Doctor Who 8.3 – Robot of Sherwood

Sadly, for me, Mark Gatiss’s “Robot of Sherwood” is overshadowed by the BBC’s last-minute decision to hack a minute out of the climax. Shortly before it aired, terrorists operating out of Iraq murdered two American journalists by beheading them. Somebody at the BBC decided that having the Sheriff of Nottingham lose his head and reveal that he’s a robot and it didn’t bother him too much was too close to the ugly reality. So they edited the broadcast master to lose the decapitation, and, owing to some internal policy about not issuing alternate versions and forcing British taxpayers to pay to see the full, intended edition, it has not been seen on Blu-ray or DVD. Fortunately, a black and white work print had been floating around file-sharing sites. Finding the “Robot of Sherwood” deleted scene only takes seconds.

I think it’s vandalism, pure and simple, and I hate that it overshadows such a fun and silly romp. I like this episode’s speed: it rockets from set piece to set piece with barely an establishing shot. Our son doesn’t have a huge amount of experience with Robin Hood, apart from the Disney cartoon, so I made sure to show him the publicity photo of Patrick Troughton from the 1953 series, which is surely among the very best of all Doctor Who Easter eggs. He enjoyed it very much, especially the dungeon scene.

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