Doctor Who: Robot of Sherwood

I confess, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this episode of Doctor Who – the trailer set it up to be cheesy and silly in a way that doesn’t appeal to me. And for the first 5 minutes or so I was rolling my eyes. But after that I got more into it and ended up rather liking it, silliness & all.

SPOILERS AHEAD! Hover mouse over text to read, or read on entry page:

As the writers intended, I was expecting at first that it would turn out to be a future theme park version of Robin Hood or something of that sort. And really the idea that the “real” Robin Hood behind the legend would be such caricature of the legend was ridiculous. Perfect teeth, laughs too much, repeats slogans reminiscent of later political entities and so on & so forth. It’s just that by the end I was willing to forgive that because the rest of the episode was fun.

Even tho fun, it was a bit clunky at times – it turns out this was a Mark Gatiss written episode and he does tend towards the clunky. The Doctor-as-legend stuff was a bit heavy handed, particularly at the end with the final conversation with Robin Hood about being the man behind the myth. As was the message that working together is how you win – the Doctor/Robin bickering needs to be put aside, the oppressed villagers need to band together to kill off the robots, they can shoot the final arrow if all three work together.

I did like what they were doing with Clara here – the genre (Robin Hood tales) sets us up for damsel-in-distress and the dress made her look the part, and then she very much did not need rescuing, she took care of that herself when necessary. I particularly liked how she turned the tables on the Sheriff and got him to explain his masterplan by playing on the star struck girl stereotype. I also liked the show-don’t-tell scene of Clara-the-schoolteacher when she first gets the bickering men to shut up and then admit that neither actually has a plan.

That’s potentially one of the recurring motifs we’ve had across this season so far, too – Clara the schoolteacher. I’m not sure if that’s characterisation tho, or if it’s a genuine part of the season arc. Other motifs that came up this episode: we had another colour name (Will Scarlet, who is obviously a part of the Robin Hood mythos but even so), robots searching for the Promised Land, robots and/or cyborgs in need of repairs (I’m thinking we can count last week’s Dalek in that category too). We didn’t get Missy showing up to welcome someone to Paradise/Heaven tho. But I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see those robots turn up again whenever we get to the pay-off for Missy’s collection – i.e. collected off-screen. And the Doctor is beginning to pick up on some of the repetitions, too – well “the Promised Land” one anyway.

I don’t think I really have much more to say – but it feels a bit more like the new Doctor is hitting his stride here. There was a bit of harshness and some more brutal pragmatism (you notice the gold arrow was only a solution to make the exploding ship not explode too close, it still exploded). But he didn’t feel like quite such an arrogant bastard as in the last episode.