The Sword of Orion

Synopsis

Arriving in the midst of a Human – Android war, the Doctor and Charley find themselves trapped on a star destroyer facing summary execution. However, a believed vanquished foe is stirring in the Garazone system…
Review

It would be lovely to say that the Eighth Doctor’s first meeting with the Cybermen is a complete success. Sadly, this story does suffer from a somewhat generic feeling story, as well as some particularly one dimensional guest characters and a sense that this could have been a story for any Doctor and companion pairing, rather than feeling like it furthers the dynamic between the Eighth Doctor and his new companion. That being said, the performances of McGann, Fisher and Michelle Livingstone as Deeva Jansen deserve credit in a rather forgettable story. Fortunately for Big Finish, their Cybermen stories would get better!

Potentially due to the fact that the story was adapted from an Audio Visuals story, the biggest problem here is that there is nothing that relates directly to this incarnation of the Doctor and his companion. Tonally in places it feels as though it belongs in the 1980s era of stories, while the score seems to hark back to 1960s Patrick Troughton stories. This makes the Eighth Doctor feel all the more out of place, especially as there is none of this incarnation’s charm as demonstrated in the previous story. That being said, the story does evoke a sense of palpable tension during the first two parts in the build up to the reveal of the Cybermen, which I feel works really well and is impressive considering that it only has audio to do this with. The story never really grabbed me as it seemed almost too generic of a Cyberman story, although the information of the Orion War is quite an interesting idea.

Furthermore, the story does struggle with some particularly one dimensional guest characters. I feel as though Grash is probably the best example of this, as he seems to be a standard Doctor Who villainous secondary character with an itchy character We are not given enough information to really care about the crew of the Vanguard as they meet their fates, which feels like poor management of the time given. The one character who really does stand out amongst these is Deeva Jansen, played by Michelle Livingstone, who is the one character who gets anything really meaningful to contribute to the story. Livingstone plays the part of the Android double agent really well, and when she tells Charley “We learn from our creators”, it is a line delivery that is completely chilling.

Despite some limitations in the characterisation, Paul McGann continues to be a great Doctor. This story is notable for giving us this incarnation of the Doctor without any charm or twinkle, but despite this, it doesn’t feel as though McGann is giving this any less than 100%. I feel like this story wastes the opportunity to develop on the promising relationship between the Doctor and Charley, started in Storm Warning, however, despite having little or nothing to in the first part of the story, India Fisher also puts in a great performance. The Cybermen work really well on audio, despite the other limitations of the story in general, as they feel properly scary and a real threat. It sounds obvious to say now, having had Nick Briggs provide the voice of the Cybermen for nearly 13 years on television, but his vocal work really helps them feel like a genuine foe to contend with.

Verdict: Sadly, the Eighth Doctor’s first meeting with the Cybermen is a rather forgettable affair. Strong central performances from McGann and Livingstone alike save this from being awful. 3/10
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley Pollard), Bruce Montague (Grash), Michelle Livingstone (Deeva Jansen), Helen Goldwyn (Chev), Ian Marr (Ike), Hylton Collins (Vol), Toby Longworth (Kelsey), Barnaby Edwards (Digly), Mark Gatiss (Thinnes), Nicholas Briggs (Cybermen/Cyberleader), Alistair Lock (Cybermen)
Writer: Nicholas Briggs
Director: Nicholas Briggs
Parts: 4
Behind the Scenes

  • This is the first Big Finish story to feature the Cybermen, and features the first meeting of the Cybermen and the Eighth Doctor.
  • This story was adapted from an Audio Visuals production of the same name.
  • Sword of Orion marks the first performance of Nicholas Briggs as the Cybermen, a role he reprised in the revived series.

Best Quote

Is this where you start getting all superior and mysterious with me?

No. This is where, at last, I get to put the kettle on.

Charley Pollard and the Eighth Doctor

Delta and the Bannermen

Delta and the Bannermen.jpg

A stitch in time…takes up space.

Seventh Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor and Mel find themselves involved in the end of a war between the Chimerons and the Bannermen, with the Chimeron Queen the last of her kind.  Boarding a Nostalgia Tours bus, the TARDIS team find themselves at the Shangri’La resort which serves as the setting as a stand against genocide.

Review

Like much of Sylvester McCoy’s debut season as the Doctor, Delta and the Bannermen has an interesting premise at its core, but it is let down largely by the execution.  On the positive side, it does see a much more assured McCoy (the real McCoy?) and a frankly much better performance from Bonnie Langford, and the story is certainly different to anything that came before and definitely anything that followed.  However, the lighter tone of this story distinctly clashes with its central antagonist, Gavrok, who seems to have come from a much grittier story, and I feel that the performances of Delta and Billy, in particular, let the story down.  The story does seem to struggle with its three-part running time, it feels as though it may have benefitted more from an additional part.

Gavrok death

There are certainly tonal issues here though.  Delta and the Bannermen seems to want to have its cake and eat it, with the light tone of the holiday camp seeming at odds with the force of Gavrok and his force of Bannermen.  There are ideas here, such as a toll booth in space and the Nostalgia bus tours that seem like they wouldn’t be out of place in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which are completely juxtaposed with scenes where the bus is blown up or the attack on Goronwy’s house.  I feel that it would have benefitted from being four parts rather than the three it ended up being, which would have allowed for an upping of the stakes.  The ending does feel rushed, and the Bannermen are relatively quickly and easily dispatched despite having being built up as quite menacing., which would have allowed them to do something more with the whole Billy and Delta storyline and potentially see some adverse effects of Billy taking the Chimeron substance.  Perhaps getting rid of the two Americans would help this story flow a bit beter.  It certainly feels as though there are too many ideas to fit satisfactorily into the runtime.  That being said, I do quite like the fundamental premise of the story as well as the fact that they end up being in Wales – there’s something almost quintessentially Doctor Who in this.  However, an already struggling story isn’t helped by some clunky dialogue.

I don’t just kill for the money.  It’s also something I enjoy.

Keillor

Additionally, I’ll just briefly mention the Chimeron baby, which really took me out of the story, as I just felt a bit sorry for the baby who was painted green.  Everybody at the camp seems to be almost too accepting that this alien and her child are sheltering from another alien force too.

baby delta

Life? What do you know about life, Gavrok?  You deal with death.  Lies, treachery and murder are your currency.  You promise life, but in the end it will be life which defeats you.

Seventh Doctor

Despite the story’s flaws, there are some decent performances here, both from the two regulars, as well as the guest cast.  Sylvester McCoy seems to really find his feet as the Doctor here, with everything from his awkward dancing at the Shangri La to his confrontation at the end of Part 2 with Gavrok showing us glimpses of the direction his Doctor would take.  Bonnie Langford also seems much more comfortable here than she has done in this series so far, especially when she’s joining in with the singing on the bus, and I found her far less irritating than she has been in McCoy’s previous two stories.  She also demonstrates enormous bravery when she lies to Gavrok about Delta being on the bus.  Amongst the guest cast, the highlights are certainly Sara Griffiths as Ray and Hugh David as Goronwy.  I wouldn’t have minded have Ray as a companion rather than Ace, as they do seem to have quite a few of the same personality traits, and she does show herself to be resourceful.  Hugh David gives a good performance as Goronwy, who seems to know more than he’s letting on, and has been accepted as being another Time Lord by certain fans.

Verdict: It’s sadly not a story I’d race to rewatch.  Delta and the Bannermen certainly has some ambitious ideas, however, it feels overstuffed and some elements could be removed entirely without impacting the story too much. There are some tonal issues here which don’t help either. 3/10

Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel Bush), Don Henderson (Gavrok), Belinda Mayne (Delta), Stubby Kaye (Weismuller), Morgan Deare (Hawk), Tollmaster (Ken Dodd), Richard Davies (Burton), David Kinder (Billy), Sara Griffiths (Ray), Johnny Dennis (Murray), Brian Hibbard (Keillor), Tim Scott (Chima), Anita Graham (Bollitt), Leslie Meadows (Adlon), Robin Aspland, Keff McCulloch, Justin Myers and Ralph Salmins (The Lorrells), Tracey Wilson and Jodie Wilson (Vocalists), Goronwy (Hugh David), Martyn Geraint (Vinny), Clive Condon (Callon), Richard Mitchley (Arrex), Jessica McGough and Amy Osborn (Young Chimeron), Laura Collins and Carley Joseph (Chimeron Princess)

Writer: Malcolm Kohll

Director: Chris Clough

Parts: 3

Behind the Scenes

  • The title is a reference to the group Echo and the Bunnymen, a popular group in the 1980s.
  • At one stage during production, Bonnie Langford was considering leaving halfway through the series, and Ray was being lined up as her replacement.  However, Langford decided to stay for the complete series, and Sophie Aldred replaced her in the subsequent story, Dragonfire.  Coincidentally, Aldred auditioned for the part of Ray but was unsuccessful.
  • This story marks the introduction of the question mark handled umbrella.
  • The story features a number of famous people at the time, including Ken Dodd, Don Henderson and Hugh Lloyd.
  • This is the first three-parter since The Two Doctors, a format which remained until the end of the original series.  Originally, there was a six-part finale planned, but to save money, the decision was made to make two three-part stories with the same production team.  Only the TARDIS interior shots were shot in the studio.
  • Footage from the wrap party has recently been posted on YouTube: https://bit.ly/2HBoOwG

Best Moment

The Doctor’s face-off in Part 2 with Gavrok.

Best Quote

Actually, I think I may have gone too far.

Seventh Doctor

doctor and ray

Vengeance on Varos

doctor vengeance

And cut it — now!

Governor

Synopsis

Looking for a rare mineral to repair the TARDIS, the Doctor arrives on Varos, where political prisoners and their guards are all subjected to sadistic tortures and executions which the colony’s inhabitants view and vote on through interactive television. Accused of being alien infiltrators helping the colony’s rebel factions, the Doctor and Peri find themselves the latest unwilling subjects in this most extreme form of reality TV.

Review

Vengeance on Varos can be considered as one of the stories that best demonstrates the violent and dark places the show was heading under the guidance of Eric Saward during Colin Baker’s era.  It is undeniably a great story, focusing on reality television and showing how dictatorships cling to power, however, demonstrates sadistic violence towards individuals, as well as horrible punishments.  The Doctor is not immune to this violent streak, which is the biggest problem in my opinion with this story.

The explicit violence in this story is definitely the most troubling thing, and especially worrying considering that the Doctor seems to be complicit in this.  When rescuing Jondar from his punishment, the Doctor turns the laser gun on the guards, which I wasn’t particularly happy with.  In some ways, the grimmer tone here is really the point, as the whole idea of the society on Varos broadcasting this footage is to keep the population in line.  One of the more troubling aspects displayed here is how blasé the Greek chorus of Arak and Etta are in the opening moments of the story, with Arak even talking off-handedly about repeats.  Additionally, the torture of Areta and Peri, transforming them into creatures is truly horrific, as well as featuring some of the best effects of the series.  The more violent nature of this episode certainly makes the episode more memorable, especially the infamous acid bath.  The Doctor may not kill the two guards tasked with destroying his body, but it is a scene that has attracted much comment.  Personally, I have no problem with his offhand remark on their demise, which is a Bond-esque quip, but I can see why people aren’t keen on this aspect.  A scene I find more troubling is the one towards the story’s climax, where the Doctor tempts the cannibals in the punishment zone to touch the tendrils and setting up the ambush for the Chief Officer and Quillam, a scenario where he undoubtedly knows the outcome of his actions.

You’ll forgive me if I don’t join you.

Sixth Doctor

sil vengeance

Philip Martin’s script takes a hard look at the video nasties that were prevalent in the 1980s, as well as looking at the potential future use of reality television.  On occasion, this can be seen to be slightly too on the nose, especially when the Chief Officer talks about viewing figures, but by and large, this element works really well. I particularly enjoy the reaction of Arak and Etta when the Governor announces that he is shutting down the television networks.  My only issue with the script is that the resolution seems to come far too quickly, and the elements seem tied up too neatly.  However, the story benefits from a great central villain in the shape of Sil, played here by Nabil Shaban.  Sil is a representative of the Galactic Mining Company, sent to Varos to negotiate with the Governor a price for his Zeiton-7, a valuable element also required by the Doctor to repair the TARDIS.  Sil manipulates the instability caused by successive Governors being murdered to negotiate a beneficial price for his benefit, attempting to get this valuable resource at as low a price as possible.  Sil must be amongst the most disgusting and sinister monsters the Doctor has ever faced, with his reptile-like behaviour and that horrendous laugh.  It is a really memorable performance from Nabil Shaban which lifts the rest of the episode.

I have to say that Colin Baker is particularly good here, especially when he is so confident that he will have the opportunity to query after his execution, but I also enjoy his outrage when he sees Quillam’s experiments on Peri and Areta.  I feel it is far too easy to dismiss Baker’s incarnation of the Doctor as the one in the frankly garish costume with some questionable stories under his belt.  However, his attitude towards the role sees him attack even the shakiest story with enormous gusto and you can’t question his commitment to the show.  With how the BBC treated him, with the initial hiatus and the frankly shocking handling of his sacking, the fact that Colin Baker remains a fantastic ambassador for the show is to his enormous credit.  Anyway, back to Vengeance.  I really like the performance of Martin Jarvis as the Governor, as I feel that he brings a quiet resignation to this character, who in other hands could potentially come across as a one dimensional character.  The scene where he attempts to persuade Maldak into letting Peri go while being completely resigned to his own fate is another personal highlight in a strong story.

Verdict: A really strong entry for the Sixth Doctor, with my only real problem being that the Doctor indulges in violence perhaps a bit too much. 9/10

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown), Martin Jarvis (Governor), Nabil Shaban (Sil), Nicolas Chagrin (Quillam), Jason Connery (Jondar), Forbes Collins (Chief Officer), Stephen Yardley (Arak), Sheila Reid (Etta), Geraldine Alexander (Areta), Graham Cull (Bax), Owen Teale (Maldak), Keith Skinner (Rondel), Hugh Martin (Priest)

Writer: Philip Martin

Director: Ron Jones

Parts: 2

Behind the Scenes

  • Martin Jarvis had previously appeared in The Web Planet and Invasion of the Dinosaurs, and went on to appear opposite Colin Baker in Jubilee for Big Finish, which would be adapted into the Ninth Doctor story, Dalek.  Sheila Reid went onto play Clara’s gran in The Time of the Doctor and Dark Water.  Stephen Yardley had previously appeared in Genesis of the Daleks as Sevrin.
  • This story attracted further criticism for being too violent from members of the public, as well as fans and long-term critic, Mary Whitehouse.

Best Moment

The cliffhanger at the end of Part One is perhaps one of my favourites.  With the cameras in the Punishment Zone broadcasting the Doctor’s demise, the Governor calls to cut the footage at the point of his apparent death, as Sil begins to laugh his horrific laugh.

Best Quote

Is he sane, this Doctor?

Sometimes.

Peri, this is no time for casual conversation!

Jondar, Peri and Sixth Doctor

peri bird vengeance

Kinda

tegan kinda

Straight-down-the-line thinking, that’s what this situation needs.

Sanders

Synopsis

The TARDIS visits the planet Deva Loka, where all Tegan becomes possessed by an evil force known as the Mara.

Review

This story is perhaps the best example of how flexible the format of Doctor Who is.  Kinda focuses more on aspects of belief rather than science fiction ideas and this means that it sticks in the memory much more than some of the other stories surrounding it.  The story also disposes of Nyssa for much of the story, allowing the focus to be much more on Tegan and Adric, as well as the fairly new Fifth Doctor.  There is also some particularly fantastic direction by Peter Grimwade on this story which allows for some particularly striking visuals.

Kinda borrows some ideas from Buddhism and some elements of Christianity to create the belief system of the Kinda living on the planet of Deva Loka, and whilst some elements of this make the story complicated to follow for a casual viewer, it allows for the world that the Doctor and his companions find themselves on to feel more fleshed out.  Elements such as the names of Karuna and the Mara all come from Buddhism but as they are mixed with other ideas which allows them to feel fresh and alien.  The only issue this creates is that I imagine that at the time it wasn’t terribly interesting to children watching the programme.  There’s no real alien or monster, with the wonky looking Mara snake at the end, however, I can honestly say that it did not affect my enjoyment of the story, as it only features briefly.  Some of the bigger ideas about the Kinda and the story in general served to keep me interested enough to follow the complexities of the plot.

doctor tegan adric

The direction of Peter Grimwade cements this story as a classic.  Grimwade’s technique of directing from the floor was fairly unique at the time and draws a parallel between himself and Graeme Harper, another standout director of this era of the show.  Where the two men differ however, is that Grimwade seems to have irritated actors later in his run, especially on the production of Earthshock.  Here, he has some difficult scenes to direct, such as the scenes inside Tegan’s mind which feel almost like a play.  In the hands of another director, these could feel very over the top and out of place, but his handling of the scenes, coupled with the three actors involved in the scenes set here, especially Jeff Stewart as Dukkha.  The scenes in her mind, where everything is compressed to simple colours, emphasising the little red seen, making them seem vampiric.  Grimwade really makes the scenes in her mind truly memorable and everything in Tegan’s possession scenes are unsettling, creepy and a little disturbing.  The merits of Grimwade’s style of direction can also be seen especially in the performance of Simon Rouse as Hindle, where his descent into madness and his determination to destroy the planet he is supposed to be colonising is handled really well by both the actor and the director.  Similarly to the scenes in Tegan’s mind, this could seem ridiculous in different hands, so it is to both’s credit.  The direction also helps to give the Mara an effective debut, and they would go on to reappear in Snakedance.

With regards to the TARDIS crew, the absence of Nyssa allows us to understand the dynamics between this team and give us a chance for some much-needed development for Tegan.   Janet Fielding gives a really compelling performance as the unhinged Tegan and By making this villain so inextricably linked to Tegan, and giving her something different to do rather than moaning about getting back to Heathrow allows us to see a different side of the Doctor.  We also see that she and Adric don’t really get along – as demonstrated in their discussion about mental control in Part Four and Tegan thinking she’s helping Nyssa win at checkers at the beginning of the story.  The fact that Adric spends most of the story “captured” by Hindle and Tegan is battling her own demons allows Peter Davison to take the lead, and he gives his most convincing performance as the Doctor here, especially in his scene facing off against Aris, where he feels as though he is in complete control of his situation.  We also see how the relationship between the Doctor and Adric has changed since the former regenerated, and the relationship is now more of a brotherly one rather than a father-son relationship as previously.  The Doctor also gets to spend a lot of time with Todd, played by Nerys Hughes, who comes across as a great pseudo-companion, who is inquisitive and thoughtful.

Verdict: Kinda is an interesting story that introduces a great villain and has some great performances from both the main and guest casts. 10/10

Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Nerys Hughes (Todd), Richard Todd (Sanders), Simon Rouse (Hindle), Mary Morris (Panna), Sarah Prince (Karuna), Adrian Mills (Aris), Anna Wing (Anatta), Roger Milner (Anicca), Jeff Stewart (Dukkha), Lee Cornes (Trickster)

Writer: Christopher Bailey

Director: Peter Grimwade

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • Despite receiving a mixed reaction from fans on transmission, in more recent times it has been ranked as the second most popular story from season 19, behind Earthshock.
  • This story marks the first time since the show started being filmed in colour that one of the companions was absent from the narrative for an entire episode. In this case, the story had been completed prior to the casting of Nyssa as a companion.
  • Kinda demonstrates then state of the art Quantel effects for the trip through Tegan’s eye, however, production issues cut down studio time, which impacted on the appearance of the snake in Part 4.
  • The story writes out the sonic screwdriver very early on.  In the following story, The Visitation, the sonic screwdriver would be destroyed and would not return until the TV Movie.
  • Jonny Lee Miller appears in an uncredited role.
  • This is the only story of Peter Davison’s run to feature no interior TARDIS scenes.
  • The story was commissioned by Christopher H. Bidmead, worked on by Anthony Root and produced under Eric Saward, which means that it has had the most script editors work on it.

Best Moment

The use of the Quantel technology to zoom in on Tegan’s eye and into the dark recesses of her mind is fantastic.

Best Quote

An apple a day keeps the – Ah.  Never mind.

The Fifth Doctor

Doctor Todd Kinda

Robot of Sherwood

robot of sherwood

No damsels in distress, no pretty castles, no such thing as Robin Hood.

Twelfth Doctor

Synopsis

At the request of Clara, the TARDIS arrives in Sherwood Forest in 1190, where they meet the folk hero Robin Hood, much to the Doctor’s disbelief.  They quickly realise something is amiss as the Sherriff of Nottingham and his army of robots are plotting a scheme that could rewrite history for the worst.

Review

There is an element with Mark Gatiss’ work on Doctor Who that some argue means that it could be lifted from any one series and placed into another without much impact on the show itself.  Robot of Sherwood, despite feeling quite light-weight and fluffy in comparison to some other stories in Series 8, is a good glimpse into the sort of man Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor would become later on in his run, while also contributing to his uncertainty about whether he is a good man. It can seem a bit out of place surrounded by episodes emphasising how dark this new Doctor is, but is quite a good fun romp.  There are elements that seem slightly over the top and it’s never going to be a story I consider to be amongst the best of Capaldi’s run though.

merry men

When did you stop believing in everything?

When did you start believing in impossible heroes?

Don’t you know?

Clara Oswald and the Twelfth Doctor

The story’s real strength is in Gatiss’ script, which has some fantastic dialogue allowing the two stars and the two main guest stars, Ben Miller and Tom Riley, to really shine.  Moments that stand out include the scenes in which the Doctor and Robin are imprisoned together and are constantly bickering.  The story really is one of a battle of the egos of two iconic heroes, with the Doctor being jealous of Clara’s infatuation with Robin.  However, by the end of the story, both men’s respect has grown for each other once the Doctor is convinced that the famous archer is not, in fact, a robot, which does show a slightly softer side to the hard Twelfth Doctor.  It is not revealed until relatively late on that Robin is, in fact, real, with the Doctor being so utterly convinced that he is part of the Robot’s schemes that it takes the Sherriff of Nottingham pointing out that there would be no obvious point to them creating opposition to their plans for him to see how wrong he is.  In fairness to the Doctor, the Robin Hood we see here is almost like the epitome of the traditional legends and stories about the emerald archer, and Tom Riley’s swagger and charisma really help evoke the Errol Flynn image of the character.  There are also elements like the archery contest and the golden arrow, as well as the fight between the Doctor and Robin that allude to the famous stories about Robin Hood that have lasted through time.

Is it so hard to credit, that a man born into wealth and privelege should find the plight of the oppressed and weak too much to bear?

I know, b…

Until one night, he is moved to steal a TARDIS, fly among the stars, fighting the good fight.  Clara told me your stories.

 

Jenna Coleman’s performance deserves a lot of credit here too.  Her enthusiasm at meeting Robin Hood means that she is much more accepting of the facts when she discovers that the legends are in fact true, and her frustration at the constant bickering between the Doctor and Robin when they are imprisoned is completely understandable.  We see glimpses of what Clara must be like as a teacher in these scenes, especially when she dismisses the Doctor’s plan to escape as boiling down to using the sonic screwdriver.  The dinner scene between Clara and the Sherriff, where Clara is able to convince him to divulge his big plan is also really good.  Ben Miller plays the Sherriff of Nottingham surprisingly straight and he may seem like a stereotypical villain with his plans of world domination, but Miller does bring something likeable to the role.  I remember when we first saw the trailer for Series 8, there was quite a lot of speculation that he was playing either the Delgado or the Ainley Master.  Little did we know we had already seen the new incarnation of the Master twice already!  The Robots aiding the Sherriff in his plans are quite effectively creepy even if they don’t really contribute much, except to mention that, like the Clockwork Droids in Deep Breath, they are also looking for the “Promised Land”.

sherriff of nottingham

The story’s tone can feel a bit jarring, following hot on the heels of Deep Breath and Into the Dalek, however, the story allows this incarnation to have a bit of fun in the story.  Capaldi’s comedy chops are well known by most in the UK through the superb (although very sweary) The Thick of It, and he seems to have a great time here being the doubter of the story.   I really like the moment when he and Robin discover the spaceship at the heart of the castle, and he rejoices in finding something that he feels is finally real.  If we think where the character of the Twelfth Doctor ends up in Twice Upon A Time, it does owe a lot to this episode where he starts to comprehend that an image of heroism can help to make the grimmest scenarios more tolerable.  The episode does have moments that I find to be a bit too cheesy though, especially the bit where the Doctor, Clara and Robin are all required to fire the golden arrow to blow up the ship, which just doesn’t really sit well with me.

Verdict: A more light-hearted story for the Twelfth Doctor that has some interesting moments that tie in to the ‘Good Man’ arc of Capaldi’s first season.  The tone does feel a bit jarring, however, and there are some moments that make me cringe a little.  7/10

Cast: Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald), Tom Riley (Robin Hood), Roger Ashton-Griffiths (Quayle), Sabrina Bartlett (Quayle’s Ward/Maid Marian), Ben Miller (Sherriff of Nottingham), Ian Hallard (Allan-a-Dale), Trevor Cooper (Friar Tuck), Rusty Goffe (Little John), Joseph Kennedy (Will Scarlett), Adam Jones (Walter), David Benson (Herald), David Langham (Guard), Tim Baggaley (Knight), Richard Elfyn (Voice of the Knights)

Writer: Mark Gatiss

Director: Paul Murphy

Behind the Scenes

  • One of the images showing depictions of Robin Hood through time shows Patrick Troughton playing the hero, who in addition to playing the Second Doctor was the first actor to portray Robin Hood on television.  Additionally, Patrick Troughton’s grandson, Sam Troughton, played Much in the BBC adaptation of Robin Hood broadcast during Doctor Who’s off-season from 2006 until 2009.
  • Peter Capaldi celebrated his 56th birthday during production of this story and was given a Dalek-themed birthday cake.
  • A scene was cut of the Sherriff of Nottingham being beheaded, explicitly revealing him to be a robot was cut from the episode due to the beheading of two American journalists by the terrorist group ISIS which happened a few weeks before transmission.  There is a line that states that the Sherriff is “half-man, half-machine” and his hands are seen in the vat of molten gold which allude to this.
  • David Benson and Ian Hallard had previously appeared in Invaders of Mars, a Big Finish audio written by Mark Gatiss.
  • The title references the ITV show Robin of Sherwood which went up against series 22 of Doctor Who in 1985, and the golden arrow story are staples of the Robin Hood legend.
  • This episode is the first since Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS not to feature a scene on present-day Earth.

Best Moment

It feels like a cheat to include a quote under best moment, but I do really like the final exchange between Robin Hood and the Doctor.

You are her hero, I think.

I’m not a hero.

Well, neither am I.  But if we keep pretending to be (laughs) perhaps others will be heroes in our name.  Perhaps we will both be stories.  And may those stories never end.  Goodbye Doctor, Time Lord of Gallifrey.

Goodbye Robin, Earl of Locksley.

And remember, Doctor, I’m just as real as you are.

Robin Hood and the Twelfth Doctor

Best Quote

Aah! All these diseases! If you were real, you’d be dead in six months.

I am real!

Bye.

The Twelfth Doctor and Allan-a-Dale

arrow spaceship