After the darker tone of the Twelfth Doctor's first couple of episodes, we get to see how the recently regenerated Time Lord fares in a lighter-hearted venture with Robot Of Sherwood. The result is a buddy movie partnership/rivalry with the fictional - or is he? - Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest. The flamboyant Robin is a stark contrast to this dour and no-nonsense Doctor, and a lot of the humor of the episode comes from the tension that creates between them.
The Doctor's refusal to believe that Robin is the real deal ties into a theme which has been evident in the series so far. The first episode has the Doctor scoffing at a clockwork half-man's belief in a 'promised land' only for the droid to end up in 'heaven', the second introduced the possibility of a 'good Dalek' and now we're shown that a legendary hero may be more than just legend. The new Doctor is sceptical of all three possibilities: he's no longer a 'young man', having become more set in his beliefs and less open to 'fairytales'. One wonders if the character arc of this series will be about him recovering that more youthful part of himself.
For the second time this series, Clara outwits a villain into revealing information, this time using her feminine wiles. And that brings me to one problem I had with this story. At the end of the day, it felt like much of the work from Team TARDIS came from Clara. It's Clara who gets the Sheriff to spill the beans, it's Clara who rallies Robin and his merry men to the Doctor's side offering much needed reinforcements. The Doctor organising a peasant revolt fighting off the robot knights with polished golden plates was his only notable contribution to the adventure. He gets several good moments - swashbuckling with Robin armed only with a spoon, matching him in the archery contest, tricking a jailer into getting too close to Robin with an embarrassing tale at the outlaw's expense - but he doesn't really get to match wits with the Sheriff and his robot knights the way he ought to. Plus, the solution he comes up with in the end to prevent the ship from destroying half of Britain feels a bit contrived.
Still, overall it is what it's intended to be, a lighthearted fun romp with swashbuckling heroes and anachronistic robots. An enjoyable episode, despite the Doctor being relegated to the role of comic relief.
Undecim Rating: +3[