WHEN Doctor Who tackles historical figures, they can be great, or terrible. In Season Two, Queen Victoria made an appearance in the excellent ‘Tooth and Claw’, which I highly enjoyed. Agatha Christie in ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’ was enjoyable, even if the premise wasn’t the best. This week’s episode, entitled ‘Robot of Sherwood’, is a prime example of when historical figures don’t come out so well.
Despite Dan’s distaste for the last episode, I really enjoyed ‘Into the Dalek’. Capaldi was excellent, the idea was new, and I was generally pleased. When I saw that Robin Hood was going to be featured, I immediately had my doubts. Robin of Locksley is an idea done to death, but I wasn’t prepared for just how disastrously he was going to be portrayed. The BBC is of course the same studio that produced that, urm, entertaining series Robin Hood from 2006-2009. Robin and his Merry Men appear in what could be considered one of the most stereotypical ways possible from a TV network; green robes, bows and arrows, the whole shebang, but without the slightest hint of a Northern accent (despite the episode taking place in Nottingham).
The episode stumbles through what could loosely be considered a plot. Some peasants are beaten up, a beheading scene is removed, etcetera. Ben Miller portrays a rather amusing Sheriff of Nottingham, a silver lining on the otherwise dark cloud of an episode, while Jenna Coleman’s Clara is actually quite annoying throughout. The robots that appear to be baddies are never really given much back story beyond the fact that they’re bad and want to fly their spaceship away. Much more emphasis is given to Hood and his outlaws over really explaining what the actual threat is. One of the better parts of the episode is the continuation of ‘The Promised Land’, a so far unexplained phenomenon that has appeared in every episode. Aside from this, the paper-thin plot gives no real kind of excitement to the viewer. No laughs are uttered, not even at that obviously HILARIOUS thing with the Doctor falling in the river.
Like every episode, Capaldi is excellent. His Doctor is sneering and unimpressed at the chuckling outlaws and Clara’s garish sarcasm and smugness, however the viewer is forced to sit through the Doctor fighting with a spoon. I thought we’d gotten right of this kind of tomfoolery when we killed off Matt Smith? The character of The Doctor is right, but just does not work with this kind of basic script. Historical inaccuracies and unimpressive script aside, the actually technique of the archery in the episode is poor at best, although I guess we couldn’t really expect more than that. One could argue that the episode was ‘fun’ or ‘quirky’, but you can make an episode actually good while retaining a sense of fun and excitement, as we had with Eccleston, Tennant and even Smith. No, what this episode was, was lazy.
But do you know what the worst thing about this episode was? The fact it was written by Mark Gatiss. That’s right, one of the genius’ behind Sherlock wrote this piece of garbage. For shame. If anything, ‘Robot of Sherwood’ shows how not to write an episode of Doctor Who. I doubt future generations will look back on the episode as one the series’ finest hours, but more of a slight blip on a fine actor’s stint as a great character. I look forward to next week’s episode; ‘Listen’.