After mixed response to the season 8 premier, Doctor Who delivered a well-received second episode, “Into the Dalek” – providing the Twelfth Doctor (played by Peter Capaldi) an opportunity for soul-searching as well as a chance for audiences to learn more about the franchise’s primary menace, The Daleks. The episode was far from perfect (read our “Into the Dalek” review) but often captured the essence of a great Doctor Who episode – an engaging sci-fi premise, memorable side characters, slick special effects, and a story-driven mirror capable of offering new insight into the Doctor (as well as his companion). Without a doubt, the installment was a step up for the series at a time when some viewers, and the show’s writers, are still adjusting to the exit of Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith.
However, Doctor Who is, at its heart, still supposed to be a kid-friendly adventure through time and space – a program that children and their parents can both enjoy (albeit at different levels) and to that end, in spite the series’ mature elements, every season also includes a fair share of campy story lines. For that reason, while we might be getting a ruder and more alien Time Lord in season 8, The Doctor and Clara are still set to take part in a few lighthearted pitstops.
As teased in this week’s “Next On” preview, episode 3 of season 8, “Robot of Sherwood,” takes the pair to Medieval England – where The Doctor intends to prove that the legendary outlaw Robin Hood never actually existed. Now, a new preview video along with production stills have been released for the episode – hinting at a cartoony episode that plays heavily on Robin Hood lore/iconography with Doctor Who‘s standard sci-fi backdrop.
Check out the full TV trailer for “Robot of Sherwood” below – followed by the official synopsis from BBC:
In a sun-dappled Sherwood forest, the Doctor discovers an evil plan from beyond the stars and strikes up an unlikely alliance with Robin Hood. With all of Nottingham at stake, the Doctor must decide who is real and who is fake. Can impossible heroes really exist?
No doubt, fans who prefer their Doctor Who free of mustache twirling folklore legends may be in for a rough ride with “Robot of Sherwood.” That said, the episode was written by Sherlock and Doctor Who alum Mark Gatiss who, disregarding a few bumps along the way (“The Idiot’s Lantern”), has been responsible for several memorable episodes of the series. Last, year Gatiss penned both “Cold War” and “The Crimson Terror” which many considered marked high points in a season full of sharp ups and downs.
Check out images from “Robot of Sherwood” below (click for full versions):
For that reason, it might be a mistake to assume that Gatiss and showrunner Steven Moffat won’t be able to inject engaging Doctor Who drama and character development into the conflict between Robin Hood (Tom Riley) and the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Miller). Given the synopsis outs an evil plan “from beyond the stars” and the new images (above) reveal unearthly looking warrior knights, it’s possible that Gatiss could find a way to turn an otherwise campy premise into another thought-provoking series installment.
The title alone, coupled with the Doctor’s skepticism, suggests not to take everything or everyone at face value. Hopefully, whatever twists the episode might have in store will lend interesting perspective and contemporary value to the Robin Hood legend – instead of simply injecting sci-fi elements/explanations into an already throughly explored piece of folklore. Either way, after a pair of episodes that relied heavily on exploring how the Twelfth Doctor may or may not be different from his previous iterations, a more straightforward trip back in time, one with cast full of Merry Men, might turn out to be a fun distraction – for both the audience and the Doctor.
Of course, following two brief appearances already this season, the big question probably should be: which side character will Missy save this time?
Doctor Who season 8, episode 3 “Robot of Sherwood” will premiere September 6th on BBC and BBC America.
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