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Doctor Who recap: Robot of Sherwood

The Doctor and Clara meet Robin Hood.

Posted on

Adrian Rogers/BBC

Doctor Who

TV Show
Sci-fi and Fantasy
run date:
Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas
BBC America
Current Status:
In Season

And now we have come to these episodes… the ones the famous Doctor Who is infamous for… the haphazardly written episodes centering around some sort of gimmick but carrying the same charm that keep viewers enthralled. It’s no secret that Doctor Who has these episodes. Even the most hardcore fans rally around and deride episodes such as the extremely disjointed “Fear Her” to the gag-inducing “Love & Monsters”. “Robot of Sherwood” isn’t nearly as far down the totem pole as those, luckily, but it does come across as flat and insipid compared to the two relatively strong episodes preceding it.

But that’s okay. Doctor Who really wouldn’t be Doctor Who if it didn’t have these kinds of average episodes to explore the various incarnations of the character and show off how the overarching plot is meddling in affairs across time and space. And, more importantly, these kinds of episodes always give the actors a lot of room to play around, helping to seal their performances in our minds. And, jeez, does Capaldi ever deliver as the Doctor. It’s worth paying attention only to him in this entire episode to see how convincingly he plays a stoic alien with little regard for anything but his own interests.

The episode begins with the Doctor offering Clara the chance to go anywhere in time and space she wishes (or is that anywhen she wishes?), so Clara chooses to visit Robin Hood. The Doctor and Clara banter for a while about whether Robin Hood is real or just a legend. But Clara won’t acquiesce and the Doctor agrees to take her solely to show her once and for all that Robin Hood isn’t real.

And as quick as an arrow, Robin Hood (Tom Riley of Da Vinci’s Demons) reveals himself to be real, complete with the pretty boy close-up shot, a wink of the eye, and teeth-shining grin. It’s almost a surprise that his hair isn’t being blown back by the breeze, too. Immediately, the no-longer-just-a-legend man announces he’s going to steal the TARDIS. (Let’s just look over the fact that he steals from only the rich. Clearly proper pacing and the natural evolution of plot and characterization are of minute importance in this episode. This will continue happening—just go with it.) Capaldi’s Doctor, in his usual stoically defiant way, tells Robin that it’s not happening. So Robin pulls a sword on the Doctor. And the Doctor responds in kind with a spoon of his own.

Yes, a spoon. The two engage in a lengthy… er, swordfight? Spoonfight? Let’s just say battle. They engage in a lengthy battle until the Doctor tricks Robin and sends him tumbling into the creek. As he stands triumphantly, Robin comes up from behind and knocks the Doctor into the water.

We then see the Sheriff of Nottingham and his army terrorizing villagers, stealing their gold, taking a woman for manual labor, and murdering her father for standing up to him. In case the events don’t make it clear: The Sheriff is probably the villain. And, uh, that’s all you need to know for now. Back to the funny.

NEXT: Once more, with lots of plot