REVIEW: Doctor Who – ‘Robot of Sherwood’

Clara is thrilled she's going to meet the legend, Robin Hood.
Clara is thrilled she’s going to meet the legend, Robin Hood.

So what happened?

This week it was Clara’s choice after the Doctor offered her her pick from the whole of Time and Space. Not being one to worry about blurring the lines between fact and fiction, the young companion asks to be swept back to medieval England to meet folklore legend, Robin Hood. Understandably sceptical, Twelve materialises the TARDIS in Sherwood Forest and starts to wax lyrical about why he couldn’t possibly exist when he narrowly avoids being skewered by the man himself’s arrow.

After fighting the outlaw (Tom Riley) off with a spoon and getting an impromptu dip in the stream (Hello major ‘Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves’ call backs), what ensues is a rollicking good adventure with a testosterone-fuelled archery competition, some delightfully tense male-bonding in the cells, and a predictably, dastardly plan by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Miller) to take over the World with the help of gold-coveting robots, who, like the clockwork droids in ‘Deep Breath’ are seeking the Promised Land and need the precious metal to repair their damaged space ship in order to get there. Aware that their plan to get away could do untold damage to Nottingham, the Doctor organises an ingenious coup amongst the peasants that involves silver platters and refracted laser beams, whilst Robin Hood tackles the Sheriff and wins, outmanoeuvring him and looking on as the power hungry, wannabe King drops into a vat of molten gold. Ouch! Just in the nick of time, between an injured Robin, Clara and the Doctor, they manage to fire the golden arrow at the robot’s fleeing space ship giving it enough fuel to leave the Earth’s atmosphere before blowing up, thus averting untold damage and devastation. As a parting gift Twelve leaves the laughing legend his beloved Marion, before embarking on the next adventure.

Is that lilac or magenta? The robots wage an unconvincing war of terror over medieval Nottingham.
Is that lilac or magenta? The robots wage an unconvincing war of terror over medieval Nottingham.

“Monster” of the week.

Marieke: Monster? Robots! Zapping all the merry men and women to dust! It’s hard not to compare them to the Cybermen for instance and I found the robots a bit tame. For me the biggest monster was that hairy mess on Ben Miller’s chin.

Danielle: Didn’t these shiny Darth Vader lookalikes emit a lovely shade of laser beam?! It’s almost a shame they were defeated so easily by those tactically placed silver platters.

Creep Factor

Marieke: Ah, this week it’s more of a cheek factor! It was the light-hearted Who episode, with lots of (fake) laughter and banter between the Doctor and Robin Hood. To me it was a pleasant episode cheering up a Whoniverse going into a darker direction. And the trailer for the next episode showed we’re going to dive well into the creepiness again!

Danielle: For someone so enamoured with the horror genre, it was never really Mark Gatiss’ intention to make you hide behind the sofa with this episode. This was all about Twelve establishing himself as the Chief hater of banter and laughter, whilst employing some zingy putdowns. The sword/spoon fight really was an inspired idea.

Mystery

Marieke: Another spaceship disguised as a building. That’s the second one now. The Whoniverse interior decorators are having a field day with this! Other than that no sign of Missy or the victim refugees surprisingly finding their way into heaven.
I have to add I liked the comparison between the Doctor, Robin Hood and the myths surrounding them, even though it was on obvious one. I think it had to be established for Twelve, who still doesn’t seem entirely sure what he’s all about. Still a bit of a mystery too then!

Danielle: Yet again we encountered twenty-ninth Century robots desperately searching for their own personal Valhalla. Why is that? What is it that happened eight hundred years in the future that propelled them back into the past, and made them seek out the ‘Promised Land’ by an means necessary? I’m sure we’ll find out. Eventually.

Ben Miller as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Ben Miller as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Familiar Face of the Week

Since he’s been mentioned before, Ben Miller. Death in Paradise, dead in Who. That’s a tagline! Also a special mention has to go to Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor, who made an appearance on the robots’ memory bank when Twelve was explaining to Robin Hood that he was nothing more than a myth. If things got any more meta, the nature of reality would collapse in on itself.

The Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, made an appearance as none other than Robin Hood.
The Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, made an appearance as none other than Robin Hood.

How is Capaldi doing so far?

Marieke: He is a good actor. I even think he’s born for the part, with his personal fan history and all. But honestly… I’m not feeling Twelve yet. I hope I will, because it makes watching so much more satisfying. It’s not that I am not over Matt Smith, but to me he felt more like the quirky Doctor I had in mind. I’m interested to see how this plays out.

Danielle: And here’s where me and my blog buddy differ. I loved Eleven. I even had my moments with Nine and Ten, but I really like the odd mixture of dourness, curiosity and vulnerability that this actor brings to such a loved role. After what he’s been through, Twelve has to have evolved from the lovable, huggable, angular dorkiness that Matt Smith brought to the table, and at this point I already can’t imagine a better actor than Capaldi to do the job. Do I think he’s 100% gelling with Jenna Coleman’s Clara? Perhaps not, but I suspect that’s at least partially intentional as the rumours about the actress leaving the show at the end of this series continue to swirl around. Either way, I’m fully aboard the Capaldi train, and looking forward to the ride!

The Verdict?

‘Robot of Sherwood’ was a really fun episode, but, aside from the nice Robin/Doctor comparison, there’s no getting around the fact that this was mostly thigh-slapping filler. Next week’s ‘Listen’ looks a lot meatier and utterly terrifying.

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