Reviewed by Anna Jorgensen.
With Capaldi’s first two episodes setting a rather dark tone, Robot of Sherwood is a bright contrast. At Clara’s request, the Doctor lands them in Sherwood Forest, where we are immediately introduced to a cheery, bantering group of outlaws: the well-known Robin Hood, and his merry men. This creates a new situation for the Doctor, as his disbelief in the reality around him is quite apparent. The first part of this story is fairly predictable for those who know the tales of the famous outlaw, but soon the familiar alien twist is brought in, and things start to get interesting.
This episode seems directed more towards the Doctor’s character rather than any sort of formidable enemy. The robots are just robots, and really just plot devices rather than any sort of special enigma to be unravelled. No new technology is introduced to us, and we just have to accept that alien tech is there, despite it being a very foreign concept to the majority of the characters. The focus of the story seems to be more the Doctor and Robin Hood, perhaps eventually seeing them mirrored within one another, perhaps that being the reason for their mutual dislike.
In the previous episode, the Doctor questions himself, asking, “Am I a good man?” This episode seems to continue that theme, particularly focussing on whether or not the Doctor is a hero. Many parallels are used to show the similarities between the Time Lord and the Prince of the Thieves, despite their apparent aversion towards each other. The thoughts conveyed in their final conversation leaves us wondering; are both the Doctor and Robin Hood just legends? The Doctor has told us many times that he is not a hero, yet perhaps he always appears that way because he is like a legend to us.
Being brighter in both a visual and verbal sense, this episode is filled with lots of comedic banter. It is a nice change after the last few stories, and kept me laughing almost as much as Robin Hood himself. It is very interesting to see the Doctor in such an environment in which he is obviously not very comfortable. He is so used to things never being as they seem that he is not willing to accept the bright and cheery reality presented to him when he first arrives.
Overall, the episode is very well done, and has a much lighter tone than its predecessors. It gives us insight to yet another side of the Doctor, one that he is reluctant to show at first, as he becomes accustomed to his new self. As he learns more about himself, he becomes more confident and perhaps a bit more willing to be accepting of new truths. He is more secure in his role as perhaps not a hero, but someone whose name will inspire others to be heroes.
“Listen” in tomorrow, for our next review with Owen!