Clara gets to choose the destination this time around and the Doctor, begrudgingly, grants her wish to find Robin Hood; someone who the Time Lord is adamant is nothing but a legend. The from Lincoln-green tunic to feathered cap, the outlaw and his band of Merry Men as very real – much to the Doctor’s chagrin – and above all, are incredibly fun.
But what is Doctor Who without a monster of the week? And this week we get two. The robot’s of the title disguise themselves as medieval knights whose helmets split to reveal a Doctor Doom-esque visage from which they fire a crucifix-like laser, dissolving anyone who opposes them. These aliens are robbing from everyone in order to repair their ship – camouflaged as Nottingham Castle – using the stolen gold to smelt and manufacture machine parts.
The other monster was the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham (played by Ben Miller) who chewed upon the scenery at every turn. He was truly brilliant, if somewhat underused to interact with the Doctor and Robin, and proved that not every Doctor Who baddie needs to have mechanical parts or scales.
The relationship between the Doctor and Robin Hood was breathtaking to watch. Capaldi and Riley reveled in their respective roles; one convinced the other did not exist while Robin laughed off all the Doctor’s jibes with glee. There was more than a nod to Capaldi’s previous work as Malcolm Tucker as his acid tongue fought back a slew of giddy joy from Riley’s overzealous and heroic character.
There was more than an echo of previous, classic Doctor’s in Robot of Sherwood too. There was the action-packed aikido from the Third Doctor while his cynicism but ultimately heroic character was almost straight out of a William Hartnell adventure. This was more than welcome and reveals more about the Twelve’s true nature – whether or not it is a repercussion of his difficult regeneration, this Doctor does not seem to believe himself a hero and, consequently, finds it hard to invest the sentiment in others. He still needs to find himself and accept that just because he is powerful, he is not evil. These them has run throughout the first three episodes so far and looks set to build Twelve into even more of a hero than his predecessors by the time his run is over.
Interestingly, there was no Missy in this episode although she was alluded to and there was a glaring reference to The Promised Land which seems to be this season’s overall arc. Do you have any theories who she is? The Rani or perhaps the Master regenerated as a female Time Lord? Let us know in the comments section below.
Robot of Sherwood was an absolute joy to watch. Some have maligned the episode as being too tongue-in-cheek or just far too silly when, for me, it was a breath of fresh air. Everyone looked to be having fun and rocketing through the bizarre adventure. Over the last couple of seasons, I have had reservations about watching Doctor Who with my children (yes, I appreciate part of the fun of the show is watching from behind the sofa) – the hot air balloon made of skin from Deep Breath didn’t help if I’m honest – but Robot of Sherwood allayed all my concerns.
From a battle across a log stretching over the river (hmm, wonder where they got that idea…), Robin with a sword and the Doctor with, get ready for it, a serving spoon to an archery scene straight from the Disney classic (check out the tents and Robin’s costume if you don’t believe me!), this was a fun-filled, family adventure that everyone could sit down and enjoy.