Friday, 12 September 2014

Who View: Robot Of Sherwood

Mark Gatiss has always had a knack of blurring the worlds of Doctor Who with other fictions and reality. His earliest Doctor Who story , The New Adventures novel Nightshade had echoes of not only Doctor Who's television past but also those of another eccentric scientist Quartermass.

New series episodes have Gatiss pair The Doctor with historic figures Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill while a 50th anniversary drama based on Doctor Who's early years found William Hartnell exchanging glances across the decades with none other than Matt Smith.

So, last Saturdays episode, Robot of Sherwood was always going to be interesting. Clara wishes to visit Sherwood Forest in the time of Robin Hood. The Doctor is amused to a point as he won't even acknowledge that Robin Hood ever existed. The Doctor's theory of what is a myth  is put to the test from the offset and there is much in the way of comic interplay between Peter Capaldi's Doctor and Robin Hood himself (Tom Riley).

Despite The Doctor's reservations about the outlaws apparent existence, he is looking for treachery in all the wrong places and seems more disconcerted with Robin Hood's existence rather than that of the game plan of The Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Miller).

I particularly enjoyed the flow and pace of this episode, both Tom Riley and Ben Miller made excellent guest stars (Miller I felt even resembled Anthony Ainley's Master in some scenes). Again, there were little echoes of classic Who stories, the android element of The Androids of Tara (1978) and aliens touching down in history as in The Time Warrior (1973).

There was even a lovely in-joke reference to Patrick Troughton's portrayal of Robin Hood in a 1950s TV series, a nice example of the production team inserting something in there for the fans.

Robot of Sherwood is a fine example of Mark Gatiss marrying The Doctor with another fictional character, now maybe he could write an episode featuring Sherlock Holmes?

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