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Random rant about various Robin Hood adaptations

This is my slightly longer than anticipated comment on ‘Rise and Rise Again’ – 100 YEARS OF ROBIN HOOD: Part Two. Today the Google Alert summary on Richard Armitage actually yielded 100% articles about the actor, as opposed to the former US secretary of state … and a US murder victim. I’m surprised – and delighted. As the comment turned out to be surprisingly long, well, I can post it here too. Because I can. *cough*

Leaving 2006 aside for a mo, I LOVE the Disney film. I know it almost by heart in Swedish (which, imho, has better voice acting than the original – shock horror). Prince of Thieves is fun in a “yeah Kevin Costner is soooo from Nottingham … not” and the best part is Alan Rickman’s sheriff.

Men in Tights is brilliant (“I am a Robin Hood who DOES have an English accent!”), and features Matthew Porretta as Will Scarlett – the actor who went on to play Robin in that godawful New Adventures series. He left after 20-odd episodes, I believe, which meant that ALL the impetus to watching that show disappeared. The acting for the most part was sub-standard, the scenography and costumes ridiculous, the script atrocious. The ONLY thing that made it watchable was Robin being super-gorgeous, and when he was replaced, well, bye-bye.

Beyond Sherwood Forest was a joke! A painfully bad joke. The Ridley Scott movie I haven’t seen, but hoping to do so now that it’s coming out on DVD.

Robin and his Hoodies

And so, 2006. Thought series one was pretty bad, so didn’t follow series two, just caught the odd episode here or there. Followed series three from the start, because Toby Stephens was set to be in it as Prince John (to my delight, his character much resembled the Disney counterpart!) – and fell in love with Gisborne from episode one! Previously, I had already noted the baddies were a lot more interesting than the goodies, but this just confirmed it.

The Robin character was too obnoxious to really enjoy (and I really WANTED to like him – but the way he treated Much just made him look like a schoolground bully) and on a subsequent re-watch of the whole thing, the only character that there seems to be some sort of depth to is Gisborne. Credit to the actor for making the character come alive, rather than just work with what was on the sheet, which (judging by the rest of the show) wasn’t a lot. That being said, I’ve no qualms whatsoever with Jonas Armstrong, I think he did a really good job. I just didn’t like the character he was playing. And when you, as an audience, is made to root for the bad guy simply because the hero is an arrogant, arrow-toting numbscull (and, which s3 confirmed, had been since he was a child), it just doesn’t work.

Robin lost the love of his life, end of s2, but in s3, he was busy hitting on Kate and the only one that seemed to grieve for Marian, and even REMEMBER her past episode one, was Gisborne. Who killed her! HOW does that work?! It doesn’t and I’m actually glad the show got cancelled. A Robin Hood without Robin Hood (and the Sheriff – Keith Allen was magnificent, bless) just isn’t Robin Hood. S3 was actually a lot stronger than the previous two, so while killing off Marian didn’t make ANY sense from a legend point of view, it made a lot of sense from a dramatic one, as it made the show a lot more interesting. “They killed off Marian – what else are they going to do?” So I have to admit I’ve got a love/hate thing going on with this show. Hate it because it could’ve been a lot better and they could’ve made Robin likable, like he normally is, in any other version ever. Love it because Sheriff Vasey was hilarious and Gisborne was really intriguing as a character.

“Gisborne, did she just manage to write a rather long post and not once bring up how much she fancies the breeches off you?”
“First time for everything, sir, even for her.”
“No mention of Nottingham either. We shall have to have A Word.”

Traxy Thornfield

A Swedish introvert residing in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel, when there's not a plague on. Might get a novel out one of these days, if she doesn't get too distracted along the way.

8 thoughts on “Random rant about various Robin Hood adaptations

  1. So hate the fact that the numbskull writers ruined my and my friends’ hopes for a Happy Ever After for Robin and Marian. And I don’t understand why you disliked the character of Robin so much; I loved him to bits; he did the best he could under the circumstances. And even though he wasn’t perfect, as least he wasn’t a serial murderer like Gisbourne. I think we should totally disregard all of S3, as it totally made no sense in light of all that came before.

  2. I love the Disney version of Robin Hood–rediscovered it when my kids were little, and now that they’re teenagers, we still watch it sometimes. What a great collection of actors 🙂

    I stopped watching the 2006 series after they killed Marion, which I consider one of the dumbest plot twists ever in the history of TV. Before that though, I thought the series was a lot of fun.

    The Kevin Costner movie was dull, and Mel Gibson might be the only actor I like less than Russell Crowe, so I won’t bother with the latest movie.

  3. I agree (in part ;)) with what you’re saying. Robin and Marian should’ve had a Happy Ever After. That would have been true to the legend and is how it should’ve been done! (I don’t see why Guy had to get involved with her to begin with, but there you go!) I think it was something like Lucy Griffiths decided she had a big career looming so she wanted out? Not 100%, might just be hearsay.

    S3 was all over the place, but the slightly darker tone really worked.

    The sad thing, for a show that’s meant to be about Robin Hood ended up basically being The Guy of Gisborne Show, which I think is down to the writers messing up from the get go. Not that I’m complaining on that part, being “Team Gisborne” and a fairly obsessed Richard Armitage fan. 😉 But still, I enjoy the story of Robin Hood, and I got quite excited when I was going to visit Nottingham some years ago because of it. (Happy now, Vasey? ^^)

    Why make Robin into a self-obsessed bully chatting up random girls at any given point? The way he treated and verbally trampled on Much was awful and really turned me away from him. (I like Much, he’s a sweetheart.) Robin’s supposed to be the GOOD guy, so why’s he acting like such an arsehole?

    Guy is a baddie, there’s the difference. If he kills people and leaves babies to die in the woods, that is in keeping with the baddie character. In reality, of course such behaviour can not be excused, but we can accept that yes, a baddie does such things. A baddie can bully his faithful followers (Sheriff does that with Guy … a lot!) and get away with it. A baddie can casually choose to forget the love of their life as soon as a new pretty face to flirt with comes along – that’s fine! That’s the sort of thing baddies do. SO WHY DID THEY HAVE THE ALLEGED HERO DO THOSE THINGS?!

    THAT’S what I have a problem with. I WANTED to like Robin Hood and I wanted to root for the character of Robin Hood … or at least LIKE him. Instead, I just thought he was a great big tosser and Marian … didn’t really care for her either, but those two should’ve been living her Happily Ever Afters together. Not doing the whole silly love triangle thing with Guy. (Guy + Meg, on the other hand, yes!)

    No, I thought BBC’s Robin Hood was fundamentally flawed in many ways. Still, it brought Richard Armitage to my attention and Guy is a very intriguing character. (Out of chainmail especially, mreow!) And it’s still miles better than BBC’s Merlin

  4. @JaneGS: You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Russell Crowe film. :O *checks IMDb* Hm, I might’ve watched “LA Confidential” actually, but I don’t think I saw all of it. So I don’t really know. 🙂 Heard that the RH movie is supposed to be pretty good though.

    The Costner movie had a very beautiful wedding scene – wouldn’t have minded that for myself, but we ended up getting hitched in a registry office instead. (Bah, in England you can’t get married outdoors! Ridiculous!)

    Killing Marian off … just a very weird decision. Still, made s3 more interesting. And, later, more confusing.

    Disney’s is just fab. 😀 And sometimes, in real life, the song “Not in Nottingham” is very apt …

  5. S3 was almost a standalone – the Guy of Gisborne season! Poor Jonas, the writers simply gave up the struggle to make Robin the hero, after, yes, crushing him with all the immature, bully-boy characteristics.

    I’m way in the minority here (even Mr. Armitage would shoot me on sight), but I thought Guy murdering Marian in a manic-depressive fit, actually worked dramatically. (Ready, aim -)

    Ironic, in a way, to discuss what was essentially a kiddy-show, (with some adult content to keep the parents watching en famille – a very tricky concept), from the adult POV.

    Favourites of the Hood gang: Joe Armstrong and Harry Lloyd, actors to keep an eye on.


  6. hi Traxy, as it was only recently (2012) that i watched the addictive N&S and caught the phenomenol RA virus, my symptoms were the usual – trying to see everything that was RA connected.  the only reason i watched the BBC’s RH (which i usually avoided) was because i could see RA …i tried to follow the story but it was like building a fire with wet sticks – smokey.  i think that the characters were fine but the story teller (who got soo lost) did not use them to their full potential.   i don’t mind if it was a G of G show – an adaptation showing his side of the story but that wasn’t it neither. 
    anyhow, now i’m in the naturopathic stage of my sweet illness…enjoying RA connected blogs.

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