Robot of Sherwood is the Robin Hood episode which, when I saw the trailer, filled my heart with dread because it looked about as far removed from Peter Capaldi‘s Doctor’s promise of going “into darkness” as you could possibly get.
And despite Mark Gatiss being partly responsible for some dark moments in The League of Gentlemen, every time I’ve seen him write an episode of Doctor Who – such as The Idiot’s Lantern and Night Terrors, I’ve been disappointed. So, in a way, I’ve not been disappointed when it comes to being disappointed. Confused? You won’t be until after this episode of… Soap! Ahem…
In this episode, we see the Doctor comment on how sunny it is in Nottingham. Clara suggests, “Climate change?”, to which the owner of the Tardis denounces that with the year, “It’s 1190”. Yes, because back then, there weren’t nutters around to suggest man-made global warming wasn’t anything other than utter bullshit.
And since this episode is called “Robot of Sherwood”, there’s clearly going to be robots on view, and they turn up as baddies working alongside the Sheriff… Well, there’s more to that but you’ll have to read on to discover.
In order to tie things into the series’ story arc, as well as the Doctor picking at someone for a hair sample, as he did with Clara in Deep Breath, wouldn’t you know it – the 12th Century castle owned by the Sheriff is actually a 29th Century spaceship, and where is it headed? The Promised Land. As an aside, our evil Sheriff also needs a load of gold to help it fly, and he forces the peasants of the land to help him with this.
Unfortunately, despite Capaldi doing his best with the material, it’s ultimately a completely pointless and quite boring episode. Definitely one to forget.
There’s just too much arsing about in this episode, from Robin’s Merry Men being so full of their ‘jolly japes’, through Alan-a-Dale’s godawful impromptu sing-a-longs, to Capaldi fighting Robin Hood with a spoon, and somehow winning.
Clara has little to do other than being sweet and creamy and uncommonly good, usually flirting with the hero of the hour (or 50 minutes), such as when, with Robin Hood being real in this world, he’s surprised when Clara seems to know all about his life and that his missus is Maid Marian.
Oh, and when it came to bumping The Sheriff off, what sort of complete bonehead would go and start a swordfight where they have a 50/50 chance of falling into a pot of boiling gold and, thus, suffering instant death?
Dreadful. Next time it looks like things might get back on track as the Doctor and Clara go to the end of the universe…
Oh, and what a shame this episode has been censored because the BBC think the beheading of a robot equates to what’s happening in Iraq and have cow-towed to the Daily Mail brigade by cutting it out. Absolutely pathetic! If the person carrying out the beheading was wearing a balaclava and was also a coward calling himself Jihadi John, then they might’ve had a point, but for now, it smacks of “SAVE SOMETHING EXCLUSIVE FOR THE BLU-RAY AND DVD!”
The details have emerged of what was cut are below, which I shall wrap a spoiler heading around:
Director: Paul Murphy
Producer: Nikki Wilson
Screenplay: Mark Gatiss
Music: Murray Gold
The Doctor: Peter Capaldi
Clara Oswald: Jenna Coleman
Robin Good: Tom Riley
Quayle: Roger Griffiths
Quayle’s Ward: Sabrina Bartlett
The Sheriff of Nottingham: Ben Miller
Alan-a-Dale: Ian Hallard
Friar Tuck: Trevor Cooper
Little John: Rusty Goffe
Will Scarlett: Joseph Kennedy
Walter: Adam Jones
Herald: David Benson
Guard: David Langham
Knight: Tim Baggley
Voice of the Knights: Richard Elfyn
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.