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 (RenĂ©e 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.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Tale of Tim

Let me tell you about Tim.

I’ve known Tim for about 9 years now. Originally I met him through a guy I worked with and over the years we’ve become best friends. He smokes Camel menthols? Crushes? Turkish Silver? I know he smokes camels, and they‘re not a regular cigarette…because I can smell them. He drinks a lot of soda’s, prefers a good comic book or horror movie, loves fantasy, and plays video games. He’s a metal head who tends to stick with a certain sound/type of band, and he doesn’t really drink. He’s also an angry fucker. No, really.

He’s a nice guy, however, when he gets angry (usually this is directed at a girl…in the sense of infidelity or stupidity) he has to let that anger out. How does he let that anger out? On his hand. Seriously, I think he’s broken his hand more times than the years I’ve known him. He likes to punch inanimate objects. I think the last time he broke his hand he punched a newspaper dispenser. You know, one of those steel ones? The time before that I think it was his spare tire on the back of his jeep. He’s also lazy.

Now coming from me calling someone lazy is a serious matter…because I’m fucking lazy. He’s seriously fucking lazy. There have been times where I’ve called him at 3 in the afternoon and he was still sleeping. I don’t know how he does it. Rarely can I sleep past noon anymore, and that’s even after I got to bed at 5 am. He’s also not really sociable.

Most of the times I get him to come out it’s like pulling teeth.
“You want to go to the bar tonight?”
“Not really.”
“Wanna go get something to eat?”
“Eh, I’m not that hungry.”
“Catch a movie?”
“No. I think I’m just going to stay home. I’m not really in the mood to go do anything.”
“What if I pay? I can spot you a few drinks.”
“I’ll drive.”
“I’ll come pick you up, drive, and pay. It’s like I’m taking you on a fucking date.”
“Naw. I really just want to stay home.”
“I fucking hate you.”
He also, pretty much, absolutely, will not go to Atlanta.
“Hey man, want to come to Atlanta with me?”
“I hate Atlanta.”
“I fucking hate you.”
Every so often he will call me and ask me to go out. Saving me the trouble of having to convince him to go out.

A while back, when I started hiking, I would ask him to go with me. He literally lives, like, 3 minutes from my usual hiking trail. How many times has he gone with me? 3 times. I’m pretty sure it’s three times. Twice on the Homestead Trail and once on the Ironhill Trail. Anyway, once I got the GA Park Pass he seemed to be more interested in going out hiking. Not on my usual trail though. No. He wants to go check out the other parks. Not a problem, I’m a fan of road trips.

The first time we went out we went to Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, GA. His idea. He chose the place. How far did he make it up the trail? About a quarter of the fucking way. I finished it, constantly yelling down at him that he was a bitch…because those steps were a fucking bitch. 600 of them to be exact. On the trip home he tells me that we should do this more often. Check out a new park say, every Monday (because we both had Mondays off). THREE months later (and both of us now unemployed because both restaurants we worked at shut down) he hits me up on fb chat (I’ve heard from him about going out drinking or hanging out, but this chat was during the day). He wants to go check out Cloudland Canyon in Rising Fawn, GA. Apparently there are two waterfalls at Cloudland Canyon, and the trail to the waterfalls is only two miles roundtrip.

Now, I usually hike a 4 ½ mile trail…so two miles wouldn’t be jack shit. HAHA.

The drive out there takes us around an hour. Most of it is off the highway with a speed limit of 55. The scenery is beautiful, but I quickly realize we are getting the fuck away from civilization. At one point, at 3 in the afternoon, we didn’t see a single living soul for fifteen minutes. What else? Well, with the windows rolled up and the radio playing, not to mention we were in the middle of a conversation, I heard a sound. The fucking cicadas were so loud that I could hear them in my car. We rolled down the windows to a stereo surround sound of these motherfuckers. It sounded like a symphony concert. Loud. It was pretty freaky.

So we get to Cloudland Canyon at Tim is very happy and excited. It’s a gorgeous day
and he’s ready to go. The view is amazing and he can’t wait to see these waterfalls. The first thing I notice is the trail is not like most hiking trails I’ve been on. The majority of them have been beaten down, smoothed out, well worn. This bitch was laced with rocks, steps, loose gravel, etc. There were even warnings posted to not deviate from the path. As we are coming down this guy and pregnant lady are coming up.
“Fuck waterfall number 2 man.”
“That path is not worth it. There are a shit load of stairs and the waterfall isn’t even that cool. Just check out number 1.”
“No problem.”
Waterfall number 2 is .3 miles away. Waterfall number 1 is .1 miles away.
“Let’s check out number 2 first.” I say.
“No, let’s do 1 first.”
“Why? 2 is farther away. We should do that one and then check out 1 on the way back.”
“He said 1 is better anyway.”
“Exactly, so we see the better one after the shitty one.”
“Let’s check out 1.”

1 is awesome, and Tim is very happy and pleased. On to number 2. As we’re climbing down a shit load of stairs to get to 2 I keep thinking to myself, Tim’s not going to make it. I’ll give the boy this, since Amicalola he’s lost 30 lbs, mainly due to diet. If you look at the two of us he would appear to be in much better shape. However, I remembered Amicalola. We get to the bottom and I can tell he’s nervous.
“Where does this trail go?”
“The map shows that it goes about another two miles up that way.”
“Should we take that one back?”
“Well…it would, hypothetically, add another four miles onto our hike.”
“Yeah, but, would it be easier?”
“I don’t know, our car is way the fuck up there. Eventually were going to have to get back to the top of the canyon.”
“You can make it.”
As we look at the path ahead of us Tim does not look very happy, and he demonstrates this displeasure.

About an 1/8 of the way up he starts lagging.
“Keep moving.” I tell him. “Don’t stop. Even if you need to take a break stay on your feet. Pace back and forth. Stopping will just fuck you.”
He listens to me for a while, but then he starts taking more and more breaks. The next thing I hear is that he feels like he needs to puke.
“Drink a little.” I say. “You probably just need to hydrate.”

I go another distance and turn around. Now he’s squatting.
“Oie, what the fuck did I tell you? If you need to break stay on your feet, move around.”
“But this is comfortable. It’s not really my legs anyway, my legs are fine, like I said I just have this urge to puke.”
“…then puke.”
“I can’t.”
“Dude, I can puke on command. If you have to puke then puke.”
“It’s not that easy.”
“How many of your powerades did you bring?”
“Just the one. Why?”
“Well if you had both of them I would have told you to chug one. That would probably make you puke.”
“I’ll be alright.”

Any time someone comes near us I say, “Man up.” You know, so he could at least pretend to be alright. We get another distance and the breaks are coming more and more. Eventually I hear this one.
“Dude, just give me five minutes and then I’ll do the rest of the trail in one big go.”
“Ok, but don’t sit down or anything.”
That didn’t happen. In fact, he didn’t just sit down, he laid down.
“I told you not to sit. You’re not just sitting, you’re fucking laying down.”
He demonstrated his displeasure with me once again.
“Five minutes?”
“Five minutes.”

So I kept pacing back and forth, taking a picture here or there, I even went up the trail a bit and came back down to him. I would have left him, but I remembered Amicalola falls. I left him then and he ended up not seeing anything.
“Five minutes is up.”
“Bullshit, it hasn’t been five minutes.”
“Fine, it’s been three minutes, get the fuck up. Remember, you‘re the one that picked this place”

He did, and we slowly continued our way. Every time he starts to pause again I call out, “Just think what it’ll be like when you get to sit down in the car!” or, “Don’t forget about the AC…imagine how good that’ll feel.”

Almost to the top and he stops again, he sits down.
“Tim, come on, we’re almost there.”
He gets up…and pukes.
I was this close to actually catching it on camera. In the few times he’s gone hiking with me he’s ended up puking on at least half of them.
“Feel better now?”
“Not really.”
“You should feel better, you’ve been bitching about puking for the last hour.”
“Well…yeah, I do feel better.”

The rest of the way back to the car he doesn’t really pause anymore. He gets one pause when I go off the beaten path and stand on the cliff ledge to take a picture, but he didn’t follow me down there…probably because I had to do a little climbing. Then, glory be, the car.
“Thanks.” He says to me.
“For what?”
“For sticking around. You really motivated me to do it. If it hadn’t been for that I probably would have quit.”
“You’re welcome.”
“Oh, and you’re picking the trail next time.”
“Why’s that.”
“Because I apparently want to kill myself.”