Robin Hood: Season 1 (DVD)
People's hero, war hero, romantic hero and leader of the world's most famous resistance group...Robin Hood is known and loved by millions around the world. His fight against a corrupt government and greedy officials is something we all can connect with. Fun, modern and intelligent, the BBC's Robin Hood is guaranteed to appeal to today's sophisticated viewers and is set to be as popular as the new Doctor Who. Sharp, witty scripts by Dominic Minghella and a striking new look set the tone as the BBC updates this popular legend for all the family.
Every generation gets the Robin Hood it deserves. After a dashing adventure (The Adventures of Robin Hood), a ponderous retelling (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), spoofs (Mel Brooks' When Things Were Rotten and Robin Hood: Men in Tights), and even a cartoon (Disney's Robin Hood), this thoroughly modern 2006 BBC series brings cheeky wit, exuberant action, and fierce fencing and special effects-enhanced archery to the party. Scruffy Robin (Jonas Armstrong) returns home from the Crusades war-weary and "changed." But when he finds the countryside under the taxing grip of the brutal (he crushes birds with his bare hands!) Sheriff (Keith Allen) and his glowering lieutenant, Guy of Gisbourne (Richard Armitage), he takes up his bow and arrow against the injustice.
Series 1 depicts how Robin of Locksley becomes "Robin of the Wood" and then "Robin Hood," robbing from the rich and, well, you know the drill. "The peasants' hero," this Robin is a tad vainer than previous screen incarnations. As his former servant and wisecracking sidekick Much (Sam Troughton, who can be a bit much himself), observes, Robin likes to linger after his good deeds to see the looks of gratitude. Marian (Lucy Griffiths) is another revelation. The daughter of Nottingham's former sheriff, she doesn't exactly welcome Robin back with open arms. "Five years and you're still peddling the same drivel," she says after he spouts some romantic tripe. A formidable fighter and champion of justice herself, she has a surprising moonlighting gig best not revealed here. We also see the gathering of Robin's men (none call them "merry"), including hulking Little John (Gordon Kennedy), Allan-a-Dale (Joe Armstrong), and Will Scarlett (Harry Lloyd). Beautifully filmed in Hungary (what; England was booked?), Robin Hood is mostly grand escapist adventure, but there are unnerving scenes of violence that raise the stakes. In one episode, a peasant who won't reveal Robin's whereabouts has his tongue cut out, (mercifully offscreen). In another, a child is the victim of a sniper's arrow. . Robin Hood takes liberties with the oft-told story of the legendary folk hero, but it's so well played and rousingly entertaining, few should mind. --Donald Liebenson