What's a Tree Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (Robot of Sherwood)

(35 comments)

As absurd conceits in Doctor Who go, the fact that Clara can spontaneously grow several feet of hair ranks among my favorites.

It’s September 6th, 2014. Lilly Wood and Robin Schulz are at number one with “Prayer in C,” with Maroon 5, Sam Smith, and Taylor Swift also charting. In news, a poll showing majority support for Scottish independence sends just about everybody into one sort of frenzy or another. And a massive cache of nude photos hacked from celebrities’ iCloud accounts, most notably and vocally including Jennifer Lawrence, hits the Internet. (Lawrence eventually offers the entirely sensible response that “anybody who looked at those pictures, you're perpetuating a sexual offense. You should cower with shame.”)

While on television, the inauguration of what we might call late Gatiss. This is not a term or concept we think about as much as late Moffat. Part of this is simply a matter of volume—pinning Robot of Sherwood as the commencement of Gatiss’s late style is, in terms of episode count, equivalent to declaring that Moffat hit late style with The Eleventh Hour. But more of it is simply a general disinclination to treat Gatiss with the sort of seriousness that the phrase “late style” implies. The usual line on Gatiss is that he’s an empty trad nostalgist, an approach that implicitly rejects the idea that one’s style could evolve.

And yet starting with Series Seven, Gatiss clearly began improving. Cold War and The Crimson Horror were among the best scripts in an admittedly uneven season, with The Crimson Horror in particular demonstrating a newfound interest in form. And that broadly continues through his Capaldi-era contributions, none of which are quite as straightforward as unreconstructed nostalgia pastiches, and two of which are at least pretty good. They are still clearly Gatissy in the same way that Moffat’s late work remains Moffaty, but there’s been a concrete shift in their concerns and goals. What previously seemed like a pathological aversion to originality has mellowed to an embrace of simplicity and clarity. Traditionalism has softened to classicism; nostalgia has evolved to homage.

On one level, for instance, Robot of Sherwood is nothing more than a straightforward celebrity historical of the sort Gatiss already did in The Unquiet Dead and Victory of the Daleks. Except, of course, as the Doctor points out, Robin Hood isn’t real. Admittedly, the same can be said of Victory of the Daleks’ depiction of Winston Churchill, but that wasn’t a major plot point. Here, on the other hand, the question of Robin Hood’s fictionality is one of the driving engines of the story. This doesn’t result in something that is radically different from a celebrity historical—all of them are basically just genre romps with prominent guest stars. But to a degree unmatched by anything save The Unicorn and the Wasp (which notably takes the piss out of The Unquiet Dead), this is a story that’s actually open about this fact. This is a story that is not so much open about the fact that it’s storming through all the major set pieces of a Robin Hood story as it is reveling in it, repeatedly lampshading it for the audience. It may assert that Robin Hood is real, but it does so within a story that is going to be difficult for Tat Wood to escape the “Things That Don’t Make Sense” of without simply concluding that the Doctor has ended up in the Land of Fiction again and failed to notice.

It’s still a Gatiss story, and so nothing follows from that per se. The entire issue ultimately collapses into a lame joke where Robin tells the Doctor “I’m just as real as you are.” But there’s still forty-four minutes of clever metatextual play leading up to the shaggy dog, which is forty-four more than you’d expect from the writing credit. Is this damning with faint praise? You could certainly argue that, but I’d argue that the entire framework only emerges out of fan culture’s obsessive disdain for Gatiss. And while I’m certainly not going to argue that disdain is unearned, not least because I’ve done my fair share of contributing to it, it’s still, in this case, blatantly unhelpful, forcing us to focus our attention on the bits of the story that let it down. And yes, the ending isn’t the only one—the Robin/Doctor prison bits go on too long, and the spoon swordfight is a weak opening set piece. (Though anyone who thinks the “shoot the golden arrow at the spaceship” finish is crap lacks taste and discernment. The fact that the spaceship has a bullseye on the side that they have to hit tips it into genius, and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees.) Tbese are still all the sorts of problems we routinely let other writers skate on.

No, let’s ask instead what this story does well. And the first and most obvious thing is Clara. Despite it being his third attempt, this is in a sense the first time Gatiss has actually gotten to write Clara. Cold War and The Crimson Horror were both shot pre-Snowmen along with Hide, part of the block where they were still rapidly assembling the concept of Clara’s character. In both, Gatiss writes a generic companion who occasionally does things backwards, as with the actually staying put when the Doctor says gag in Cold War. It’s fine, and Coleman does well with it, but it’s clearly written in advance of real knowledge of her character, a blank slate for Coleman to play with. But here he gets the fully realized version of the character—indeed he’s the first person Moffat has trusted to write for her solo since he began revamping her away from the objectification of the Impossible Girl arc and towards her genuine co-star status with Capaldi.

And he absolutely nails the character. The obvious thing that has to be highlighted is her interrogation of the Sheriff of Nottingham. This follows from her interrogation of the Half-Faced Man in Deep Breath, and is written to show her evolution towards full co-Doctor status; note her confidence and composure compared to her previous near-breakdown. More to the point, however, it is a uniquely Clara way of approaching the problem. The Doctor could have gotten this information; indeed he ultimately obtains it all independently. But he wouldn’t have gotten it this way, bluffing his way past the Sheriff’s vanity by simply anticipating the most cliched parts of his story. He would have lied and manipulated, yes, but not these lies and these manipulations, and not so brazenly. (Coleman makes the sublimely clever choice of, for all that two seasons repeatedly emphasize that Clara is a good liar, generally portraying her as a completely shit one so that the audience can invest affect into the act every time she does it.)

But the rest of the script, even if it doesn’t use her as brilliantly, also clearly gets Clara and what she’s supposed to do in the narrative. The gag of her being viewed as the leader of the group is obvious, but it’s also completely right for Clara’s particular iteration of the companion role; it wouldn’t have worked for any other new series companion except perhaps Donna. And Gatiss makes the deft choice of having her consistently recognize that the Doctor is being an idiot in his suspicions, thus putting her consistently just ahead of him in figuring things out—again a choice that’s uniquely suited to Clara’s specific relationship with him. Without this understanding of Clara, this episode would grate and feel like yet another swath of generic Doctor over which Capaldi gets to try things—playing the Doctor as a comic figure, in this case. With it, the episode serves as a coherent midpoint between Into the Dalek and Listen—a relatively seamless break in the stretch of six oddly conservative Moffat-credited scripts that Capaldi makes his debut with.

There’s also a feeling of zest to the overall pacing and structure of the episode. Gatiss repeatedly uses a clever trick of simply skipping a major plot beat without leaving a gap; we neither see Robin and the Doctor escape their jail cell nor actually getting the shackles off. Instead we see this as their immediate next goal at the end of one scene, and then just pick up with it completed at the start of the next. This lets Gatiss insert a couple scenes over which the Doctor and Robin’s relationship thaws without having to waste screen time with them fiddling with chains and escaping from things. Gatiss know his set pieces here, and they’re linked efficiently so as to give all of them space to shine.

We’re still, however, bouncing along the line of what makes this story work, as opposed to discovering anything special or interesting about it. And this is, in a sense, the problem that plagues Gatiss through to the apparent end of his Doctor Who career. He is ultimately only able to get his stories to document his interests, which are diverse but rarely particularly deep. And on one level Robot of Sherwood fits with this; it’s not really about anything more than how much Gatiss likes Robin Hood stories. But in this instance, at least, the idea is actually pretty strong. Having the Doctor meet a fictional character within the structure of a celebrity historical is at baseline clever. But Robin Hood is a particularly good choice of characters to use. The easiest way to understand this is probably via a negative comparison to the option that was more often talked about, a crossover with Sherlock. And of course, the Doctor meeting Sherlock Holmes was done back in the Virgin era with the not awful All-Consuming Fire. There are a lot of reasons why this is an appealing choice, but picking Sherlock Holmes as the fictional foil to the Doctor ends up highlighting the ways in which the Doctor is a clever and patrician figure. Which exist, but aren’t necessarily the points it works best to highlight.

Robin Hood, on the other hand, is not actually a hero very much like the Doctor. He’s a fighting hero defined by physical prowess indeed, part of the reason the spoon fight at the start doesn’t quite work is that it just doesn’t feel right for the Doctor to best Robin in a sword fight at all, little yet while armed with a spoon. That’s one of the most basic axes on which the two characters are profoundly different. But for all that there’s a stark and basic difference, there’s a deeper similarity in their attitudes and motivations. As Robin points out at the end, they are both aristocrats who have opted/been forced to walk away from their privilege and who now lives among and fights for the oppressed and downtrodden. Not only does this anticipate one of Moffat’s major thematic concerns over Series Eight and Nine, it’s also just very hood, Picking Robin Hood as the point of comparison for the Doctor is a claim about what sort of hero the Doctor is, positioning them within what Alan Moore describes as the British “tradition of making heroes out of criminals or people who in other centuries might have been regarded as terrorists.” Indeed, in this regard it’s significant that the montage of Robin Hood depictions includes Patrick Troughton to solidify the connection.

Obviously I like this. But I like it because it’s true; that is the cultural tradition that Doctor Who fits into. This blog has always been about Doctor Who as a specifically British story, and that tradition is why it is. From the start my argument has been that Doctor Who is one of the ways Britain mediates its relationship with the weird, the marginal, and the avant garde, and its perpetual flirtation with heroic terrorism is in part a tool for exactly that. And this isn’t some reading into Gatiss’s script. The repeated Marxism jokes aren’t just a doomed policy of appeasement towards Jack Graham. They’re clearly the actual point of the exercise—a clear claim, albeit more aesthetic than ideological, about what sort of show this is and what it does.

Late style at once clarifies and complexifies, revealing what parts of an artist’s style are indispensible even as it interrogates and discovers new ambivalences about them. Gatiss’s late work does not redeem his Doctor Who career, if you are someone who thinks that necessary. And as we’ll see when he next comes up, it is not even consistently good. But the ways in which Robot of Sherwood is actually interesting to look at and think about will persist. But the primary importance of late Gatiss remains clarity. Whatever else we might say about him, it turns out that he really does get Doctor Who.

Comments

Jack Graham 6 months, 1 week ago

For all that appeasing me is apparently a doomed project, I'm on record as quite liking Robot of Sherwood. It's not the Marxism jokes, so much as the upfront and cheerful acknowledgement that the whole idea of Doctor Who having 'historical' stories is barking mad. Gatiss writes a historical that is flagrantly about someone who never really existed. And he has the Doctor be discomforted by it. He's daring the audience, especially the po-faced fans, to say "that's silly". Because they can't say that without facing the fact that the whole thing is silly, from start to finish. As a result, he creates something far more basically intelligent and honest than those stories where the audience is asked to take seriously the Doctor (!) debating ethics with Robespierre or whoever (the kinds of story that only Big Finish seems to think you can do straightfaced anymore). It's aimed at me in the sense that I complained about the depictions of Shakespeare and Churchill, etc, as if any story where those men meet a time travelling alien could ever be anything but daft. I am my own (admittedly atypical) version of the po-faced fan, and this is a riposte to that mindset. It might not be especially deep, but it doesn't need to be. And what it says needed saying at least once. In this context, the political choices (making the story about a rebel wealth-redistributor who fights the authorities) are inspired. Because they make the point that Doctor Who's engagements with history are no less ridiculous (in terms of historical reality) when they're on that side of the political aisle than when they're on Churchill's side. Gatiss seems to make this story both an apology and an alibi for Victory of the Daleks all at once.

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David Anderson 6 months, 1 week ago

For those of us for whom our Robin Hood is Michael Praed, this is the Errol Flynn Robin Hood and that is Just Wrong.

(Actually my Robin Hood is the Roger Lacelyn Green Robin Hood, which is a compendium of Every Robin Hood story Ever told regardless of whether they all fit in one continuity; but the Michael Praed despite entirely reintepreting the stories and throwing in Herne the Hunter and Marxist critique feels right in a way that the Errol Flynn just doesn't.)

Although Robin Hood is defined by being very good at shooting arrows, he is also someone whose default mode of operation is disguise yourself and trick your way in, placing him closer to the Doctor in terms of physicality than I think you allow.

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Aylwin 6 months, 1 week ago

I suppose that reflects Elizabeth's observation about how when Doctor Who visits a genre, it presents an archetypal version of it as perceived by people who are aware of it but not really familiar with it. For Robin Hood on screen, that's Errol Flynn.

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Aylwin 6 months, 1 week ago

Speaking of which, bouncing off that probably redundant "on screen" distinction, being more or less entirely ignorant of non-televised Doctor Who, and not remembering how or even if this was dealt with in the relevant stretch of the Eruditorum ... does that distinction play out anywhere in the distinction between Doctor Who on screen and on the page? Like, are there genres that Doctor Who novels and the TV series have both visited but treated in ways that are conspicuously different because one is playing on a literary version of the genre while the other plays on a screen version?

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Przemek 6 months, 1 week ago

Very interesting comments about the physicality of Robin Hood and the Doctor. I was also wondering whether the contrast of physicality between them is really that strong or whether it simply looks that way because it's the Twelfth Doctor meeting Robin Hood instead of, say, the Tenth Doctor. When he bested the Sycorax leader in a sword fight it felt true to the character. (Granted, it was during his post-regeneration wobbliness and I don't think he ever crossed swords with anyone else after that... but still).

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David Anderson 6 months, 1 week ago

The classic Doctor sword-fighting episode is in The Sea Devils. I believe that while shooting was taking place there were fan rumours that Capaldi might be basing his interpretation on Pertwee.

The other point about physicality, where I think Elisabeth misses a trick, is that the opponent that Robin Hood fights on a bridge in the stories is Little John. John is the more physically powerful combatant; Robin defeats him by being more skilful and cunning. Metafictionally if you take on Robin Hood on a bridge above a stream you're trying to be more cunning than he is, not more physical.

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Aylwin 6 months, 1 week ago

The more comical Robin Hood stories of the early modern period also made him prone to losing fights, even against ostensibly unremarkable opponents, while remaining able to outwit his foes. And while those may not be directly relevant to current understanding, it's in the general nature of a roguish outlaw folk-hero to be more outstanding for cunning than brute force. There's a reason why Disney made him a fox. So yes, the problem is not so much that there is a huge contrast between the two heroes' approach (though obviously Robin is still more of a physical-force character than the Doctor) as that when you put two wily heroes up against each other, the contest should resolved by brain more than brawn.

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crossie 6 months, 1 week ago

As a guy who's Robin Hood is Brian Bedford, I'm really disappointed Gatiss never had the Doctor point out to Robin he'll one day be depicted as a cartoon fox.

Especially as he goes out of his way to have the Doctor mention Disney movies in his "last" episode.

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AntonB 6 months, 1 week ago

Robot of Sherwood is one of the few Gattis penned stories I have any time for and I actually have a lot of time for it. It wears its clever-clogs meta-ness lightly and my only regret is that, in a rare occasion of fan-boy restraint from Gattis, it doesn't reference The Mind Robber directly. I'd have loved to see Jenna Coleman portray Clara's reaction to an offhand remark about once having visited the Land of Fiction from Capaldi.

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Gerard 6 months, 1 week ago

Actually, there is a Mind Robber reference, though it's indirect - the Doctor lists Cyrano de Bergerac as one of the people he's had experience sword-fighting. Which gets stranger the longer you think about it, because the Cyrano the Doctor encountered was explicitly the fictional character rather than the historical figure.

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Przemek 6 months, 1 week ago

An excellent essay and an interesting exploration of Gatiss' style. Indeed, this is his first DW script to have a genuinely clever main idea, and one that plays with the genre used instead of just writing a love letter to it.

As for the episode itself, all I can remember about it is the Doctor being genuinely unpleasant in a way that made me unsure whether I still enjoyed watching him. He just seemed like a bully and with Clara figuring out the plot ahead of him, not even an interesting bully. A characterization that reached its peak in "The Caretaker" which made one of my friends stop watching the show. But this essay makes me think that perhaps a rewatch is in order.

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Voxpoptart 6 months, 1 week ago

Yes, the Doctor’s bullying from this through “Caretaker” almost caused me to quit the show as well — which would have been terrible timing, as he then stopped it and began a brilliant run of episodes, but wouldn’t have been my fault. Colin Baker is often unforgiven for portraying a bloviating Doctor who could kill a murderer and then pun, but his Doctor was still an idealist who treated everyone, including members of the enemy team, as a potential ally. I never thought he broke the essential character. For almost half a season, I think the Capaldi character did.

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Yossarianduck 6 months, 1 week ago

I love the fact that this effectively breaks the "great man of history" story. While prior NuWho Doctors gad about with Dickens, Shakespeare and Churchill, by the end of his tenure this is the closest Capaldi gets. From here on out Who far more interested in the everyday person: doomed soldiers, villagers, working class kids, bit players thrust into huge events not entirely of their comprehension - but when it's not, it's unapologetic fantasy with Santa and superheroes.

If Moffat's Doctor Who can be described as emerging from a storybook, this is the moment when the storybook absorbs our world and becomes something altogether stranger and harder to pin down.

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TheSmilingStallionInn 6 months, 1 week ago

There's a 12th Doctor Titan Comic where he meets Julie d'Aubigny, and for a moment I actually thought she was a fictional character, until I learned she was real. Whoo-hoo!

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Jarl 6 months, 1 week ago

I have a soft spot for this episode. I personally think it's an open question as to whether Robin Hood is fictional, and I've gone into this in more detail before, but my conclusion is this could be seen as a prequel to The Mind Robber. What does it mean to become fictional? Ask Cyrano, ask d'Artagnan, ask Robin.

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mx_mond 6 months, 1 week ago

While I no longer maintain the critical position that this is the best episode of series 8 (I give that title to In the Forest of the Night), I still have a lot of fondness for it. Dropping the grumpy Twelfth Doctor into a setting primarily characterised as “fun” was absolutely the right move at this stage in the series, where we have become accustomed to the new spikiness and darkness – it demonstrates that the show can still do goofy, campy fun.

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Jane 6 months, 1 week ago

The bullseye on the spaceship is placed within a square frame, making it a Circle in the Square motif -- an alchemical reference to the integration of Divine Spirit within the Material Body. It's at this moment in the narrative that Clara, Robin, and the Doctor finally all work together (pulling the bow at the same time) without bickering.

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Gabriel 6 months, 1 week ago

This is my favorite episode from the first half of Series 8. A _fun_ story is always a nice break, especially one placed between Into the Dalek and Listen.

But then again Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was my highlight for Series 7a, so I have a soft spot for this kind of romp.

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Homunculette 6 months, 1 week ago

Interesting that this one seems to be ubiquitously liked by the EP crowd. I guess that makes me the dissenting voice. This is an episode that I like a lot in theory for pretty much all the reasons El mentions - I love the idea of the show leaning into a Robin Hood story and playing with the artifice and ridiculousness that is always there in the celebrity historicals. The thing is, I just don't really think this episode pulls it off. I'm not militantly anti-Gatiss, and like Elizabeth I have a lot of time for his series 7 episodes. Here, however, I think he misses the mark (Clara interrogation scene aside, which is genius). The Doctor's characterization is off here. Gatiss seems to have aimed for the brusque "janitor of the universe" characterization that dominates series 8 and missed, instead hitting "asshole" as the primary character note. I find the hyper-macho Doctor/Robin interactions pretty much unbearable, and Clara's "I don't know if you're a good man" in Into the Dalek jars with her hagiographic fairy tale description of the Doctor here (which isn't Gatiss' fault - Moffat should have caught the disparity).

I also feel like almost everything this story tries to do is done better in The Girl Who Died next season.

Also, I think it's worth mentioning that both this episode and Into the Dalek were edited substantially in response to the ISIS beheadings. Into the Dalek had Rusty suicide bombing the Dalek base, while this had the Sheriff being beheaded only to reveal he's an android, both of which happened in the leaked workprints. Into the Dalek I think is improved by the less bleak ending, but the edits to this make the climax slightly hard to follow.

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Leslie L 6 months, 1 week ago

Well, that's sort of the arc for the Doctor for this series. Finding what sort of person he is.

Yeah, that I thought was Clara thinking of the Doctor as a whole, which, up to that point, she had met three Doctors (that she could remember) and had fairly good moments with. It would depend how much time off screen they had to go on adventures before 'Robots of Sherwood'

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Przemek 6 months, 1 week ago

Yeah, the Doctor was a real asshole in this one. And perhaps that's the reason Clara went full fairytale while describing him here - it's the good, sweet Doctor she chooses to remember and who she wishes would come back.

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Kazin 6 months, 1 week ago

I'll jump on board now and say that I like "late Gatiss." Sleep No More is probably the weakest of his Capaldi scripts, but I still like that one, too. Robot of Sherwood is my favorite of the three - I enjoy the comic banter between Robin Hood and the Doctor (and I don't find the scene where they're locked up too long, I find the ridiculous bluster from the two of them funny). Agreed on the spoon swordfight being a bit weak, though (I think it's not shot very well, which doesn't help, but on the other hand how *does* one shoot a swordfight where one side uses a spoon?). I'm indifferent on the shooting an arrow at the ship scene - it didn't stick out to me as dumb on first viewing and I still feel that way.

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William Shaw 6 months, 1 week ago

Oh, I have a lot of time for Sleep No More as well - it basically feels like the first draft of ‘Oxygen’.

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William Shaw 6 months, 1 week ago

One thing I think is interesting is that this episode shows absolutely no reverence, or even, iirc, acknowledgement, for the then-recent BBC version of a Robin Hood that was one of the things that was on when Dr Who was away during the Tennant era. I guess the Dr Who clones don’t tend to have that much sticking power (with I guess the exception of Merlin? Has a more devoted fan base, anyway) but it feels weird to not even nod to it here.

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Leslie L 6 months, 1 week ago

What I loved about this episode, which did had it's clunky points, was the conversation Robin and the Doctor have at the end. How the legands never die, and stories make us fly.

Aside from the meta point, I felt that, in a way, I enjoyed how wonderful that message was. And how it could be one of the major themes of the overall Moffat era. Stories can inspire you to do greatness. Both good and bad.

Robin even mentioning the similarlies between him and the Doctor, with saying that Clara told him stories.

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Janine 6 months, 1 week ago

I love that interrogation scene too -- it shows how just shaking up the traditional *structure* of a Doctor Who story can go a long way to improving its characters. "Dine with the villain whilst your sidekick is trapped in a dungeon" is a role usually reserved for the Doctor (or any other male hero).

Giving that scene to Clara explicitly parallels Deep Breath in another way too -- I'm thinking of the Doctor's confrontation with the Half-Faced Man. Both there and here, we see our "hero" take on an antagonist grappling with its relationship to humanity (the Half-Faced Man wants to attain humanity by harvesting it from others, the Sheriff has surrendered his own) and in turn learn something about *them* (that the Doctor will sacrifice abstract moral principles to save the lives of his friends; that Clara will happily and carelessly lie to save hers).

I don't know whether the whole 'opium of the people' thing is included in your comment about Marxist jokes, but I liked how they handled that aspect of Robin -- briefly touching on a society's capacity to weaponize the people's heroes, keeping the people complacent. Gatiss doesn't seem to take that particularly seriously here.

Robin is a hero (like the Doctor) in the way that he inspires others. It looks like quite a banal message, but I like it. Heroes aren't per se the answer to our problems, they're not superhumans who'll save us if we sit around waiting long enough. They're more like symbols, which, when we're confronted with them, will wake us up. Robin gets his power through his Merry Men, the Doctor gets his power through Clara.

One thing I always wondered was why, specifically, Robin Hood was chosen as a historical figure relevant to Clara. The obvious answer is because of his dubious relationship with the real world, Clara being attracted to storybook characters. But why specifically him? Not a complaint, I'm genuinely curious.

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Przemek 6 months, 1 week ago

I thought it was honestly just plot convenience, like with Amy/Bill and the Romans.

As for the heroes inspiring us to save ourselves, I liked that messsage (and the ending) as well. And yet the title of this essay is a quote from "The End of the World", an episode that gave us the first instance of a new series Doctor allowing someone else to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. I like the little bit of darkness this quote choice implies in regards to "Robot of Sherwood" and its discussion of heroism.

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Max Curtis 6 months, 1 week ago

Would this ep have worked better elsewhere in Series 8? I hadn't realized it gives us such smooth Clara growth, but Capaldi's Doctor (though lovely here) has some real tonal whiplash stuck between Into the Dalek and Listen, which otherwise form a nicely contained three-part "here's the new Doctor" introduction. And this week, Clara's oddly divorced from life back home: might Sherwood have worked better between, say, Mummy and Flatline, as she drifts away from Danny?

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Daru 6 months, 1 week ago

This episode ended up being one of my favourites of the season. I do just simply love the idea of dropping the Doctor and Clara into what looks to be on the surface a celebrity historical, but have it inhabited by fictional characters.

The lightness of it and how it doesn't take itself too seriously as story makes it such fun to watch. I just watch it every time thinking that they are indeed within the Land of Fiction.

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