Kyle J. Steenblik

Robot of Sherwood was playful and nostalgic

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Doctor Who: Robot Of Sherwood was a little disappointing because the script appears fantastic, but appeared absentmindedly directed.  This is one episode I had to watch twice to be sure that I was not simply misunderstanding the episode (thanks to a long convention weekend) on my part.  After my second viewing, I feel more confident saying director Paul Murphy mishandled Mark Gatiss’ script, missing several thematic elements that would have kept the characters from feeling somewhat hollow.  Poor pacing kept the story and characters from developing into anything beyond playful entertainment.

The chief problem I saw was the reduction of Robin Hood to an overly jovial caricature.  The seeds of a troubled character putting on a merry facade are present in the script, and even in Tom Riley’s performance.  It is a shame that was overlooked as much as it was.  This is also evident in the overall lighthearted tone of the episode, which ran contrary to the underlying story.

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Robot Of Sherwood

Season 8 | Episode 3 | Original Airdate: September 6th, 2014

In a sun dappled Sherwood forest, the Doctor discovers an evil plan from beyond the stars, and strikes up an unlikely alliance with Robin Hood. With all of Nottingham at stake, the Doctor must decide who is real and who is fake. Can impossible heroes actually exist?

Written by Mark Gatiss. Directed by Paul Murphy. Guest starring Tom Riley & Ben Miller.

I hate to get down on any episode of Doctor Who, I really do, so I am going to leave my critique where I did, and I’ll end with a good note.  The banter in this episode is easily some of the consistently hilarious of the series.  It allowed Peter Capaldi to display terrific comedic timing, and for Tom Riley to show he can hold his own against a personality as large as Capaldi’s.  When Robin and The Doctor are chained together in the Sheriff’s dungeon the resulting argument and competition between those two personalities is priceless.  Jenna Coleman has an opportunity to stretch Clara’s legs and develop that character into something beyond the impossible girl chasing The Doctor.  This time around, she was the flirty girl chasing the legendary Robin Hood, and spilling the Doctor’s secrets.  If I had to make predictions, I would say this is where we first see a fracturing of the relationship that may lead to Clara’s departure.  Finally, Ben Miller was fantastic as the ruthless Sheriff of Nottingham, cementing him into the pantheon of actors I will always love as the villain.

Robot Of Sherwood will not land in the treasury of my favorite stories, it will reside in the collection of fun nostalgic episodes.  For seasoned fans of The Doctor watch this episode for the Easter eggs of Doctors past, and hilarious banter which The Doctor is firmly against.

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