave, I wn't be dissapointed. But anyway...the Doc makes some rather rash and stupid decisions but onward. He first doesn't reveal Lady Cranleigh's secret when he should have. He then "Gives uP" after telling the constable (a good sympathetic one for a change) that he's a time traveler and  a Time Lord! Later, he shows them the TARDIS. Tegan even says Please. The Doc stops Adric from pursuing George but then goes up the same way during a fire. It's a tragic story really with George only dying because his brother moves to hug him after he lets Nyssa go! Pretty sad. Ann's last name Talbot evokes THE WOLFMAN Larry Talbot as does the orchid itself as in THE WEREWOLF OF LONDON. But there it is  a special kind of orchid. I think the cast on the DVD are wrong in their assumption that this would have been better if it has science fiction elements in it. Part of why I like DW is that not every story has to have a science fiction element bar the TARDIS.  I think it was the just the pace, the development of the mystery and the direction that was really lacking. The rest: the setting, the guest stars, the make up and stunts, the music, and the location stuff were all spot on.  I don't know why the South American Indian turned his back on George while sitting in the room with him after he escaped TWICE before! But there you have it.  A nice story with a nice ending with the book but a sad one at the same time. And more death awaits in EARTHSHOCK, the last story of least for me...      

One thing about this story is that while JNT touted (I believe) that the show needed to stay on an educational course....this clearly doesn't. The history here is all false as their was no George Crenleigh, no book BLACK ORCHID (except the novelization of this episode, which is longer) and none of this happened in real life.

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