The Doctor and Donna arrive at an English country estate in the 1920s and meet none other than the renowned murder mystery writer Agatha Christie. The Doctor also realizes the importance of the date - it's the day when Christie famously disappeared for 10 days creating headlines across the country and around the world. History records that she reappeared 10 days later claiming to have no memory of where she has been or what she has done. They no sooner arrive than there is a murder, which Donna can't help but find it amusing since the victim is Professor Peach who was killed in the library with a lead pipe. In true Agatha Christie's fashion, the solution to the murder and Agatha's disappearance is found in a false identity and events that occurred long ago. Written by
This is said to be set the day Agatha Christie disappeared (December 3, 1926) but characters are shown outside in summer weather clothes with no coats. See more »
[the Doctor grabs the ginger beer from the shelf, drinks some of it, and pours the rest over his head]
I'm an expert in poisons! Doctor! There's no cure! It's fatal!
[the Doctor spits out the ginger beer]
Not for me! I can stimulate the inhibited enzymes into reversal! Protein! I need protein!
[the Doctor breathes heavily while Donna runs to the counter]
[the Doctor upends the walnut jar and chews furiously]
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I remember a time when Gareth Roberts was well-regarded by Who fandom. His New Adventures novels were well-liked and his Missing Adventures efforts were seen by many as some of the best of the 90's Who novels (including myself). Granted Roberts didn't help his dwindling reputation (a result of silly revisionist thought when fans decided to be pretentious and ignore these fun romps in favor of the 'challenging drama' of some of the NA's) with last year's extremely disappointing "The Shakespeare Code", but he has matched some of his finest work such as "The Romance of Crime" and "The English Way of Death" with "The Unicorn and the Wasp", a fun and exciting little adventure reminiscent in several ways of Doctor Who's other television murder-mystery, "Black Orchid".
The only real flaw in this episode was essentially the plot and the way it was executed. This has always been a flaw in Gareth Roberts' writing but he more than makes up for it (again) by injecting ample wit and style into his dialogue, which the actors really do justice here. I did think Catherine Tate slipped into her comedy routine a bit here which does injustice I think to the fantastic way she's developed her character over the last few episodes, but that's a minor complaint.
This is possibly one of the best-directed Doctor Who stories, well... ever. Graeme Harper first directed Doctor Who in 1984, debuting with the truly legendary "The Caves of Androzani" and following that up with the excellent "Revelation of the Daleks". Returning for the revived series of Who with "Rise of the Cybermen", Harper has proved to be one of the best and most unjustly ignored television directors out there. "The Unicorn and the Wasp" succeeds largely thanks to his direction of the episode, as he creates fantastic atmosphere and chooses his shots very carefully and very well.
Fenella Woolgar is terrific here as Agatha Christie herself and the story is just excellent, fun, humorous entertainment all the way through. The CGI effects in series four thus far have been miles ahead of what we've seen previously and the very, very well-done wasp(s) are proof of this. What a memorable and fun tale.
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