Saturday, September 6, 2014

"I'm Just as Real as You Are" - Review of "Robot of Sherwood'

Review/Recap of Doctor Who Series 8, Episode 3: "Robot of Sherwood" - SPOILERS!

Story Time!

My sophomore year of college, I took a class called History of England (admittedly, that's a lot of material to cover in a semester, but we did our best). For our final project, we had to choose a real person from any point in England's history and write a paper on that person. There were two exceptions - King Arthur and Robin Hood, because history and legend get quite mixed up regard those two (I wrote my paper on JK Rowling - but that's neither here nor there).

So, I was quite amused by the Doctor's reluctance to believe that Robin Hood was a real person. It was hilarious watching him try to explain away the presence of Actual Merry Men in Sherwood Forest - from the medical tests to the archery competition and the bickering in the prison cell. And probably because the Doctor is a legend on so many planets - maybe he feels like he has to be the only one. Or something like that.

Basically, this episode was fun (remember fun? Before all the pedants and perpetually-angry academics abolished it from fandom and told us we couldn't love anything anymore?) Robin Hood is a fairy tale (or folktale - depending on who you ask). Clara fangirls over meeting the legendary outlaw and his band of robbers (and after having met Colin Baker and Paul McGann this week at Salt Lake Comic Con, I can readily identify with Miss Oswald at this moment *squee*). We get to see several key parts of the Robin Hood legend play out in an episode of Doctor Who - some that are easily recognized (like the archery tournament), some that are a little more obscure (like the Sheriff of Nottingham trying to become king - at least, I think that was part of some of the stories. I'll have to double check on that). It's not just a romp, but it's a well-done romp. Not every episode has to be emotionally heavy like the last two were.

Not to say there weren't some emotional bits - at least, parts that were a little more poignant than the Doctor and Robin Hood arguing who is going to pretend to be ill so the guard comes in and then they lose the keys down the grate. The entire last scene - discussing whether it's better to be part of history or part of legend - is so meta that it almost hurts my heart to watch it. Here are two legendary characters - one who could be real, the other quite fictional (dammit) - who come to the conclusion that "History is a burden. Stories can make us fly." Given the Doctor's penchant for running away from responsibility - I think that conclusion quite fits. Also, there's a moment after Clara and Robin have fallen down into the moat where the Doctor is visibly worried for Clara - whether or not she survived. That even gave me pause, even though I know (I think?) that Clara had to have survived (look, this is not the kind of episode to throw an unexpected death at us). Of course, there's Robin Hood's reunion with Maid Marian (I could tangent over into Once Upon a Time theories here, but I won't). But before that, there's Clara and Robin Hood talking about the people that make them smile (to borrow a phrase from last week) and that gave me the warm fuzzies (I know romance isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoy it, so let me savor this little treat, 'kay?)

Basically, it was a lighthearted (comparatively) filler story that's still going to be considered a favorite for a lot of people (myself included). So before the pedants freak out about golden arrows fixing spaceships - take a break and think about what the story was trying to do. You'll see a lot more than irritating details. You might see something that warms your heart.

(If you haven't traded it in for a brain full of pudding and a soul full of bitterness, that is).

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