Doctor Who: Robot of Sherwood

This won’t be a review, so much as a simple declaration of liking or – as it might in fact be – not liking for the latest episode of Doctor Who.

And, to be frank, at this point it’s a bit of both.  The Robin Hood legend works very well as spoof or parody, so the comedic approach isn’t a deal-breaker in itself.  But…

As far as I could make out, the Doctor and Clara arrive in Sherwood Forest in 1190, because Clara wants to meet Robin Hood.  The Doctor indulges her, even though he knows Robin Hood never existed.  So he’s quite surprised, stepping out of the Tardis door into the forest, to find the said Mister Hood laughing theatrically at him.  There follows an entertainingly farcical adventure yarn as Robin and the Doctor – despite irritating each other beyond measure – join forces to defeat the evil plans of the Sheriff of Nottingham (played in this instance by Ben ‘Armstrong & Miller’ Miller).

I admit, the new Doctor has grown on me remarkably quickly.  He has a certain mania that appeals, and it doesn’t hurt that, vocally speaking (is there another way?), he sounds rather like a sort of Scottish Tom Baker.  But, as with all the Doctors, the real draw is in his darkness.  This wasn’t a darkness episode, though it was perfectly good for comedy.  His lapse into utter petulant childishness in the face of the pantomime-esque Hood was thoroughly enjoyable, and pushed Clara into the position of governess to two squabbling boys.

Of course the story degenerated into aliens and spaceships, and I found myself – not for the first time – wondering whether Doctor Who couldn’t produce a historical story using an actual historical problem: there was plenty of injustice in the twelfth century – why not base a story on that?  The programme was originally intended to be at least partially a history lesson for its young audience.

But for the most part the episode was good fun, and it wasn’t meant to be anything else.  There were passing references to the series’ apparent overall story arc – the ship was intended to travel to ‘the Promised Land’ – but it was obviously intended as a pause from that and, if I’m honest, it did come over as a little inconsequential.

Still, I’m not a total curmudgeon.  The episode was supposed to be fun, and it was fun, if very, very silly.  But I’m definitely looking forward to next week, which looks a little scarier.

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