So, yeah, that whole “not too much violence wreaked upon the characters” aspect of Robin Hood? *pfft* Gone, that. And either the stories have taken a turn for the worse or I’ve gotten less tolerant.
Robin’s still okay; hate the haircut (his eyes look closer together now, and yes I know that’s shallow) (but honestly, now: grieving for his beloved and facing a decently arduous trip from the Holy Land back to the middle of England, he stops for a haircut? Just going in the opposite direction as Gisborne, I guess), not too fond of his grieving process (delayed reaction, that, and very patient friends), and of course it’s ridiculous that he survived the fall he did (although at least he was in bad shape for a while – which, of course, did not prevent him from all that climbing) – but he still works. Little John, Much, Allan, all still as fine as they ever were; I’m just happy my boys are still part of the thing. I would have been very disappointed if either of them had been part of the demise of the show. Whatever its faults, and I’ll be getting to those in a minute, they have done a fair job of presenting “Robin Hood”; it doesn’t give me the shudders to think of this being someone’s primary exposure to the stories.
That said… There were some major changes between the end of series 2 and the beginning of series 3. Warning – spoilers abound, though I’m probably the last to know most of this. I was forewarned that Lucy Griffiths left the show – which goes back to what I said last time I wrote about the show: don’t these people have contracts? Why would you sign on to a tv series in one of the major roles without committing yourself to the full run of the series? Any of Robin’s men could be spared: they’re relatively mutable and, facing facts, expendable. Yes, even Much and Allan. Will stayed behind in the Holy Land with Djaq, and whatever I think about how that occurred (coming right up) that was fine: you can have Robin Hood without Will Scarlet(t). You can even have Robin Hood without Little John; the character in this series has never really been the right hand, confidante, and lieutenant that he usually is anyway. (That’s a problem I hadn’t really realized about the show: Robin hasn’t really *had* a right hand, confidante, and lieutenant till now. Much once filled that role, but once they returned to England that changed.) *Not* expendable in the story of Robin Hood are the Sheriff, Guy of Gisborne, Marian – and Robin. Which makes it stunning and remarkable to me that the latter two were released from the show.
Between knowing Lucy Griffiths was leaving and the spoilerific blurb for the series 3 first episode, I wasn’t surprised when Guy of Gisborne killed Marian. It worked for the character – self-loathing is making him edgy and unpredictable, which is one of the few good changes. But … the fact of the murder being known, the episode itself was largely predictable. Of course King Richard would be suckered like a great big … sucker. Of course Carter would come galloping to the rescue – and how’d he accomplish that, hm? How did one of King Richard’s most trusted men just up and exit stage left with onetwothree six or seven extra horses? And if it was seven, how’d he know Marian would be there? The exchanging of vows on the point of death (twice) was okay – and I will give them full props for not letting Much say “I always cry at weddings”; I was braced for it, and was very pleasantly surprised when it never happened. (He is so very Samwise; my favorite Gamgee burst into tears rather a lot too.) But then there was the unexpected rescue (amusing having Carter come up behind them) – and the going from there almost straight into an ambush. Uh, duh. Except a halfway decent ambush would have consisted of more than just the Sheriff, Gisborne, and that other Templar I don’t remember having seen before but who was evil. If there had been a few more men, there would have been no White Hat survivors. I know that it’s a staple of a certain variety of movie or television program (sorry: programme) for the Bad Guys to be really, really stupid (and also really, really bad shots, be it with gun or bow), but … come now. You’re out to kill the King of England, and that’s all the force you can muster? Anyhow. The death of Marian was … kind of flat. Or maybe I’m just a cold and awful person. A nice person wouldn’t have been rolling her eyes like that and scowling about the medical accuracy of that wound (which … I can’t even go there, it was so stupid). I thought it was awfully funny (funny odd as well as funny humorous) that everyone who entered the courtyard where the King lay with an arrow in his shoulder (his right shoulder, although later he had his left arm in a sling) and Marian lying with … a sword sticking out of her, *everyone* ran to Marian. Hello? Royalty bleeding? Hurt badly enough that he fell off his horse? Granted, he was on his feet a bit later, but still.
Two other things I thought were absolutely idiotic about this episode: Carter gets himself killed in the fighting (and I could be wrong, but I think it was the Sheriff who committed most of the comparatively successful violence; the only person Gisborne seemed to be able to hit was Marian), and … that’s it. At the end we see a grave with a Templar shield on top. His name is never mentioned again. Carter who? Oh, you mean the guy that saved our lives out in the desert, the cute blond who was one of the King’s most trusted men? Wait … what was his name again? And, getting back to Will and Djaq (and Allan just gave up on her? ‘Course, he’s not stupid, entirely, and would realize that his treacheries would have killed any chance he had with her): either they got married and we didn’t see it, which isn’t very nice of the producers, or we’re supposed to believe that in the medieval Middle East it was okay for a young woman to live with a white infidel…? Even if it was fine with her uncle – which it wouldn’t be – it wouldn’t be fine with the community; they’d be given hell. (Hell, Djaq would probably have been persecuted because she cut her hair and didn’t cover her head, depending. But I guess this is a kinder, gentler Holy Land.)
One good thing: The Saracens referred to Saladin as Salah al-Din. Well done.
The new season started out with the arrival of “Brother” Tuck. I’d looked up the actor when I read about Tuck coming into it, so I was prepared for the fact that he’s a) black and b) not the tubby little holy man we’re usually given. Hey, I just realized he’s not tonsured… So – not Catholic? Not a monk? Random holy guy? Huh. I like him. He’s basically out to use Robin (in a good way), and butting heads with the others about leadership roles – it seems like only a matter of time before he and Robin will both give orders at the same time and have to work that little wrinkle out. In any case, Tuck is a fairly positive change. That’s one.
Er. I think that’s about it.
Not so positive: I’ll start with Gisborne. For the love of God, man, just because you hate yourself is no reason to let your nasty stringy hair flop all over the place. Cut it off, or tie it back, or shave your bloody head, because it looks idiotic, and it’s a liability. If you have to keep shaking it out of your eyes, you’re going to get yourself killed – it’s either going to blind you in a fight, or, because it’s long enough to get in your face it’s long enough for an opponent to grab hold of to use as a handle. And it’s skanky.
Even less positive: These were two truly moronic episodes, these first two (“Total Eclipse” (not “of the Heart”?) and “Cause and Effect”, which I will henceforth jumble together willy-nilly), from the execution attempt on the boys and eclipse to the Irish brudders to the mouse to the escape attempt to Kate – oh, God, Kate.
It was all so foolish. The execution attempt … why can’t bad guys, just now and then, be competent? That was one of the dumber bits I’ve seen. And here comes Tuck exclaiming about the eclipse… which begins to darken the skies well before he brings it up, and *nobody notices*. Swift.
Now, seriously? The rightful Irish king come to Nottingham to buy conscripts? That’s rather a ways to go… and a stunningly dumb idea, to boot. They couldn’t get real Irishmen, or at least better brogue-fakers? If this took place a few centuries later, I wouldn’t quibble; from what I’ve read, Irish nobles of later centuries were more English than Irish. But this is supposed to be, what, 12th century? Ish? (Richard Lionheart: born 1157.) Not that any accent they tried on would be, you know, accurate, I think they could have safely gone for full-bore Irish brogue and been safer. Instead, what they gave us is “brudder”. I’m no expert, but I thought it was bloody flaming awful: a touch of “brogue” when they remembered, and otherwise as English as any BBC announcer. William Houston (with that strange, mobile face, surely there’s a part in the X-Men for him …) played Finn, the rightful king … Okay. I don’t know enough to argue, but I want to. From what I can find, Ireland had a rightful king in place: Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair. But what do I know.
I have to mention the mouse in Robin’s little prison cell… it let him pet it. I – it – he – oh, never mind.
So Robin steals Finn’s brooch – fine – and not only uses it to pick all of the many locks holding him, but then uses it to scrape out the mortar holding not one small brick, but one small brick and one huge one … I know this thing bears only a passing resemblence to reality, but …please. In reality, the brooch pin would have been gold and too soft to hold up to picking even one lock, and if it did hold up to that usage would have pooped out well before … oh, I give up, it’s not even worth it. But I do have to wearily raise the point that … shouldn’t Robin, and certainly Finn, have had some inkling that they were thirty stories up? Considering they had to get up to the cell in the first place? Why was it such an almighty shock, then, when Robin stuck his head out and saw a huge drop below him? I won’t even dignify their method of descent with a comment; that was beyond any criticism I can muster.
Kate, now… I can muster against Kate. Dear lord, what were they thinking? They had to kill off Marian, and for whatever reason left their other female character in the Middle East… so they replace them with this? A stupid bleached eyebrowless wonder in a surely-anachronistic hairstyle? (Whose potter mother uses glazes that should have had them rich as Croesus, because they looked pretty vivid to me – of course, given that she’s prone to hanging all of her wares outside in the open by the necks on strings, she probably suffers a massive amount of breakage and theft, which may explain their poverty.) My GOD she’s an idiot. Was that supposed to be indicative of indepent thought, her rushing about getting herself and Robin caught and her brudd – er, brother killed? Because she was responsible for all of that – and then shifted all of the blame to everyone else around except her sainted brother. I wanted to bludgeon her. And what happens? Much falls in love with her (well, Much falls in love with every girl they come across), and it’s looking perilously like she and Robin might get together.
Sure enough: Wiki – “a Locksley villager who eventually becomes romantically involved with Robin”. *shudder* Morons. Well, at least now I know I don’t have to make much effort to watch the rest of the series. I don’t think I could stomach that little romance.
Though perhaps I’m just being silly – after all, even though he sorta-married her, Marian IS dead, and buried far far away, and he even buried her ring. So – the past is past. As they say in Ghost Hunters, on to the next!
One more thing I have to, have to complain about: In “Total Eclipse”, Robin fights with Gisborne, is picked up in a fireman’s carry (thus, hanging upside-down over G’s shoulder), and dumped over a cliff quite a good ways down into a stone-dotted river … And not only does he survive relatively intact, but when he’s fished out of said river, every. single. arrow. is still in the quiver, which is still securely over his shoulder.
Brilliant. Now that’s quality equipment.
In related news, apparently Russell Crowe is making a Robin Hood film, as Robin – dare I hope? This could be good, this could be dreadful. But …is this a Sean Connery Robin and Marian sort of thing? ‘Cause I like Crowe, I do – whatever his own personality is like, I think he’s excellent – but ….erm?