The Doctor and Clara visit Robin Hood. Or do they?

Cast and Crew Information

Peter Capaldi as The Doctor
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald
Tom Riley as Robin Hood
Ben Miller as Sheriff of Nottingham
Roger Ashton Griffiths as Quayle
Sabrina Bartlett as Quayle’s Ward
Ian Hallard as Alan-a-Dale
Trevor Cooper as Friar Tuck
Rusty Goffe as Little John
Joseph Kennedy as Will Scarlet

Written by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Paul Murphy

Premise

Clara would like to meet Robin Hood, and the Doctor insists the man is a legend. If that’s true, then who, or what, do they meet in Nottingham of 1190AD?

High Point

The true ringleader.

Personal, extra geeky high point: the blackboards at the beginning have no Euclidean geometry! No geometry at all that I could see, but that’s fine.

Low Point

The final McGuffin needs a tremendous suspension of disbelief and some technology that those characters don’t have access to, at least not on those time scales.

The Review

How do you judge the originality? On one hand, it’s a new story with a character dynamic I haven’t seen in the series before. On the other hand, it’s very much a callback to the original series mandate from 1963, making explicit reference to stories from the Hartnell and Troughton eras. We definitely are back to a crusty Doctor, with the willingness to fight and proper fashion sense of Pertwee blended with Hartnell’s temperment and the sweet tooth that came in with Troughton and shone primarily with the first Baker. Then again, we have robots and aliens tinkering with human history to repair their ship, which is an idea that’s already been used this season, let alone the number of times it’s cropped up over the past 51 years. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects were well done, in retrospect. There was one portion that bugged me because props had to defy physics to do what we saw, but that was ultimately explained in an acceptable way to my mind. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story was nicely paced and structured, with elements of the long term story arc blended with a standalone plot. It’s also nice to have some of the classic exploratory plots back. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting is solid. We’ve got good guest stars, Capaldi’s Doctor is very well defined, and the new Doctor/Clara dynamic is highly entertaining. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is mixed. On the one hand, the sets and costume designs looked fine for a period drama. On the other hand, the abundance of medium shots and lack of close ups for many characters makes it more difficult for the audience to emotionally engage. Was either director Paul Murphy or cinematographer Mark Waters concerned that the costumes wouldn’t hold up under scrutiny? Was the goal to show off the sets, as virtually all close ups were either outdoors or during Clara’s dinner with the Sheriff? Either way, it had a detrimental effect. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response was nice. It’s enjoyable to see the fallability of the Doctor again, and some of the banter was quite entertaining. It took me a while to figure out why I wasn’t engaging with Robin Hood, though; see “production” for that. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable episode, but not spectacular. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Robot of Sherwood receives 31 out of 42.