Dr.Who Episode 3 - "Robot of Sherwood"
Merry Men, a Golden Arrow, and robots aplenty as the Doctor meets a hero of British folklore. There’s whimsy and swashbuckling galore in this interpretation of the classic tale, but sadly Mark Gatiss’ script doesn’t quite hit the bullseye.
The story starts as the Doctor offers Clara the chance to go anywhere in time and space. She says she wants to meet Robin Hood and, after a touch of derision, the Doctor takes them to Sherwood Forest, Nottingham, 1190(ish); if only to prove that such a man does not exist. An arrow to the door of the TARDIS from the rogue in green himself does little to change the Doctors assumptions, and rather than accept that he was wrong and that heroes do exist, the Doctor instead sets out to find evidence to support the conclusion he, wrongly, leapt too.
Those answers become apparent at the tournament to crown the greatest archer, where an altercation leads to the reveal that the Sheriff of Nottingham's Knights are all robots. From here we learn that the robots ship has crashed while on a journey to the “Promised Land” (season plot arc alert) and that they are fulfilling the role of the baddies in order to blend in to their environment, taking their influence from the fables and tales of folklore in their databanks. They terrorise the locals to gather the gold they need to rebuild the ships circuitry so they can take off. Throw in a couple of sword fights, the doctor doing hard time in a prison cell, and a Nobby Nobbs-esque million to one arrow shot; and that is the plot in a nutshell.
Jon Pertwee’s Doctor gets a couple of call backs. The first is the mention of the miniscope, which appeared in number 3’s episode “Carnival of Monsters”; and the second is the, possibly, Venusian Aikido chop with which Capaldi disarms Robin Hood. I do love spotting easter eggs to old Who stories, I probably miss more than I catch.
With “I am the Doctor, and this is my spoon” I thought that Gatiss had managed to find a way to portray the fun side of Capaldi’s Doctor. Unfortunately that all disappeared when he got unceremoniously dumped in the river. From that point on the Doctor seemed to get relegated to the third most important character in this story, behind Clara and Robin Hood; and that just seemed very weird, and the point at which it started to go wrong for me.
The gravitas and mystery that Capaldi has so far brought to the role seemed to vanish in to fits of squabbling with Robin Hood. He was an altogether more cantankerous man in this episode, and one has to question why Clara would choose to go anywhere with him.
While the episode does have some good dialog in places, and the tournament scenes are a lot of fun; it all just seemed like it was written for the wrong Doctor. This has the feel of a script that was left over from the Matt Smith days. He had a much more physical style than Capaldi, and I could see him taking the plunge into the river. Even the bickering would have been more consistent with Matt Smith’s youthful Doctor.
Not a million miles off the mark, but still a way off the bullseye for me.
Quote of the Week:
Robin Hood: Robin Hood laughs in the face of all. Ahahaha!
The Doctor: And do people ever punch you in the face when you do that?
Robin Hood: Not as yet
The Doctor: Lucky I’m here then, isn’t it