Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On loving Robin Hood against my better judgment

Let's just make this TV week, shall we? First LOST, then Emma, now Robin Hood.

A couple of years ago, Jeremy and I watched the first episode of BBC's Robin Hood TV series. It was so terrible I don't think we got more than five minutes into it before we turned it off and sent the disc back to Netflix, post-haste. And that was that.

Or so I thought. The other weekend when I was out of town, all by myself, for four days, I found myself browsing the Watch Instantly section of Netflix for something to put on for background noise. Robin Hood showed up on there somewhere and I ended up watching it (again).

Here's the thing: the first episode was still terrible, but it was a good background activity, so I kept it on. The second episode was marginally better. And so on. And now, here I am a few weeks later almost through the second season, and LOVING it.

The weird thing is that I love it almost against my will. The rational side of me could list half a dozen serious flaws in the series that should, by all accounts, keep me from ever watching another episode. And yet I continue to watch. Last night, as I watched an episode toward the end of Season 2, I realized that despite its weaknesses, the show had somehow become good.

Here's that list I just mentioned, of all the reasons Robin Hood should be considered a stupid show:

  • The show seems to have no memory of itself. Events that took place in the early episodes are conveniently forgotten later on. I could give some examples but they'd be full of spoilers so I won't. I can only imagine that in the beginning, the writers weren't sure where they were going to go with the story so they made a few mistakes.
  • The fight scenes are uneven. Sometimes they are boring. Sometimes they're mediocre. Sometimes they're downright stupid. Sometimes you find yourself yelling at the screen, "just go AROUND him, you idiot!" more times than is reasonable.
  • This is my opinion and thus perhaps not a technical flaw, but I think they made Guy of Gisborne (AKA Mr. Thornton from North & South, ladies) way more of a bad guy than was necessary. He's not conflicted enough and that waters down the whole series. (This is starting to change in Season 2, though, so maybe this was just another "mistake.")
  • Some of the costumes are ridiculous. Well, let me clarify - almost all of Marian's costumes are ridiculous. But they are fun to look at and they do make it look like the wardrobe staff had a good time dreaming them up, I'll give them that.
  • It is one of those British TV series that is often purposely and inappropriately modern for the time period it is set in. I'm not talking about inappropriate content - I'm talking about occasional modern habits of speech or modern touches to otherwise period costumes.
  • As "romantic" as it is, I am growing weary of a certain plot device being used over and over again. And over AGAIN. (SPOILER this plot device is that Guy can only protect Marian if she is married to him END SPOILER.)

So. Those are the reasons you should not waste your time on "Robin Hood." If you decide to proceed anyway - and in case you can't tell, I think you should - you will find plenty of things that redeem the show, including the fact that the acting, especially among all the leads, is brilliant. I think Marian and Robin in particular give their traditional characters new, compelling life.

My final words of advice would be to skip the majority of Season 1. Honestly, you won't miss much and Season 2 is where the real story begins anyway.

Has anyone else seen this show? Do you agree or disagree with my opinion that it is often fantastically stupid and makes you like it almost against your will?


Steve said...

I have the same problem with a few shows. Despite how stupid they are, I can't help myself. Take Farscape for example (I know, I'm such a sci-fi nerd). After seeing a few episodes at my sister's behest, I still wasn't sold on it. Then I was bored over Christmas break and wanted something to watch. I've already watched all 4 seasons...

Natchel said...

I have really been wanting to watch it. I tried watching Torchwood and it was terrible. A poorly acted, British, Fringe. But about the inappropriately modern thing, I was getting really bugged while watching Masterpiece Emma. She would do things and say things that just weren't... Austen.

Natchel said...

P.S. Now that I know Mr. Thornton is in it (yum), that might be enough for me to watch it! ;)

Lisa Lou said...

I have to agree with Natchel... that Mr. Thornton comment caught my eye... may have to give it a try.

Bridget said...

OK, now I feel like I have to put a huge disclaimer on this post because I just finished Season 2 and I'm really UNexcited for Season 3. No spoilers, but the show is practically dead to me now. Maybe I'll let somebody else try Season 3 first and see if they can recommend it to me.

But I LOVED Season 2. So there.

Crys said...

Season One is so bad! I have actually screamed at the TV. Seriously just kill someone already. Robin Hood totally annoys me and for that matter so does the sheriff. Seriously you haven't managed to kill Robin yet. Anyway regardless I've started watching Season 2. I need stuff to do while I enter surveys and hubby is gone. I know how it ends I don't know if I'll continue. You were right on all your critiques...although you forgot to add the character of Jack is particularly annoying!! Talk about way to turn people off to Islam, woman, and just TV in general :)

Bridget said...

Crys, yay! I am so glad someone else has watched this show and agrees with me. Djaq or however you spell it doesn't bother me TOO much. Just when they put that weird forest bra thing on the outside of her clothes. Anyway, I hope you enjoy Season 2 as much as I did.


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