Black Orchid part 2
12 July 2014 at 10:08 #28901Craig @craigEmperor
The Doctor is accused of attacking Ann and murdering the servant. Lady Cranleigh refuses to help him with his alibi and the other body he found is missing. Can he prove his innocence and solve the mystery?12 July 2014 at 13:14 #28925PhaseShift @phaseshiftTime Lord
I’ll pick up and reference a couple of comments from last time in the mix. I was enormously indebted to @janetteb regarding Lady Cranleigh’s dress. I’ve always found it naggingly familiar and I never realised it was retooled for Sophia Myles in Girl in the Fireplace. Good spot.
The second episode needs to do its work in a limited time to resolve things, and I think it does is pretty well. The attackee was Ann, Nyssa is busy castigating Adric for his continued porking at the buffet table, while Tegan is having a laugh charming Sir Robert.
Adric offers absolutely nothing to these episodes, and I think it’s really obvious that this dynamic wasn’t working for the writers as well as the cast. This series had largely seen one of the companions in each story becoming just a body in the corner. Or not appearing at all. I think @jimthefish was right – the argumentative “experiment” was just tiring and I think was the wrong way to go, threating to de-rail Davison from the off. Of all the companions of this time, I think Janet Fielding deserves most credit because I think there was definite change and growth in her character over time. I still maintain though that, looking at this, it would have been rewarding to inject Tegan with a bit more of this fun in other stories. I think she would have been more popular and a more natural foil for this laid back Doctor.
In a story that screams the potential for mistaken identity from the start with Ann/Nyssa it kind of wrong-foots you with the big case of mistaken identity being the Doctor accused of attacking Ann. Lady Cranleighs reticence in supporting the Doctor pretty clearly indicates she has something to hide. I think these scenes are well played – especially by Davison as the Doctor starts to realise that he’s starting to sound like a real Mad Man in a box to the others.
Brazil. Where the nuts come from.
……And the national team gets a whuping occasionally.
@timemaestro (hello) on the last thread mentioned that it seemed strange to see the Doctor parade his TARDIS to Sir Robert and a couple of plods, and it does seem to be a feature of Davisons era. It’s odd though – you’re under suspicion of a crime and reveal you’re an alien from another world. I think under realistic circumstances this would only increase suspicion more. 😀
The big joke of the series is that the Doctor can’t get Tegan back to Heathrow. He hasn’t got a clue where he’s going. Except when he’s in a story, and can navigate with pin-point accuracy. Here he ferries Sir Robert and the Police to the house, and in Earthshock takes a bunch of soldiers across the solar system. I think the revelation that the TARDIS was sentient and was trying to keep him entertained in her meandering way may mean she took a bit of a shine to Tegan as a stray, and wanted to keep her around for a bit.
The Doctors excellent deductions reveal the “villain” to be George Cranleigh – tortured, mute and driven mad by his experiences in South America. It seems a sad story, and one that can only end in more sadness.
No – I genuinely rate Black Orchid pretty highly. I mentioned in the last thread that the cast were pretty dismissive of it on the DVD commentary, and the reason is largely they thought it lacked the sci-fi lean. In truth when you look at this, it’s a historical period piece with a touch of the macabre in George, with a dose of murder mystery thrown in. As @blenkinsopthebrave mentioned last ep, the BBC were really doing a lot of this period work at the time, and it really wasn’t difficult to mount this production. It was the show drawing on the strengths of other productions at the BBC and it comes off well. Personally, I think we could have the odd episode like this (without obvious alien manace) in the new series without any harm to the brand whatsoever.
In the middle of a mixed first season for Davison (the first two stories, and the last are a pretty rough bunch) Black Orchid is in the middle of Kinda, Visitation and Earthshock. I think it measures up to those stories very well. presenting Something different.12 July 2014 at 14:32 #28928blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave
Well, I really enjoyed that. In a way, of course, the cast were right. It wasn’t the type of sci-fi show they had signed up for. But the idea of taking the Doctor out of his comfort zone (if all of space and time can be described as a comfort zone) and placed in a very different genre-based setting was an intriguing one. And it really was well executed. If it wasn’t for the revelation of the inside of the Tardis at the end, it could stand it’s own against many TV adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, or a dozen other period murder mysteries. (For example, if anyone has ever seen a 1939 British murder mystery film, “The Case of the Frightened Lady” with Marius Goring, you will know what I mean.)
And I agree with @phaseshift that modern Who could (on occasion) take the Doctor out of his comfort zone of aliens and (to be honest) too many explosions, and put him in a very different setting, and, if done right, not only would it not harm the brand, but it might enhance and deepen the show. I think “Black Orchid” demonstrated that.12 July 2014 at 23:10 #28948Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip
I can understand why the cast was dismissive. From an acting point of view, the script offers very little to work with; it’s a nice pastiche, but everyone’s made of cardboard. There aren’t any decent red herring characters and it has that quality that actors dread – no subtext.
When Lady Cranleigh decides she needs to say nothing she … says nothing. When the sergeant is about to go into the TARDIS, Tegan says he’s in for a surprise. Meanwhile, the Doctor is announcing that he’s an alien (I agree with @phaseshift, how is that going to help?) and the writer doesn’t seem to have much of a clue what to do with Tegan and Adric (props to Janet Fielding for making us not notice that the writer has no idea what to do with her).
And the one good line is a quote from Charley’s Aunt. 🙁
The direction was also full of things actors hate. One thing I particularly noticed in Episode One was that poor Sarah Sutton was basically abandoned during George-strangling-servant, so she’s hanging around for what must have felt like hours watching someone get murdered – and doing nothing. No trying to escape and getting tripped up by a stray curtain, not even a decent scream. There was a similar scene in Episode Two, where all the actors got to charge on to the patio in a nice little crowd. And then stand around basically wondering what on earth they were supposed to be doing. I dunno whether Matthew Waterhouse missed his cue, or whether he really was supposed to convey a dramatic rush to rescue Nyssa while staying on the same mark…
In fairness to Ron Cook, this was his first ever show as a director – he’d just completed the Director’s Course. And the actors do manage to very largely overcome their character and direction problems – what you end up with is a very entertaining ‘Agatha Christie’ style drama.
But I can see why they wouldn’t have liked doing this story.13 July 2014 at 16:12 #28962ScaryB @scaryb
Phantom of the Opera in a country house 🙂
Poor George. (I liked how he was able to untie his ropes and sneak up on his gaoler (who was engrossed in reading – to the point where his presumably jungle-honed peripheral vision awareness has gone to zero. Beware of civilisation, folks 😉 ). The moral problem of what to do with George is neatly sidestepped by his death, ironically caused by his brother showing his (overdue?) affection.
It’s a lightweight story, but it’s nice to see Tegan getting a bit more to do. Nyssa/Anna double act promised a lot but didn’t really give Sarah Sutton much variety. I really liked Nyssa when she first turned up in the Keeper of Traken, but as others have pointed out, by this time the companions were mostly reduced to background bickering, which is a shame. At the end the girls are most excited about being able to keep their costumes! (The whole of time and space to travel in, but at least they’ll be able to relieve the boredom by dressing up!) (Great spot by @janetteb on the history of Lady C’s dress).
I agree with @bluesqueakpip that the direction is a bit by the numbers – makes sense that this was a 1st outing for the director.
Verdict: mostly harmless
😉13 July 2014 at 20:47 #28971wolfweed @wolfweed
This story turns out to be the first pure historical since ‘The Highlanders’. It also turns out to be the last ever pure historical (so far).
There are no aliens. There’s not even a villain as such. It was quite a curve-ball at the time – it would be now.
But it all goes pear-shaped with the Dr’s ‘get out of jail card’. ‘I’m a Time Lord.’ It’s a big storytelling no-no.
Why did it take another 4 regenerations to think up the psychic paper?
The Doctor & his accomplices are ruled out from the murder investigation once the contents of his snog box are revealed.
‘Strike me pink!’ Immediately after this shocked exclamation, Cummings takes the TARDIS’ secret pretty well. Is it due to the perception filter kicking in?
Lady Cranleigh: ‘Thanks for coming to the funeral.’
The Doctor: ‘Not at all. No hard feelings about you trying to let us be sent down for murder. ‘
I actually love the downbeat nature of the ending. As @scaryb says, Poor George.13 July 2014 at 21:39 #28979Anonymous @
As noted above, the whole let’s show a load of people inside the TARDIS is rather bizarre. I remember thinking so at the time. And, yeah, the direction might be a bit pedestrian too but I have to say I think this is a great little story. No major peril, really rather downbeat but I think is the best story for illustrating the character of the Fifth. (like @phaseshift, I love that ‘where the nuts come from’ line.) I think what with an overabundance of companions and the tendency towards bombast in the JNT/Saward years, his Doc tends to get drowned out somewhat in the more conventional stories.
Would any other Doctor stick around for a funeral after generally causing mayhem. Unlikely I think.18 July 2014 at 17:20 #29102Arbutus @arbutus
This wasn’t as strong for me as the first episode, although it did zip along. And events did seem to epitomize the era of the Fifth Doctor. As things spiral downward for him, he moves from bewildered to disbelieving to resigned.
I was also surprised when he came out with the bald statement “I’m a Time Lord.” But on reflection, it seems to me that the Doctor revealed his identity in the same way that he questioned Ann with his, “You’ve done me no harm, so why would I hurt you?” as thought this logic would actually have any bearing on the situation. “I’m an alien, what reason would I have to harm someone here?” In his essential naivety he misses the fact that they don’t expect the culprit to necessarily have a reason!
These two episodes really demonstrate the qualities of the Fifth Doctor: sobriety punctuated by youthful energy and enthusiasm, and his essential charm.20 July 2014 at 08:08 #29189The Krynoid Man @thekrynoidman
Sorry it’s taken so long for me to comment, I’ve only just got around to watching it. It wasn’t as enjoyable or well paced as the first episode, but it was far from bad. Love the bit where he shows them the TARDIS to prove he’s a time lord.
Realistically this is how the conversation should have gone:
The Doctor: This proves that I am who I say I am so you can let me go now, even though it doesn’t prove I didn’t kill anyone and I’m technically still a suspect.
Sir Robert: Oh Jesus! Oh God! Oh Jesus! Mary mother of Jesus! Jesus of Nazareth!
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