Believe it or not, my list of favourite TV shows doesn’t just consist of dark, sprawling epics for adults only, like GAME OF THRONES or THE WALKING DEAD. God forbid, I’d probably have tried to kill myself a trillion times over by now if all I watched was depressingly dark and complex TV. No, not all TV needs to be like that. That’s why, between 2006 and 2009, Saturday nights were not spent outside in the local park drinking cheap cider from a plastic bottle, but were instead wisely invested, by watching BBC One’s teatime epic ROBIN HOOD!
A bold retelling of the legend of the famous outlaw in the vein of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, the Beeb’s ROBIN HOOD was action packed, funny, and occasionally cheesy, with its tounge firmly in cheek. The show was critically mauled by the press on its in initial run, but I didn’t care – I loved it, despite all the negative press the show was receiving.
Jonas Armstrong (currently showing off his excellent acting chops in Sky One’s brilliant HIT & MISS) was terrific as the young, hot-headed Robin. Forget Russell Crowe, Armstrong had Robin down – heroic, headstrong, cheeky, and fearless, all rolled into one. Even in the less enthralling episodes, you could always count on Armstrong for a fine performance. Likewise, Keith Allen as the Sheriff of Nottingham bought much humour and menace to proceedings, constantly camping things up, only to deliver a nasty killing blow or an even nastier line that made you want to punch your television in the hope of hitting him and putting a stop to his evil plans.
Yes, it was cheesy and predictable in places. Many episodes in the first season consisted of a member of Robin’s gang being captured and the others having to rescue them. And the puns and modern jokes were perhaps used once too many times. But the good points easily outweighed the bad – all three seasons had some fantastic character development (main characters were killed off when you least suspected it), many interesting ideas and stories (Season One’s love triangle between Robin, Marian, and Guy of Gisbourne and Season Two’s arc plot regarding the Sheriff’s plot to kill the King were both of the intricate and rug-pulling variety), whilst showrunner Dominic Minghella excelled himself when it came to writing season finales, which were always the episodes to look forward to!
Packed with adventure, action, and plenty of laughs – ROBIN HOOD was the perfect antidote to the gloomy, gritty drama that dominated TV back in the day. And it still is!
TOP FIVE EPISODES:
1. ‘Will You Tolerate This’? (Season 1, Ep. 1):
A slow paced pilot episode that introduces only half the characters, yet the final 10 minutes are perfection. Robin’s speech as he sacrifices his lands and titles to save the lives of Allan A. Dale and Will Scarlett from the hangman’s noose is rousing, and the following fight scene is top class.
2. ‘Tattoo? What Tattoo’? (Season 1, Ep. 8):
Revelations galore as Robin learns that Guy of Gisbourne is responsible for the botched assassination attempt on the King in the Holy Lands, an event that has haunted Robin for a long time, leading Robin down a dark path of vengeance. Armstrong and Richard Armitage as Guy get some great sparring scenes, both verbal and physical!
3. ‘A Good Day to Die’. (Season 2, Ep. 12):
Robin and the Gang are trapped in a barn, surrounded by an army of mercenaries who are hell bent on killing them. Realising they will inevitably die, the gang decide to spend their last hours together! A Great character study from writer Dominic Minghella.
4. ‘Total Eclipse’. (Season 3, Ep. 1):
After returning from the Holy Lands with blood on his hands, a grief stricken Robin sets out to take revenge alone, only to encounter the mysterious Tuck! A great episode that establishes the idea that the power of Robin Hood is more then just that of one man – it is a legend in itself!
5. ‘Something Worth Fighting For: Part Two’. (Season 3, Ep. 13):
The series finale is everything one could have asked for, as Robin and his few remaining allies face a bloodthirsty army led by the Sheriff, who lays siege to Nottingham castle! Not everyone makes it out unscathed. A perfect, emotional ending, with plenty of great action thrown in for good measure!
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