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08 March 2015 @ 03:11 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Unicorn and the Wasp  
This is the first story this season that doesn't feel like it is a part of the larger story and, instead, is just marking time and being an adventure. Fortunately it is enjoying itself a lot which makes, I think, its lack of direction less of a problem that it was for, say, The Idiot's Lantern.

First time around I recall being very concerned about the kiss in an "oh no, not again" kind of a way. It raised the fairly real spectre that the season was aiming for a plot line in which the Doctor and Donna would discover they were in denial about their feelings for each other and we'd be back to a dynamic that seemed rather mined out. NuWho has, oddly, never really been comfortable with the idea of the Doctor and companion as platonic friends even though it has now had more such such relationships than it has romantic ones - but even so it still seems to feel the need to alternately suggest that the companion, at least, has romantic feelings for the Doctor, and then heavily underscore the point that there is no hanky-panky here. While I like this season a lot, certainly the most of Tennant's seasons, it never feels easy in its own skin with the relationship between the Doctor and Donna which is a shame.

Fortunately the kiss really was just another (I would say misguided) attempt to emphasise that the Doctor and Donna are not attracted to each other. Otherwise The Unicorn and the Wasp is revelling in its silliness, wheeling out the conventions of televised Agatha Christie stories with enthusiasm. The backstory is implausible but that's less of a problem here than elsewhere since we're not being expected to take it all that seriously.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/146449.html.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on March 8th, 2015 04:25 pm (UTC)
The Doctor-Donna relationship is a great problem for this series, as you say, and it really, really, needn't be...

The way in which this story is told might have been sharper if the framing device involving the elderly Agatha Christie had survived, but I still think it works on its own terms.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on March 8th, 2015 05:52 pm (UTC)
A framing device might have helped with the choppiness of some of the narrative, but it would have forced them to have Agatha in every scene and, although she is in most of them, some fairly important ones would have gone.

I think I enjoyed it more this time around to honest.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on March 8th, 2015 05:59 pm (UTC)
The episode we saw was the one which was shot, minus the framing device which appears as an extra on the DVD set, and with the additional TARDIS scene at the end which wasn't part of the original episode - but the Doctor and Donna we view are arguably the people episode-Agatha imagines they were and are rather than the ones we usually know, so the scenes where Agatha doesn't appear could have been viewed as works of the fictional Christie, extending the pastiche.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on March 8th, 2015 06:38 pm (UTC)
The kisses often seemed shoe-horned in (again, the first season is the exception) and I did wonder at the time if they were just there to look provocative in the trailers.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on March 9th, 2015 06:02 pm (UTC)
I suspect there was an element of that, but I think some of it was anxiety about a platonic relationship transferring itself once screen into over-emphasis and hence "how funny, they kissed"
dm12 on March 9th, 2015 11:59 am (UTC)
Actually, I thought the kiss was perfect; it was something the Doctor totally would not have expected from Donna, so it was a great way to shock him.

This is my "go-to" episode when I'm in a foul mood and just need a bit of fun. That said, it really does not fit in with the sequence of events, especially after the Doctor (and Donna, too) lost Jenny. By excluding the little sequence at the end of that one, you're left in a big funk and it seems no way to regain balance. Then, in the very next episode, the Doctor is acting all "fun and games" again. It just doesn't mesh.

As for the Doctor-Donna relationship, they keep insisting it's totally platonic. The problem throughout the season (and even in TRB) is that everyone around them is assuming otherwise. Not only that, but he's constantly eyeing her, and she also eyes him. It was interesting that, when Agatha Christie said they made an interesting couple, Donna said they weren't a couple, but the Doctor said they weren't married. I don't know if this was supposed to be a big joke at Donna's expense, but it did make things awkward, because it's the only season where that happened.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on March 9th, 2015 06:03 pm (UTC)
I do think there was some anxiety about having a platonic relationship which translated into a series of somewhat awkward jokes in which people assume they are romantically involved and they have to deny it vigorously.
some kind of snark faeryshyfoxling on March 9th, 2015 08:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, somehow I never quite bought the jokes about it. They seem more awkward than funny. Like the bit in Silence in the Library - "Oh, I'm pretty boy?" "Yes! Ooh, that came out a bit quick." Well yes it did, Donna, yes it did. (Although I suppose it's possible to appreciate that someone is attractive without actually being attracted to them personally.)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on March 10th, 2015 08:28 am (UTC)
And, I suppose, to observe that other people find them attractive and tease them about it.
dm12 on March 17th, 2015 03:19 am (UTC)
Well, yes... but they were eyeing each other, especially when they first met. He, obviously, was eyeing her cleavage (several times) and looking her up and down. She, in front of her fiance, was eyeing his tush (and paid no attention to Lance)...

So they certainly can appreciate each other's assets, sort of as an art form, without necessarily wanting to fall in love. One can always look without touching!

Oh, and I don't find their relationship awkward at all, but rather refreshing after the two companions who were mooning after the Doctor. It's just those moments and their denial that's awkward, but their normal behavior to each other struck me as very natural.

Edited at 2015-03-17 03:23 am (UTC)