‘Robot Of Sherwood’
Remember back before series 8 started, and Steven Moffat insisted that there would be no series ‘arc’ this year, no recurring element that would tie everything together? Last night’s episode revealed that he might not have been telling the truth, and it also represented the first overall misstep of this series so far.
As the title suggests, Robot of Sherwood saw the classic Robin Hood myth combine with otherworldly forces. The sheer playfulness of the plot was one of the highlights of the episode, in particular the Doctor’s certainty that Robin Hood simply wasn’t real. The robots were a good villainous presence, albeit one that felt thrown together from elements of previous villains – a dash of the angels from Voyage of the Damned, the execution style of the Anne Droid from Bad Wolf, and the robotic voice of many. There was perhaps a tendency to get carried away adding in parts of the classic myth – who else saw the single other speaking female character in the episode being Maid Marian the second she came on screen?
Yet even for a show as breathtakingly convenient as Doctor Who, there were one too many corners cut in resolving the plot. Take the Doctor and co. using plates to deflect back the ‘laser beams of death’, despite holding the plates to their chests against foes that clearly fired at people’s foreheads. Or spending a good deal of time in the cells, losing the keys, and then somehow just escaping. I get that no one watches a show about a 900-year-old alien who travels in space and time in a box that’s bigger on the inside for the realism, but even so, after a point it becomes a bit frustrating.
Once again there were some great scenes, in particular the Doctor, Clara, and Robin Hood locked up together – the two supposed ‘heroes’ bickering while Clara takes authority. Again, Capaldi displayed why he was chosen to be the Twelfth Doctor, Jenna Coleman continued her good start to the series, while there were solid guest performances from Ben Miller and others.
Before finishing then, let’s discuss the arc that seems to be building. Three episodes in, and each one has had at least a reference to ‘The Promised Land’. It’s not entirely clear where that could be – should Missy indeed be the Rani then that would point to Galifrey…but that’s not exactly an original idea. More likely is that it’s an entirely new idea that will become clearer as we go along.
Hampered by too much corner cutting, Robot of Sherwood was not as good as the previous two episodes. Still, if this is an off week, we have a great series to look forward to this year.