Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Robin Hood BBC: Series Review

Swashbuckling flair, Princess-Bride-esqe humor, and anachronism set this TV series from the BBC apart. It's Robin Hood, but as a TV series intended for teens and their families. It's a fun, medieval adventure series that grows darker with each episode. I'm going to examine this TV series season by season.

Season 1

Please don't think that the first episode is indicative of the season. The first ten minutes are pretty lackluster... right up to the point where Robin (Jonas Armstrong) meets Marian (Lucy Griffiths) again. He's been gone to fight in the Crusades with his manservant (and best friend) Much, but left her behind. Naively, he imagines that she'll welcome him back with open arms, but her response is anything but.

When Robin discovers that the town of Lockesly is under the cruel rule of the Sheriff, who threatens Will Scarlett, his brother Luke, and Alan a Dale with the noose, he is made an outlaw for trying to rescue them.
The Sheriff is a wonderfully nasty villain- he's a true baddie, without any redeeming qualities, snickering about cutting out tongues and starving villagers. His second in command Guy of Gisbourne (portrayed by Richard Armitage) is also quite the villain, though he

The first season follows Robin's adventures as he forms his gang of outlaws in Sherwood forest. He and his band face the problem of competition with other outlaws (something that I always wondered about), deal with the Sheriff's hold on the townspeople, and rescue a group of Saracens from slave traders. One of these Saracens, a young woman named Djaq, who joins the band, acting as a medic for their group. She and Marian form the female contingent of the band, for while the band work as outlaws, Marian acts as a spy within the nobles, feeding information to Robin. However, as she acts within this role, she attracts the attention of Guy of Gisbourne, who repeatedly pressures her to marry him. Just a heads-up; I found Guy's "overtures of love" to be exceedingly painful to watch, as he even threatens to have her arrested to force her to promise to marry him when the king returns.

Season 2

The energy of the series really picks up in Season 2. As the Sheriff begins to consort with hooded knights, Robin uncovers a conspiracy authored by the Sheriff and Prince John to slay the king before he returns home from the Holy Land. the main thrust of the action is concerned with resolving this plot, as the Sheriff wants to exacerbate the conflict, carrying on with the 'holy war' in order to more easily kill the king.
Robin and Marian grow closer and closer in this season as well, when Marian leaves Guy of Gisbourne at the alter, after he pressured her into marrying him.
This season was my favorite, mostly because the season seemed to fully forsake the gawkiness of the previous season, while still retaining its charm, and picking up in pace. It also got much darker. Gisbourne became a much better developed character, as he begins to question the Sheriff. In fact, he is shown to disregard the Sheriff's orders when he believes Marian's life to be at stake, showing that while his means of pursuing her were wrong, he geniunely feels for her. Honestly, they could have stopped with season 2, and I would have been quite happy.

Season 3

Spoiler Alert!!!

After Marian's death in the Season 2 finale, I was surprised to see that there was another season. After Marian's death, Robin's story seemed to lose its speed.

End Spoiler Alert

With the emphatic ending of Season 2, I found another season excessive. Will and Djaq also left during the previous season, so I found it hard to carry on watching a TV series which lacked nearly all of my favorite characters. The emotional pull between Robin and Marian was gone, and the addition of a new female member of the gang- a village girl named Kate- became Robin's new love interest, a character that I'm hard pressed to find compelling. Robin also has a fling with Isabella, Guy of Gisbourne's sister, who becomes the new Sheriff. Season 3 of Robin Hood lacked focus, as it did not seem to have an overlying story arc as Seasons 1 and 2 did, and thus failed to deliver any closure.

Final Opinions
My opinions on this TV series are mixed: while I enjoyed Seasons 1 and 2, save for the pilot, I am not enthusiastic about season 3, due to a lack of drive within the plot. The series would have better with only 2 seasons, as Season 3 lacks many of the central characters.
While the costuming is decidedly low-budget and thus not period accurate, the acting is quite good throughout. I especially the depiction of Guy of Gisbourne as a dark character but not a necessarily evil one; Richard Armitage does an excellent job portraying Guy's multifaceted personality.
 If you enjoy the Robin Hood mythos and don't mind a little stretching of the narrative, this TV series is most definitely for you!


  1. Great review! :D (sorry I got to it so late, I didn't see it until now).
    That's really interesting that Guy of Gisborn isn't pure evil and I'm looking forward to the second seasons especially :)

    1. Thanks, No problem! Yes, the second season's the best! Guy really changes during it- he starts out really evil, but he grows more sympathetic over the season. I hope you like it!