Friday, May 25, 2012

Doctor Who-Black Orchid
                 Since the earliest stories on this program featuring William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton the producers of had generally avoided any overtly historical serials.  While a good deal of Tom Baker's stories featured historical settings,the stories were usually very fictionalized and purely fantasy based.This  avoidance could  have something to do with a belief that somehow those type of shows were linked to Doctor Who's perception as a disposable children's program and to why so many master tapes for the episodes were erased in the 70's. The Peter Davison era of the show actually revived that concept to a degree. Especially when it came to the additional face that each season of the fifth doctor era had one two episode serial in it. This is the first of them,from Davison's first year. It's also the first terrestrially based historical episodes of the show made in a very long time.

                  The TARDIS starts by arriving in a London train station in the summer of 1925,only to be picked up the chauffeur of Lord Cranleigh,who is said to be expecting the doctor for a cricket match. Dressed for the part,the doctor does well and he,Tegan,Adric and Nyssa are invited to a fancy dress ball. Especially when Nyssa is found to be the spitting image of the Lord's fiancee. During dinner and dancing in which the two physically identical ladies pull a switch the doctors curiosity peaks him to go scouting where he encounters a dead body. Seems some in the family are trying to hide that the servants at Cranleigh manner are being murdered. As the fiancee is injured by an unknown assailant dressed in the doctors harlequin costume for the ball and as the befuddled authorities struggle for proof of doctors identity to solve the murders,this makes the doctor and his companions suspects in the murder and motivates him to solve the mystery.

                 This compact serial is an excellent whodunit  type episode with a good deal of comedy involved too. It's a fun episode to watch too. In particular with it's vivid and colorful location shoots for Cranleigh Manor in the Edwardian era and the cricket field Typically Adric's main interest in the serial is filling his face with food,much to the amusement of the other companions. For her part Janet Fielding gets to have a lot of fun as Tegan,dressing up in 1920's garb and dancing the Charleston. Sarah Sutton does wonderfully in the duel role of Nyssa and Ann Talbot,who both become pawns in a mystery involving a black orchid from which the episodes name is obviously taken and a missing brother betrothed to Talbot. It's a fun,interesting,colorful and extremely well paced mystery type Doctor Who serial that the viewer will likely keep their eye on to the very end.
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