TV Review: “Doctor Who” – “Robot of Sherwood”

Written by Caitlin Cooper September 07, 2014

Doctor Who

Some of the best episodes of “Doctor Who” are the ones in which the Doctor and his companion visit characters from history. In season 5, in an episode called “Vincent and the Doctor”, the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy (Karen Gillan) visit Vincent van Gogh, and spend time getting to know the gentle and sad artist in what is a moving and lovely episode. In the 50th anniversary episode called “The Day of the Doctor”, the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), the Eleventh Doctor, and Clara (Jenna Coleman) visit Elizabethan England and meet Queen Elizabeth I herself! With all of time and space to explore, “Doctor Who” could’ve taken us on an adventure with any historical or legendary figure. Enter Robin Hood (Tom Riley).


In “Robot of Sherwood”, Clara (Jenna Coleman) is once again taking the lead of “Doctor Who”. When asked where and when she wants to go next, she excitedly exclaims that she wants to meet Robin Hood, the hero of one of her favourite stories. The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) doesn’t believe that Robin was a real person, but he sets the Tardis on course for England in the 1100s anyway. Lo and behold, as soon as the Doctor leaves the Tardis and exclaims there’s no Robin Hood, Robin appears, bow and arrow in tow. In nerd fashion, Clara emerges in time period appropriate clothing and is very delighted that her storybook hero is indeed real. But not is all as it seems when they find out the Sheriff of Nottingham has managed to have robot knights helping him steal from and enslave the people.

“When did you stop believing in everything?”

“Robot of Sherwood” is definitely a much lighter “Doctor Who” episode than we’re usually given. The tone and the dialogue lean much more towards comedy than drama which makes for a surprisingly fun episode. Clara is an absolute nerd about Robin Hood and his merry men, and that also adds comedy to the episode. Surprisingly, a decent amount of comedy comes from interactions between Robin and the Doctor. The Doctor doesn’t think Robin is a human because he’s such a legend; the Doctor doesn’t believe in legends and heroes. Robin doesn’t trust the Doctor. This makes for some entertaining verbal sparring between the two characters. They act like children with their bickering, and they’re more focused on competing with one another than escaping. They even bicker about how they’re going to save Clara. One of the best aspects is that in multiple scenes the trio – and even the people of England – work together to find funny ways to thwart the robots and defeat the Sheriff.

Doctor Wjo

Once again, Clara takes the lead in many of the scenes. When the men are acting like children, she calls them out and lectures them on their ridiculous behaviour. Again and again Clara has been proving her wit, intelligence, and resourcefulness. She may be a companion but she’s more together and in-charge than the Doctor has been this season. Her profession as a teacher is once again proving to be a huge asset in the various dangerous situations in which they tend to find themselves. Once again she is faced with a villain with which she has to rely on her intellect in order to survive. So, she crafts a story that provides her with information she wants, and allows her to delay punishment.The writers are certainly adding to the complexities of the character, and making her a much more central part of “Doctor Who”. Clara is turning out to be someone who can inspire people to action, who is optimistic about things, and who places her hope on people who don’t consider themselves heroes.

“Stories can make us fly.”

I’m very glad that the “Doctor Who” writers chose to give us Robin Hood. While he is seemingly a silly character, he helps portray ideas and mirrors the Doctor in some ways. Clara views both of them as heroes even though they don’t consider themselves to be one. But Robin Hood gives the Doctor some insight into Clara and the idea of being a hero: the idea is powerful enough to inspire people. Robin’s understanding of Clara and the Doctor works within the ideas that have been present since the first episode of season 8, and helps the main characters to understand things about themselves, others, and the power of a story or idea. If each “Doctor Who” episode has such a guest character to play off of, we’ll see much progress and character growth. Also, Robin Hood is just such an entertaining character that it’s refreshing to see on this otherwise dramatic British sci-fi.

Doctor Who

While this episode of “Doctor Who” seems more intent on being fun and silly than accomplishing much in the way of pushing various plot-lines forward, we do end up getting some clues and making some headway. In my review of “Into the Dalek” I discussed the mystery of heaven; the baddies who’ve died have gone to a place they’re told is heaven, but it seems pretty suspect to me. In “Deep Breath” the villain kept talking about the promised land. Here, we’re given another clue. The robot ship was headed for the promised land. On the GPS of the alien ship, it appeared to be a planet. Are heaven and the promised land one and the same? It seems very suspicious to me, and now the Doctor has taken note that something is off about robot aliens searching for the promised land.

“Perhaps we will both be stories, and may they never end.”

Overall, “Robot of Sherwood” is a fun and relatively light episode of “Doctor Who”. Clara gets to meet a legend she’s only read about, the Doctor learns about how heroes inspire people, and we get hilarious comedy from Robin Hood. While the episode doesn’t answer many questions, it gives us clues about mysteries that’ll likely be solved in future episodes of “Doctor Who”. Stay tuned for more time and space adventures. You never know what’s going to happen next.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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