Review of Series 8: Episode 3: Doctor Who – Robot of Sherwood

Robot of Sherwood

Mark Gatiss

SPOILERS SWEETIE – Watch the episode first.

disappointed
“You’ll only be disappointed”

As far as I’m concerned, Peter Capaldi is a great actor, his performance is natural, believable, and it’s clear that he has a vision for the arc of this character. Although I find that I am captivated by his performance, the character he’s currently playing is unlikeable, unconfident, riddled with crippling self-doubt, over-compensating always, unfocused, stubborn, with pretty much every quality that the previous doctors were accused of not having.

This episode had a controversial scene removed… not because of anything other than the sight of a robot head being decapitated, may have offended the sensitivities of a few viewers in light of recent world events. As a result, the entire point of the story was ruined. I had the opportunity to view the cut footage, I found it inoffensive – but my sensibilities grew up in a completely different culture, the pity was the missing footage contained the key to the Sheriff’s motivation – without it, the Sheriff makes no sense, the plot makes no sense, the sense of urgency – makes no sense.

We discover in the cut footage that the Sheriff was once a man that the ship crashed onto and killed, they rebuilt him and designated him as their leader. This is important because what we’re left with now is one throw away line that the sub-title writer missed.

We also missed out on the opportunity to see a headless half-man, half-robot fight, and in light of the half-man in “Deep Breath” we have a hole in the story.

Although never equal, when the Doctor and Clara’s relationship was more mutual, it had an intimate feel. The intimacy no longer exists as it did before, but Clara’s revised role has become meatier as a result, and has taken us in a different direction, which might account for why we feel that we don’t really know her anymore. Some like her less, but viewed in isolation in future months, the shift might not seem as radical as it is now, and we’ll probably get used to it.

“She’s been called upon to do things that I don’t think any other companion has had to do, to show a kind of emotional range and I think she’s done it absolutely brilliantly.” – Peter Capaldi on co-star Jenna Coleman

 

Bested

Robot of Sherwood” is the third episode of the eighth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, written by Mark Gatiss and directed by Paul Murphy, and first broadcast on 6 September 2014. The episode stars Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, with Tom Riley and guest-starring Ben Miller.

The Verdict

Robot of Sherwood is a fun romp through historical lit while asking whether the point was whether the legend was real, or whether or not it matters. “History is a burden, stories should fly” Robin Hood reminds us. Some clever camera tricks, shots and angles. The feel of the episode is appealing, shot in bright colours, vibrant music score and with some wicked whizzy effects. With a lot going for it, there’s something of a classic Who historical feel, and since this is by and large a children’s show, it’s a great way to teach little ones about the story of Robin Hood without it being too complicated, or terrifying. If you’re worried that little Johnny is going to believe that Robin Hood existed after watching, and is likely to go on a wealth redistribution spree any time soon, then maybe you need to sit down and have an awkward conversation.

We know from “Into the Dalek” how his darker nature uncomfortably mirrors the Daleks, but from “Robot of Sherwood” we can also see how he mirrors the literary hero Robin Hood (The Doctor fights bad guys to protect the good). Ironically enough, the thirteenth doctor got on better with Rusty the Dalek than the charismatic Mr Hood.

I really find myself hoping that he’ll bring the Doctor back round with some softer nuances, but three episodes in and the Doctor is wrong often and Clara is always right. It has to come back around at some point because we watch Doctor Who, not Teacher Clara, but how crazed and frustrated do we have to become before it turns?

Is it possible that one of the Doctor’s hearts is malfunctioning? Would that explain why he’s wrong so often, flawed and stubborn? What is he thinking with regard to Clara and why isn’t he asking more questions about The Promised Land while he can?

There were plot devices that could have been slightly tweaked, excessive repetition of inconsequential and absolutely no exploration of pivotal plot points. Apart from the fact that the missing footage ruins the entire reveal, the episode itself it was funny and colourful to be enjoyed by children of every age.

While I’m convinced the actor is doing an excellent job, I really am not sure about this Doctor yet, I just don’t trust him anymore and I think this is what was hinted at when the new doctor was announced. I just hope it pays off. I am enjoying the performance of the two playing off each other because it’s something completely different to get to grips with.

Robot of Sherwood was the weaker episode of this season so far, but with some of the best laugh out loud one-liners and could have withstood going a little deeper.

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