Guests around today so this’ll be very short and sweet.
Even taking into account the rationalisation at the end about Christie recalling aspects of these events, the referencing of Christie lore was even more excessive and intrusive than the Shakespeare episode. It was also strongly reminiscent of many elements in past pseudo-historicals such as ‘Tooth and Claw’ and ‘The Shakespeare Code’.
But leaving that aside I mostly had a good time. Donna and the Doctor played off each other well, the pastiche of Christie was subtle as a brick but enjoyable, and I found the unrealistic playfulness of the script endearing rather than irritating. Even the cheesy flashbacks amused me. And yes, even the cheesy charades sequence in the kitchen. Even that.
In contrast to all the excess, the few quieter scenes with Agatha worked quite well and gave the episode a slight sense of rhythm and structure that it would otherwise have entirely lacked.
It all fell apart a bit in the second half with the contrivances about the alien, the amulet, the imprinting and so forth. By the “I’ve called you all here” scene the joke was wearing thin, the ludicrous revelations were starting to undermine the story, and the cake started to implode under the weight of all the frosting.
I’ll be charitable though, because the episode’s sense of fun and sheer relish generally won out for me.