May 31, 2008

Season Four Saturdays: The Unicorn & The Wasp

(With this review, I'm returning to the no-spoiler policy. No plot points will be discussed)

Now this is much better.

"The Unicorn and the Wasp" is the kind of story that, even if I felt evil enough to spoil, I wouldn't - it's that good.

Written by Gareth Roberts, who penned last season's "The Shakespeare Code", this episode doesn't cover unfamiliar territory in Doctor Who (our example: the Davison-era Black Orchid, the last purely historical story, coming to DVD in August). What it does do is a fine balance between humor and horror, between wit and suspense - and manages to do so without compromising one or the other.

It's also a pretty tightly written episode - it doesn't feel as if too much information is crammed into forty-five minutes. It has some genuine laugh-out-loud moments, at least one moment that feels like potential foreshadowing...and Christopher Benjamin.

That's right - the man who helped the Third Doctor fight killer apes and a mad scientist at a refinery. Who also featured prominently in one of my two favorite Fourth Doctor stories. Who was also very prevalent in The Prisoner. It's worth it just for his performance, straddling the line between blustering, self-parody, and charm.

However, this semi-historical story (featuring Agatha Christie and, by extension, the circumstances surrounding her mysterious disappearance) has done something that I never expected - it's made me want to seek out and read Ms. Christie's work. There's tons of meta-commentary, in-jokes, etc...yet it all doesn't seem unrealistic, or self-consciously clever.

All in all, a great episode. Do not miss this one.

And next episode, Steven (expletive) Moffatt - my favorite new Who writer - starts a two parter.

1 comment:

Siskoid said...

I loved it too. A LOT of fun.