Warning: This blog post contains both personal opinions and especially SPOILERS about the Series 8 episode of Doctor Who “Robot of Sherwood”. Reading beyond this point guarantees that you will encounter information regarding the episode that will ruin any and all of its surprises for you. Spoilers…
I enjoyed this episode. I feel like we got to spend more time with The Doctor, getting to see who he is now. I think with such a fresh face, getting that one on one time is important. I think that’s why I didn’t much care for last week’s episode – it felt rushed and the lack of character development left something to be desired. I like the story of Robin Hood and perhaps that is also what made this episode so watchable. The twists in a story you would otherwise know, were fun.
The episode opens and Clara is getting to choose a destination – anywhere and anytime she wants. Who wouldn’t love to be whisked away to the time of Robin Hood? I don’t blame her – sounds awesome. Oh… Robin Hood is fake? Well that sucks. But the Doctor accomodates if only in attempt to prove her wrong.
So for starters… I noticed that The Doctor suddenly knows how to fly the TARDIS. Our Eleventh Doctor never really seemed to have a knack for it and he stumbled about the console pushing buttons and shiny gizmos with hopes that he landed where he meant to. Number 12 on the other hand is very calm, robotic even in his mannerisms. He takes the TARDIS much more seriously.
They land in Sherwood Forest, England, Earth in 1090 A.D. and Wait… did an arrow just hit the TARDIS? I didn’t even think that was physically possible. She takes such a beating and yet a measly arrow just left a hole in her door? Sure, it healed itself and that was pretty cool. But an arrow? Come on.
It’s Robin Hood and boy is he a cheeky one. Because I absolutely loved BBC’s rendition of Robin Hood, I’m kind of bummed not to see the same actor. I notice however, that they are using the same set and props. Did you think I wouldn’t notice BBC? You always did like recycling your sets…
Looks like Robin Hood fashions The Doctor to be rich and what riches must his large, blue box contain! All of them in the universe, of course. The Doctor is ready and willing to fight for his lovely, blue lady… with a very large spoon. Wait, what? Does he seriously have a spoon and is he really going full on spoon to sword combat right now? Glad to see that although he’s so serious much of the time, he’s still the same kooky, mad man.
So here’s The Doctor… fighting Robin Hood… with a spoon… which Clara just stands around in her pretty dress like she’s at a fricken theater, watching a play. Oh no… there goes a button from The Doctor’s fancy jacket. Shit is about to get real.
Blah blah blah we briefly meet the antagonist who is of course, the Sheriff of Nottingham. And next, we meet all of Robin’s “Merry Men” while The Doctor analyzes hair, blood samples, sandals… convinced that none of these people are real while Clara believes in the impossible hero.
Random: The Doctor suddenly likes apples. New mouth. New rules.
And apparently The Doctor is an archer in addition to being a skilled swordsman. No surprise there. The boys all have a pissing contest until The Doctor grows bored and holy shit… the sonic screwdriver definitely does wood now – much to The Doctor’s surprise.
And then it all falls apart… there are robots among us. I get a sort of Cyberman and Dalek vibe off of them as if they couldn’t manage to come up with a new villain. They look kind of cool at least. Of course The Doctor, Clara and Robin Hood are captured, locked away in some sort of cellar where the boys can’t seem to stop having their little pissing contest once more. What is the deal with these two? Clara has had enough of their crap.
A plan to escape? One that does NOT involve a sonic screwdriver? I love, love, love that Clara calls him out on the over-usage of his sonic screwdriver. Just as well because Clara is taken from the dungeon… her dominant role in the conversation having convinced a guard intended to spy on them that she is the ringleader.
Oh, oh, oh! Now this… this I recognize! How interesting that this pops up. I distinctly remember that these special circuit boards of sorts made their first appearance in the Pompeii episode.
While Clara is away, the boys can’t seem to play nice. They manage to devise a plan to escape but they can’t seem to put away their egos long enough to finish the task. I’m convinced at this point that it’s because they both want to be seen as the hero in Clara’s eyes. Maybe that’s why The Doctor has tried to convince her that Robin Hood isn’t real. She fancies the story… and he wants to be the hero of her life.
This is why I have always liked Clara: She can take care of herself. She gets herself into hardly any trouble – in fact, a lot of it is of The Doctor’s doing. She is actually pretty clever and she plays opposite the Sheriff very nicely. She does so nicely that after the Sheriff manages to conquer um, the world? – using whatever secrets these robot man have supposedly imparted on him, he means to take Clara as his… consort? Seriously? What a jerk. Couldn’t even say Queen?
The Doctor and Robin Hood are mucking about the castle now, having somehow freed themselves enough to carry a large cinder block to which they are otherwise chained to – to the blacksmith’s area where they remove their chains. Finally – working together. What a strange door they find – strange for its time period and location anyways.
How intriguing – a ship that can also disguise itself and has done so as a 12th century castle. Destination? The Promised Land.
Robin Hood narrowly escapes the scene, taking Clara with him once confronted by the Sheriff and his fancy robots. The Doctor is taken prisoner and intends to cause a riot in the cellar where all of the peasants are working. Clara finds herself being interrogated by Robin who now knows something is amiss. Who is Robin Hood? Why doesn’t The Doctor believe he’s real? What does Clara know?
The Doctor manages to free the peasants with a clever plan – knocking out each robot, mirroring their own beam at them. And then he calls the Sheriff a pudding-headed primitive. What’s the deal with calling people pudding heads? After his banter (he banters now… after hilariously saying he doesn’t like bantering earlier in the episode) with the Sheriff, he realizes Robin Hood, the Legend… is in fact real! And just in time for him to arrive, Clara by his side.
A little sword fight and some fancy footwork copied from The Doctor, Robin defeats the Sheriff and they narrowly escape before the castle / ship takes flight. But they’ll never make it and it’s determined that the golden arrow prize from the archery contest is maybe just enough gold to make the ship able to fully take off. The ship manages full capacity before leaving the earth’s atmosphere and then failing miserably, exploding in space.
I really love the emotional banter between Robin Hood and The Doctor at the end of the episode. I love that Robin made sure he told The Doctor that Clara fancies him her hero. She’s told him all of his stories and while maybe she shouldn’t have, I think it’s beautiful. Even more beautiful… The Doctor saves Maid Marion and leaves her as a parting gift, reuniting her with Robin Hood.
So what did you think of this episode? Are you enjoying the 12th Doctor now that we’re starting to get to know him a little better?