So, my most anticipated episode of Series 8 has aired. What do I think? Here’s my review (two days late!)
The episode is pretty much what the trailers promised to deliver. The Doctor and Clara meet Robin Hood, and they fight against the Sheriff of Nottingham and his robots. Add on top of that the Doctor’s complete refusal to accept Robin Hood’s reality (leading to a great Classic Series reference), and you have an episode which is just pure fun. The closest episode I can compare this to is Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, as both episodes seem made to suit me and what I love (in that case dinosaurs, in this case medieval times).
The main thing to note about this episode is the comedy. While each Matt Smith story (regardless of quality), was hilarious, the two episodes this series have remained moderately dark. There have been jokes (mostly coming from the Doctor’s sarcasm), but neither reach the hilarious style this episode has. The humour is mostly between the Doctor and Robin, with the dark and cold Doctor trapped in a room with a bubbly, fun loving Robin Hood.
The funniest moment of the whole thing is a duel in the beginning of the episode with the two facing off against each other on a bridge. Not only are there Third Doctor references (which is automatically great), but the Doctor shows off his comedic side by unveiling a spoon against Robin Hood. Last of the Time Lords versus the Prince of Thieves.
But beneath this comedic undertones is a clever subtext which shows how clever this episode actually is. While the Doctor is intentionally annoyed by the fact that he has been proven wrong about Robin Hood’s existence, but as the episode goes on he gets annoyed because Robin is to him what he was as the Eleventh Doctor is like, hiding his fears and anger underneath a happy image, while the Doctor is not afraid to show his anger or fear. In short, Robin is the opposite of everything this new Doctor is, which is brilliant.
This is everything I wanted from a medieval episode. There’s sword fights, a great, over the top villain which feels like someone out of the Fourth Doctor era, and a pace is for the first time in ages… perfect. It didn’t feel like anything was missing.
The robots themselves are great, and I like the way the series’s arc is slotted in. It turns out that these robots are also searching for “The Promised Land”, just like the Half Faced Man, and while Missy doesn’t appear in this episode, it is revealed that the “Promised Land” is a planet which robots (and what else?) are searching for. Is it Gallifrey? Too obvious I think. I want answers, but all will be revealed in the series finale.
And now, for the Top 5 Doctor lines-
“No damsels in distress, no pretty castles, no such thing as Robin Hood”.
“I am the Doctor, and this is my spoon”.
“A robot. Now we’re talking”.
“You would have been floating around in little laughing bits”.
“Long haired ninny versus robot knights. I know were I’d put my money”.
This episode is just fun, pure fun. While it may not be the deepest story, it’s so well paced and written that it isn’t a problem. I give this episode 9/10. I debated giving it a 10, but 10/10’s are for the episodes which aren’t just great, but REALLY great. Which is exactly what I think the next episode will be-