Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Look At The BBC Show Robin Hood

I’ve been in a kick lately of watching BBC shows. I don’t know what it is, and no, it’s not Doctor fucking Who. I’ve been watching shows like Primeval, MI-5 (or Spooks in the UK) and Robin Hood. Not to mention the show Survivors that I decided to get into.

I really got attached to Robin Hood and Primeval…which included me watching every episode from both shows. Now my UK friends have yelled at me for watching Primeval but that show is like watching an episode of the movie Lake Placid every time you tune in. It is so bad it’s awesome. This blog, however, I don’t really want to talk about any of the other shows except for Robin Hood.

I can’t really say I’m a fan of the story of Robin Hood. Although I have seen many incarnations of it: Robin Hood, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Robin Hood (Russell Crowe is fat), and the animated Robin Hood where Robin is a fox. I liked this BBC version of it though. It reminded me of growing up watching Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess…especially when I got older and developed a huge crush on Gabrielle (Renée O'Connor) at least before she got uber buff. I even watched Young Hercules that starred Ryan Fucking Gosling as the man, er, boy, himself.

Robin Hood aired in 2006, 2007, and 2009, but maybe the BBC just likes doing that (Survivors aired in 2008 and 2010). I don’t know why it had a year hiatus, and I can honestly think that it might have had something to do with why the show didn’t get picked up for a fourth season. I mean in TV if you’re gone for a year you might as well be gone for good. I also noticed something else between season two and season three…the production value.

The production value was actually something that was rather hilarious in the first two seasons. In particular Richard Armitage's outfit as Guy of Gisborne. That outfit was a fucking joke. It looked like something out of a reject 80’s hair metal band crossed with an S&M wannabe. The shoulders alone made me laugh every time I saw them. It wasn’t just Guy either, you could tell it in all of the characters. I wondered as soon as the first episode of season three came on about why the sudden influx in costumes. In the first season I can remember several scenes that caught my attention. One being a guy wearing a pair of pants that actually had a zipper. Another was the belt buckles, several of them were entirely too modern. Then again there was the scene where Will Scarlett (played by Harry Llyod who is now Viserys Targaryen on Game of Thrones) is laying on top of a roof and you can clearly see the rubber soled hiking boots he is wearing. The sets were similar to this change of play as well. In seasons one and two they tended to rotate between the same 3-4 sets, rarely deviating. In season three they even took the viewer to new cities (although we did travel to Acre at the end of season two). Instead of just Nottingham we were treated to a view of York. The CGI, while almost nonexistent in the first two seasons (and when used was incredibly SyFy channel worthy) also made more of an appearance, to better effect.

The cast was also spectacular for what they were doing. I already mentioned Richard Armitage (who will be playing Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit movies and makes an appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger) and Harry Llyod, but it also included Jonas Armstrong as Robin Hood, Gordon Kennedy as Little John, Sam Troughton as Much...Robins best friend/once servant (who, if I remember correctly, was the first person to get infected in the AvP movie), Joe Armstrong as Allan A Dale, Lucy Griffiths (so hot) as Marian, Anjali Jay as Djaq (a foreigner who joins the group as their somewhat doctor), and Keith Allen as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Of all of them Keith Allen was the only one that drove me nuts. I don't know what it was, I guess he either hammed it up too much or I just couldn't stand him. I mean, I don't think you're supposed to like the Sheriff of Nottingham, but Alan Rickman was fucking awesome. In season three they added Friar Tuck, played by David Harewood, and he's black...I guess that's how they added color. They also brought in Joanne Froggatt as Kate, Lara Pulver as Isabella, and Clive Standen as Archer (who is currently playing Gawain on Camelot). Shit, how can I forget the wonderful role of King Richard was played by Steven Waddington who was in The Last of the Mohicans and Sleepy Hollow. He was only in one episode, but he fucking nailed it.

I could tell there would be changes when we lost several of the main characters at the end of season two, and I felt it again at the end of season three. In fact, season three kind of sealed the shows fate. SPOILERS: At the end of two they kill off Marian and eliminate Djaq and Will Scarlett. At the end of season three they kill off Robin, Allan A Dale, The Sheriff, Isabella, and Guy. They not only just eliminated Robin, but they dropped the cast down to two people who had been with the show since the beginning. I know the intent was to have Archer become Robin Hood, but come on…that’s why The X-Files bombed…you got rid of Scully and Mulder. /END SPOILERS.

The writing for the show got a bit ridiculous. There are only so many times you can run away. There are only so many times one of the members of your group can get captured and you have to rescue them. There are only so many times you can rob from the same fucking person before it gets old. They also decided to up the anti by throwing in a lot of things that are more modern…like booby trapping a room with rope like they were lasers. Let us not even mention another trap that ridiculously drops to some raging inferno of hell. I mean, I can understand how writing the same shit every day could get old, but come on. Instead of having the merry gang rob someone every episode, instead of having them run from Guy, or rescue a comrade, they could have just…I don’t know…played with character interaction, or had them just sit around the fucking campfire for a day and trade stories of war and life. They kind of tried that plot in the episode “A Good Day to Die,“ but they completely fucked it up with too many other plot points. I really would have liked to have seen how Robin and Much became the way they were. Why Much was so dedicated to following and protecting him. We’re only even given, I think, one glance of them when they were actually in the crusades. Did I forget to mention that in the first two seasons Robin Hood wouldn’t kill anyone? Totally. Third season? Fuck that shit he arrowed people left and right. I’m also wondering how fucking easy it was to get into a castle. They seriously do it like every other episode. You think they could, eventually, keep wanted criminals (whose faces were pretty damn well known) out. The “cover your head with a hood” trick…would only work, maybe, once. I can also understand deviating from the legends and other source material, but sometimes I think they went a little too far. Like…not introducing Friar Tuck until the third season? That’s some bullshit.

Through it all though I loved it. Would I have liked it to continue? No. The show ended where it needed to end. Unlike some shows I’ve fallen in love with. I’m looking at you Harsh Realm, mini-series my fucking ass. In David Bentley's article about the cancellation of Robin Hood (which you can read HERE). He says "The finale of the third season had been shunted from BBC1 to BBC2 to make way for Andy Murray's overrunning game at Wimbledon." That, my friends, is a sad way to go. Was it better than the overabundance of reality television that plagues our screens? Hell yes. Did you know that Survivor is still going? Survivor. Eleven fucking years, people. How the hell is that goddamn show not gone? Would I recommend Robin Hood? Like I said, I’m not a big fan of the Robin Hood character, but I enjoyed the shit out of the show. It brought me back to that time where television shows were just meant to be entertaining, and didn’t cost enough to feed a small country.

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