They say never to meet your heroes – especially if there’s a chance they might be fictional. But despite the Doctor’s protests, Clara convinces him to take her to see the legendary Robin Hood. Of course, as soon as they arrive in medieval England, the legend himself immediately appears… but all is not as it seems.
The Doctor is unconvinced by his surroundings, claiming that the trees are too green for the time of year… and he’s not entirely sure about Robin Hood, either. Concerned that he may be a robot or even a hologram, the Doctor remains adamant that he can’t exist. And when they eventually find themselves confronted by a band of robotic knights, it seems his fears may not be entirely unwarranted.
It’s an interesting episode and the kind of stand-alone story that really gives Capaldi chance to shine. His almost curmudgeonly disregard for Robin Hood is played to perfection, and it’s clear that the Doctor is convinced that Robin can’t be who he claims to be.
Of course, this continues along the theme of the previous episodes in that the story reflects the complex feelings of the Doctor about himself. Here, Robin Hood is much like the Doctor himself – a man who has become a legend. And the parallels between them serve to get the Doctor thinking about his own path in life. Will he too become forgotten? The last remnants of himself told as a bedtime story?
I have to admit, I rather like the fact that Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is tackling existential issues in such a deft and action-packed way. And while the story has a lot of silly moments, it really makes us think about the Doctor in a more measured way – just as he seems to be questioning what makes him tick.
But as I said, there are a few duff moments…
The introduction of new series regular Danny Pink (played by Samuel Anderson) is a huge misfire. It’s clear that he’s intended to be Clara’s love interest as time goes on, but rather than subtly paving the way, we were repeatedly bludgeoned over the head with ‘hints’ that he fancies her… including some truly awkward, angsty internal monologues.
And Clara was no better, taking a huge leap backwards in terms of character development as she becomes the typical girl-with-a-crush. Of course, this relationship will (hopefully) develop further as time goes on. But let’s just hope they don’t take too long about it. After all, I don’t think I can stand them making gooey eyes at each other over the TARDIS controls for more than a couple of episodes.
On that note, it’ll be interesting to see exactly how Danny Pink joins the crew of the TARDIS. It’s already clear that his position as a series regular will eventually lead to him clambering into the big, blue police box. And I get the feeling it’s going to happen sooner rather than later. But will he and the Doctor get along?
After previous comments about the Doctor not wishing to travel with a soldier, it looks as though there could be some friction… and perhaps it’s about time.
Of course, ‘Robot of Sherwood’ didn’t really expand on that and remains a neat little stand-alone adventure, even if it does pave the way for something bigger. It’s not exactly the most intelligent ‘Doctor Who’ story, which is surprising given that it was penned by Mark Gatiss. At times, it comes across as silly, frivolous and downright annoying – the ending was one of those ‘one-in-a-million’ conclusions that just feels unrealistic, even for a show about a flying telephone box.
But while the story left a lot to be desired, it gave us a much bigger glimpse at Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. It certainly feels as though he’s coming into his own – the moments when he argues with Robin and down-right shows off in front of Clara are truly entertaining.
It seems that Capaldi’s Doctor is one who walks the fine line between seriousness and hilarity… and in my opinion, there’s no-one better for the role.