The BBC’s Robin Hood

I was looking forward to this series. An iconic English hero brought back to our screens after an absence even from cinema of about fifteen years, and one of the characters that inspired and informed my childhood imagination. Now, having seen the opening two parter, I have really mixed feelings about the BBC’s Robin Hood.

The opening episode was, to put it bluntly, crap. The script was clichéd, the acting was hammy and the whole shebang lacked the authentic period feel that supported its televisual predecessor, Robin of Sherwood. It’s curious how Richard Carpenter’s series has influenced everything that’s followed – the BBC series and Prince of Thieves both feature out of control Sheriffs and now, for no apparent reason, Robin of Locksley is also the Earl of Huntingdon, something which can only be based on Carpenter’s plot device of the eighties. Here, though, the mad Sheriff was just portrayed as an insane character with no particular reason to be in power. At least Robin of Sherwood’s Sheriff showed hints of being a smooth politician behind his occasional temper tantrums. I also feel compelled to rail against the visual style of the whole piece. Why is Guy of Gisburne wearing an anachronistic trench coat? Why is a twelfth century Earl based in what looks suspiciously like a sixteenth century manor house rather than a great big castle? And why do Marion and the trench digging bloke’s daughter have enough make-up on their faces to make them look like the Auton replica humans from the first series of Doctor Who? That last question counts double for the fact that the actresses in question are of a realistic shape rather than excessively prettified to start with. In an age where our images of beauty are rallying against the regimentation of the last two centuries, why are we still slaves to Max Factor?

For the sake of giving a fair and complete review of the serial, I taped tonight’s episode. I now hate the series even more for drawing me in. The acting’s still something of a mixed bag but the script is so much better. The viewer is given a much more comprehensive insight into the characters, with a real show of what kind of people Robin, Guy, Much and Little John are. Even the Sheriff gets to show that beneath his psychotic exterior is a shrewd mind.

The episode still managed to annoy me massively, though. Why is it necessary to pepper everything with satirical references packing all the subtlety of a doodlebug in a china shop without any of the punch? I counted three pointless and contextually unsound digs at the ‘War on Terror’ which seemed to serve no purpose beyond pitiful attempts to be ‘relevant’ to modern literature. I’m giving this series one more episode to impress the hell out of me before I stop taping this drivel on a Saturday night.

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~ by Scary Rob on 15 October, 2006.

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