Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Robin Hood (BBC) - Season 1

Robin Hood: Season 1
      If I didn't already say it enough in my preview post...I LOVE this show! I really wasn't expecting to, but, similar to Merlin, I was completely immersed into the story and the characters. Although I  never read the actual legends, I grew up watching different variations and interpretations of Robin Hood; my earliest one being Disney's 1973 version, the whimsical fan-favorite episode from the PBS television series Wishbone, the Mel Brook's classic, Robin Hood: Men In Tights, and a version made in 1991 that my mom introduced me to starring Patrick Bergin and Uma Thurman and was very well done. 

     Like with most anything on the BBC (or British drama in general) it takes a couple of episodes to get into. The show itself moves at lightening speed in the beginning and by the second disc, it's slowed down to enjoy the characters.

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Robin Hood
Jonas Armstrong as Robin Hood

     After five years in the Holy Lands during the Third Crusade, young Robin of Locksley and his manservant, Much, return from fighting in King's Richard's royal guard to his home in Nottingham, England. Except, it's not really Robin's home anymore and that's not the only thing that has changed. Vaisey of Nottingham, the new sheriff has taken control of Nottingham, starting with the control of the noble families. With no other family members and Robin off in the Holy Lands, the sheriff has given control of Robin's manor and village to his psychotic right-hand man, Sir Guy of Gisborne. 

     The sheriff and Guy have started taxing people to death, their excuse is to pay for the King's crusade, but really are being used by the king's idiot younger brother, Prince John. Robin is beyond mortified when he sees his home and people being used and manipulated. And if things couldn't get any worse, Robin's betroth, Marian has given up on him and wants nothing to do with him.

      Now left with no home, no money, no family, and no betroth, Robin has nothing to do, but challenge the powerful of Nottingham, which was his big mistake; a mistake that would make him a legend. When Robin defies the sheriff and rescues several men from a public hanging, he subsequently turns himself an outlaw to everyone who knows his name. He makes off to the forest of Sherwood with his servant and the small band of men he rescues (all former outlaws themselves) and creates a gang with one goal in mind, outwit the sheriff and Guy, and take from the treasuries of the rich and return it to the poor, all without being caught and at the same time, try and win back Marian's heart.

     I though Jonas Armstrong portrayal of Robin was absolute perfection! He gave Robin a many faceted personality. One minute he's charming, the next minute he's arrogant, and before you can blink, his temper has taken over all common sense. What I found the best and most endearing about him, is that although he is courageous and honorable, he's not afraid to be vulnerable to his feelings. He feels no shame in being affectionate to the hurting or even crying in public, but still manages to maintain the same masculine strength and dignity that makes him a good leader and doesn't come off as weak or effeminate. That can be a very difficult for a male actor (especially in today's sappy society), but Jonas did it to perfection and made a romantic and noble hero that could make any girl want to run off into the forest with him. 

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Lucy Griffiths as Marian
    The daughter of the former of sheriff of Nottingham and Robin of Locksley's betroth of five long years, Marian is hardly a woman who needs a man's help in the world. While given the appearance of graceful elegance and beauty in the sheriff's court during the day, at night she is the famed Night Watchman, a cloaked and masked figure that fights, feeds and cares for the poor and destitute of Nottingham. Marian is not one to wait around for situations to improve, if she has a chance to make life better, than she'll take it, regardless of the consequence. 

     While Marian has no problem fighting the social injustices of Nottingham, she finds herself conflicted with the battle of her heart. After Robin's return from the Holy Lands, she is hardly thrilled at his homecoming, but is also being pursued by Locksley's new lord, Sir Guy of Gisborne. Torn between her former feelings for Robin and her growing affections for the brooding landlord, Marian finds herself in a personal battlefield between what is right, what is wrong, what is easy and what is hard. 

     A beautiful and lively Marian that is never dull or boring; Lucy Griffiths breathed new life into the legendary lady and brought a more independent and feminist character that modern day girls can look up to. Marian's love triangle between Robin and Guy can become complex at times, but she chooses good over deception in spite of the hardships that followed afterwards. Some people may argue this but I never believed for one minute that Marian was malicious in her affections toward Guy; she did what she could to survive and protect the people she loved. 

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Sir Guy of Gisborne
Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne
     Broody and moody is the sheriff's right hand man in black. Power hungry to the point of madness, Guy will do whatever it takes to give the poor of Nottingham something to fear and respect. This attitude may please his boss, but does little for Lady Marian's affections. When Guy is given Locksley Manor, Guy believes that he may have Marian caged for good, but then Robin returns and old feelings between the arch rivals begin to fuel and dear Marian is caught slap bang in the middle of the two men. 

     Guy gets little no to no sympathy in the show, everything that comes back to him, he had it coming. Although he may work for the sheriff, Guy refuses to be anyone's puppet, especially when it comes to wooing Marian and planning on making her his wife, if only to spite Robin Hood who now lives as an outlaw in Sherwood Forest. 

      I think Richard Armitage just enjoys playing the brooder of the story, be he a hero or villain. I had previously seen him in North & South and The Hobbit trilogy, but he pulls the character off so well, you can forgive him for being repetitive. In spite of Guy's cruel and heartless nature, there is something almost endearing, but it's rare and shows up once in a blue moon. Guy's feelings for Marian tended more toward the side of overwhelming lust and not real love; he didn't care for her intelligence and good will, he just wanted sleep with her, however, when in competition with the handsome and heroic Robin Hood, you can understand that a desperate man will take desperate measures to get what he wants. 

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Vaisey of Nottingham
Keith Allen as Vaisey or the Sheriff of Nottingham
      To understand Guy, you may need to understand his boss, the vengeful and mad sheriff of Nottingham....and la-de-dah-de-dah. A complete control freak and sociopath who answers to no one except Prince John, who is completely inconsequential to begin with, the sheriff (as he's known as) has complete control over the people of Nottingham and woe be to anyone who tries to usurp him. So it's understandable that when Robin of Locksley returned from the Crusades, with all his virtuous notions of equality for all, the sheriff is (more than) slightly put off by him. 

     Whether perturbed by insanity or just an overachiever, the sheriff controls the people with an iron fist and no compassion. He thinks that by hurting the people will get him respect from them, but it deepens their resentment of him and heightens their love of Robin Hood and his men.

     A villain that you absolutely love to hate! Keith Allen's comedic timing with his villainous role just makes him worth the watch. He is a complete nutcase that also happens to be incredibly clever and not dimwitted at all, which is a tearway from previous interpretations of the sheriffs. 

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The Outlaws
Robin's Mighty Men
     A corrupt government can make corrupt men or it can make them outlaws. The latter normally comes with a high price, namely death. These men (and woman) would gladly choose death over a life of injustice, inhumanity, and fear. An unlikely crew that consists of a loyal manservant, a politically outspoken carpenter, a conman, a veteran outlaw, and Saracen physician hardly make the stuff of legends, but to Robin Hood, they are the future of Nottingham's salvation. 

     Much (Sam Troughton): Robin's loyal manservant who spent five years fighting by his side in the Crusades. Much was promised a life as a freeman if he fulfilled his duty to his master, but the return home becomes an even more arduous battle than the one he fought in the Middle East. Although, he is technically Robin's equal in most respects, he still continues to serve and protect his former master (and still refers to him as master). Cautious to a fault and spends most of his time contemplating the negative, Much brings a good deal of humor to the group and also sense of duty and honor to the man he admires and revers.

     John Little (Gordon Kennedy): John Little or Little John as he's known has spent more time on the wrong side of the corrupt law than anyone else. Once a husband and a good provider for his wife in Locksley, John fell into trouble and it seems that trouble has been following him ever since. A bear of a man who has a heart of gold, John is a strong fighter who is passionate about the cause that Robin is leading, but that doesn't stop him from mourning the separation from his wife (who believes him to be dead) and his young son he never knew. 

     Allan A Dale (Joe Armstrong): Liar, thief, and conman, one could say that Allan is the poster boy for outlaws. Prison is pretty much his second home and lying is practically a second language for him. Allan usually prefers to work alone, but Robin's offer of helping the poor, by punishing the rich turns Allan around, but that doesn't mean his loyalties are necessarily intact all the time. Charming and funny, Allan (like Much) is a life force for Robin's gang and is normally the person who always has to have the last word.

     Will Scarlet (Harry Lloyd): A quiet and talented carpenter who wants to live a quiet life, Will is thrown into the outlaw scene when he is sentenced to be hung for stealing. When Robin saves his life, he gives Will, his father and brother, on opportunity to fight alongside him. Will's father and brother turn him down, but Will is intrigued and stays with Robin. Although, reserved and practical 
by nature, Will is passionate about bringing down the sheriff and Guy and will stop at nothing to see that day finally come. 

     Djaq (Anjali Jay): She (Yes, she and her name is pronounced 'Jack') is the most unlikely person to join Robin's gang. A woman, a Saracen, and Muslim who is also a scientist, a physician, and a solider. Djaq was brought from the Holy Lands as a slave, but was freed by Robin after she saved John's life with her medical knowledge. Afterwards her medical skill as well as her fighting makes her a worthy member of the group. Incredibly kind and compassionate, Djaq gives a calming presence to the outlaws of Sherwood and even manages to capture a couple of their hearts. 

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"Will you tolerate this injustice? I for one, will not!"
     If you enjoyed BBCs Merlin, chances are you will enjoy Robin Hood as well. A well balanced mix of humor and drama, with a little modern thrown into the costumes and dialogue, it's what I call a relaxing watch. A swoonworthy, but imperfect hero who struggles with his humanity (but is by no means broody), a beautiful heroine who is bold and clever, villains that make you laugh (or want to throw something at the screen) and a Scooby-Doo crew of misfits determined to save the day. What more can you ask for??

Last Note -

     And if my new header (which is the best one I've made so far!) didn't already explain it...I love Robin and Marian! My new favorite romantic couple! Their relationship is truly based on companionship and respect that turns into unconditional and sacrificial love. Every time there is a romantic scene between them, I go into total fangirl mode : ) There need to be more romances like theirs in stories.


  1. I've thought about watching Robin Hood a lot but when I found out how it ended I bailed. I didn't... like that ending. LOL. It does look really good but I wouldn't want to watch that whole story knowing the ending. its too sad.

    Hey, I was wondering... do you still want me to do a Defense of Sam Winchester post?

    OH AND HI!!!! I haven't commented in ages! *le grin*

  2. Hello!

    I am a very big fan of anything Robin Hood, and the BBC version is one of my favorites! I really like your review of season one, I like how you discribed all the characters!!



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