on 13 July 2013
I've chosen to go for five stars here, but really I consider it 4 and a half. The approach to Robin Hood here is a meeting of the medieval and the modern, and in general it works wonderfully. The parallels with modern wars and society are drawn clearly, but not spoon fed to the audience. The choice of language is mostly very good, with (despite what some seem to think) a clear old-fashioned style in its lack of contractions and so forth while remaining understandable to all ages today. There are some slips, some over-reliance on contrived catch phrases and glaringly modern phrases - I don't think anyone was impressed at the Sheriff mentioning "pillow talk", let's be honest - but in the grand scheme of things these do not matter. (Unfortunately these minor annoyances are turned up to 11 in series 2, but that's a complaint for another day.) The series remains an immensely fun set of tales, where Robin can win a swordfight with ease and pause to snog a woman before jumping backwards off a roof.
Robin himself is an imperfect leader with a strong sense of good, and that is in-keeping with previous forms of the legend. Marian is a more independent woman than traditionally, which helps highlight the more modern tensions in the story. The enemy figures of the Sheriff and Gisbourne are drawn well, with the former a star of his own pantomime and the latter brooding and troubled. It's an interesting pairing, and makes for some tensions that pay off even more in later series. As for the merry men, as it's hard not to call them, Allan-a-dale is a bit annoying (if he says "I'm not being funny, but" one more time...) and Robin's sidekick Much is a bit too much of a comic butt at times, but the others are very strong and likeable. Little John and his crony Roy (an original creation) are particular favourites of mine, showing what happens to outlaws without a purpose and giving them both a kind of mini-redemption tale within the series. (Their two fellow outlaws randomly disappear between episodes 2 and 3, but it's best to ignore that.)
Unfortunately, after a terrific opening run of episodes the closing stages of the series do not quite deliver. They're not bad, it just feels like all the energy was spent in the earlier episodes and by the rather rushed ending of episode 13 there's little left to give. It's a shame, but doesn't detract from the brilliance that comes before (episodes 1, 2, 4 and 8 are particular stand-outs).
The extras here are extensive, with plenty of behind the scenes looks and character profiles. Some deleted scenes would have been nice, but it's still a good collection. There are two minor issues with what is included, the first being that some sections of interview are duplicated between them leading to some distracting bouts of deja vu. Secondly, the entirety of the behind the scenes filming took place before Anjali Jay joined the cast as Djaq, causing a rather notable omission in the several talks of how the cast dynamic works (and no indication of how and indeed why her character was developed). As the character of Djaq is different from the rest of Robin's gang in many ways, it is a big missed opportunity to provide more insight to the viewer.
All in all, this is a very strong set and well worth a buy. It's a beautifully rendered interpretation of the legend, and the extras make clear the amount of care that went into the production. I look forward to revisiting the other two series through their DVD sets in the future.
on 30 August 2015
I only made it through three episodes so maybe the series improved but I doubt it. From the laughingly contemporary haircuts and clothing to the unbelievable fight scenes to the right-on dialogue, this series fails at every point. Peasants, who would not have been allowed to own swords, suddenly are able to take on armoured knights! And win! There is no appreciation of just how dirty and diseased the population would have been: everyone is just so clean with straight, white teeth. The 'peasants' possess surprisingly well tailored, colourful clothing while the 'nobles' seem to have received their outfits from the dress up box of an am-dram society.
Given the success of Game of Thrones, maybe someone at HBO will give us the gritty, violent story of Robin Hood that clamours to be told.
on 8 October 2013
As someone who adored Xena back in the day, I enjoyed Robin Hood in sort of the same way. Sure, it's an anachronism stew and some plot points are a bit wonky, but it tries to be mostly entertaining. The addition of ladies to the boys club isn't new, but I love Djaq so much. This show was also responsible for introducing me to Richard Armitage--never has Guy of Gisborne been so conflicted. (Or looked so good in black leather. Ahem.) Guy's obviously not a very good person at all, but he's not a one-dimensional villain at least. The Sheriff, on the other hand, seems to be doing it for the lulz and Keith Allen basically chomps on the scenery with glee.
Some continuity issues are rather obvious--like Guy's tattoo, the scar of which never shows up again--and the writers seem to make Guy incompetent or competent depending on the demands of each episode, so plot and writing may not be a strong point. They were trying to make some interesting points about soldiers coming back from fighting wars that draw some parallels with current events, but there was not much follow through on that. Some great performances in here and Jonas Armstrong brings in a kind of boyish charm to the legendary outlaw.
Cast commentaries are hilarious~ The added documentaries are a welcome addition too.
on 9 March 2016
Dear God, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the greenwood.
Quite conceivably one of the worst shows to have appeared on the small screen since…well, I can’t even begin to tell you.
It’s difficult to know where to start, really. I mean, I remember when I first saw it advertised I thought: oh, no, not Robin Hood again! But then I figured it was still worth a look as I’d always harboured fond memories of the Michael Praed/Jason Connery series, which had terrific production values, charismatic lead actors, great storylines - with just a hint of the mystical – and cracking theme music.
In comparison, we have abysmal scripts, acting that would make a tree blush, woeful fight sequences ( historical note, Saracens at the time didn’t use scimitars, they wielded straight edged blades. Yes, maybe I am being picky but come on…! ), and with regards to the costumes. I’m wondering if maybe the BBC ran out of money and they got someone to ring the local theatre after a bad panto season to ask if they had any stuff left over from Jack and the Beanstalk. Who on earth did their research…Gok Wan?
And talking of panto…I’m not sure who Keith Allen modelled the sheriff on. I’ve a feeling he thought he was trying for Alan Rickman. Sadly he comes across more like a cross between Danny Kaye in The Court Jester and Widow Twanky. Frankly we’d have been better off with Lily Allen…but then she might have tried to break into song and that would've been even worse.
Which brings us to Jonas Armstrong. Sorry, but the lad’s got all the pezazz of a delivery boy for Pizza Express…er, without the scooter. I mean, I used to think Richard Greene (remember him?) was pretty grim but Armstrong even gives turgid a bad name. Can you imagine him having fought in the Crusades? Nope, didn’t think so…
And Maid Marion? Who dressed her, for goodness sake? Primark? Did they really use that much lip gloss in the 12th century?
Oops, forgot to mention Guy of Gisborne. Mmn, well I reckon whoever designed his costume might just have been a wee bit too fond of those ‘Invite Only’ leatherwear exhibitions for their own good. That’s all I’m saying…..
But enough, I can’t go on…you get the picture. It was just too painful.
The sad thing is that the potential was there and the Beeb blew it…big time. This isn’t tripe…it goes way beyond that. Mind you, if you think this is bad, wait till you see ‘Merlin’ and 'Atlantis'.
Now, don’t get me started on those or we’ll be here all night…..
on 10 December 2012
I never expected 'much' of this series since a lot of modern takes on medievel history are innaccurate and quite annoying with the humour. My friend raved on about it (and we have very different movie tastes) so I gave in and watched the first episode. To be honest, I thought it was okay and the acion was good but that was it. I persevered though and by the 4/5th episode I was hooked - I couldn't believe it myself.
This series doesn't need to be a historical reflection - its not a docummentary. The depth in the characters and the captivating storyline had me finish the whole season in just 2 days. Not to mention the music, which has to be some of the best music I have heard for that kind of series. There is a good balance of action and reflection in this, which has truly paid off. Marian is just, well, everything you would want a heroine to be. Although Robin isn't everyones cup of tea, he's very real to life and fits in his role perfectly. He's actually how I would imagine Robin to be like - heroes don't always need to look like your typical expected, stand out figure with all the traits you would expect. Robin has his faults but his good personality shine through.
The suspense and fight scenes just get better and better in my opinion!
I know there are some bad reviews from people who may not have found it their taste but if your thinking the same, GIVE IT A TRY because you might just end up getting a great surprise.
It just gets better in season 2!!!
on 9 November 2007
The delay in this dvd box set being released in the UK has already been covered in previous reviews; however, I am extremely pleased that this item has become available. The other 'volumes' of Robin Hood had nothing in the way of features at all.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first series of Robin Hood when it was shown on the BBC, but refrained from being any dvds until a box set came out (reason being that I love special features!) The packaging is nice, and the episodes are spread over 4 disks, the fifth being for special features, however there are small extras on the other disks as well, e.g. character profiles on all the main cast (excluding Joe Armstrong a.k.a. Allan A Dale, who doesn't do interviews), as well as commentaries on four episodes: Episode 2: Sheriff Got Your Tongue?, Episode 4: Parent Hood, Episode 8: Tattoo? What Tattoo? and Episode 13: A Clue: No.
The commentaries are highly amusing, and the cast & crew add some interesting and humorous insights to the filming of certain scenes. For example, did you know that Guy of Gisborne's (Richard Armitage) tattoo in the series was originally red instead of black?
There is also a 'Hood Academy' featurette, which shows the training the cast had to do in preparation for filming as well as the thoughts behind the costumes (which I found quite interesting- especially the reasons behind Allan A Dale's costume) as well a 'Designing the Hood' feature, and a 'Making Of', which has some highly amusing clips of Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood) and Harry Lloyd (Will Scarlett) speaking some quite random Hungarian.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with these DVDs. The series can be light and fun, but there are also undercurrents of sinister evil, which is quite apparent; especially in the later episodes. I've watched each episode numerous times and I've never got bored of them yet.
If you're looking for historical accuracy, maybe this item isn't for you; but if you're looking for something fun and exciting, with a good script and power packed action sequences, this is an item I would definitely recommend.
on 22 June 2013
A brilliant rendition of the classic legend.
This series IMHO outshines all previous attempts to tell the tale of RH.
Jonas Armstrong plays a strong Robin Hood, Lucy Griffiths is well cast as Marian. But I have to say that I prefer the baddies - psychotic and materially greedy Sherriff of Nottingham Keith Allen and his troubled, charismatic henchman Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage); their dysfunctional relationship is both funny and disturbing to watch.
Highly recommended light (and dark) entertainment for everyone.
on 30 October 2012
The BBC for all its faults occasionally manages to produce wonderful historical dramas, however apart from bodice rippers the cupboard has been extremely bare this past decade with only the excellent "Rome" standing out, the lion's share of which was paid by HBO anyway. ITV has long since taken the mantle away from auntie with "Hornblower", "Sharpe" and (going back a few years) "Cadfael".
I was hoping that the latest adaptation of "Robin Hood" would raise the bar once more, after all - most people are aware of the story and to a large extent the beeb could count on a definate audience to begin with. They also have a monpoly on funding and could therefore afford not to skimp on production values. Dominic Minghella helped write the script. Given all of these facts, what could go wrong?
In the middle of an unnamed (but presumably Sherwood) forest, Allan A-Dale (Joe Armstrong) is caught poaching deer by a mounted posse of the king's men. Rather than lose a hand at a trial that he would lose, Alan initially accepts the lesser punishment of (shock, horror) losing a finger. Yes, folks. In a time of dysentry, disease, ringworm and malnourishment, where anyone making it to 40 was rare, losing a finger is supposed to raise gasps of disbelief from the audience.
Enter Robin of Locksley (Jonas Armstrong) with the coolest hood I've ever seen, which opens at both ends. Any expectation of something vaguely realistic vanished as Robin shoots a number of arrows between the fingers of an spread hand from over thirty feet away before launching an arrow high in the sky that seconds later drops into the saddle of the leader of the horsemen.
Robin is back from the crusades, presumably having gone to the holy land when he was twelve. He is accompanied by Much (Sam Troughton), his bondsman, court jester and butt-of-many-jokes. Much is grateful to his master for making him a freeman, which no doubt is why he is endlessly fawning over Robin and kissing his backside.
The dynamic duo made the shocking discovery that Robin's estate is being "managed" by Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Richard Armitage) who does a natty line in black leather armour. Gisbourne is the right hand villain of the new Sheriff of Nottingham (Keith Allen) who actually manages the unthinkable - a bad performance.
Oozing evil in a way not seen since the days of vaudeville, it is a shame that steam power has yet to be invented as he has no train tracks to tie virgins to.
Did'nt we used to laugh at Americans for producing historical action tripe of the smelliest magnitude? Well, now we are doing it just as badly. Scene introductions with arrows becoming words to the accompaniment of cheesy sound effects is yet another example.
Even more irritating, the series tries to be "right on", attempting to smugly equate the war in the holy land with the situation in Iraq. More amusingly, political correctness raises its head with the character of Friar Tuck being removed completely to avoid causing "offense".
He is hastily resurrected in the last series, shortly before the series was axed.
Perhaps HBO could step in and show the Beeb how it's done?
on 4 July 2013
I discovered the show by accident 2 weeks ago and I haven't stopped watching it since! The episodes are excellently written with great acting. Keith Allen as the Sheriff and Sam Troughton as Much stand out for me with their brilliant comic timing. However, my favourite character has to be the cheeky chap Allan A Dale played by Joe Armstrong. The characters each bring something different to the show and I love it!
on 18 January 2010
I agree that there is much wrong with the BBC's latest re-imagining of Robin Hood - IF all you are worried about is historical accuracy. However, for those that simply expect Saturday teatime family drama to entertain and bring families together, it's pretty darn good. That said, some of the actors are a bit poor - notably the strangely wooden Harry Lloyd as Will Scarlet, and the rather irritating Marian, but these weaknesses are compensated for by plenty of action, lashings of gallows humour, and some sumptuous (okay, ignore the fact that this was filmed in Hungary) English greenwood settings.
Put your brain in neutral, and simply enjoy a slice of highly entertaining BBC action/adventure - you won't be disappointed.