After the previous two excellent and, let’s be honest, frankly dark episodes, a sense of frivolity returns in Mark Gatiss’ Robot of Sherwood. Fulfilling a promise to Clara, the Doctor whisks off to Sherwood and straight in front of the tights of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Which for Clara, as a huge fan of the legend, is a dream come true and an excuse to dress up. For the Doctor though, it’s a troubling matter because as far as he’s concerned, the Earl of Loxley never existed. Then there’s the problem of the knight robots who work under the say so of the Sherriff of Nottingham. What is a time lord to do?
Series 8 of Doctor Who, and in particular Peter Capaldi’s interpretation of the Doctor, needed this episode before the glumness set in. We know he’s moody, we know he’s arrogant. But let’s step out of the shadows, shall we? Whilst Twelvy doesn’t look like he’s going to be cracking a smile too much, Gatiss manages to bring out enough awkwardness in him that suggests the twinkle in his predecessors’ eye is still there. Working out complicated sums whilst eating some kind of desert behind Clara’s back? Done. Using a spoon to attack to Robin Hood? Check. Failing to recognize a real sandal when he sees one? We’ve all been there.
Everybody was on fine form, with Jenna Coleman getting more to do than she ever did as a plot device last season (And I mean that with the greatest respect, I bloody love Clara) Standing up to the Sherriff of Nottingham, played with Alan Rickman familiarity by Ben Miller, she was just a bad ass. Okay, she went a bit squiffy when she met Robin Hood, but come on, who hasn’t gone a bit weak at the knees when they meet a hero?
Whilst there was no Missy to be seen, Gatiss’ episode carried on what I suspect is Season 8’s key theme of breaking down the Doctor into little bite sized chunks of psychology. After badmouthing the very existence of Robin Hood, the Doctor discovered that he shared a lot in common with the green tighted vigilante; inspiring future generations to do good and stand up for they believe in. The Doctor may have lost his oversized fringe and buried his head in calculus, but he knows his right from his left.
What I originally thought in Deep Breath and Into the Dalek, was a way of breaking the new Doctor to the kiddies seems to be more complex than that. The Doctor has gone through a belief shattering experience. After coming to terms with his life ending, he was rather surprisingly given a whole new regeneration cycle. That’s a whole new life! If any one of us were to die right now having accepted our fate, only to rise like Lazarus, how do we think it would affect us? Would we begin to cherish every new day and find the beauty in everything? If we looked back on our life, would we scrutinize the bad things we’d done and try to better ourselves? Maybe we would.
Now imagine having over 2000 years to look back on. Wouldn’t you feel pretty small and humble when stood next to your mistakes?
If the Doctor is asking if he’s a Good Man, I think he’s hoping whatever he achieved at the end of his first life cycle justified the means.
Obviously this is a bit deep for an episode that was a wonderful bit of history and nonsense, but I’m putting it out there nonetheless. I’ll be interested to see where they go with this.
About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.
If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.