Doctor Who’s The Unicorn and The Wasp episode

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If you haven’t seen this episode, go away now. Really. Truly. Everything that follows is spoilers in the extreme.

One of my favourite episodes of the newer episodes of this series was a country house mystery featuring a number of murders and, to add an aspect of metanarrative to the story, writer Agatha Christie at the beginning of her career. It would riff off her disappearance for ten days which occurred just after she found her husband in bed with another woman. Her disappearance is a mystery that has never been satisfactorily answered to this day.

Needless to say, the Doctor and Donna Noble arrived in the TARDIS at the grounds of the country house just before afternoon cocktails. The Doctor (David Tennant) uses his psychic paper to convince The Lady of The Manor that she was met them previously and invited there for the weekend.

A murder will soon happen when Professor Plum is killed in The Library with a lead pipe. Yes, a Clue board game reference which his plucky companion (Catherine Tate) gleefully notes. And so it goes for the entire episode in a rather delightful manner. It’s silly, it’s fast-paced, and it’s one of the most British episodes that the new Who does. And it’s one that shows how clearly this series is fantasy, not science fiction.

The Unicorn of the title is simply the code name of an infamous jewel thief, but The Wasp of the title is a wasp, a bloody big one on that. A wasp that’s the love child of a shape shifting alien who made Her Ladyship pregnant in India forty years ago. A wasp that’s so big that it couldn’t survive in Earth’s gravity but this is fantasy after all. ( I firmly believe that almost all science fiction is fantasy — some are just more blatant about it.) And do keep an ear out for the many, many references to the novels Christie wrote.

A delightful romp which fits very nicely into the genre of Manor House mysteries which of course the future Dame Christie would write ta few herself. Oh and Agatha Christie was played by Fanella Woolgar was cast at the urging of Tennant who had may or not have known that the actress had appeared in the Poirot series several years previously.

(BBC Wales, 2008)

About Cat Eldridge

I’m the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog.

My current novels are listening to Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds, and reading Naomi Kritzer’s Catfishing on Cat-net and Anthony Boucher’s Murder in the Morgue My current graphic novel is Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted..

I’m listening to a whole bunch of new Celtic and Nordic new releases but I’ll dip in my music collection for such artists as Blowzabella, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and Frifot as the weather goes colder.