Robin Hood

My normal philosophy when approaching this column is that there are plenty of good things to write about so there's no point it spending time on the bad. But sometimes I run across something that's so terribly annoying I have a hard time ignoring it. This time the object of my repelled fascination is a series in its second season on BBC America called Robin Hood.

I missed most of season one so I can't comment on that, but from what I've seen I've got no idea why it wasn't cancelled during season one. Everything about the show is awful. The acting is horrible and the dialogue is trite while trying to be trendy, which doesn't work since the show is set in the Middle Ages. The overall plot is ridiculous and the events that occur from week to week are even more laughable. The characters are the worst kind of clichés, which just makes the rest of the show even more terrible as all these elements feed off of one another. For instance Keith Allen, the actor that plays the Sheriff of Nottingham portrays him as a sort of a clown; everything so much bigger than life, complete with "evil" laughter and broadly comic gestures that would work much better in the circus.

In a recent episode he took a bunch of gold coins and hung them in a cage in front of his castle, telling the gathered villagers that "The answer is blowing in the wind." Then he smirked, to show how clever he was being, but of course the song he was referencing wouldn't be written for hundreds of years so his audience probably thought he just had a stomach ache. The rest of the cast isn't much better. Jonas Armstrong, who plays Robin Hood, looks as though he should be playing a slacker in a Kevin Smith film, possibly someone who gets into a fight with Jay and Silent Bob and loses. There's something sleazy about this incarnation of Robin Hood, but possibly that's the point. He is after all a thief, even if he is supposed to be stealing for the best of reasons.

It's possible that the biggest problem this series has is nothing can ever really change. King Richard can't come riding home from the Holy Land and start setting things to rights because then Robin Hood would go back to being a nobleman living in a nice home. In a real sense there wouldn't be a Robin Hood anymore. Robin can’t kill the Sheriff because then there would be no arch enemy and no more conflict for each week's episode. Marion and Robin can't get married because then she wouldn't be able to spy on the Sheriff. In a way Robin Hood is just another version of Gilligan's Island, set in a forest instead of on an island. They'll never be rescued because then the series would end so every single episode is essentially an episode in futility. With no real movement forward there is no real plotting that can be done, which leads to stagnation and a constant sense of repetition.

Instead of looking forward to the King's return and freedom for the people I end up wondering just how many villagers there are and how long they're going to last if the Sheriff continues to kill three or four of them every week. That's another problem I have with the show; suspending my disbelief is very difficult. I realize that as someone who enjoys zombie movies and has written a book starring a bloodthirsty unicorn called Bella that it might seem hypocritical of me to say that I find the actions of the Sheriff unbelievable but it comes down to one principle; everything within a universe has to work by the rules of that universe. If you've got a story where people rise from the dead and eat brains then that's acceptable in that universe. The Robin Hood universe is set in a universe very close to our own past and it should operate by our own natural rules. Therefore if you have a village and you decimate it with plague one week then hang a bunch of people the next, sooner or later you have a ghost village and nobody to use to lure Robin and his "gang" out of the woods.

Lest I sound too negative let me leave you with a positive thought. I like the horses they use on the show and generally they seem to be pretty content. There were also a couple of pigeons and a falcon or something that were on recently that were very nice.

One-Paragraph Review
This week's one-paragraph review is from Duder McPherson, who writes to say, "I recently read the sixth installment of Garth Nix's "Key to the Kingdom" series, "Superior Saturday." It made me remember why I got hooked on his books, the good natured stories are fun to read, have just enough humor and horror to keep a reader hooked and wanting more." Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at mailto:feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.