Rewatch Doctor Who: Black Orchid

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Rewatch Black Orchid

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Total votes : 11

Rewatch Doctor Who: Black Orchid

Postby Servorobot » Sat Apr 11, 2020 12:32 am

As chosen by heccypoo let’s all rewatch Black Orchid and have a chat about what we think.
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby shuzbot » Sat Apr 11, 2020 12:47 am

The structure is so odd. They show murder and then subject us to about 9 mins of cricket, but in the second ep we get info dumped with the explanation:

DOCTOR: Tell him, Lady Cranleigh, and why he's so interested in Ann.
MUIR: Well?
LADY C: They were engaged to be married. That thing, as you call him, was my elder son George.
CHARLES: How did you know?
DOCTOR: The black orchid for one, Latoni for another.
MUIR: Explain!
DOCTOR: I'll leave Lady Cranleigh to do that. I have to rescue Nyssa.

Telling rather than showing, tsk tsk...

and the Doctor showing the police the Tardis cos he couldn't talk his way out of it cuts so much from the narrative. Robots of Death had a bigger back story, some sort of espionage that the Doctor walks into and has to resolve. Obviously, if he becomes a suspect we aren't going to think he did it.

It's such an odd, unbalanced story. I love the feel cos I grew up in the eighties, but it is middling.
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby ant-mac » Sat Apr 11, 2020 5:35 am

Short but sweet. More of a filler than a pillar. A pleasant interlude between the two more substantial serials of THE VISITATION and EARTHSHOCK. Despite that, I've always enjoyed this little story, although I've always felt it lacked from a third episode to expand on the cricket match, the party and perhaps the background to the story.

I also think they missed a trick here. Did anybody think for a moment that the fifth Doctor could've committed the crime? Of course not, it's simply not possible because he's way to gentle, kind and nice. Besides which, as they actually showed the murder, they removed the entire "mystery" part from the murder mystery.

However, if they hadn't shown the murder and made it a sixth Doctor serial... all of us would've had a small amount of doubt in the back of our mind. After all, let's be honest, the guy was a bit of a nutter and was capable of just about anything... In fact, he actually did murder Shockeye... not that Shockeye didn't have it coming.

And one last thing, who doesn't love a story with a steam train? But when the Doctor said he always wanted to drive one when he was a little boy, was that in between his visits to the hermit who lived halfway up the mountain behind his house, or in between being tortured and being forced to regenerate over and over again in that laboratory by that evil bitch? ;)

4/5.
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby Servorobot » Sat Apr 11, 2020 9:18 am

It’s not bad. At two episodes it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.

It’s pretty derivative though.

The mutilated prodigal son kept locked up and guarded by a person of foreign extraction conjures up images if all sorts of influences there from Jane Eyre to the Hammer film The Reptile and even a dash of The Man Who Would Be King.

They also fall back on a tried and true Who trope in the TARDIS crew having a doppelgänger.

This time it’s Sarah Sutton’s turn, possibly to make up for her being sidelined in Kinda,

The cricket scenes seem endless, mainly because it’s only a two parter and sort of remind me a bit of the film The Shout (the cricket scenes, not the rest of the film).

I prefer it to The King’s Demons.
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby Heccypoo » Sat Apr 11, 2020 12:06 pm

I love Season 19 and it's hard to be objective on this for me.

One of the main reasons I enjoy this little two parter, is that there is no, apart from The Doctor and The TARDIS, sci fi elements in it.

Also, The Doctor sticks around to attend the funeral at the end. I nice little humanising touch ..

I love it... :doc5:
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby shuzbot » Sat Apr 11, 2020 12:40 pm

Did anybody else find they kept making Ghostlight comparisons while watching this? I don't usually, but...
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby Cygnus Prime » Sat Apr 11, 2020 12:51 pm

I love it - and can't understand the disdain that Davison etc have for it. Great story for Nyssa too,

At two episodes it doesn't outstay it's welcome and for once the threat is tragic, rather than evil. When New Who attempted something similar, they had to go and stick a stupid giant wasp in it. This story didn't need it.

Good to see Davison getting a story that really showcases the cricketing theme of his Doctor. Would have seemed a bit odd if he'd never been seen playing actually playing cricket during his tenure?

Would never have noticed it until the dvd though, but once pointed out, I can't help but notice the appalling weather they are all trying to have a "hoot" of a party in, with a howling gale at one point. :lol:

The incredible coincidence of Nyssa looking like Anne is a bit sigh-inducing, but doesn't mar the enjoyment of this story. And bigger coincidences were yet to come. (Tegan's cousin!) Maybe they're all examples of the "Cosmic influence" of a vengeful Mara or Black Guardian already creeping in. Or something? :?

The "Strike me pink!" policeman scene grated then - and it still grates now. A long way from Ian Chesterton's stunned disbelief at what he and Barbara had stumbled on in that junkyard. :?

Just a nice reminder that Doctor Who can turn it's hand to most genres. And I wish they had done more of it.
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby Servorobot » Sat Apr 11, 2020 2:24 pm

Yes. At least Tegan wasn’t related to any of them.

It’s amazing how a girl from Brisbane with a Slavic surname had such a swathe of English relatives.

They must all be from her mother’s side of the family. :D
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby Servorobot » Sat Apr 11, 2020 2:29 pm

The writer of this story, Terrance Dudley, had an interesting pedigree.

He wrote three stories during the Davison era, Four to Doomsday, Black Orchid and The King’s Demons, but he was much better known as the producer of the later series of Doomwatch and the producer of the somewhat prophetic Survivors.

He also directed Meglos, but we’ll forgive him for that.
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby Bowtiesarecool » Sat Apr 11, 2020 3:25 pm

This is the first time I have seen this story. I enjoyed it a lot. :)
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby ant-mac » Sat Apr 11, 2020 6:17 pm

Servorobot wrote:The writer of this story, Terrance Dudley, had an interesting pedigree.

He wrote three stories during the Davison era, Four to Doomsday, Black Orchid and The King’s Demons, but he was much better known as the producer of the later series of Doomwatch and the producer of the somewhat prophetic Survivors.

He also directed Meglos, but we’ll forgive him for that.

And his son, Stephen Dudley, appeared as the character John Millon throughout the entire run of SURVIVORS. :)
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby Cygnus Prime » Sat Apr 11, 2020 6:49 pm

Have - to my shame - never properly seen SURVIVORS, although now might be a time to catch up with it. :?

Anyway, have started a timely thread for it.

I do feel that those well put together opening titles look beyond eerie now though........


SURVIVORS (1975): Did Terry Nation Predict the Future?:

viewtopic.php?f=66&t=7710

.
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby ant-mac » Sat Apr 11, 2020 6:56 pm

Cygnus Prime wrote:Have - to my shame - never properly seen SURVIVORS, although now might be a time to catch up with it. :?

Anyway, have started a timely thread for it.

I do feel that those well put together opening titles look beyond eerie now though........


SURVIVORS (1975): Did Terry Nation Predict the Future?:

viewtopic.php?f=66&t=7710

.

When I first saw SURVIVORS as a kid, those opening credits scared the crap out of me.

Even now, I still find them creepy and eerie.

I often find the combination of the graphics and the music makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby rapscallion » Sat Apr 11, 2020 7:15 pm

Bowtiesarecool wrote:This is the first time I have seen this story. I enjoyed it a lot. :)


As a massive Season 19 fan, I find it really cool that you've said that :)
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby StarQuake » Sat Apr 11, 2020 7:24 pm

Well I'm very fond of this one, though ironically I don't actually own it. This weekend I've had to make do with watching a mangled version on the web, and I still enjoyed it, despite the mirrored picture, screwed aspect ratio, and low rez. I first saw it when it was repeated in the summer holidays back in the eighties (along with The Visitation and Kinda, iirc), and thought it was lightweight fun. My opinion hasn't changed.

The weakest aspect for me is the companions' acting, which tends towards the wooden. But that's a basic problem in the early Davison stories, so par for the course. Davison is on top form, though, and the supporting players are old hands at this sort of thing, so things trundle along quite nicely. I enjoy the identity confusion theme that runs through the story, and the audience-teasing early on that that things might not be as they appear and that the party's hosts might know exactly who the Doctor is (which of course they don't - but it's a nice moment). I love country house mysteries, too, so a Davison era story in a country house murder-mystery is very much in my comfort-zone.

So that was a fun re-watch for me.
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby ant-mac » Sat Apr 11, 2020 8:02 pm

However, there is one little facet of this serial that has always... bemused me.

After the cricket match, when they're all gathered together in the living room of the country house, Cranleigh offers his guests drinks. The Doctor and Anne choose lemonade and Tegan chooses a screwdriver, which is vodka and orange juice.

However, when Nyssa says she'll have the same as Tegan, Cranleigh interrupts and says, "Better make that orange juice for the children, Brewster." So it appears that Anne and Nyssa are exact doubles, of a similar age and physical build and are both considered to be children - Anne choosing lemonade and Nyssa forced to have orange juice.

So what the hell's going on with Anne being engaged to Cranleigh?! And if I'm not mistaken, before that, she was engaged to his elder brother, George. So exactly what do these Cranleigh brothers think they're up to, trading in and passing around underage girls?

And one final question... Was Anne romantically active and physically intimate with her "fiancés"?
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby rapscallion » Sat Apr 11, 2020 8:36 pm

ant-mac wrote:However, there is one little facet of this serial that has always... bemused me.

After the cricket match, when they're all gathered together in the living room of the country house, Cranleigh offers his guests drinks. The Doctor and Anne choose lemonade and Tegan chooses a screwdriver, which is vodka and orange juice.

However, when Nyssa says she'll have the same as Tegan, Cranleigh interrupts and says, "Better make that orange juice for the children, Brewster." So it appears that Anne and Nyssa are exact doubles, of a similar age and physical build and are both considered to be children - Anne choosing lemonade and Nyssa forced to have orange juice.


Ive always thought that by 'the children', Cranleigh was referring to Nyssa and Adric, not Ann.

I'll watch this again tomorrow.
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby ant-mac » Sat Apr 11, 2020 8:45 pm

rapscallion wrote:
ant-mac wrote:However, there is one little facet of this serial that has always... bemused me.

After the cricket match, when they're all gathered together in the living room of the country house, Cranleigh offers his guests drinks. The Doctor and Anne choose lemonade and Tegan chooses a screwdriver, which is vodka and orange juice.

However, when Nyssa says she'll have the same as Tegan, Cranleigh interrupts and says, "Better make that orange juice for the children, Brewster." So it appears that Anne and Nyssa are exact doubles, of a similar age and physical build and are both considered to be children - Anne choosing lemonade and Nyssa forced to have orange juice.


Ive always thought that by 'the children', Cranleigh was referring to Nyssa and Adric, not Ann.

I'll watch this again tomorrow.

Maybe he did, but as Anne and Nyssa are exact doubles in every sense, what's the difference between them?

And does that also mean the Doctor got one of his "child" companions killed in the very next serial?
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby Cygnus Prime » Sat Apr 11, 2020 8:50 pm

That line always jarred, mainly because I have always (perhaps mistakenly) actually thought he included Tegan too when he said that, which I doubt would have gone down well with Janet during rehearsals, if so.

I will have to watch it again now too! :?
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Re: Rewatch Black Orchid

Postby ant-mac » Sat Apr 11, 2020 8:53 pm

Cygnus Prime wrote:That line always jarred, mainly because I have always (perhaps mistakenly) actually thought he included Tegan too when he said that, which I doubt would have gone down well with Janet during rehearsals, if so.

I will have to watch it again now too! :?

Cranleigh approves Tegan's choice, but condemns Nyssa's.
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