Doctor Who
Doctor Who Review: This Is Almost Too Silly

Elizabeth Harper | 7 Sep 2014 21:20
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Robin Hood: Man or Myth?
We start off in the TARDIS, where the Doctor and Clara are taking the time to actually decide where they're going next rather than just stumbling into whatever trouble comes their way. Clara says she's always wanted to meet Robin Hood, and though the Doctor says there's no such thing, she's insistent that this trip is her choice and that means Robin Hood.

So off we go to Sherwood Forest, where the TARDIS lands only to be immediately hit by an arrow by someone who is dressed rather suspiciously like Robin Hood. Robin immediately lives up to his (fictional) credo of robbing from the rich to give to the poor wants to steal the TARDIS, and when the Doctor refuses to hand it over, there's a sword fight... sort of.

Saying he needs no sword, the Doctor pulls a spoon out of his pocket and proceeds to fight with it... and since he manages to hold his own, it definitely gives the impression that he'd be really good with an actual sword. When Robin tries to outdo him by slicing a button off of his coat, the Doctor pushes him into the stream with a bit of fancy footwork... though soon Robin sneaks up behind him and pushes him into the stream in return.

Yes, the whole episode's like this, with the Doctor serving almost entirely for comic relief. If that's not for you, turn back now.

At Robin's camp, we're introduced to the Merry Men who are exactly what you'd expect from their fictional incarnations. Clara's delighted to meet Robin Hood in the flesh, and her characterization here sways unfortunately back to the generic. Though she has a strong role to play in this episode, she doesn't show any of the personality we've seen emerge from her over the past two episodes -- and her swooning over Robin Hood doesn't quite mesh with her claim that she was never one to be turned by a pretty face. This feels like a big step backwards with her, as she spends the episode only showing what personality traits are required by the plot, which is a shame considering how interesting she's been over the last couple of episodes.

Despite the evidence of his eyes, the Doctor has serious doubts about where they are: because Robin Hood is fictional, this can't be real.... but he's not sure how it isn't real. The characters around them aren't holograms and, after taking hair and blood samples -- which he does while they're introducing themselves for yet more comedy -- he still can't point to anything specifically wrong. The sky is too golden, the Merry Men laugh too much, and Robin's jokes aren't even funny, he claims, but it's a long way from a winning argument.

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