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Robin of the Hoodie?

Wednesday, Jun. 18, 2008 10:53 AM

I recently caught several episodes of the 'new' Robin Hood series on the BBC. It's a passable little frolic, but my overall impression is that it's a weak effort that tries to be too many things, and thus hands in a mediocre effort across the board.

1. Stick Figures. I'm not casting any stones at the acting ability of Jonas Armstrong (Robin) or any of the outlaws, but with the exception of John and Much, they all look horribly thin. I'm not sure if this is because the show is filmed in HD (and a different aspect ratio) and things are taller/thinner as a result.

2. Comedy or Adventure? The Sheriff of Nottingham is played for laughs. Robin's side is played as the classic noble soul out to foil the Sheriff's plots.

3. Empty Threats. One of the plot devices is that Marian's ailing father is languishing in the Sheriff's dungeons to assure her good conduct. First, Marian's supposed to be the ward of King Richard and would be an orphan. Second, despite repeated promises to visit torture upon dear old dad, nothing ever happens. He gets trotted out whenever Marian needs to plead, or when the Sheriff or Guisborne need to threaten - but in nearly a half-dozen episodes, Marian is never shown visiting her father, or even seeking to obtain his release (she gets to stay in the castle proper).

4. Super Marian. Okay, I'm all for strong, capable female protagonists. However, Marian's got a secret identity as 'The Night Watchman,' and has even tangled with the Sheriff's troops inside the castle. But, again, this is a half-hearted plot device - everyone knows the Night Watchman exists, and a villain even used 'him' as a scapegoat, but there's no fuss from the Sheriff or Guisborne about the fellow, unless he's running about the halls. (And, despite being close enough to exchange swordplay, neither man has noticed 'he' has a rather nice bust.)

5. Wardrobe. Robin and the Merry Men (plus Djaq, token Moorish female) don't get any points for style. Robin wears what is effectively a brown hoodie. It looks like a hoodie, and, sadly, though it appears to be a common shirt, most everyone else's hoods are attached to cloaks. Then there's Marian's dresses, which look off-period; she's also gone into town in her Sunday best and hobnobbed with common folk - but none of her guards or even Guisborne seem to suspect her.

I'll take the 1980's series with Michael Praed, thank you.


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