Again, not going to look into it, but I’ll bet there’s some kind of story with the Susie Liggat-produced episodes. She does like three a season, then nothing until the next season. And they sometimes more involve women, sometimes not. This one seemingly more involves women because the done-in-one companion is Agatha Christie, played by Fenella Woolgar. In some ways, it reminds of last season’s Shakespeare episode as far as….
Writer Gareth Roberts wrote last season’s Shakespeare episode. Not a Liggat.
Anyway. Roberts uses the same joke about David Tennant or his companion (Freema Agyeman then, Catherine Tate now) making references to the guest starring author’s oeuvre before that work had been created.
It works better with Shakespeare than Agatha Christie. Especially since the episode just serves to show how little Christie actually has to do with the genre she helped create. Outside the occasional Poirot or Marple namedrop—wait, are they all BBC, does BBC have corporate synergy—Roberts doesn’t come up with anything particularly Christie-y. It seems like he’s doing a riff on Clue(do), with Christopher Benjamin as Colonel Mustard (Hugh here), Ian Barritt as Professor Plum (Peach here), and so on. It’s not exact, but here’s a Professor Peach in the observatory with a lead pipe line or something. Maybe two of them. If Roberts is trying to do an homage to Christie, it’s a peculiar one; it’s to the more familiar knock-offs.
The beginning of the episode, when it’s doing the mystery genre thing, is a lot better than the end of the episode, which involves intergalactic wasps, bad memory transmissions, and a shockingly bad Felicity Jones. She’s in the episode from relatively early but doesn’t get anything to do until the big detective reveal scene with Tennant as Nick Charles. It’s an “eh” scene overall but Jones sinks it a little more.
Also bad is Tom Goodman-Hill.
Felicity Kendal is great as the Colonel’s wife and lady of the house; she’s the one throwing the party for Woolgar. The episode takes place at the “Silver Spoons” house, just before Christie’s infamous disappearance. The episode does really poorly with that subplot.
The episode goes wrong and never corrects. Roberts’s script has a first act but nothing else… especially not for Woolgar. It seems like Christie should be a choicer part.