TV Review: "Doctor Who" 8x03: Robots of Sherwood

Written by: Lord Gremlin

The first 5 minutes or so of this episode had me feeling nervous. Yes, very nervous indeed. The grimmer tone of the first two episodes is supplanted for a breezier, light-hearted romp of high adventure. I was so happy with season 8’s turn for the more serious and deliberate that seeing the Doctor sword fight a potential Robin Hood with a spoon was jarring to say the least, and felt like they lazily wrote an 11th Doctor script for the 12th just to fill in a time slot.

Luckily for me, “Robots of Sherwood” finds its footing and delivers another satisfying adventure. I scolded myself inwardly for being so quick to rally against a lighter story. The colorful tone of Doctor Who is what drew me into the show so strongly to begin with and “Robots of Sherwood” is one of the most successful episodes of its kind since the Russell T. Davies era. Some will argue this is nothing more than a filler episode and they wouldn’t’ be wrong (we do get a brief connection to this season’s arc towards the end) because this story is more about tone than it is about plot or character. What we have here is Peter Capaldi proving he can handle the comedic aspect of the Doctor with the best of them. 12 is the grumpy straight-man here, and the humor that extends from that is a hoot.

The vibrant, energetic and hilarious performances are what keep this story moving at a brisk pace. Tom Riley as the maybe Robin Hood is exactly how you want your Robin Hood to be: Charming, sly, playful and brave. Ben Miller as the Sheriff of Nottingham plays it straight, and delivers a refreshingly old school villain. Last but certainly not least the writers are keeping up with the trend of making Clara a far more enjoyable Companion three episodes in a row now. Her scenes with Miller are a highlight. The rest of the cast is exceptional, but this is really just Capaldi’s, Riley’s, and Millers show.

The entire like a science fiction situational comedy. Never fear though, the humor is largely dialogue based and doesn’t rely on exaggerated, almost cartoony buffoonery some of the 11th Doctors stories used. Not that there is anything wrong with that (It worked for me most of the time) but it was wise of them to know that the 12th Doctor’s humor needed to come from a different place.

The plot, as stated above, is fairly simple and not really the point of the episode, really. All you need is in the title and on that front the episode delivers. “Robots of Sherwood” is a very charming 45 minutes. Not everyone will respond kindly too it I’m afraid. More serious minded fans may want more meat out of this one, but if you tag this one’s M.O. early on, you will be surprised at how successfully it pulls off what it’s trying to do.

So with that said, lets slap another 8/10 rating for Season 8’s third episode. Man, I bet The Damned Beast is getting REALLY pissed at all my 8/10 ratings. 
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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