Friday, February 24, 2012

Robin Hood (BBC TV Series)

I know, you're all probably saying "the Robin Hood TV series? Has Miss Laurie taken leave of her senses?" Well, yes I have gone a little bit crazy! But just bear with my crazy ramblings. :)

Since the first wave of hype and Hood fandom gushed from viewers and flooded the period drama lover's and fantasy fan's websites and blogs I've been skeptical. The Medieval Era isn't my favorite and  modern shows like this usually include scenes and themes that are rough and sometimes explicit.
But my blogging friend Mel (from But when a young lady is to be a heroine and It was but a dream of thee) highly recommended the show, I'm a fan of some of the actors and I've always been interested in the Robin Hood story (Disney's Robin Hood anyone?). So I was minded to attempt the first episode. It began as "well this show is on Netflix so I'll try it" but It didn't take very long before I was hooked! Robin Hood became a bit of an obsession which lasted through watching the whole series - twice!

Story: The show begins when Robin and his faithful servant Much return to England from fighting in the Crusades with King Richard. On his return he finds Sir Guy of Gisborne has mismanaged his estate of Locksley and an evil Sheriff is hurting the people of Nottingham with high taxes. When Robin takes a stand against the injustice he is branded an outlaw and hides out in Sherwood Forest with those he rescues from the Sheriff's evil schemes. Robin gathers a band of outlaws and together they steal from the rich to give to the poor and foil the Sheriff's plots to kill King Richard.

What to expect from Robin Hood: Three seasons, 13 episodes, about 45 minutes each. A gang of interesting and delightful characters led by a brave and bold hero. A virtuous and spirited heroine who is kind and caring and sticks to her beliefs. Villains that constantly make you laugh with their witty antics, even though they are so evil! Laughter and tears. On the edge of your seat fight scenes, daring rescues and true love.
What not to expect from Robin Hood: Very little of the original folk tales and legends surrounding Robin Hood are told here. The character names and place names are pretty much the same and most of the old plot but the actors are cast as younger than most re-tellings of the story and the plot has been changed a lot. Also character portrayals, costumes, weapons and language were modernized a bit to connect with younger audiences.

Let's take a look at the Characters:

Robin Hood - Robin is the star of the show, Master at the bow, Lord of Locksley and quite a worthy hero. He can sometimes be rash, quick tempered and a bit cheeky but he is always honorable, noble, gallant and brave. He is great at both planning and executing rescues and attacks but he charges his men to kill no one if it can be helped. His has natural leading abilities inspire those around him to fight for justice, for King Richard and for England. I'd never seen actor Jonas Armstrong in a role before but I found him completely charming as Robin Hood!
Favorite Robin Quotes: "Trouble has a habit of finding me." - "Now where would be the fun in that?" - "Trust me, I have a plan." - "I like a challenge." - "We have many problems, most of them guard-shaped."

Much - Robin's servant who fought with him for King Richard in the crusades. His is Robin's faithful friend who never gives up on him. Much longs for a quite life and estate of his own but continues to fight alongside Robin in their battle against the Sheriff and Prince John. His weapons are a short sword and a shield, he is skilled in cooking and tends to worry and mother-hen everyone in the gang. He is a bit of comic relief and a lot of fun! A neat fact about actor Sam Troughton is that he found out during filming that his grandfather, also an actor, was also in a Robin Hood TV series playing the role of Robin! Much is definitely at the top of my favorite characters in this series and most of that is due to the actor's delivery.
Favorite Much Quotes: "Excuse me, I think you'll find that's not properly cooked!" - "I hate sayings!" - "I'll cut off my own arms!" (he's very loyal and sweet in this scene, always makes me melt!)  

Will Scarlet - Robin and Much meet up with Will when they return to England. Will is a quiet but brave soul who defends his family and provides for his village. When he and his younger brother Luke are caught stealing food for their village he is branded an outlaws and sentenced to hang. Robin saves them and in return Will fights faithfully alongside Robin and his gang. Will's weapon is the axe but he also uses arrows and sword from time to time. He is a skilled carpenter and helps with the more mechanical aspects of breaking into the castle. He's also a great lookout. I'd seen actor Harry Lloyd in a few roles before and enjoyed this role quite a bit, definitely a favorite.
Favorite Will Quotes: Will Scarlett: [Disguised as a prisoner] So are you gonna leave me locked up here all night? Robin Hood: [Disguised as a guard] ... Yes. Will Scarlett: You're meant to say "no!" "We're here to free you," stuff like that! 

Allan A Dale - When Robin and Much first meet up with Allan he is rather a wayward character but he soon turns his talents for thieving and coning to help Robin provide and protect the village folk. His path isn't always the straightest and he sometimes acts for his own gain but his heart is true to Robin's cause. Allan prefaces many of his sentences with "I'm not being funny but..." but he usually ends up being quite funny! Allan and Much sort of tie for my favorite characters, so it's hard to choose! I'd only seen actor Joe Armstrong (no relation to Jonas above) in one modern role but as soon as I laid eyes on him his strong brow, blue eyes and long "distinguished" nose reminded me of a favorite actor. His father is talented actor Alun Armstrong (known for his roles in Charles Dickens films such as Bleak House, Little Dorrit, David Copperfield and many more!), but though their voices are different their characteristics are strikingly similar.   
Favorite Allan Quotes: "I'm not being funny but isn't getting arrested what we usually try to avoid?" - "Well, what's being chased by angry soldiers between friends, eh?" - "A little bird told him. A little Marian bird." (my favorite!) - "Well, d'you want clever or really clever?" - "I'll kill him. I'm gonna kill him. Bury him, dig him up and kill him again."

Little John - When Robin Hood first enter Sherwood Forest they meet up with a gang of robbers and thieves led by John and his pal Roy (played by actor William Beck) but when Roy is taken by the Sheriff John needs Robin's help to rescue him. It doesn't take much convincing for Robin to convince goodhearted John to rob the rich instead of poor. John is a man of strong faith, a moral compass for Robin and has a soft spot for mothers and children in need. He is often a man of few words but he often has an understanding word or a big fatherly bear hug for people in distress. His weapon is the staff, his strength is greater than ten men, his heart is affectionate and his knowledge of herbal remedies comes in handy several time. I also love the odd way he forms his sentences! Actor Gordon Kennedy has a sold and warm performance and adds a hint of a Scottish accent to one of the best portrayals of Little John I've ever seen. 
Favorite John Quotes: "A stronger man I never knew." - "Killing we do not do!" - "Him I like!" - "Him I am proud to know, you I am stuck with!" - "It's a good day to die!" - "She's worth more than any treasure. Don't let her slip through you fingers."

Djaq - A few episodes into Season One Robin's gang meet up with spirited Djaq (pronounced Jack) who is being sold as a Saracen slave. The gang save her and in return she fights bravely alongside them. Her knowledge of medicine and science comes in very handy in patching up the reckless guys and out smarting the Sheriff. As the only girl in Robin's Gang she has to be tough. She often sets the guys straight, fights fiercely and notices many things others do not. Actress Anjali Jay makes the character of Djaq spunky, sweet, witty and a great asset to the group. 
Favorite Djaq Quotes: Much: "What is it girls eat?" Djaq: "Special girl's food." - "Men are so predictable." - "So I admire you. All of you. You are good men. Brave, generous, kind, decent men. And I love you, all of you. And I am proud to be amongst you. ...And you're filthy, and you really stink, and you have no souls. I have to be honest!"

Marian - Lady Marian is the daughter of Sir Edward the old Sheriff. She lives at Knighton Hall with her father and cares for him. Marian liked Robin before he went to war but when things go wrong at home she resents his leaving. Marian and her father disagree with the Sheriff's unjust ways but they play inside his rules and use their influence to help the people of Nottignham and neighboring villages. She is pursued by Sir Guy of Gisborne but her heart belongs to Robin Hood and he never fails to make her smile! Marian is kindhearted, pure, ladylike, brave, spunky and smart - a new favorite heroine for me! I'd never seen actress Lucy Griffiths in a role before but I'm a big fan now and would love to see her do some costume drama roles!
Favorite Marian Quotes: "Grow up!" [to Robin on several occasions] - "Everything is a choice; everything we do." - "I'd love to argue with you but we haven't got the time." - "We have never once spoken the truth to each other. I call you a fool when I mean you are a hero."  

Sir Guy of Gisborne - Robin comes home from war to find that Gisborne has taken residence in Lockley Manor, mismanaged his estate and mistreated his people. Gisborne is the Sheriff's right-hand man and does his bidding in order to gain power and wealth. He is a ruthless warrior and his weapon is a sword and often a bow and arrow. He has a soft spot for Lady Marian and asks her to marry him unaware that she tell every bit of the castle's secrets to Robin Hood. He's an easy character to dislike but he does have a few good qualities which make you feel a bit sorry for him. Richard Armitage is one of my favorite actors and even though this "bad guy" role isn't my favorite his talent is still amazing and he embodies the character he's portraying! The funny thing about seeing him in this role was the number of phrases that reminded me of Mr. Thornton from North & South such as "master" and "strike". 
Favorite Gisborne Quotes:  "I am a man of substance, means, power, lineage." - "I have nobody so I choose power." - "You must be the least easiest won woman in England." [to Marian] - "Is it such a difficult choice? Between death and being my wife?" - "She saw good where there was none. She made me a better man."

Vaisey, Sheriff of Nottingham - Now Sheriff of Nottingham, Vaisey rules with an iron hand. He acts purely from selfish gain, is ruthless and merciless. He hates Robin Hood for foiling his plans at every turn and desires "Hood's" head at every turn. His main weapon are his guards which he orders to do his dirty work. The Sheriff is pure evil! He's very easy to dislike but yet he has so many quirks and sayings that make him a comical character, and it's especially fun to see his reactions when Robin messes up his evil schemes! Every story needs a villain and actor Keith Allen deserves kudos for his interesting portrayal! 
Favorite Sheriff Sayings: "I like this. This is good." - "Sheriff coming through!" - "Your parties are much more interesting than mine!" - "You have, shall we say, two days? A joke: two hours!" - "A clue: no." - "La-di-da-di-da!" - "Stop whining Gisborne. If I had wanted a wife I'd have found one with better legs." - "Robin! Robin! Come out, come out, wherever you are."

Isabella - The beautiful but often treacherous Isabella comes is one of four new characters in the third season. She changes sides several times during the show but usually chooses the side with the most advantage to her. Like Little John "her I do not like" but she is a vital part of the later episodes and wears lovely Medieval style dresses (and take a look at those cool shoes in the photo above!). Actress Lara Pulver does an amazing job with the changing moods of Isabella and is just lovely throughout.

Tuck - Brother Tuck is another character in Season Three and a favorite of mine. He encourages Robin Hood to keep up the fight and helps him see that the idea and legend of Robin Hood is an encouragement to England to fight for justice. Although Tuck is a man of faith he's also a brave and bold fighter. He joins Robin's gang, helps to plan attacks and inspires great gallantry in the men and townsfolk. I'd seen actor David Harewood in a few things (he's also the voice of Henry Tilney in one BBC Radio Play of Northanger Abbey!) so I was excited to see him in the role.
Favorite Tuck Quotes: "Stories are good. Stronger than truth. Heroes inspire us." - "I have nothing in my life except my God and my country.

Kate - Kate comes in the Third Season and is a bit of a love interest from Much and Allan. She meets up with Robin Hood when her brother Matthew is arrested and she sets off to rescue him from the Sheriff's clutches. When she is branded an outlaw she has little choice but to join Robin Hood's gang. Although she protests at first she is has a very brave spirit, loyal nature and loving heart. Those of you who have seen Downton Abbey will remember actress Joanne Froggatt from her role as the maid Anna. I liked her role in Downton Abbey and found it a bit strange seeing Joanne in this role but she did a lovely job.
Favorite Kate Quotes: "We all thought you were gone forever. My little sister thinks Robin Hood's just a story..." - "Now that's the Gisborne we all know and loathe." - "The best thing you can do is just vanish."  

Prince John - Although he's mentioned throughout the series Prince John comes to Nottingham in Season Three and causes a lot of trouble. As a power hungry psychopath he is even more dangerous and crazy than Gisborne or the Sheriff! His plots to kill King Richard and take the throne of England take a lot of effort for Robin Hood and his gang to thwart them. Toby Stephens is a talented period drama actor who I have seen in many roles but as Prince John he must have had so much fun delivery the super silly lines!
Favorite PJ Quotes: “Do you not love me?” - “Oh! You adorable girl!” - “Long live me.” - People:But we don't have that kind of money!Prince John:Then sell something – some grain, a goat, a cow, a grandparent, anything!

Special Guests - Besides the regular cast there are many guest stars who appear on Robin Hood for an episode or two. It was fun to see actors from other period dramas show up in Medieval costume! Guest stars include: Sam Hazeldine (Charles Musgrove, Persuasion 2007), William Beck as Roy (John Thorpe, Northanger Abbey 2007), Josie Lawrence as the very funny medicine woman Matilda (The Old Curiosity Shop and Enchanted April), David Bamber as the blundering Physician Blight (Mr. Collins, Pride & Prejudice 1995), Denis Lawson as Winchester (John Jarndyce, Bleak House) and Holliday Grainger as a very sweet Meg (Diana Rivers, Jane Eyre 2011 and Estella, Great Expectations 2012).

Costumes: Each character has their own style depending on their role in the story. Robin Hood and his gang are outlaws living in the woods so their clothing is in shades of browns and tans. Their clothing also gets a bit worn in places and often looks like they and their clothing could use a good washing. Villains like Guy and the Sheriff usually wear black. Guy wears leather suits and armor, the Sheriff wears richer fabrics which flaunt his position of power. 
Marian's Costumes: Yes, her costumes deserve a separate category! I loved Marian's style! She has some lovely costumes in many different shades and fabrics depending on what role she's taking in the scene - on Robin's side or in the castle feigning sweetness to Guy and the Sheriff. As the series progressed I found Marian's costumes to become more modern in style so that she went from wearing lovely Medieval Style gowns to more fitted and sometimes low cut blouse and skirt (still long shirts, but sometimes pants) sets. But she always looked sweet and feminine is the things she wore. And Marian's hairstyles were my favorite!  
Mel at But when a young lady is to be a heroine has done an interesting study on Marian's Season One costumes in four parts (one, two, three, four) and has reviewed Season One.

Music: A very catchy opening tune and a bunch of songs used throughout set the theme for the scenes without being too overpowering. There was a soundtrack for the series put out and Wikipedia has a list of tracks. 

My Thoughts: How do I love Robin Hood? let me count that ways! I didn't expect to like the series so much but as I started watching I found the characters fun to watch and it's so easy to get wrapped up in their very interesting stories. Each episode has a problem to be solved, complex rescues, great humor and many twists and turns. It's fun to see the many clever ways the gang schemes up for getting in and out of the castle, especially in the dungeons! The sword fighting, battles and daring escapes had me on the edge of my seat. There are stories of great friendship and sweet romance. But be forewarned, sometimes you get quite attached to a character and they don't necessarily stick around very long. I'm reminded of finishing the series with my sister and both of us sobbing so much that we got the giggle fits! Yes, we're a bit obsessed with the show right now! :)  

Recommendations: I highly recommend this Robin Hood (TV Series) to those who enjoy the story of Robin Hood and adventures. This might not be for every costume drama fan and parts will be too scary for younger children. There isn't any swearing and there's only one or two scenes toward the end of the series that could be considered inappropriate. I appreciated that Robin and Marian's relationship is kept to holding hands and kissing as are most other relationships. There is cruelty from the Sheriff and other villains, threats such as tongues being cut out, fingers cut off or other tortures are mentioned but not usually seen being carried out. There is a lot of fighting and some fake blood when a character is injured but Robin's gang try not to kill or seriously injure even the castle guards. I didn't like that although it is generally accepted that people in England were "Christians", Robin (who has been in the Holy Land) a few times he quotes what he's read of the Koran, so called good sayings. Djaq from time to time mentions praying to her Muslim god and that the gang should pray to their's and she says "Praise Alah" a couple times. There is one episode that talks about the Bible being forbidden to be translated into English and Tuck says it would be a great thing if God's words were available for the people to read for themselves. That episode also features the Sheriff using religion for his own ends. Overall they tend to chose a more modern view of accepting both religions which is a bit sad but not a major part of the series. Overall don't expect a sweet Robin Hood flick like the Disney cartoon movie (which I've loved for years!) but do expect a lot of fun and adventure! If Robin Hood sounds interesting to you I recommend you start with the first episode and see what you think.

Here's a fun promo video for the first series! Robin is too funny! :)

So that's Robin Hood! I had too much fun making the character photos for this post. The second time I watched the series I collected a bunch of favorite quotes. This series is definitely on my top favorites list now! So I'm off to find out what the official name for a Robin Hood fan is. Wonder if it's something clever like Hoodian?

Are you a Robin Hood fan? 
Do you have a favorite character from this Robin Hood TV Series?
Do you have a favorite quote mentioned here? 
Have you seen any other version of the Robin Hood story?


Jemimah C. said...

I've been dying to see BBC's Robin Hood ever since Mel started blogging about the show. I should really give it a try sometime. It looks wonderful...although a bit different from the usual Robin Hood adaptations.

Anonymous said...

I have been wanting to watch this for a long time! Just haven't found the time yet. :P Thanks for the great review.

Ella said...

Thanks for the review!
I watched a little of this show.
I am going to give it another go.

Elizabeth said...

I LOVE this show!!!! :) My sisters and I were so obsessed with is, and still are. :) You have all of out favorite quotes here. We always go around saying them. The Allen one has made it into many conversations. I have to say I think Guy is my favorite character, even though he is so evil sometimes. He just has a interesting character, that is so at war with himself sometimes. he want to be good, but does not really seem to know how. I adore Will Scarlet as well. He is so sweet and nice! :)

Scullery Maid said...

We watched part of the first episode, and less than 15 minuets into it Robin starts kissing a young woman that he never met before! A while later it shows Much taking a bath. I think that both of those scenes were really unnecessary. Does it get better, or is there a lot of that sort of thing? I really enjoyed the rest of it, but from those two parts my mom decided that maybe it wasn't a good movie to be watching.

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

Scullery Maid,
You're right those two scenes weren't really necessary, but they are done fairly cleanly and humor is the predominant outlook on both of those scenes. There are a few scenes like that throughout the series but they usually don't go beyond kissing and bare chests on a few of the guys. That's why I mentioned that the show wouldn't be for everyone and some younger viewers might want to fast forward through a few parts.

Mel said...

I cannot even begin to describe how much I love this post! Thanks for linking me in there too! I love and agree with absolutely everything you say! Your pictures are also a most charming addition to this post!
I'm interested to know how you held up through season 3. Obviously I don't want to give away spoilers and such for those followers you have who have not seen this show already. But did you find it hard to move on. I must admit that I found it extremely hard to like the new characters, particularly Isabella and Kate. This was mostly due to the absence of a certain favourite character of mine and I felt both these women were in a way treading upon that character's memory (if that makes any sense at all).

I absolutely loved this post! The mini character descriptions were excellent, so informative and interesting yet straight to the point. And again I am so glad that you enjoyed the series! Now I have someone to 'fangirl' about this show to! :)

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

Of course I linked to you! I really wanted to because you're the only one I knew before writing this who had reviewed the series. Also it's because of you that I watched the series in the first place. :)

Season 3 was okay. I of course didn't like Isabella and hated when Robin showed any interest in her. Kate bugged me a bit, the first time I watched it I was very surprised that she seemed to just decide to like Robin in the end. I think it was definitely time for Much or Allan to have a girl. But having Tuck and Prince John kept me watching Season 3 and overall I still just really love the series so much! Season 2 is probably my favorite season.

It's nice to have someone to fangirl with too! :) Maybe I'll try e-mailing you so we can fangirl a bit more.

If I Tell You Where I Am, Can I Claim The Twenty Pounds? said...

I do love the story of Robin Hood and the message it inspires. I have been hooked on this show for some time now.I have fallen in love with all the characters...I even find the Sheriff an intriguing character. This show is my world and I watch it when I am sick or sad. Muich always cheers me up:)He is rather hilarious! I am glad I found this little blog and people who share my love of Robin Hood.I love the line "Every man has a purpose with which he sets out in his life. Let yours be the doing of all good deeds." Hmmm I do love this series and recommend it to everyone!

Mal said...

Love, love, love Robin Hood and this post :) You said it all so perfectly, and without giving away anything :) (I learned about two MAJOR occurrences before I saw them - you can probably guess what they were - and I wished I hadn't) Haha I especially loved all the quotes and their signature phrases :)

Whoa, I didn't notice that the doctor in that one episode is Mr. Collins! That's soooo weird! Did you notice that the Irish guy in the Season 3 Episode "Cause and Effect" is Boucher from North and South?

I'm glad to find someone as crazy about Robin Hood as I am! I watch an episode any chance I get!
-mal :)

Tanja said...

I am obviously 4 years behind on my television watching but I must say that I did not find Guy and Marian’s relationship romantic at all. While watching the series (1 and 2) I sometimes felt that Marian should request a court restraining order. I thought I was just being overly sensitive and that there really was no reason to feel like my skin was crawling, but now I realize, others felt the same way. Indeed, I felt Guy's "love" for Marian was more of an obsession and not in a good way. Thus, it seems almost logical, if not expected, that the writers would have him kill Marian. As we all know, women can be victims of obsessive, psychotic stalkers and victims of "if I can't have you then nobody can" scenarios. It seems the writers chose a very realistic, not romantic (because this kind of stalkerish behavior is not love) ending. Unfortunately, realism is not what I was looking for in a series entitled "Robin Hood", it was too much for me, and sadly resulted in me not watching Series 3. The classical tale of Robin and Marian is one of the things that makes this story such a timeless legend, killing off Marian, no matter how talented the rest of the cast, was simply a mistake.

Kimberly Grace Bowman said...

Mere words cannot even begin to explain how much I enjoy ROBIN HOOD!! I never ever tire of this series! Simply wonderful!
You might as well say I'm in Robin Hood's gang. Haha!

(Oh and not to mention I was inspired to bring our favourite couple to the realm of Twitter.

Anonymous said...

i always watch it on Netflix! Im obsessed and i hate them for killing Allan at the end. I screamed at them!!

Lucy Riess said...

Love this post (and your blog)! I agreed with everything you said, and Much and Alan are my favorite characters too!!!

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