Sunday, October 07, 2007

Twang!

Lucy GriffithsI have a theory that the BBC’s Robin Hood series exists solely for me to have an outlet onto which I can vent my thrashing spleen on a Sunday morning.

Now I know in the bigger scheme of things the portrayal of the Robin Hood legend on our TV screens is really quite small, pimply and inconsequential. But for me it is the Holy Grail. I feel about Robin Hood the same way some of my discerning readers feel about Doctor Who – and I don’t just mean that I want to see Billy Piper running around Sherwood Forest in a skintight t-shirt and g-string… Although given the horrendously anachronistic nature of the show such an event would not surprise me in the least.

My trouble – and I fully recognize and accept it – is that I am coming from a place where Richard Carpenter’s Robin Of Sherwood has been crowned king, festooned with laurel leaves and placed in the pantheon of the gods. In fact I've written about my devotion to this show previously on this 'ere very blog.

Robin Of Sherwood was gritty, brought a new realism to the legend (leaving aside the frequent references to magic and psychic abilities of course – ahem) and had a warmth and on screen camaraderie that helped cushion me through my rather bleak, nerdy teenage years. It’s a hard act to follow. And I recognize and accept this also.

But you’d think that the BBC would at least TRY!

I mean come on chaps! In last night’s opener Robin and “his gang” (Robin’s new catchphrase apparently – who the hell is he modelling himself on? Gary Glitter?) had a bit of rough and tumble with a “military unit” – Robin’s words (how very post modern) – who were all wearing army berets and looked like they’d all stepped straight out of Sandhurst.

Berets! In Sherwood Forest? In the 1100’s? I was waiting for Frank Spencer to leap out from behind one of the trees… ooh Robin, I’m ‘aving a little bit of trouble with me quiver…

But there was more. This gang was led by the suddenly arrived Sheriff’s sister who had obviously modelled herself on Honour Blackman from The Avengers. All heaving bosom, black leather cat-suit and blonde hair flung suggestively over her shoulder like a cat-o-nine-tails… and she possessed the ability to disguise herself with latex based make-up (which didn’t smudge her carefully applied eyeliner or lip gloss one iota).

Latex! In Sherwood Forest? In the 1100’s?

Sadly she was killed off right at the end. Death by large python. And I’m not referring here to Robin’s impressive pork swordsmanship. Of which we happened to see very little…

Which is a shame because the sparks between Robin and Marian are one of the few things the show’s writers have actually got right.

According to the Radio Times’ write up this new series will see a raunchier, sexy Marian – tighter outfits and lower cut tops… thigh length boots and safety-pin dresses… lots of frolicking in moist haylofts with large vats of ice cream on standby. Yes, alas, I am making that last bit up – but I must admit I find the costume based inaccuracies centred around Lucy Griffiths far more palatable than the Gap bought hoodies that mantle the merry men or the Duran Duran biker jacket that turns Sir Guy of Gisbourne into an eighties throwback. Call it hypocrisy if you must but I prefer to see it as an attempt by me to cast a more charitable eye over the show. To give it a chance. To give it a fair go…

Ok. Ok. I’m just a sucker for a brunette than can high-kick a guy in the knackers and hang upside down from a roof beam.

Anyway, despite all the above – or maybe because of it – I keep on watching the show. So I must acknowledge that there must be something about it that I like. And if I was being tortured with hot knives and root vegetables I would I suppose admit that I sort of, kind of, find it all somehow enjoyable. Annoying. Inaccurate. Historically comic. Frequently ridiculous. But nevertheless enjoyable.

There’s a massive romp element to the show and that, at least, is true to the nature of the Robin Hood legend. There. One box ticked. Happy now BBC?

For those of you that care my very hissy reviews of the first series can be accessed here and I will be reviewing the episodes of this second series with a regularity that can only be described as obsessively perverse…

16 comments:

Janete Cabral said...

I have been in two minds about watching the show, since it has started to be aired in New Zealand.
It just didn't feel as right, but perhaps that is just expectations and old conformities.

By the way, I can't wait for season 2 of Rome to come out I became very engrossed. Currently watching a marathon of 24 on dvd...Between the eatle and the late shifts..

Hope all goes for the c-section! good luck :)

Steve said...

Hi Janete, I think you're probably right. I'm sure I wouldn't be as niggled with the new show if I wasn't holding so preciously onto Robin Of Sherwood. Glad you liked season 1 of Rome - season 2 is a corker though I felt they killed it off prematurely. Thank you for the good wishes!

The Sagittarian said...

Ah, men in tights!!
I gave up watching Robin Hood when they took that fella Connelly off the show...how long agao was that and am I showing my age? Yes alright...and BIG cyber hugs for the new arrival, will be thinking of you both/all.
cheers, ears.

Steve said...

You are confusing me with this Connelly person, Amanda - or am I perhaps showing my age? Did you mean Connery as in Jason or have I got the wrong bull by the horns?

Thanks for the well wishes! Can't believe we'll actually be at the hospital in 24 hours' time!

The Sagittarian said...

Yes, dammit, tht's exachery who I meant. Must be getting Old Timers already.Ah well, if thats the case I guess I may as well get used to it! What World Cup??

The Sagittarian said...

'course, my real favourite fella had to be Michael Praed. Yum, with ice cream.

Steve said...

Ha ha! Glad we're slurring from the shame crib sheet at last, Amanda! I must admit I preferred Michael Praed too though thoughts of combining him with ice cream never once entered into my head. I may have come up with the occasional fleeting thought of throwing Marian into a vat of custard (ah - how some things never change) but that was as far as my Robin/food combos ever went.

I've seen Mr Praed interviewed somewhere during the last 12 months and though he's cut his hair he doesn't look bad for his age. So I wouldn't rule the ice cream out just yet... ;-)

The Sagittarian said...

Well, a "googled" Michael Praed...indeed he does still seem to have a certain "I don't know what" (can't bring mytself to use French just yet sorry)...might have to add him to my list of boys. And am thinking that perhaps chcoclate mousse in a can might also come in useful with the ice cream.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Michael Praed was the best Robin. He looked the part, they tried to be faithful to the stories and that series was before they even dreamt of watering down Friar Tuck and Maid Marion!

I mean if telly execs want to bastardize classics so much, why bother adapting them at all?

Better to write something totally new and already PC (though I for one won't be impressed enough to watch anything too PC!)

Steve said...

Amanda, chocolate mousse in a can is useful in any circumstance... as my life experiences have indeed taaught me on many occasions...

Steve said...

Laura - yes, yes, YES! I'll have what you're having! Robin Of Sherwood was the best rendition of the Robin Hood legend ever (as I explained here) and has frequently been emulated and plagiarized (Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves) but never matched or bettered (Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and the Beeb's current Robin Hood). Michael Praed was the definitive Robin and Nicholas Grace the definitive Sheriff of Nottingham. And I'll argue that with any man, woman or child!

MOTHER OF MANY said...

I haven't really watched any of Robin Hood but I did catch a few seconds of it recently and it took me a little while to figure out what I was watching.This is definitely a 21st Century adaptation and I actually thought it looked quite good.

TimeWarden said...

The strange thing is that Tony Robinson once made a deliberately anachronistic series based on the legend where Robin was a wimp and Marion the real boss, in which they periodically broke into rap! Now the Beeb have done it for real!! In the words of the Sheriff, I think they should "get with the programme"!!!

Rol Hirst said...

You almost persuaded me to give it another try for a second there... can't think why.

But really, life's too short.

Steve said...

I admire your stance Rol, but alas the boy likes the show... thus I feel obliged to make the best of a bad job.

I also like venting my spleen.

Steve said...

Hi Ally, I think you've summed up the problem really - you watch it and wonder what it is you're watching!

Hi TimeWarden, yes I recall that show: Maid Marian & Her Merry Men or something like that. At least that was a very honest parody... though I do recall getting a bit niggled about it at the time... along the lines of how dare they do that to the Robin Hood legend, etc.

Yes. I know. I need to get out more don't I?