It’s 1926 and the Doctor and Donna arrive at the country home of Lady Eddison who is hosting a party. The gathering of friends and associates is soon turned upside down when Professor Peach is found murdered in the library by a lead pipe. Luckily this time the Doctor and Donna have some expert help to aid them, special guest of the party is none other than the legendary author Agatha Christie. But further riddles wait around the corner when the Doctor notices the date on a copy of the local paper; this is the day that Agatha Christie went missing.
The Unicorn And The Wasp is the seventh story in the fourth season of Doctor Who, this marks the mid section of the series and is the last story this year that does not have direct connections to other stories, other than the ongoing mystery of the bees, mentioned frequently throughout the series so far. The story itself is rather like a classic whodunit, with the story making a number of references to future Christie novels and the popular board game Cluedo. Of course the story does have traditionally science fiction references, in the case of this story a giant wasp.
The problem with this story is that there is a strong chance that this is going to be the episode that temporarily alienates children; it’s a little bit less action packed than usual, with limited special effects. While adults of a certain age will certainly enjoy the episode, kids might just find it a little bit too story heavy.
Just in case you wonder the Unicorn element of the title is a reference to a jewel thief who has been robbing guests at well to do parties. Here the Unicorn makes an appearance and adds a third story string to the episode. In typical Doctor Who and Agatha Christie style there are a series of other storylines that serve as minor red herrings.
This episode has an interesting cast including 70’s sex symbol Felicity Kendal as Lucy Eddison, Fenella Woolgar as Agatha Christie, and David Tennant’s own father David Quilter as the Butler. The story is fairly intimate, with big characters filling a void, rather than an unusually large cast as is common with the show.
The show has some typically 21st century references that would not have been allowed some years ago, Lady Eddison’s son is a secret homosexual, and this is rather nicely placed in the story; not over emphasising as has often been done in the shows past, but making it as subtle as things of the day actually would have been. Tied onto this a secret mystery that ties a couple together when the husband had reason to suspect his very attractive wife might leave him for a younger and more attractive model.
The story is well handled but not the strongest show of the series so far, it fills a part, gives some much needed historical references so important to the show. A lot of the show is humorous, with Donna planting seeds in Christies mind that later become parts of the authors novel, with each “slip up” Donna chirpily states “Copyright Donna Noble”.