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The Friday Docback Dislikes The Fragrance Of 'Black Orchid'!! DOCTOR WHO Story #120, A New Promo For 2012's Christmas Special, S7 Teases, And More!!





Merrick here...


...with a look at Black Orchid, a Davison-era DOCTOR WHO originally transmitted March 1982.  


After having a singularly unfun time with The King’s Demons (Davison, Story #128)  last week, I became curious about this title given that it’s another historical piece, also written by Demons author Terrence Dudley.  Unfortunately, I can’t say Black Orchid fares much better.  More on this shortly, but first... 







BBC has issued a new trailer for The Snowmen - this year's DOCTOR WHO Christmas Special transmitting December 25.  A Docback for this episode will be online the morning of December 24.  

The Snowmen will formally integrate new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman into the series which we recently learned will return for a second batch of Season/Series 7 episodes in April 2013.  







THIS article at MTV hints at the villain in the forthcoming Christmas Special.  I have it on good authority that the number of asterisks in this sentence...


I can’t tell you anything about the villain, *** ***** ************


...are correct for the character the article’s author is attempting to conceal.  So...let the speculation begin!   







In THIS piece over at SFX, The Steven Moffat hints at what’s in store for us in DOCTOR WHO’s immediate future (we recently learned Season/Series 7 would resume in April).  

  "We have Doctor Who taking on the modern urban thriller, which is not very much like anyone else's modern urban thriller! 

"We’ve  gone all-out to give you a fantastic alien planet, which is looking absolutely amazing.

"We’ve got a cracking ghost story, a really cracking ghost story."

...says Moff in a brief piece whose entirety can be found HERE. Check it out...there's more!   

"And then there’s the finale, which has got some serious fanboy-pleasing going on in it..."

Hmmmmm.  Thoughts?  Thanks to Robogeek for the heads up about this!  





Black Orchid 


“In my meanderings, I’ve come across something rather unpleasant...There’s a body through there...a dead man in a cupboard...I’m afraid it’s true...May I show you?”  - the Doctor, Black Orchid Episode Two 




The Doctor (Peter Davison) and companions Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), and Tegan (Janet Fielding) arrive in June 1925, to find they’re expected by an awaiting chauffeur.  They're carried to a manor house where much dullness does occurr, including something about a murder, and a great deal of Cricket.  


Black Orchid is directed by Ron Jones, who brought us the infinitely more compelling Frontios (Davison, Stroy #132) (and Vengeance on Varos (C. Baker, Story #138) - both both advanced efficiently mounted narratives.  In the case of Vengeance in particular, Jones showed a deft hand in folding in germane (and even poignant) subtext - as imperfect as that episode may be, it’s also not an easy one to forget.  Alas, in Black Orchid, no such layering is evident...if for no other reason than it simply does not exist in Dudley’s often plodding script.  Resulting in a dry affair which is as painfully uninvolving, geriatrically paced, and altogether stuffy as the stilted aristocracy it portrays. 




While Black Orchid never really finds its full heartbeat, the bludgeoning we endure in the first episode is at least partially dissipated in its second part, when the full extent of its manor house mystery homage/parody Jones and Dudley are going for becomes apparent.  When this does happen, Black Orchid is at last imbued with some sense of purpose and destination, although the relatively limp mystery it puts to us befits neither a solid ‘Whodunit?’ nor even an average DOCTOR WHO.  



Character development almost no-existent.  Which, given the large number of players involved in this tale, is a tad surprising.  One of the strongest qualities of DOCTOR WHO in general is the shows’ frequent penchant introducing well-drawn and impeccably performed supporting characters, who are effectively developed with astonishing (even unprecedented) speed.  No such joy here.  As characters, the lot of them here feel flat and disengaged.  And perhaps this is the point of the whole tale - a murder mystery set amongst uninteresting people doing uninteresting things...i.e. death comes to the already dead?  If this was the intent of Black Orchid, Dudley’s script is a few revisions off from fully landing such undercurrents.  


Despite the relatively dire nature of this story, it does bring about one gleefully fetishistic upshot worthy of mention herein.  Tegan  and Nyssa duo is already a whole lotta hot for one TARDIS...



...and for one Doctor as well,I should think.  And when a Nyssa lookalike added into that equation?  The imagination goes wild...and such conjurings are infinitely more provocative than anything you'll find in Black Orchid.  



Black Orchid is available on DVD HERE in the US and HERE in the UK.  






Glen Oliver




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[Season / Series Seven Docbacks - MOST RECENT DOCBACK IS HIGHLIGHTED]


The Coming of Season/Series 7

Asylum of the Daleks 

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

A Town Called Mercy 

The Power of Three 

The Angels Take Manhattan 

Series 7, Part One on Blu!! 









"The Impossible Astronaut"

"Day of the Moon"

"The Curse of the Black Spot"

"The Doctor's Wife"

"The Rebel Flesh"

"The Almost People"

"A Good Man Goes To War"

"Let's Kill Hitler"

"Night Terrors"


"The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe" (2011 Christmas Special)  






"An Unearthly Child" (Story #1)

"The Daleks" (Story #2)

"The Edge of Destruction" (Story #3)

"Marco Polo" (Story #4)

"The Keys of Marinus(Story #5)

"The Aztecs" (Story #6)

"The Sensorites" (Story #7)

"The Sensorites" (Story #7 - full DVD release) 

"The Reign of Terror" (Story #8)

"Planet of Giants" (Story #9) 

"Planet of Giants" (Story #9, full DVD release) 

"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (Story #10)

"The Rescue" (Story #11) 

"The Romans"  (Story #12) 

"The Web Planet" (Story #13) / SHERLOCK - "A Scandal in Belgravia" (Story #4)

"The Crusade" (Story #14) 

"The Space Museum" (Story #15) 

"The Chase" (Story #16) 

"The Time Meddler" (Story #17) 

"Galaxy 4" (Story #18) 

"Mission to the Unkonwn" (Story #19) 

"The Myth Makers" (Story #20) 

"The Gunfighters" (Story #25)

"The Tomb of the Cybermen" (Story #37)

"The Mind Robber" (Story #45)

"The Krotons" (Story #47)

"The Seeds of Death" (Story #48) 

"Spearhead from Space" (Story #51) 

"The Abassadors of Death" (Story #53)

"The Claws of Axos" (Story #57) 

"The Colony in Space" (Story #58) 

"The Daemons" (Story #59) 

"Day of the Daleks" (Story #60) + Preview of the DotD Special Edition

"The Three Doctors" (Story #65) 

"Carnival of Monsters" (Story #66) 

"Death to the Daleks" (Story #72) 

"Invasion of the Dinosaurs" (Story #71) and SHERLOCK: "The Reichenbach Fall" (Story #6) 

"The Claws of Axos" (Story #77) 

"The Android Invasion" (Story #83) and SHERLOCK: "The Hounds of Baskerville" (Story #5) 

"The Face of Evil" (Story #89) 

"The Robots of Death" (Story #90) 

"The Talons of Weng-Chiang" (Story #91)

"The Sun Makers(Story #95)

"The City of Death" (Story #105)

"Nightmare of Eden" (Story #107) 

"Kinda" (Story #118)

"Snakedance" (Story #125) 

"The King's Demons" (Story #128) 

"The Five Doctors" (Story #129) 

"The Awakening" (Story #131)

"Frontios" (Story #132)

"Resurrection of the Daleks" (Story #134) 

"The Caves of Androzani" (Story #136) 

"Vengeance on Varos" (Story #138) 

"Time and the Rani" (Story #144)

"Paradise Towers" (Story #145) + New WHOvian Documentary / Newsbits

"Dragonfire" (Story #147) 

"The Happiness Patrol" (Story #149) 

"The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" (Story #151) 

"Doctor Who: The Movie" (aka TVM) - McGann) 


Merrick's Personal Journey With The Doctor (How Merrick Got Hooked On DOCTOR WHO)

DOCTOR WHO Title Sequences & DW At Comic-Con 2011

"The Crash of the Elysium" (Manchester version - interactive DOCTOR WHO adventure)

Why Eccleston Left, Here Comes Caroline Skinner, And Season/Series Six Part 1 on Blu-Ray And DVD

New Trailer For Season/Series Six Part 2

The Companions of DOCTOR WHO + New Trailer & Artwork For Season/Series 7  

Impromptu Docback!! + Galaxy 4 'Airlock' Coming to DVD, Christmas Special 2012, And More!!

The Friday Docback Mulls The 50th...

Newslet Roundup: Children in Need 2012, Christmas Special 2012, The Angel's Kiss Auido Book, And More!! 





1) a Docback should be about completely open and free discourse regarding all things WHO with, obviously, some variation on subject matter from time to time - the real world intervenes, discussions of other shows are inevitable, etc.)... 

2) matters of SPOILAGE should be handled with thoughtful consideration and sensitivity.  Posts containing SPOILERS should clearly state that a SPOILER exists in its topic/headline and should never state the spoiler itself . "** SPOILER ** Regarding Rory" is OK, for example.  "** SPOILER ** Battle of Zarathustra" is fine as well.  " **SPOILER** Why did everyone die?"  Is NOT good.  
And, above all... 

3) converse, agree, disagree, and question as much as you want - but the freedom to do so is NOT a license to be rude, crass, disrespectful, or uncivilized in any way.  Not remaining courteous and civil, as well as TROLLING or undertaking sensational efforts to ignite controversy, will result in banning.  Lack of courtesy may receive one (1) warning before a ban is instigated.  Obvious Trolling or Spamming will result in summary banning with no warning.  One word posts intended to bump-up any Docback's figures on AICN's "Top Talkbacks" sidebar will be considered actionable Spam - they not only complicate efforts to access Docback from mobile devices, but impede readers' abilities to follow or engage in flowing conversation. 
In short, it's easy.  Be excellent to each other.  Now party on... 
Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 14, 2012, 5:56 a.m. CST

    *** ***** ************

    by monacomatt

    The great Intelligence. Maybe. but not without Yeti

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 6:27 a.m. CST

    *** ***** ***********

    by mexter

    The ***** Cyber-Leader?

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 6:43 a.m. CST

    I love Black Orchid

    by HornOrSilk

    So, this is one time I disagree strongly with Merrick. It's a short story, but it does what it needs to do. It really helps give the Doctor and his companions more "off time", to develop on their own. We see the Doctor's enjoyment of cricket here (soccer later), showing his "uniform" connects to his personality. I love the double-play of "Doctor" and "Master" in this one. I like how the story fits the era it comes from, for theme and all. Just I enjoy it.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 6:53 a.m. CST

    I actually thought Black Orchid wasn't bad...

    by Mark Williams

    ...considering the fact that we get to see, at least in the first half of the story, the Doctor and supporting characters having fun for a change, rather than suddenly facing an alien threat or running for their lives.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 6:58 a.m. CST

    The Black Orchid

    by Dreamfasting

    I have a lot of warm and fuzzy memories of this episode because it was such a huge change of pace from the surrounding stories. It was like a shore leave episode, something relaxed where you get to see the Doctor do mundane things like play cricket (The Lodger gave me a few flashbacks to this episode). The fact that it turns out to be a super-rare alien-free story (crew of the Tardis politely excluded) also gave it an aura of uniqueness beyond the qualities of the story in isolation. That said, it was ~20 years ago that I last watched it and I'm sad to hear that it doesn't stand up well to a modern, mature eye.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 7:02 a.m. CST

    *** ***** ***********

    by Dreamfasting

    Interesting tidbit from the DW wiki: "Writer Neil Gaiman disclosed in Doctor Who Magazine that earlier drafts of his script for The Doctor's Wife implied that House, the villain of that story, was actually the Great Intelligence. These hints did not make it into the episode as aired."

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 7:12 a.m. CST

    The Black Orchid

    by Pandas

    I rather like this one too. The setting and production puts me in mind of other 80s BBC period gems like the Box of Delights for some reason, even though they have little in common.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 7:19 a.m. CST

    Dream fasting

    by Murphy7

    I think you hit the nail on the head, re: Black Orchid. It works better in the context of the stories told before and after.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 7:52 a.m. CST

    A true historical adventure

    by RenoNevada2000

    For this old-timer, "Black Orchid" marks the last time that the show had a true historical adventure - a story set in a time period with no science-fiction elements whatsoever. These were a staple of the series through the first and second Doctors. And I have to say that I am disappointed that we haven't seen this type of story at all in the new series. As for "Black Orchid" itself, I think the last time I watched it was somewhere in the mid-90s and my memory of it is somewhat ambivalent.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 7:55 a.m. CST

    No likey Black Orchid?

    by buggerbugger

    Not enough overbearing Wallace & Gromit-like Murray Gold "adventure" music in the story or something? It's a fine story. Puts a lot of the recent run to shame in the let's-actually-try-to-take-this-stuff-seriously department.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 8:25 a.m. CST

    The Indian! With the Lip!!!

    by Disgruntled_Chinaman

    Only stretching it out for 2 episodes, not enough cricket for my liking!

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 8:48 a.m. CST

    don't loose faith merrick

    by mr. smith

    both of Davison's 45 minute eps are mere piffles, placeholders really until the real episodes come along...if i may recommend, check out some of DW's longer story arcs, like the Key to Time season, or better yet, check out Bidmead's Master trilogy of Keeper of Traken, Logopolis, and Castrovalva. there is tons of great stuff yet to discover....

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 8:55 a.m. CST

    Gotta disagree with Merrick in this case

    by Matt Gertz

    Black Orchid has always been a favorite of mine -- it's always seemed like a much better passed "Who," instead of being inflated needlessly to four episodes, and it's sufficiently different from the normal monsterfest to keep my attention. (And, of course, there are all the lighter moments with the Doctor bowling cricket, Tegan doing the Charleston, and Sarah Sutton in duplicate...)

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 9 a.m. CST

    Black Orchid

    by Michael Fuller

    My first post on AIC. The rules are good. The story isn't a classic. I agree it is a stop-gap between good stories. A double and the relative in the attic really seems silly, but it wasn't bad. Totally agree ... not enough cricket. Peter Davison has always been a strong Doctor for me, probably because it was my first regeneration and he had a big test to pass. To be the Doctor after the greatest Doctor ever is a tough chore. However, I got his understated vibe fairly quickly. His body language is so eccentric and he does have a dark side underneath (the very last seconds of "Arc of Infinity".

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 9:13 a.m. CST

    I've always liked Black Orchid

    by photoboy

    I think it works as a nice almost peaceful interlude before Earthshock detonates Adric. It's also nice to have an adventure where the 5th Doctor's outfit is actually part of the story. I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to the Christmas special or not. Pretty much all of them have been disappointments aside from Tenant's debut. I think maybe it's time to stop trying to shoe-horn in a Christmas themed story and just concentrate on using the larger timeslot to tell a better story.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 9:27 a.m. CST

    Think Davidson dabbled in Cricket

    by blueant

    that's what I read awhile ago...

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 9:31 a.m. CST

    definitely like they all stopped to read an old cozy mystery paperback

    by Kathryn Gail

    I agree with. . . almost everyone, so far: I enjoyed the episode in the context of the season because you just get to hang out with the characters doing stuff they like while being in a pleasantly formulaic country house murder mystery with a little jungle explorer nonsense tacked on. It's not really beautifully done, though, and The Unicorn and the Wasp did a much much better job by being self-aware enough to send up the genre (and, you know, actually actually trying a little harder). If you haven't seen Black Orchid since back in the day when you thought the cricket and the fancy-dress costumes were brilliant, better have a few beers on hand. To be fair, characters in classic country-house murder mysteries often ARE pretty wooden, so THAT's not such a slip-up. . . Following on from last week's desktop thread (on which I added some YAY FOR HARTNELL DESKTOP comments way too late Thursday night because apparently I am 6 and don't understand about waiting), one thing I've been surprised not to see in the TARDIS is some idyllic vista like the Black Orchid setting that characters could use for Explaining Stuff scenes, much like the field of apple-grass in New Earth (only INSIDE the TARDIS). I've sort of explained this to myself as the Doctor wanting to BE SOMEWHERE because he has traveled in the TARDIS a long time and likes to know that he really is where he is, and experiencing something not made up. One the other hand, he's old old old regardless of his physical appearance, so you'd think the start of a story might now and again find him snoozing in a hammock on a sunny seaside porch, or fly fishing, or some sunny meditative thing like that. Followed by mayhem in the rest of the episode, of course. Seriously, a seaside porch with a hammock for reading novels in is like the first thing I'd program in.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 9:38 a.m. CST

    Davison = weakest of doctors

    by chiwrtr72

    Not much of Davison's run holds up over the passage of time. I blame much of it on the writing and production, but I've stopped rewatching any of his episodes because they just crumble any nostalgia I had for him.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 9:57 a.m. CST

    Mr. Smith - there were 3 45 minute stories, not 2

    by DoctorTom

    Black Orchid, The King's Demons, and The Awakening. The last one was the best of the two parters. I liked Black Orchid though for the reasons dreamfasting did. It really works better in context of the stories around it, giving a little breather.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 10:02 a.m. CST

    the vhs release actually handled it right

    by DoctorTom

    bundling Black Orchid with The Visitation. Sticking the 2 part stories with a longer story just before keeps you from having the greater expectations for the 2 parter that you might have if you shelled out money for the 2 parter by itself. On DVD they realized this with keeping The Rescue bundled with The Romans, but have let other things go out as their own two parters.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 11:53 a.m. CST

    indeed you are right

    by mr. smith

    i haven't seen the awakening in 20 years. jeez. that was the last time i watched the PD run from start to finish. i should like to do that again one day.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 12:03 p.m. CST

    Another vote for Black Orchid

    by ByTor

    Not the greatest episode, but it's a fun breather. I loved the cricket stuff, and the story never really feels padded. There are some great character moments between the TARDIS crew as well. It's not a deep story by any means, but I find it holds up well.

  • Right about the 2m mark...

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 12:45 p.m. CST

    obijuanmartinez, but *** ***** ************

    by DoctorTom

    probably doesn't stand for The Dalek Interrogator, even if it is the right number of letters. I'm sure we'll have Daleks, but they're not behind the snowmen. I'll go with monacomatt's answer. And it does raise the question of whether we might actually see the Yeti again but they're holding back on showing them so that everyone will be surprised to see them.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 2:52 p.m. CST

    *** ***** ************

    by monacomatt

    Problem i see is the snowmen in the promo seem... well crap looking.. The yeti were big and menacing(and cute in the 1st story) The Intelligence was a great monster/threat i hope that they dont bugger it up and there better be silver balls and pyramids too

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 3:22 p.m. CST


    by DrMorbius

    Welcome to aicn ... and the Docback.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 3:47 p.m. CST

    *** Spoilers

    by Andy Piper

    A website did reveal its The Great Intelligence and that Ian McKellern is voicing with a return in the next batch of episodes. No mention of any yeti but you never know.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 4:35 p.m. CST

    re: Secret Villain Identity

    by The Angriest Planet

    I'm inclined to go along with the Great Intelligence theory...given that the story deals with Snowmen...albeit not Abominable. We'll see.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 4:41 p.m. CST

    also on the villain ID

    by DoctorTom

    remember they had those design plans for the Yeti a year or two back that leaked out - maybe those plans finally got some use.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 5:01 p.m. CST

    I love cricket...

    by mark howard

    ...but even though they shoe-horned one of the greatest, more civilised sports into the show we love, I still hated this story. And he's shit at cricket.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 5:07 p.m. CST


    by mark howard

    I'm sure the technicians behind the camera are feeding him balls 'underarm' because they seem to be moving too slowly. Ripping performance, old boy. He might be a top notch Timelord, but I still maintain he's rubbish at cricket.

  • Dec. 14, 2012, 9:33 p.m. CST

    I'm more interested in ***** ***** ******

    by mrgrue

    which conveniently fits 'Clara Oswin Oswald' exactly (Or, possibly, 'Oswin Clara Oswald' if you're so inclined). Not that it's particularly surprising on its own. I'm just really looking forward to finding out about the "mystery surrounding" this.

  • Meanwhile, yes, in context, Black Orchid was a very pleasant interlude. We had Brideshead Revisited on the tube and this clearly echoed that. Plus Sarah Sutton began showing a little flesh - a trend that continued to the delight of millions of teenage boys who followed the series through to the inevitable Terminus. Merrick, watching these things out of context seems a bit addled. I mean ... are you going to watch the whole Key To Time arc out of order too? How on Earth will you make sense of it?

  • Dec. 15, 2012, 5:38 p.m. CST

    Fond memories of Black Orchid too..

    by dj_bollocks

    Was this the season where they started broadcasting twice a week ? I think it might have been and as has been mentioned it was a nice breather for what had been... Admittedly I haven't watched it in years... I wouldn't get overly excited about any big reveals in the Christmas episode... but you will no doubt get a "Coming Soon..." at the end of the episode that might leave you a little moist...

  • Dec. 17, 2012, 1:45 a.m. CST

    Can't resist asking ...

    by veteran_of_mu

    Looking at the above, they're similar types, similar ages, similar dimples. You've got a time machine so you can catch either one in her prime. So ... Nyssa or Oswin?

  • Dec. 17, 2012, 11:09 a.m. CST

    Black Orchid commentary track is awesome

    by Jinxo

    Black Orchid sucks. But the DVD commentary is awesome. The original cast sitting around having fun seeing each other again while just ripping the episode to shreds, saying how bad it is, pointing out the flaws. I've never heard a commentary before where people weren't praising the thing they were commenting on. With even the shittiest horror film they'll go on about how brilliant it is. Fun to actually hear people honestly saying, "We'll this was a mistake!"

  • Dec. 18, 2012, 1 p.m. CST

    Black Orchid commentary

    by Michael Fuller

    I have to admit, all the Davison commentaries are pretty funny from the Five Doctors on. Its what we did in the 80s while watching some of these. I think people forget that. Or, maybe they're just too serious.