Monday, 8 September 2014


The Doctor and Clara meet Robin Hood.

After two somewhat 'dark' episodes, Doctor Who decides to take a break and tell Mark Gatiss to give us a fun, light-hearted romp of an adventure. Have Clara ask the Doctor to allow her to meet Robin Hood. Throw in the Sheriff of Nottingham, a couple of Merry Men, robots and a duel with a spoon and you have all the makings of a nice filler episode.

Firstly, if you haven't already, catch up here with DEEP BREATH
Catch up the 2nd episode of the series here with INTO THE DALEK

Over the years, Gatiss' stories have been more miss than hit for me. I loathed Cold War, but found myself wondering if they didn't make a mistake crediting Gatiss as the writer of The Crimson Horror. It seemed impossible that both those stories could've been written by the same man. So to be completely honest, I wasn't expecting much from Robot of Sherwood.

However, if Cold War represents the bottom of the barrel and The Crimson Horror the top, then Robot of Sherwood belongs near the middle. It isn't mind-blowingly spectacular, but it isn't a failure either. it's like what they said it was going to be: A light-hearted romp.

"Would be cool if we did something other than just stand around and look merry."

Some readers know that I am a huge fan of outdoor shooting, so setting 90% of the episode within the forest provided for some beautiful scenery and already scored points with me. The music was also something I paid more attention to than last week. This week the music had more of a presence which was nice as it's not just the dialogue and visuals you want to enjoy - it's everything.

The story's pacing was spot on and provided enough time to follow the various comical scenes and mishaps this episode presented us. Special shout out goes to the Doctor and Robin Hood's banter interactions. Although in some parts, it felt more like this episode would be more suited to the wacky Eleventh Doctor than the Twelfth. I did enjoy the twelfth's grumpiness towards things like laughing and banter. Those bits made it feel more like Doctor number 12!

The plot was a little predictable and in some places overshadowed by the comedic tones of episode. This caused the villain and their schemes to have less impact. Since we're dealing with a 'if you do this, you'll change the course of history' scenario, it would've been nice if more effort was put into showcasing the severity of the situation.

"Even if I fall in, I won't lose. I CAN SWIM!"

I've never been a big fan of Robin Hood, so his inclusion in the plot felt like literary fanservice. I was on the Doctor's side waiting for the moment Robin Hood would be unmasked, but was pleasantly surprised by how Gatiss chose to end the episode. That scene between Robin and the Doctor, their dialogue leaning on the fourth wall of Doctor Who was not only funny, but touching.  It was a thousand times better than unmasking Robin Hood as a robot or a fictitious character.

This episode also played host to four main characters in the Doctor, Robin Hood, Clara and the Sheriff. Even though meeting Robin Hood was Clara's idea, Robot of Sherwood felt more like it was throwing a surprise party for a Doctor who probably hates such things. Underneath all that annoyance and grump, the Twelfth Doctor was having fun cheating at archery, dueling Robin Hood with a spoon and sharing a ball and chain with him (makes sense in context).

"I am the Sheriff. And you...will obey me."

When Ben Miller's Sheriff first appeared and killed that peasant, I felt like someone had resurrected Anthony Ainley. With that beard, Miller is a deadringer for Ainley. Seriously creepy moment there. As evil as he was, I couldn't help but laugh at the only other character apart from the Doctor who was supposed to be taking everything seriously. Miller portrays the Sheriff (ironically) as a typical 90s card carrying villain with a parody take over the world scheme. No, not 90s - 80s villain! See, I told you Ainley was back.

"By the time this scene ends, I'll have mastered this bow. Watch this space."

Moving on to Clara, she was a little better in this episode. When I heard she was going to use martial arts somewhere within in this story, I immediately suspected Gatiss was going to delve into her Clara-Sueness and have her pluck an extraordinary skill out of thin air. Thankfully that bit was lampshaded and Clara mostly served as a Peri (in The Two Doctors) for this story by keeping the Doctor and Robin from scratching out each other's eyes.

However, Clara outdoes Rose by now holding the record for having the most male characters fall in love with her. Mr. Latimer, the Eleventh Doctor, the Emperor, Danny Pink, the Sheriff and Robin Hood to some degree. Two in one episode. This isn't surprising as no matter what she does or says, other characters will be drawn to a Mary Sue and inexplicably prefer her company over that of anyone else, all of her ideas will be brilliant and all of her jokes are funny to them, all of her advice is an amazing breakthrough, people will trust her immediately, or very quickly, and feel more comfortable talking to her about personal or private things than to anyone else even if she hasn't done or said anything to make them feel that way about her.

"Why am I holding this device if you're not planning to show it as part of the episode?"

Robin Hood at first annoyed me. The Doctor is right: laughing that much about every single thing that happens is unhealthy. He and Clara both see through it. Inside, Robin Hood is grieving. His banter (it's allowed in this section) with the Doctor is magical. Like Laurel and Hardy or Bulk and Skull.

One major problem with this episode that thankfully didn't have a lot of screen-time was Maid Marian. Sabrina Bartlett's acting is as dead as a dodo. Every word just felt forced. Terrible portrayal.

Did you notice?
The irony pertaining to the Doctor. He spends 90% of the episode absolutely positive Robin is fictional, despite already meeting King Arthur, Mordred and Morgaine. Heck, his eighth incarnation ended up becoming Merlin. How about the bit after running a peasant through, the sheriff wipes off his blade, even though it's clean to begin with. There's also the ship's data banks including a picture of Robin Hood as portrayed by Patrick Troughton. The dynamic between Robin and the Doctor is clearly modeled after Flasheart and Blackadder.

Rating this episode: 7/10. It accomplishes what it sets out to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment