I 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…