Agatha: 'Agatha Christie.'
Donna: 'What about her?'
Agatha: 'That's me.'
Christie's disappearance in 1926 was one of those weird events that
we'll likely never get to the bottom of. (Despite many books telling us
that they've got to the bottom of it.) 'The Unicorn and the Wasp' was a
fun attempt at explaining Agatha Christie's whereabouts during those
eleven missing days, and what with details being as scarce as
hen's teeth—and Agatha not bothering to elucidate in her
autobiography—attributing her disappearance to a giant wasp seems as good a solution as any.
this episode first aired, I was largely unimpressed. It seemed like
fluff. There was so little to sink your teeth into (hen's or
otherwise), and what they did give us was so densely packed with
clumsily inserted Agatha Christie references, that it was hard to take
seriously. On second watch, my opinion of it improved slightly.
I didn't find myself loving it, but I didn't hate
it quite so much, either. Once you get you my head around the fact that it's supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek ride through Agatha Christie land, then it doesn't seem quite so offensive.
To say Gareth Roberts is a fan of Agatha Christie is an understatement of gargantuan proportions. Apparently
Roberts and Russell T. Davies had a contest to see who could wedge in the most Agatha
Christie references. I'm not sure who won, but I counted goodness knows how many novel
titles and character references. Add the half dozen or so Cluedo allusions, and you're left with a script almost collapsing under the weight of its own 'genius'. Which, although I'm sure seemed like a splendid wheeze at the
time, produced an episode which feels occasionally maladroit, and frequently unfocussed.
The comedic nature of
the episode did, however, give a free reign to all sorts of japes and silliness. Some of the exchanges between the Doctor and Donna were side-splittingly hilarious. The Doctor getting himself poisoned was brilliant.
Tate's talents as a comedienne really kicked in during those scenes, and Tennant matched her stride for stride. I don't think anyone was
expecting them to lock lips. Kissing a man who's just had pickled
walnuts and anchovies in his mouth, can't have been pleasant—though Tate gave it the old college try. Yet at times, it felt as though they took the humour too far. There was just so much of it. Roberts claims that is
was Russell T. Davies idea to go 'funnier' with each rewrite, and in truth, it probably went two rewrites too funny. It just kept pulling you out of the story.
Evidently, it was Donna's turn
this week to be told off by the Doctor for attempting an unfamiliar
accent. It's a wonder she hasn't picked up on the fact that his accent isn't exactly kosher. This is the third time a
companion's been chastised for trying to ape the local dialect. The
Doctor cautioned Rose in 'Tooth and Claw' after her somewhat
unsuccessful attempt at Scottish, and Martha was criticised for going all Olde English in 'The
Shakespeare Code'. And like the latter Roberts penned effort, this was a story which revolved around a famous writer. I guess the old
adage still rings true: write about what you know. Look at Stephen King.
How many of his protagonists are either teachers or writers?
in classic whodunnit style we were treated to an ensemble of well known
English actors. (Well known, if you know them, that is.) There was
Felicity Kendall (from the breathtakingly bad Rosemary and Thyme,) Fenella Woolgar (from Poirot and St. Trinians,) Tom Goodman Hill (from The Office and Broken News), and in traditional Christie fashion, all of the supporting cast appeared to be up to no good. Colonel Hugh was looking at porn, Robina
was loading a gun in the toilet, Lady Edison was gulping down booze, and
the aptly named Roger was... well, rogering.
course, most of the episode was so silly that if you didn't laugh, you'd
cry. The giant wasp was bizarre and its ability to hold a length of
lead pipe with those spindly, waspish legs, baffling. And the less said
about the Reverend Golightly's... zzzzzzzz... transformation into a...
zzzzzzz... wasp, the... zzzzzzzz... better.
—Would an expert in poison have sniffed a bottle of cyanide? Hydrogen
cyanide is one of the poisons that can kill through inhalation.
—I'm ashamed to admit that, initially, I though Vespiform was a brand of
sanitary towel. After some Googling I discovered that I was mixing up
Vespre and Body Form. It could have happened to anyone!
Donna: 'What do you think? Flapper or slapper?'
Donna: 'Typical! All the decent men are on the other bus.'
Doctor: 'Or Time Lords.'
Donna: 'Agatha Christie didn't go around surrounded by murders, not really. I
mean, that's like meeting Charles Dickens and he's surrounded by ghosts
Donna: 'It's a giant wasp!'
Doctor: 'What do you mean, a giant wasp?'
Donna: 'I mean a wasp that's giant!'
Doctor: 'A giant wasp! Well, there are tons of emorphorous insectivorous lifeforms, but none in this galactic sector.'
Agatha: 'I think I understood some of those words... enough to know that you're completely potty.'
Agatha: 'I found my husband with another woman. A younger, prettier woman. Isn't it always the way?'
Donna: 'Well, mine was with a giant spider, but same difference.'
Agatha: 'Death comes as the end and justice is served.'
Doctor: 'Murder at the Vicar's Rage....needs a bit of work.'