After the disappointments of ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’,
the fourth series came back on track with this sublime and witty episode.
How best to summarise it? “Black Orchid” with a plot!
We were treated to a beautiful representation of 1920’s England and
a whodunit-style plot that kept the attention of the viewer right to the
The comedy elements were pitched at the right level. Even the cyanide scene
that could have gone horribly over the top was beautifully played out.
The guest cast were all on excellent form. Under the wonderful direction
(as ever) of Graeme Harper, we saw fantastic performances by all. Particular
credit should go to Fenella Woolgar as Christie and Christopher Benjamin
as Colonel Hugh.
After the annoying ‘shouty’ behaviour of the Doctor the previous
week, Tennant delivers us with one of his best performances in this episode.
His pairing with Catherine Tate continues to impress and will no doubt stand
the test of time as one of the all time great partnerships.
There are some minor issues. Why is Christie deposited outside “The
Harrogate Hotel” rather than the Swan Hotel in Harrogate? How does
the Reverand regain his clothes once he has transformed back from being
The power of this episode is that the strength of the script and the performances
allow us to forgive these indiscretions. Granted, Gareth Roberts repeats
his ploy from last year’s “Shakespeare Code” by having
the Doctor’s team prompt the main character of the episode with plot
and title ideas for their future, but once again it works well.
As good as it gets – and a Moffatt two-parter to come next. Happy
times and places indeed.
Andy from Doncaster
Some people might say that a comic Doctor Who episode has no
place in the show. To those people I say, "What show have you been
watching for four decades?" Go and watch The Romans, or
City of Death. Or Battlefield. Actually no, don't.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Unicorn and the Wasp, and I particularly
enjoyed the humour. The wobbly-flashback effect was almost a bridge to
far, but in the context of the episode it worked.
The "Salt - Too Salty" line is possibly the funniest thing ever
seen in the show.
I only have two minor gripes. Firstly it was a shame the wasp's appearance
was merely that of a giant Earth wasp. I had hoped that on closer inspection
it was must more alien, but just had a passing similarity to a wasp. However
this critism falls a bit flat considering I don't have any similar qualms
with The Web Planet.
Secondly, I thought that the sci-fi ultimately got in the way and the
story could have stood quite happily with lots of the techno-babble removed.
The killer could still have turned out to be a shape-shifter, but all
that business with the books imprinting on the alien child's mind via
the necklace, all seemed to clutter up the ending. So skillfully crafted
was the rest of the story that I think the audience would have happily
accepted the events without the additional explanations.
But this is minor griping in an otherwise stunning gem of Doctor Who.
I think a lot of people will draw parallels to Black Orchid,
but the similarities are very superficial. Beyond the era and the murder
mystery, the stories are worlds apart. Black Orchid has no wit, no logic
and very little entertainment value. It drags along at a snail's pace
with erksomely twee moment after another. The Unicorn and the Wasp
crams more into the first ten minutes than is to be found in the whole
45 minutes of Black Orchid.
Season four currently remains the most consistently entertaining of the
Phil Shaw - Newton
The Unicorn and the Wasp - Guest Previewed
I loved it! A really funny episode, especially the bit with the salt.
It was an all round cracker of a story and welcome light relief after
last weeks gloomy episode.
It is very well observed, with Gareth Roberts clearly knowing his Agatha
Christie. It played out like an episode of Piorot with twists
and turns all the way.
We've had Rose attempting Scottish, Martha had a go at Shakespeare-speak
and now Donna goes all "jolly spiffing hocky sticks" ... with
I'm not sure the CGI directing was that great. The wasp is fab but the
actors don't interact with it in a particularly convincing way.
Those are small complaints though, and it was lots of fun. If I had to
find one other negative it would be why the lovely Felicity Kendel has
decided to plump up her lips with collagen - or maybe it's a wasp sting!
Strang - London
Next episode - Silence in the Library
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