Avoid this Robin Hood

Avoid this Robin Hood

Updated: Fixed formatting and link to Errol Flynn DVD at the end. (Purchases of the DVD help support Bettnet.)

I recently added a new show to my Tivo season pass (which means it automatically records all episodes), but after four episodes I think I’m going to remove it. BBC America’s “Robin Hood” received good reviews before it aired, so I thought I’d give it a chance, but once again I am reminded that unless you know the reviewer has the same outlook and tastes as you, the reviews aren’t worth much.

So what’s wrong with the new “Robin Hood”? For one thing, it has all the production values of “Hercules” and “Xena”, by which I mean is that it has the same staged look and feel. The costumes are all the same, the sets are all the same and they look like the “trompe l’oiel” paintings over styrofoam that they are. The combat is similar as well with lots of edged and blunt weapons flying about, but apparently never making contact, except to knock about the participants with few ill effect. Even in the one dramatic scene where a character is stabbed repeatedly by a group of soldiers it looks like a stage production; I don’t need gore, but playfighting is a little disappointing. But I would have put up with it all if the writing and directing were up to par.

The best character in the show is the dastardly villain, the Sheriff of Nottingham, which isn’t surprising given that the completely evil antagonist is always the easiest to play. The actor playing the sheriff chews the scenery with gusto and appropriately has all the warmth of bright winter’s day in northern New England. He smiles a lot, but it’s not a friendly smile.

Unfortunately, the rest of the cast does not fare so well. Robin himself is a twentysomething who comes across like a bored rich kid playing at being outlaw, more interested in the fun of tweaking the sheriff than at fighting for justice. That the writers have him very occasionally brood about having fought in the crusade and approvingly quoting verses of the Koran, creating an obvious Iraq War subtext, is anachronism enough, but that they have the sheriff rail about a “war on terrorism” as a description for his efforts to catch Robin is over the top.

A forgettable cast

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  • Yer, forget it Dom. This Robin Hood is a post-modern, relativist farrago of nonsense. And if you persist in watching to the end you will realise that no where does the Church or religion feature. No Friar Tuck and Marion is never called ‘Maid’ in the series.

    It seems scarecely credible to me that the England of the 12th century was full of atheists nor even agnostics. At least in previous takes of the Robin Hood legend (and yes, Errol Flynns was one of the best) the Church at leat featured even if in ther shape of corrupt or greedy churchmen. Not in this BBC production they don’t.

    And as for that ‘Koranic’ take – just another example of trite post-modernism.

  • I gave up on the first episode about three quarters of the way in when Robin Hood said something along the lines that he realized while fighting the Crusades that it wasn’t really his war, it was the Pope’s, thus managing to get the BBC’s antiwar sentiment and anti-Catholic sentiment into a single line of dialogue.

    Prior to that line, the show wasn’t very good.  I thought it was kind of dull.  I also didn’t like what they were doing with Robin Hood’s character.  On his way home from the Crusades, Robin agrees to do some manual labor in exchange for dinner, then proceeds to accept the man’s daughter’s offer of a quickie in an exposed area while her father is thirty feet away.  Of course the father catches on almost immediately.  I think the show was going for comedy, but it just wasn’t funny.  Robin Hood should be neither so stupid nor such a jerk.

  • Drop that sot, Dom.  Life on Mars is a far better BBC product, even if the next season’s the last one!