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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who – Black Orchid (BBC DVD)

Doctor Who – Black Orchid (BBC DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: A+     Episodes: A+



Story No. 121 in the illustrious run of the BBC’s Doctor Who series features the talents of Peter Davison as the 5th Doctor.  Set in the England of 1925, Black Orchid is a story that features a cricket match, a case of mistaken identity, and a mystery tied to an exotic flower from the Amazon.  Author Terence Dudley weaves these elements and others to create one of the series most elegant tales, at once fun and frightening.  Sarah Sutton shines in her dual role as the Doctor’s companion, Nyssa, and a young socialite tied to the terrible mystery long concealed by the Cranleigh Family.


A departure from some of the more involved plots of the series, Black Orchid is compact, told in only two episodes and brought to a satisfying, but also saddening, conclusion.  Like all of the other discs in the series, this one is packed with extras, including commentaries, deleted scenes, and mini-documentaries.  Most notable among the extras is a wonderful sixteen minute piece on the Doctor Who comic strip during the era of the fifth Doctor.  Interviews with super-artist Dave Gibbons (Watchmen, 2000 AD) illuminate the challenges of transitioning from one Doctor (Tom Baker) to a new one (Davison).  The piece provides wonderful insight into the creative process and relationship between the live action show and the comic strip it inspired.


As the show matured into the 1980’s, the production quality improved to a degree, and the picture and sound are somewhat better than some of the older episodes we have covered.  Fans interested in checking out our reviews of other classic and newer episodes of the show should check this link.  Because of its simple plot and short length, Black Orchid is a great episode to use when introducing the classic episodes to fans of the new version that have never seen them.



-   Scott Pyle


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