3.8 WHEN YOU JUST CAN'T WAIT TO BE KING...
(aka The King Is Dead, Long Live The King)
First Silence in the Library and now this. Once again a Eurovision Song Contest leaves me far from satisfied with the show it delayed by a week. Though, perhaps in fairness to RH, I'm not entirely sure if this is a crap episode, a decent episode not worth the wait, or simply down to the trailer being done by the same tools who did The Doctor's Daughter. I was promised something I was not given, and the long wait doesn't help. Rather like The Next Doctor. Thank Christ RTD's keep schtum about Tennant's finale (which he's just finished filming, sob) so the PR people can't ruin it with hype. Mind you, he did the same with Planet of the Dead, an episode I have watched less than (spit) The Idiot's Lantern.
So. The trailer is a pack of lies.
King Richard is not dead.
Isabella is not dead.
The Grim Reaper does not make a Princess Bride-like attack on the abbey screaming for the souls of mortal men.
And Gizzy is barely in it.
But we do get lots of scenes of Kate slutting it up while undercover as a whore barmaid with Alan and Much slowly going testosterone crazy and butting heads. Cause we needed more of those. We needed these arguments. We needed Tuck to complain they're acting like schoolkids. We needed Kate to tell them both to fuck off and leave her alone while it's made quite clear she's only after Robin. And do you know why we needed these arse-torturing scenes?
Because this way there's a chance in hell WE CAN ABANDON THIS STUPID FUCKING PLOT LINE!
For the record, despite openly confronting each other, Much comes out looking better than Alan. He's at least honest about his feelings for Kate, doesn't patronize her, and isn't stupid masculine "Ere, my birds nuzzling guest star of the week against my tits!" like Alan is, even to the point of ruining the plan. He even risks his life to save Kate right in front of her. It's quite clear that if he ever stood a chance with her, today would have brought things to a head. She clearly finds Alan's secretive lust rather creepy and annoying.
On with the plot.
If you've, like me, been brave enough to listen to the third and final series of Gallifrey (aka Why The Time Lords Will Lose The Time War), you will understand the bewildering politics of the last few stories as seemingly everyone siezes control of the Presidency which, for the last two years, was Romana's alone. There's something similar, as Vasey's death and Gizzy's exile has created a power vacuum. Izzy wants to be the new Sherrif of Nottingham - and it's interesting to note no one turns her down because she's a WOMAN, per se, but more because she's a frighteningly schizophrenic tart. PJ is only keeping her around as a cheap source of entertainment, ironically like Vasey and Marion, and has his eye on the new Sherrif being Sheridan, an ex-Crusader who looks like Keith Allan's stunt double. Indeed, my fear was of some kind of recast had occurred except the latest encumbent of Sherrif has less personality than the jailor elsewhere in the episode.
Since the episode ruined any sense of apocalyptic mystery as soon as it damn well could, so shall I. Sheridan was the Obi Wan Kenobe of the Crusaders and thus, according to Robin Hood lore, is automatically a Jedi-style Time Lord superhuman and the only real threat to Robin. Pity he's so two dimensional, but Carter and that dude from Peace Off were similarly revered for their amazing fighting skills and raw cunning. Anyway, Sheridan is hugely respected by both Robin and Much, so when he returns to England with a coffin containing clearly the same bloke from the Season 2 finale, it's pretty much clear that Richard is dead and PJ has nothing and no one to stop him camping up like... well... actually I can't think of anyone even comparable. He's off his fucking rocker, seemingly posing for a Woman's Weekly photo shop in every pose, lost in admiration at the sound of his own voice, and his mock seriousness about "national security" is compared to the scary/dangerous/nutter way he speaks of his family troubles and trust issues.
But what's this? Yes!
KING RICHARD IS AN AUTON!!!
The Merry Men are a bit pissed off, discovering this when the bastard melts - PJ having the "corpse" destroyed now it has fooled the Archbishop of Canterbury and, "in the interests of stability", PJ will be crowned KJ before any pesky state funeral business discovers Richard is still alive. Tuck thinks it's time to take PJ out, but Robin - who has been, by his standards, psychotically homocidal this week - refuses on the ground that if word gets out that the leader of England is dead, they risk civil war, invasion, zombie armies... wait, that's Gallifrey again, but it's very easy to get them confused. Instead, they nick his crown in a daring raid that was clearly written to pad out the episode than by being in anyway entertaining.
PJ sends out his two applicants for Sheriff with their tasks: Sheridan must use his Jedi powers to defeat Robin and regain the crown from a cunning "hall of mirrors" trick where every outlaw somehow has the crown as they run in different directions. Izzy must deal with her "terrorist" brother Guy, who's clearly only being stopped from being the big bad by his increasing difficulty in seperating his sister from Marion when he's got her at knife point. It's fair to say that both win and both lose.
Alas, it seems that an attempt at Steven Moffat foreshadowing has gone ass over tit. The opening scene with Much and Robin practising combat with mirrors dazzling them both with reflected sunshine turns out... to be absolutely irrelevent to PJ's fetish for mirrored shields... which in turn are nothing to do with Robin's final dues ex machina ALSO involving mirrors and shields.
Thankfully the ending of the episode gets its head out of its arse for ANOTHER four-way battle between Izzy, Gizzy, Robin and PJ, this time in Kirkley's Abbey surrounded by cheering natives, playing a kind of rugby game with the Crown of the King of England. When all sides are reminded they dare not spill blood on holy ground, they just drop their weapons and get into a massive Jackie-Chan-punch-up. With at least two regular enemies getting arrows through them, this more than a little reminded me of the climax to Star One. Before the space war, anyway. This leads to a rather lame tag scene gag. Lame as in it could have been the previous episode's tag scene as sod all has really changed, a real misstep for a show that delights in changing its rules so often.
We were promised an end-of-the-world-tale as PJ becomes King and Robin is forced into exile. What did we get? Bar the scene where Robin saving John's life at the cost of Gizzy's, this episode might as well not happened.
Frankly, that five minute scene of David Tennant discovering Captain Jack and Rorsarch from Watchmen having a fight to the death on the TARDIS set when everyone else has gone home for the night beat the shit out of this episode in every respect. Maybe I'll come to reevaluate it in times yet to come, like Lardner's Ring.
But don't hold your breath.
NEXT WEEK: OH, HOW SHOULD I KNOW??
"I'm your new Sherrif. Thornton, at your service."
It's all change at Nottingham as someone who may or may not be Izzy's husband turns up and siezes control of the town. Will Robin save the Guisbornes from execution? Do they want to be saved? And can any good of any kind come from Thornton's treasure hunt on cursed horse skull burial grounds? Will Tuck scare the shit out of people by pretending to be supernatural YET AGAIN or will something more interesting happen? And has Robin made his mind up about Izzy?
Let's hope normal service is resumed...