The Doctor and Robin Hood bicker their way through Merrie Olde England as they try to out-hero one another on this week’s Doctor Who. What’s not to love?
After two weeks of darkness and table-setting for what’s to come with the Twelfth Doctor this season, it was nice to have an episode that was just plain fun this week. Mark Gattiss wrote my favorite episode last season, “The Crimson Horror”1, and he knocked this medieval adventure out of the park. I’m tempted to say it’s my favorite episode of the season so far.
We’re still figuring out who The Doctor is, you guys, and I figure we’ve got at least a few more episodes of this introspective-style plot before we’ve got it all locked down and just move on with the monster of the week. This episode seemed to mostly be showing that The Doctor is a bit more stubborn this time around, and certainly a crabbier sort. However, after two younger Doctors, I’m finding it refreshing to see a Doctor who’s acting the age he looks. Clara too is revealing more of herself, proving just as headstrong as we’ve previously seen, but still a little swept off her feet by Robin Hood when it turns out her hero is a real person.
I don’t think I’ve grinned this hard while watching a Doctor Who story since the first time I saw Prisoner of Zenda2. As it turns out, the Twelfth Doctor’s crabbier nature makes a perfect foil for the dashing Robin Hood. The two of them bickered their way through every plan and contest, and it made for hilarious moments all episode. Sure, something was going on with the Sheriff of Nottingham and his robotic guards3, but the Doctor’s refusal to believe that his initial statement that Robin Hood wasn’t a real person was wrong was fantastic.
After two episodes that have really been pushing new elements hard (The Doctor as Scotsman! Clara the schoolteacher! New potential love interest! Attack eyebrows!), it was nice to have an episode that seemed rooted entirely in just being fun (and even funny). It looks like we’re back to hiding behind the sofa in fear next week, but for now, I’ll enjoy watching this episode a few more times.
- There were a few nice classic series callbacks in this episode. “Carnival of Monsters” got a nice callback when the Doctor was skeptical they were actually in England, and the 2nd Doctor, Patrick Troughton, showed up in that montage of Robin Hood portrayers on the spaceship
- The Doctor taking on Robin Hood with a spoon was completely delightful.
- It wasn’t quite as heavily pushed this episode, but the Doctor’s found another group of aliens heading for “The Promised Land”. Something tells me we’ll be making a visit ourselves before the end of the series this year.
- which featured Diana Rigg chewing ALL of the scenery in the most delightful way possible ↵
- that’s a 4th Doctor serial, for those of you playing along at home. It might even be streaming – highly recommended ↵
- one thing that wasn’t clear from this episode, possibly due to a last-minute recut by the BBC in light of some recent beheadings, was who the titular Robot of Sherwood was. Robin proved to be real, and the guards were obviously robots of some sort, but it seems like the Sheriff may have had some sort of robotic connection himself, although it wasn’t clear ↵