DOCTOR WHO: Robot of Sherwood Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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DOCTOR WHO: Robot of Sherwood Review

Lute in hand, brave Sir Christopher Morley recounts the tale of Robot of Sherwood.

And so we ride into Sherwood Forest for Robot of Sherwood. In which we find the Doctor & Clara heading off to meet a certain famous outlaw. Was it really the case that ' when danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail & fled'? They're about to find out, the Time Lord having decided to give being kind a go for something of a sea change for the first time post-regeneration. Allowing Ms Oswald to pick their next TARDIS trip, she reveals that she's always wanted to meet Robin Hood.

Any classic series viewers might note that the ensuing discussion ( is he real or not, etc) has more than a few overtones of the First Doctor & Susan about it. Indeed its easy to imagine what unfolds would have worked quite well as one of the first run of 'historical' stories. The initially quite cold Doctor at first distrustful of a kindred spirit before being won over- where have we seen that before? He still refuses to believe that Hood could be flesh & blood, though. With a haughtiness worthy of his first incarnation he confidently steps forth from ' Sexy' to announce that there's absolutely nothing to suggest Robin even exists.

Until an arrow makes its way towards him. Who fired it? If that’s not Hood its a ruddy good lookalike! The discovery might well cause the Doctor's blood to boil. So much so that he seems to quickly change from the demeanour of his earliest self to that of his Third. A duel quickly ensues, with the TARDIS as the prize. So far, so good. Add in the fact that one combatant is armed only with a spoon while the other has a sword & the outcome becomes all the more surprising. If nothing else it proves that the victor hasn't forgotten his Venusian Aikido...

Still quite spry for his age, then. All that remains is to meet the Merry Men & establish that the Sheriff of Nottingham really is quite awful. Handily that comes next! The King's off at the Third Crusade ( for which the Doctor was also present). In his stead the Sheriff has the run of the place, & seems intent on rounding up forced labour for some scheme of his. He's got help from some rather nasty-looking knights, too. A shedload of points on the ' faithful to the legend' score, you'd think. You might also recall that the Master, with a little help from Kamelion, sought to take advantage of the turmoil of the period by having Kamelion impersonate ' Bad' King John during the Doctor's Fifth incarnation...

Doesn't the Sheriff look a bit familiar, too?

He's certainly got the beard & threads to do a passable impression of the man known initially as ' Sir Giles Estram' before his unmasking...

Oh, and villainous intent aplenty. He wants power, & he'll do anything for it. Might explain why he's so keen to win the Golden Arrow for prowess in archery. See where this is going? One man stands in his way. No prizes for guessing who that is. Points on the board for ' faith to the legend' once more- after all, real or not, one of the first things everyone thinks of when thoughts turn to the man formerly known as the Earl of Loxley is his skill with bow & arrow.

That's that sorted then. Until a third man enters the fray. Its the Doctor! And he's every bit as good as the two mortal enemies ( with a little help from a homing device enabling him to hit the target). He doesn't want the arrow for his prize, though. He wants enlightenment. Has he forgotten about his brush with the Eternals? Not likely. He does, though, want to know what the Sheriff & his knights are up to. As everyone knows, the best way to do that is to get yourself captured. Sorted, then. Thrown into a cell with Robin, the scene is set for Porridge a good few years before Ronnie Barker was around to write it. The arguing between the two as a result is by turns quite entertaining & rather annoying....

Much like Alan A'Dale's insistence on carrying a lute with him & singing ballads on the spot. At first its a nice little diversion, but after a while you begin to wish someone would smash the instrument over his head. To whomever of the Merry Men told him to 'give it a rest', sir, never was a truer word spoken. And to think the Doctor initially wanted to punch the man who stole from the rich & gave to the poor. Mind you, come to think of it smacking both together at the same time begins to appeal after what feels like the thousandth time Hood's done that irritating laugh of his.

Yes, we get that you're a proper folk hero. But do you really need to rub that bravado in our faces at every possible opportunity? And tell Alan to stop it with the lute once more for good measure. At least the Sheriff is a bit more fun, Ben Miller really hamming it up & channeling Anthony Ainley in the best possible sense. Speaking of him, what's the deal with those knights? They're robots. And the Sheriff's castle is really their spaceship. They need gold to repair the engines, which they need to be in full working order to reach the Promised Land. It seems the Doctor really can't avoid the place, much as he'd like to.

And Robin & the Sheriff have bigger parts to play in the whole thing than either could have realised. Playing on the caretaker ruler's lust for power, after they crashed the robots made him an offer he couldn't refuse. He's been converted into one of them for his troubles, too. Robin has at least been offering people a little hope in his quest to get back to how things were & save his lovely Marian ( though he seems to show a lot of interest in the period dress-clad Clara). She's been carted off to serve as one of the labourers taken by the Sheriff. The Doctor is quick to work out what they're doing once he's among them, too. The gold taken from people is being melted down, & they're also helping with repairs to the ship.

His temporary companion during his leadership of a workers revolt is revealed to be Marion herself, no less! Just when Robin thought he'd lost her forever. Aww, isn't that nice? Maybe there's more compassion in the man from Gallifrey, or at least his newest incarnation, than we thought. Given that he's managed to alternate between two of his old ones in the space of 45 minutes ( with Mark Gatiss having to cram the whole Robin Hood myth into a relatively short space of time), no wonder Robot Of Sherwood feels a bit of a jumble. Entertaining in places, but still a jumble!

And so we bravely run away, away to the thrills & spills of Listen!

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