This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.
Robot of Sherwood (Pic: BBC)
Robot of Sherwood (Pic: BBC)
Robot of Sherwood (Pic: BBC)

After last week’s shrunken unpleasantness, it is time to take a trip to somewhere less Daleky.

Clara has a hankering to meet Robin Hood. But the Doctor does not believe he exists and even an ice-creamy spoon won’t lighten his mood on the topic. So off they go to Sherwood Forest in 1190 (ish) so that the Doctor can prove his point.

His point is slightly undermined by the arrival of a smiling man dressed all in green, who has fired an arrow at the TARDIS. Odds bodkins, ’tis Robin Hood himself!

Things get off to a bad start:

There’s a swordfight between man and Time Lord, sword and spoon, each participant receiving a ducking for his trouble. Everyone heads back to Robin’s camp to meet Friar Tuck, Little John, Alan a Dale and so on. The disbelieving Doctor performs a series of tests, trying to test how real Robin and his men are, and yet they seem disturbingly human, despite appearing to be fully drawn from legend. Could it be a Miniscope, a shrunken reality such as the Third Doctor encountered in “Carnival of Monsters”? We shall see.

Meanwhile the Sheriff of Nottingham is stealing a young girl, new to the area, to work in his castle—he wants people and gold, but no other valuables—and killing anyone who objects. Oh and he’s set up a competition to find the best archer in the land, the prize being an arrow made of pure gold.

Naturally the disguised Robin does rather well at it, splitting the Sheriff’s black arrow with one of his own. Then the Doctor splits Robin’s arrow. Then Robin splits the Doctor’s arrow. Then the Doctor splits Robin’s arrow after bouncing it off a suit of armor. Then Robin splits the Doctor’s arrow without even looking and the Doctor blows up the target with the sonic screwdriver and the Sheriff’s knights advance.

Except they’re not knights, they’re robots with glowing crosses on their faces that make explosions happen. The Doctor, Robin and Clara are taken to the dungeon, where the young girl from earlier is watching a robot destroy a fellow slave.

In the dungeon, the Doctor and Robin commence bickering on an epic scale, much to Clara’s irritation. She’s taken away for questioning, which must be something of a relief. Meanwhile the Sheriff’s melted gold is being cast into a shape that looks rather like a circuit board.

Facing each other over a dining table, Clara beguiles the Sheriff into exposition. A spaceship has crashed on Earth and its robots are now under his command.

Robin has a plan, one of them must feign sickness. Once they’ve sorted out who will take on the playacting responsibility, they put their plan into action. Five minutes later, they have knocked out the guard, and the keys are there for the taking. Except, in the bickering, they’ve kicked them down a drain. It is not an heroic moment.

So they pull the stone to which they have been chained out of the ground, and carry it to the blacksmith’s forge to free themselves. On their way to find Clara, they wander into part of a spaceship. The whole castle is a spaceship, bound for ‘The Promised Land’, just like the fellow in Victorian London. It seems the broken ship’s leaking radiation is creating a false climate, and the robots are using local gold supplies to fix the ship while they recreate the legend of Robin Hood from their database to keep the peasants docile.

(Geek sidenote: the black and white still of Robin Hood from the database is taken from a BBC production, in which the role of Robin was played by Patrick Troughton, otherwise known as the Second Doctor).

Except that’s not quite true. The Sheriff enters, ordering the death of Robin Hood, and Robin takes Clara and leaps out of the window. It seems he’s not a robot after all. And back in Sherwood, he interrogates Clara to find out more about the Doctor.

The Doctor himself, back in chains next to the young girl from earlier, worries that the ship is too badly damaged to fly, that it will simply explode. So he wriggles free of his manacles and seizes a metal plate to deflect the robots’ death beams back in their faces. An escape is happening! Followed by a daring rescue from Robin himself, who battles the Sheriff on a walkway over a boiling vat of gold, and eventually (after a certain amount of swash has been buckled) gives him a dunking. Huzzah!

Except the ship is taking off. Time to run away! The Doctor, realizing that the ship needs a little more gold to get into orbit, takes the golden arrow and (with a little help from Robin), shoots the ship, giving it just the boost in needs to get safely up into space, where it explodes. NOW it’s time for a victorious laugh. Haha!

Just as the Doctor and Clara leave, a young girl appears in the forest, it’s the young girl from earlier. Except she is also Maid Marion! The legend is complete.

See more:
Was Robin Hood Real?
10 Myths of the Supernatural, Taken From British Folklore
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Into The Dalek’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Deep Breath’

Read More
By Fraser McAlpine