14 March 2008

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Terence Dudley

RRP: £12.99

Release Date: 14th April 2008

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 14th March 2008

With the 2008 arrival of a brand new episode of Doctor Who set in the 1930's, what better than to see how they tackled the slightly earlier date of 1925 during Davison's time on the show.

Black Orchid as a story, presents itself extremely well, with the period captured authentically and with great success. At just 50 minutes in length it is a relatively short story, that lends itself well in comparison to the new series. The structure of the adventure is incredibly well thought-out, thanks to strong characters, great settings and a tight script, as well as some shocks and surprises along the way.

It does of course have its downsides, namely the character of Latoni. If a character has to talk, don't give them a distracting tribal Indian mouthpiece! There is added distraction in the form of the excessive heavy breathing effects attributed to George Cranleigh.

Niggles aside though, Black Orchid definitely stands the test of time, and typifies how well a period story can be produced in Doctor Who.

The 'Commentary' with Peter Davison & Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding is extremely entertaining. It's great to hear all four actors reminiscing about their time recording the story, and as always with Davison and Fielding, you're guaranteed a light-hearted deconstruction of moments from the story.

The first special feature on the disc; 'Now & Then', is by far the best of the series produced to date. With tremendous detail in the shooting locations, information on alternative choices for the Cranleigh residence, as well as modern-day shots of the locations used.

The 'Deleted Scenes' feature would have fared better if it wasn't for the sepia overlay that randomly appears and disappears throughout the scenes.

'Film Restoration', offers another rare insight into the hard work the Restoration Team put into all the Doctor Who DVD releases. This time we are educated about A-rolls, B-rolls and the differences between graded and ungraded scenes.

The 'Blue Peter' feature looks at Berman's and Nathan's, who provided the costumes for Black Orchid. Although the Doctor Who related portion of the feature is a small one, it proves to be an informative and entertaining piece, especially the line about one of the presenters nick nacks!

With the success of 'Stripped for Action: The 1st Doctor' on The Time Meddler DVD, comes the equally successful 'Stripped for Action: The 5th Doctor'. The feature includes interviews with former DWM Editors; Gary Russell & Alan Barnes, Comic Artist; Dave Gibbons & Comic Editor; Alan McKenzie. The fantastic computer generated comic strip sequences help round-off an already great feature.

'Points of View' looks at some viewer complaints sparked from switching the airdate / time for Doctor Who.

The 'Photo Gallery' provides some great publicity shots of The Doctor in and around the cricket pitch featured in Black Orchid. Amongst other location / set pictures, there are also some amusing images of the The Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric in fancy dress.

The 'Coming Soon' trailer features The Trial of a Time Lord and as always, shows off the tremendous editing skills of the team who put it together.

There is also an 'Easter Egg' on the disc featuring continuity announcements for the original airing of the story.

There really isn't much more that could be added to this release that isn't already on the DVD. With the RRP at just £12.99, and with special features lasting just as long as the main feature, this little package is Top Ho!

 

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