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Robot of Sherwood
Sing me a song of Merry ol Men
Sing me a song again
of Robin of Locksly
and arrows of gold
fighting off sci-fi
and the robots of old
sing me a song of the tales they will tell
when men are forgotten
and history as well
Jealous, are we?
Not real and never was
couldn't believe a twig was
anything less than a branch
heroes to brooms
to brush up the floor
replaced till there is nothing
but pretending you're for it
This episode had the opportunity to simply be the kind of fluff episode that is quickly forgotten from Doctor Who, but ended up instead being one of the most rollicking good times I've had in a while. Honestly, I haven't laughed that much since I saw Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time. This episode knew it was going to be fun, and set out to accomplish that goal, but managed to do it while also letting us explore the characters of the Doctor and Clara more, while also letting us relieve some of our favorite moments of the Robin Hood tales. The episode thrives on Nostalgia, but it doesn't treat that nostalgia as something that can be coasted on. Every time we see a classic piece of the myth, like the duel over the stream or the archery contest, we given a healthy and hilarious twist on it from the Doctor not being able to admit that Robin Hood is real.
This is really the most brilliant thing about the episode, we've been introduced to the 12th Doctor, who is much more convinced of his own correctness in a smug way than his predecessors. Last episode we saw him just give up and say “I tried, it didn't work out, its a Dalek what did you expect?” instead of trying to fix the problem to sort of gloat in his own correctness, and here the Doctor can't admit he is wrong that Robin Hood is real and has to go to extravagant lengths to try to prove he is right, while actually being totally wrong, is a fantastic twist on the way that these stories are supposed to go, and switches things up in a much needed way. We've seen the Doctor be excited about meeting people before, but its quite different to place the Doctor outside of the place the audience is most likely to be in: that is that everyone is tuning in to watch the Doctor meet Robin Hood and go on an adventure together. Having them get on each other's nerves is just not supposed to be what happens here!
The episode is also satisfying in some fairly simple ways you get from paying attention, such as the Doctor blowing up the bullseye earlier in the episode, and later it being revealed that the Doctor's arrows were electronic homing arrows because he was cheating. These kind of little details that reward repeat viewings of the episode are really appreciated, as are the little nods like showing a picture of Patrick Troughton (the second Doctor)''s portrayal of Robin Hood on the Computer.
We're also treated to more stuff about the Promised land: hey look, more robots are trying to get there. Why do all these robots want to go to the Promised land anyways? Obvious symbolism there with the robots shooting crosses though. That was probably the worst part of the episode, as it was perhaps a bit of heavy handedness too far.
Finally, the episode gets a bit meta at the end, talking about how Robin and the Doctor are both legends and their lives as people on the inside are forgotten compared to the legends of what they do. This is a message I can really get behind. While people everywhere constantly feel like they aren't good enough, like the turmoil and doubt inside them precludes them from a good memory, its refreshing to know that what a person does is remembered, and that doing good things isn't forgotten even if chosing to doo those things wasn't easy, and even if you weren't a perfect person. Because there are no perfect people, but legends and heroes can be that. So in many ways, choosing to be good is choosing to be a legend. I approve.
Next week it looks like we're getting something creepy. Excellent.
Poet, Playwright, Game Designer, Writer, Freelancer for hire.