After a bit of a shaky start to this new season of Doctor Who, it was a bit of a relief to have an episode that I actively enjoyed pretty much all the way through. It was certainly silly, but really, I was okay with that. And now I’m actually starting to like Capaldi’s Doctor as well. Don’t get me wrong–I’ve already found him compelling. But in this episode, I actually liked him too.
Spoilers are in the magic box!
After two back-to-back Srs Bznz episodes, it was a nice change of pace to have a lighter-hearted adventure. For Clara as well as the audience, I think. We start off with the Doctor giving her a “Choose Your Own Adventure” pass, essentially–and I daresay that was a good call on the Doctor’s part, to put Clara better at ease with him again.
I could quibble about how it was ever so CONVENIENT that the Doctor happened to land the TARDIS in the exact spot in Sherwood Forest where Robin Hood just HAPPENED to be lurking, but meh, whatevs. There’s a story to get on with here, and no sense wasting time looking for the guy when you can drop the TARDIS practically right on top of him! Plus, it was fun seeing Clara come out in her gorgeous red dress, and the Doctor start dueling with Robin over the stream. The sheer ridiculousness of his whipping out the spoon was delightful.
Also, raise your hand if, during that entire scene, you kept calling “HO! HA HA! GUARD! TURN! PARRY! SPIN! DODGE! THRUST!” at the screen. Or “actually, it’s a buck and a quarter quarterstaff! But I’m not telling HIM that.” 😀
I quite adored the Doctor’s insistence that Robin and the Merry Men could not possibly be real, and how he kept wandering around taking samples off of everybody. And his personality clash with Robin was giggleworthy, too. Paul kept calling out how this Doctor kept reminding him of the pomposity and arrogance of Six without Six’s cowardice, and I’m with him on that. And the scene in the dungeon cell where Clara dropped the BOTH OF YOU SHUT THE HELL UP hammer on him and Robin was gold.
Speaking of Clara, she did a delightful job in the scene with the Sheriff of Nottingham, too. Not Black Widow levels of interrogation skill, but quite impressive nonetheless. And I found her giddiness over getting to meet Robin Hood in general entirely infectious. This is one of the first times I can remember seeing in her what I think we really need to see in every Companion: i.e., the sense that ZOMG THIS IS SO AWESOME, which I’d think should be the primary motivator for why the hell they’re traveling with the Doctor in the first place.
And of course since this is Doctor Who, there were robots. Which I did like. And set off against that, Robin did in fact turn out to be entirely real. Robin’s last scene with the Doctor was nice, even if a tad TOO meta–“I’m just as real as you are,” indeed.
All in all: fluffy but enjoyable. More of this, please!