‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

A Murder Mystery with Agatha Christie

For ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’, I’ve had the original DVD cover of ‘Doctor Who – Series 4 – Volume 2’ signed by director Graeme Harper. It was at the ‘Folkestone Film, TV and Comic Con’, May 2018.

If I was to title one of the daftest ‘Doctor Who’ episodes ever, then it’s got to be this one. It’s a story set in the 1920s where the Doctor and Donna meet Agatha Christie and they fight this gigantic wasp.

Come on! Get real! Before watching this, I’d seen my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘Black Orchid’ with Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding and Matthew Waterhouse. I love that story so much. 😀

It was around the same time I watched ‘Black Orchid’ that this story, ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’, was shown on TV. Obviously the production term thought why not make another like ‘Black Orchid’.

Have it set in the 1920s English countryside at a country house and have it as another murder mystery featuring Agatha Christie. The only difference with this tale is that they made it rather bad.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are things I like about this episode. I love Fennella Woolgar as Agatha Christie. It’s a great casting suggestion from David Tennant who is also friends with Fennella.

I think Fennella as Agatha Christie is the saving grace of this episode. She balances the charm and firmness of the literary author, especially when she assists Donna and the Doctor solve the mystery.

I also love the rest of the cast including the absolutely lovely Felicity Kendal as Lady Clemency Edison. Felicity Kendal is well-known for playing Barbara Good in ‘The Good Life’ with Richard Briers.

There’s also Felicity Jones as Robina Redmond. I’ve seen Felicity Jones in the TV movie adaptation of ‘Northanger Abbey’. She’s known to ‘Star Wars’ fans for appearing in ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’.

There’s also Christopher Benjamin as Colonel Hugh Curbishley in this episode. For ‘Doctor Who’ fans, Christopher Benjamin is well-known for playing Henry Gordon Jago in ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’.

And there’s also Tom Goodman-Hill as the vicar Reverend Arnold Golightly. Really, that’s his surname? Well anyway, a top notch cast in a daft story as this. Who is the murderer in this tale?! 😀

To be fair, the writer Gareth Roberts comes with a plot that does make sense. Like with ‘The Shakespeare Code’, Gareth focuses the episode on a particular incident during Agatha Christie’s life.

It’s on the day Agatha Christie disappeared. I’d seen a film about Agatha Christie’s disappearance on the day she discovered her husband was having an affair. That didn’t feature a giant wasp though. 😀

I think the story would have worked better if they had a proper murder mystery without a ‘giant wasp’. The ideas are sound with a reference to a book called ‘Death in the Clouds’ with a wasp on it.

There are also a lot of references to Agatha Christie’s works as well including titles of books and various phrases used by Hercule Poriot. But on the surface, it does seem daft to have a ‘giant wasp’.

The story also seems too comedic in places for my liking. Director Graeme Harper does deliver something that’s lush, beautiful and as sunny as the 1920s itself, which is something I really enjoyed.

I love the country house settings, the vintage cars and the greens used in the story. It does make you feel you’d want to take a sip of champagne or lemonade during a hot day if you lived in high society.

David Tennant and Catherine Tate certainly seem to enjoy this story. I’m sure it was refreshing doing a story that was set in the 1920s with Agatha Christie, an historical and also had a bit more humour.

Catherine certainly relishes playing Donna in this, as she goes “Top-ho!” and tells the butler to ‘buttle off’. The Doctor even comments on the wasp having ‘buzzed off’ which made me roll my eyes.

I thought it was funny when the Doctor’s being poisoned and tries to tell Donna through a mouthful of nuts and ginger beer what he wants. The ‘salt’ being ‘too salty’ for him was very laugh-out-loud. 😀

‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’ isn’t as great as ‘Black Orchid’. But it’s not all that bad. I’ve made more criticisms of this story compared to how Peter Davision makes criticisms of ‘Black Orchid’ these days.

If you’re in the mood for some comedy drama like ‘Fawlty Towers’ or something Douglas Adamsy and if you want an Agatha Christie murder mystery to unravel in, you can’t go wrong with this story.

The DVD special features on this episode are as follows. On Disc 3 of ‘The Complete Series 4’, there’s a commentary with Fenella Woolgar and Felicity Kendal. There are also deleted scenes for ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’. There are also BBC trailers for ‘The Sontaran Stratagem’/’The Poison Sky’, ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’ and ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’.

On Disc 6, there’s the ‘Doctor Who Confidental’ episode ‘Nemesis’.

The second phase of ‘Doctor Who’ episodes from Series 4 is a good collection. It has brilliant performances from David Tennant and Catherine Tate who seem to be hitting it off well as the Doctor and Donna. I was so looking forward to finding out what happens next with this TARDIS duo.

As the Doctor and Donna say…“Onwards!”

‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’ rating – 6/10

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For the Tenth Doctor was

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  • ‘Pest Control’ (Audio)

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  • ‘Pest Control’ (Audio)
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