After the post-regeneration confusion of Deep Breath and the high-stakes drama of Into the Dalek, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor gets a chance for something a little lighter in this episode, which may not be to everyone’s tastes. Alongside some great recreations of the classic Errol Flynn type heroics, Mark Gatiss provides some good buddy-drama dialogue for Capaldi and Tom Riley as Robin, with Clara following up her slap to the Doctor last week with some verbal zingers.
There are lots of elements that will feel really familiar (really, really familiar) in this, and while it obeys some of the rules of the “celebrity historical” that we saw in the Russell T Davies era, it breaks others with impunity. There are callbacks to both classic and new stories, and many opportunities for Capaldi to use his gift for sarcastic delivery. Riley and Ben Miller are both just the right side of camp – Miller playing the Sheriff of Nottingham straighter than you might expect – and Jenna Coleman grabs everything the script gives her, including another “Clara getting info from the bad guy” scene that’s very different from Deep Breath.
I suspect that those who tune in expecting a “dark Doctor” may not find this what they were hoping for – it’s certainly far more comedy than drama – but there are a couple of deeper moments, particularly towards the end, that may be giving some clues to the overarching theme of this season.
Verdict: Laugh out loud moments abound in this not totally serious adventure. 8/10