On the D/L – Doctor Who
Season 8 Episode 3 – “Robot of Sherwood”
Can you believe it took them this long to have a Robin Hood themed episode of Doctor Who? Well now we have one which mercifully means they probably can’t do so again…at least not for a while.
The Doctor and Clara find themselves in 1190 as per Clara’s request since she’s always wanted to meet Robin Hood. The Doctor insists that the man never existed but he takes her there anyway and seems to be immediately proven wrong. As the story continues The Doctor uncovers a plot by The Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Miller) and his army of robots to launch a crashed ship using all the Gold they can find.
Even by Doctor Who standards, this plot is incredibly weak and does nothing to really inspire any engagement with what’s going on. There are a number of boring scenes that run the gamut of Robin Hood tropes leaving no stone unturned in that respect and having Capaldi sneer at every single one of them. His lack of engagement in the events at least mirrored my own as I agreed with his general fed up attitude and constant declarations that none of this was funny. I read an article long ago (couldn’t find the exact article but here is one that addresses the general points) where Steven Moffat said that he was planning to fundamentally change the show with this season paying special attention to the style of humour; based on the first 3 episodes of this season I’ve seen no evidence of any change at all; in fact the show seems worse in that regard or maybe I’m becoming less tolerant of that style the more I watch. Either way, there’s been no real change in style and with Capaldi in the role it feels more out of place than ever. Now, I understand that Doctor Who is a family show and there needs to be an element of accessibility for audiences of all ages but it’s far too silly even for that, at least from my point of view.
In last week’s episode Into The Dalek, I felt as if I was getting a bit of a feel for what this Doctor character would be like in this season and for the most part I really liked what I saw but this week we’re back to the poorly defined crazy old man never short of a quip, despite the fact that he claims to hate bantering. His character felt really uneven this week in a very distracting way. It actually felt like an episode more suited to Matt Smith or David Tennant rather than this supposedly more seasoned Doctor type that Capaldi is supposed to be portraying.
As with the other 2 episodes this season, the highlight is Jenna Coleman’s Clara who is just a beacon of resourcefulness and quick thinking. The way she manipulates the Sheriff into telling her what she wants to know was incredible. She holds her own when not sharing the scene with Capaldi and Clara keeps proving herself to be a worthy companion. She had lots of chemistry with Tom Riley’s Robin Hood who was good for what he was but his character just annoyed me. The episode poses a question over whether he’s really a robot that embodies the legend but never really answers it, possibly to leave that a mystery to be talked about on internet forums for the next decade.
Don’t get me started on the pacing, it was just terrible. Every scene was a complete chore to sit through on almost every level. As I said above I agreed with the Doctor and his lack of patience over all the “banter” that was going on around him but even The Doctor was annoying me this week. The scene where he’s in the jail cell with Robin Hood was painful to sit through. It took far too long for anything to happen because writer Mark Gatiss seems to think an audience will enjoy endless Robin Hood reference so remind us of how “meta” this episode is supposed to be. I don’t have a problem with a fun Doctor Who episode but I do have a problem with a stupid Doctor Who episode.
This episode was nothing short of a mess; an absurdly plotted, uninteresting mess. Lack of an interesting villain, any grasp of pacing, nothing resembling cohesive story and stupid jokes at every turn makes this a chore to sit through. Some redemption is gained through good use of Jenna Coleman’s Clara in a key scene but there’s nothing else worth salvaging from this loathsome outing.