Our new Doctor really begins to hit his straps as he takes Clara to meet a legend in Robot of Sherwood.
This episode gets us back to basics, with The Doctor and Clara resolving to simply do a bit of adventuring in time and space. Clara chooses to go and meet Robin Hood, and despite The Doctor’s claims that he is nothing but a myth, meet him they do. After a brief duel and a mild innuendo (seriously, I don’t think they can help themselves), Robin takes The Doctor and Clara to meet his Merry Men.
What follows is a very condensed retelling of the Robin Hood story as we are introduced to the main villain, the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is swiftly shown to be a nasty piece of work. Then we bounce straight to the archery contest for the golden arrow where things take a sharp turn away from the norm, and The Doctor and Robin take time to get really stuck into a phenomenal comedic double act. It really was very entertaining.
Interestingly it is Clara who gets to take the lead in coaxing out the Villain Monologue and securing a bit of back-story from the Sheriff. It’s always good to see the Companion adding practical value rather than just being a warm body to explain things to or as an emotional foil for The Doctor.
The season arc tease was a little less offensive this episode in that Missy herself was blissfully absent, however it still seemed clumsily shoved in. We don’t need the arc referenced in every episode. Let’s just enjoy a standalone episode for once.
The Doctor works out the Sheriff’s plan and why it won’t work, revealing a flaw that will prove fatal to half the country. And here’s where it falls apart a bit for me. Ignoring the practicalities of The Doctor’s solution, I liked that the three of them had to work together to pull it off, and the overall resolution of the episode was nice, especially Robin’s words to The Doctor.
Overall, the episode ran a little short, making the whole thing seem a bit rushed. I can forgive The Doctor and Clara happening to materialize right next to Robin, thereby getting things moving quickly, but the Robin Hood legend is so rich that it’s always going to be tough to get it into such a short space of time. We move straight from introducing characters to a major point in the legend. Add to this that (amusing as it was) a lot of time was chewed up on the banter between Robin and The Doctor and things just seem a little hurried.
I have to say that I still found this episode to be great fun, and would totally re-watch. I have to give it extra points because my wife actually enjoyed this one, and she’s not really a fan at all.