Mark Gatiss is a bit hit and miss with his Doctor Who scripts. For every good 'un - such as "The Unquiet Dead", "Night Terrors" or "Cold War" - there's the utterly terrible ones, like "The Idiot's Lantern" or "Victory of the Daleks". Given the odds, we were about ready for a terrible one, but rather surprisingly, "Robot Of Sherwood" (an odd title, that) is actually possibly the best he's done.
Don't get me wrong; this isn't a perfect script by any means. Gatiss enjoys the Doctor and Robin's sparring so much it is to the detriment of the Merry Men who are redundant to the plot (apparently they take the Sheriff's castle at the end, which would have been nice to see, but butdget or editing meant we didn't), while the Sheriff of Nottingham really doesn't get enough screentime either (and that is criminal because Ben Miller is clearly having a ball playing the villains). Marion looks a bit like an afterthought to the story, and the whole thing is fairly derivitive in most ways - Tom Riley is great as Robin, but when he and the Doctor are trapped, I thought I was watching Blackadder Back And Forth, while there are times when the Sheriff seems to have stepped off the pages of Robin Hood: The Prince Of Thieves.
Now this may sound like damning condemnation, but in truth the whole of "Robot of Sherwood" is much greater than the sum of its parts. Paul Murphy's direction gives the series a much lighter touch than Ben Wheatley did, and the result is a story that is not as dark (either lighting or tone) as the previous two serials. In fact, this is a virtual comedy. Tom Riley may have been trying to channel Rik Mayall in the prison, but the result is a scene with two actors showing almost perfect comic timing as they bicker about who would die the longest in prison. Capaldi's Doctor becomes a more warmer character, even though he still is grouchy and irritable. Jenna Coleman also has lots of fun, looking gorgeous in her red dress and flirting with the Sheriff or referring the Doctor and Robin. There's something about this episode that has you carried away with it, regardless of the leaps in crediblity (I mean, the golden arrow at the end is completely ridiculous, but once you've jumped on board with the fun, you let it slide). On top of that there's even a picture of Patrick Troughton in the episode.
So we have a ridiculous plot that gleefully steals from previous Robin Hood interpretations, a cast that is determined to have fun no matter what, and a director who knows exactly how to handle a comedy production. If you're not prepared to make the leap into the insanity of it, you're really not going to enjoy this episode. If, however, you're prepared to sit back and have lots of fun, you're going to enjoy this episode enormously. "Deep Breath" and "Into the Dalek" may have been cleverer and moodier, but "Robot of Sherwood" is the episode that I'll be switching on the next time I just want to sit back and have watch an truly enjoyable episode of Doctor Who.