Stacy Embry shows some love for Robot of Sherwood, and its writer Mark Gatiss.
Robot of Sherwood is roundly poked at by Whovians, yet I offer that for many this episode made Peter Capaldi into the Twelfth Doctor. After the promised dark opening of Deep Breath, and a simply incoherent Into The Dalek, this episode was well placed exactly where it was in series eight. We got the same man... but saw him through a new lens of humor. Still prickly, still hating banter, but now being wacky (I missed wacky), more nuWho-user-friendly. We got the curmudgeonly man but with hints of 10/11 peaking from the inside.
I realize this episode is a sore subject, and many of you dedicated fans disliked it for exactly the point for which I praise, but... and its a big but (and I can not lie), you weren't the target audience. Those arrows were to slay the doubters, the Eleventh Doctor followers like me who just found the first two episodes dull. Not bad, just not memorable. We sat there saying "where is the doctor?" I had gone so far as to decide to quit DVRing if 8.3 was still dull, as I'd started to think that I was not committed to the series, but to the Eleventh Doctor.
Then, there was a large custard-covered spoon. First licked, and then displayed in an en garde. This man was the Doctor, here he gloriously was. From the start and throughout Robot of Sherwood, the twinkle of a timey-wimey, scarf and bow-tie wearing swashbuckler took center stage. He dominated the guest actor, Tom Riley, who actually put up a fantastic foil (pun intended), and the episode gave Clara her first taste of real leadership (she was the leader!).
Everything good that came to fruition in series eight was put in motion during Robot of Sherwood.
Okay, that's a big claim, and I've got another one... Mark Gatiss gets those who identify as 'nuWHO'. He's the gateway into the series for many people as his scripts balance the polarizing Moffat. He lightens the Moffatness that makes the hit/miss rhythm of his show-running the fodder for a million articles, tweets and memes. What a great team they make in both Doctor Who and Sherlock. I can only imagine what sitting in on a Moffat/Gatiss discussion would feel like...
...Possibly it's like Robin Hood and the Doctor in the dungeon. Arguing, posturing and trying to impress us, the audience, while clearly charming us. The petulant Moffat offended by the laughing Gatiss...and delighting us with his intolerance.
I'm on the Gatiss side. I like a Doctor who stops himself from bantering... whilst bantering! I like a Doctor who resentfully appreciates Robin Hood and is still suspicious even in the denouement. I like Capaldi's horror at the Merry Men's comic bits whilst eating a bite of an apple (à la The Eleventh Hour) and talking about heroes with Clara. I like him using platters to deflect the laser-robots, while still being his own man, his own Doctor, but taking action not just saying words as others fight. In Robot of Sherwood there was a doctor. A fully realized Twelfth Doctor. Funny, serious, powerful, foibled, and fabled.
I tested my theory by showing Robot of Sherwood to some anti-NuVians - people that have rejected Doctors Nine, Ten and my beloved Eleven... and they loved it. Scientifically, I used pre/post data... created a pie chart and learned there was a 85% shift in enjoyment and 66% said they'd watch another episode! (Truthfully, I had three people who hate Who watch this episode, and for the first time they all liked it. Two of them even voluntarily watched another episode without bribery.)
Is Mark Gatiss the perfect gateway into Doctor Who for those who just don't get it? Try it out, even if you hate Robot of Sherwood, could you share it with a non-believer? Use this episode and see if your data matches mine. As our gateway writer, I think Mark Gatiss needs a bit more praise...award-winning Shakespearean actor or not!
Risk-adverse, Stacy would not even enter the TARDIS in case it suddenly set to motion. Yet, gentle reader, she feels compelled to clarify that she writes opinion or editorial pieces. By using logic and reasoning, she always hopes to coherently provoke honest discourse.