Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Robin Hood

In the past couple of days I've watched season one of the BBC show Robin Hood. It's been interesting. The show does a good job of certain things, but bungles others, and I'm conflicted on figuring out how much I like it.

The lead guy was excellently cast - he's immediately likeable and although his character is mostly shallow, he has some interesting things going on. They establish him as a guy who's seen enough violence in the Crusades that he'll do just about anything to avoid taking another life. This is key when you have a show where your hero and villain are constantly bumping up against each other and your hero keeps not killing him.

So, since we're talking about heroes, why not talk about one of the ways of making a hero interesting? Even the coolest heroes can't be interesting on their own. No, you've got to bounce other characters off the hero and see what happens. In that, the show is usually smart.

Guy of Gisborne is the sheriff's right hand man. The BBC puts it quite nicely in the character summaries when they list each character's weapon (axe, bow, sword, etc). The sheriff's weapon: Guy. Whoever's idea it was to have him as a character was really on to something. He's set up as the darker reflection of Robin. He takes over Locksley and becomes engaged to Marian in the first season, setting up some parallel there. The best part, though, is that he's got a lot of depth. He knows the sheriff's using him, he knows he's done some bad things, but he genuinely cares for Marian and even has thoughts of trying to redeem himself. He's complicated. There are times when I think he's a better drawn character than Robin is. It's great.

Marian is very cool. No docile thing, this one. The first time she's introduced, she aims a bow at Robin and tells him to clear out. As things go on, she constantly argues with Robin about the choices he makes and tells him that the only way to win the game is to actually play it. Love interests who always agree with the hero are boring. Love interests who tell the hero he's being stupid are fun.

Then there are the outlaws who are pretty nicely drawn. They're not real fleshed out and I was sorely disappointed when a love triangle among them was briefly mentioned then promptly dropped and never mentioned again. However, there are good touches. Kudos to the person choosing costumes and props because they took some care in what people wear and use in a fight: Robin's Saracen bow, Much's enameled shield, Will's axe, the outlaws tend to wear green...

My biggest problem is that the people making the show have made the decision to keep the episodes largely stand-alone. So, by the end of each episode, things are put back more or less to how they started. Every now and again an interesting complication comes up, then gets tied up too tidily by the end. Problematic characters disappear. Secret identities are preserved, and life goes on as usual. I watch these episodes and I keep thinking "Now, if this were a Joss show, this is what'd happen" and then they don't do it. Ugh.

It's an alright show, but if they'd just get their hands messier, it could be a great one. We'll see what season two holds once I can Netflix it.


Jenny said...

Season 2 starts April 26...Shane just told me...another synchronicity thing, seeing as how we were just talking about this very show this morning...

Jenny said...

Oh, and as far as Guy goes, the character of Gisbourne (Gisborn??) was actually the original bad guy in the Robin Hood ballads. I think the first one was called something like "The Riddle of Gisbourne". The Sheriff came later apparently. I don't remember where I learned this. So Guy has been in the story of Hood a long, long time and he's always been the more dangerous right hand man. So I guess we can give credit to some unnamed, yet brilliant, writer from hundreds of years ago.

**Jenny of Useless Trivia

Ali said...

Ah, so Guy was always there... At some point I might have known that, but I obviously forgot :)

Good to know/be reminded.

Oz, the Mad said...

Wasn't Guy of Gisbourne the rockstar-voice-actor in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves?

I learn that he was. Michael Wincott.

The One and Only John said...

Come on, you can't honestly say that anyone does a better job at Robin Hood than Kevin Costner. I mean, really, that Iowa accent really nails it I think.

Jenny said...

I'm looking forward to the future movie Nottingham...starring Russel Crowe. Oh yeah.

But Cary Elwes took Costner...who can argue with that awesomely sexy feather and the tights? And the singing?

Debbie said...

Nah, Daffy Duck was the best.

Ho, Haha, Guard, Turn, Parry, Dodge, Spin, Ha, Thrust!