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4.0 out of 5 stars
Robin Hood: Season 1
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129 of 150 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I ordered this ROBIN HOOD after seeing only 2 episodes. I don't usually do that; I usually read all the customer reviews before making up my mind to buy something. Why did I jump in so early? This looks like being a classic ROBIN HOOD.

The pilot and first episode are fantastic. The pilot retells the familiar story of how Robin returns from war in the Holy Land and becomes an outlaw, and does so with wit and verve, in true swashbuckling style -- and with a beautifully light touch of humor. If you have seen THE PRINCESS BRIDE, you have seen a similar style of humor to that used here. But in that movie humor is a large element of its content. It is a very small but important element in the RH pilot.

The first episode turns very gritty; and the humor becomes a much lighter, smaller element. The Sheriff of Nottingham takes over Robin's former estate (like the terrorists took over a Russian school a few years back) and starts cutting out people's tongues -- one peasant at a time -- in an effort to make them tell him where Robin is. Meanwhile, Robin is having his own troubles with the outlaws of Sherwood Forest, who see him as an enemy from the upper class. This is a complex story with complex people and very believable motivations.

The writing is very sharp; the acting is spot on. It is beautiful. Do I have any complaints? Well... I could be a little picky and say people really didn't bathe much back then; and when the Sheriff says, "Tick, tock, tick, tock..." to indicate time is passing and he is getting tired of waiting for someone to tell him what he wants to know... ordinary people didn't have mechanical clocks back then. But, hey, this is a legend not history. And it is superb.

I love this ROBIN HOOD.
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74 of 93 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
I'll be the first one to tell you--I'm sophisticated and classy. You know why? I watch BBCAmerica, and the Brits--they are the leaders of urbane and upscale entertainment. If you need any convincing, just watch an episode of "Footballer's Wives," "Mile High," or "Bad Girls." Of course, I'm kidding. These shows are brassy, bawdy, and loaded with bad behavior! But, you know what, they are also filled with life. They embrace their nastiness wholeheartedly and make no apologies for being pure popcorn entertainment. With language and nudity not permitted by American networks, it seems as if the genre of nighttime soaps has been revitalized by Britain. But that's not all BBCAmerica has to offer, they are just the shows that helped the network grow in popularity. Some other intriguing entries that recently aired in the US are on their way to DVD--there is a new hip take on "Robin Hood," the supernatural "Hex," and the complex crime story "Conviction." So beware! The British are coming, the British are coming--and it's a good thing!

On preparing to sit through "Robin Hood," it's best to know what to anticipate. If you're expecting any sort of historical insight or don't want anyone tampering with the "classic" tale of Mr. Hood--then I'd advise you to take a pass. Do I need to say what "Robin Hood" is about? Robin is a former noble who becomes an outlaw and forms a posse to (duh!) rob from the rich to give to the poor. This version casts attractive actors, employs anachronistic language, and is firmly rooted in modern (and politically correct) sensibilities. The production is slick, stunts and camerawork exemplary--this is a well crafted entertainment. Most episodes move at a brisk and amusing pace, and even when things seem to lack real danger--the series more than compensates with humor. The plots aren't particularly revelatory, but any lack of originality is likely to be forgiven due to the energetic and likable performances.

And the success of this "Robin Hood" rest squarely on Jonas Armstrong's shoulders. Armstrong is a star! Perhaps a bit slight for a true action hero, Armstrong is wildly appealing and has great comic timing. His need to be loved by the people is a running gag and one that works exceedingly well--but, then again, who wouldn't love this Robin? Keith Allen is a stellar Sheriff of Nottingham, this is comic villainy at its finest. Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne is the show's real menace and does a nice job with a somewhat underwritten part. Lucy Griffiths plays an earnest Marion--updated to hero status herself just to be fair. At first, the show had trouble incorporating Marion into the main action and her tone was always more somber--but a balance is reached as the show progresses. The secondary players are a bit more sketchy, but are employed to good effect when necessary.

If this version of "Robin Hood" is guilty of anything, it might be a "too cool for school" mentality. It is so intent on being clever with ironic humor and modern attitudes that the sheer adventure is sometimes secondary. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this updating--it just tries so hard to be "hip." From the whimsical episode titles through to the inevitable laugh that ends just about every episode, "Robin Hood" almost defies you to take it seriously--and yet, its ultimate success depends on you doing so. I wanted to be blown away be this series, but the episodes end up being more of a lark than anything else. Fun, frothy and not very filling--I still give this 4 (maybe 3 1/2) stars. I see "Hood" having the potential to develop more compelling story arcs with greater ambition, let's see if that happens when Season 2 rolls around. KGHarris, 04/07.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2007
Format: DVD
This show is not a historical reenactment. It is not Errol Flynn nor Mel Brooks. It is not tighly scripted but it IS a good TELEVISION show. There are anachronisms - who cares - it makes the story make sense to modern audiences.

This is the best Robin Hood version I have seen. It gives you a feel for the times. Has wonderful references to historical cultural activities. The technology shown is very convincing. Who cares if it is from 1300s rather than 1100s - it is still good.

Robin is not a hero- he is a man trying to do the right thing given the circumstances. Guy is not a villian - he is a man trying to do what he thinks is expected. The Sherrif is a politician who is heartless and unethical. Marian is caught between her family obligations and her compassion. These are multidimensional characters with complex interplay between them.

The best thing about it is this show we can all watch together. The story line is complex enough for me and my husband but the plot is direct enough for my 9 year old son. The violence is downplayed and there is no gore. If a man gets shot with an arrow, he falls down. Anything disturbing occurs off screen. There is flirtation and romance but no sex.

This is the best show on Television for the family that I know of.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2011
This is a pretty cheesy series. But I did watched all three seasons, so it does kind of hook you. The plots are pretty lame, and many many times it is completely unbelievable (it evoked many groans from me). They (the robin hood gang) are constantly getting into impossible situations and then escaping too easily. The villains aren't believably bad. I did like the ending, but if I could do it over, I wouldn't have wasted my time.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I'll be the first one to tell you--I'm sophisticated and classy. You know why? I watch BBCAmerica, and the Brits--they are the leaders of urbane and upscale entertainment. If you need any convincing, just watch an episode of "Footballer's Wives," "Mile High," or "Bad Girls." Of course, I'm kidding. These shows are brassy, bawdy, and loaded with bad behavior! But, you know what, they are also filled with life. They embrace their nastiness wholeheartedly and make no apologies for being pure popcorn entertainment. With language and nudity not permitted by American networks, it seems as if the genre of nighttime soaps has been revitalized by Britain. But that's not all BBCAmerica has to offer, they are just the shows that helped the network grow in popularity. Some other intriguing entries that recently aired in the US are on their way to DVD--there is a new hip take on "Robin Hood," the supernatural "Hex," and the complex crime story "Conviction." So beware! The British are coming, the British are coming--and it's a good thing!

On preparing to sit through "Robin Hood," it's best to know what to anticipate. If you're expecting any sort of historical insight or don't want anyone tampering with the "classic" tale of Mr. Hood--then I'd advise you to take a pass. Do I need to say what "Robin Hood" is about? Robin is a former noble who becomes an outlaw and forms a posse to (duh!) rob from the rich to give to the poor. This version casts attractive actors, employs anachronistic language, and is firmly rooted in modern (and politically correct) sensibilities. The production is slick, stunts and camerawork exemplary--this is a well crafted entertainment. Most episodes move at a brisk and amusing pace, and even when things seem to lack real danger--the series more than compensates with humor. The plots aren't particularly revelatory, but any lack of originality is likely to be forgiven due to the energetic and likable performances.

And the success of this "Robin Hood" rest squarely on Jonas Armstrong's shoulders. Armstrong is a star! Perhaps a bit slight for a true action hero, Armstrong is wildly appealing and has great comic timing. His need to be loved by the people is a running gag and one that works exceedingly well--but, then again, who wouldn't love this Robin? Keith Allen is a stellar Sheriff of Nottingham, this is comic villainy at its finest. Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne is the show's real menace and does a nice job with a somewhat underwritten part. Lucy Griffiths plays an earnest Marion--updated to hero status herself just to be fair. At first, the show had trouble incorporating Marion into the main action and her tone was always more somber--but a balance is reached as the show progresses. The secondary players are a bit more sketchy, but are employed to good effect when necessary.

If this version of "Robin Hood" is guilty of anything, it might be a "too cool for school" mentality. It is so intent on being clever with ironic humor and modern attitudes that the sheer adventure is sometimes secondary. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this updating--it just tries so hard to be "hip." From the whimsical episode titles through to the inevitable laugh that ends just about every episode, "Robin Hood" almost defies you to take it seriously--and yet, its ultimate success depends on you doing so. I wanted to be blown away be this series, but the episodes end up being more of a lark than anything else. Fun, frothy and not very filling--I still give this 4 (maybe 3 1/2) stars. I see "Hood" having the potential to develop more compelling story arcs with greater ambition, let's see if that happens when Season 2 rolls around. KGHarris, 04/07.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2011
I'm sorry, but this series is just not that good. I have watched all three series, so I'm not giving my opinion from having only watched a couple of episodes. To keep it short, every episode feels almost exactly like the one that came before it; or after it for that matter. The Sheriff kidnaps someone; Robin Hood and his merry band attempt a daring rescue - episode. The Sheriff has some hidden gold; Robin Hood and his merry band attempt to steal it, daringly of course - episode. The Sheriff lures Robin Hood and his merry band into town; surprise! It's a trap! Daring escapades ensue - episode. And on and on it goes, over and over again. Episode after episode. I would not have watched the entire series, but did so because I am a completionist. I took one for the team. So save yourself the time and save yourself the torture by not watching this crap. You'll be glad you didn't.
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29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
If you want a gritty, truly medieval-looking Robin Hood, you won't find it in this re-imagining. All the elements are in place: Robin Hood, Merry Men, Lady Marian, Sir Guy, the Sheriff of Nottingham. At first the costumes are guaranteed to drive purists crazy. The guys' shirts look like they came from the Sherwood Forest Gap outlet. Sir Guy's leather duster is right out of a Western (though hunky Richard Armitage wears it well). Marian's costumes are mostly unflattering. Then there are the none-too-subtle current Bush-Blair political references. Robin Hood as terrorist? Hmm. Lady Marian as a feminist do-gooder? Okay. Maybe she's meant to be a good role model for girls. Apart from Much and Little John, the actors playing Robin, Will Scarlet, and Alan a Dale are practically interchangeable, all too physically similar for any one to stand out. Both Sir Guy and the Sheriff are far more memorable.

All that said, the series steadily improves from the outset. Once you make up your mind to stop looking for realism, the episodes are fun and entertaining. For a truly imaginative take on the legend, however, check out "Robin of Sherwood" with Michael Praed as Robin of Loxley, which is finally available in the U.S. on DVD. Once you've seen Ray Winstone's anger-fueled Will Scarlet, you will pity every actor who has taken on the role since.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Now there have been many Robin Hoods over the years, from Errol Flynn to Kevin Costner, to Carry Elwes, but this version outshoots them all by far. Not only one of the best visual renditions of the legends ever made, it's also a fantastic Medieval action-adventure in its own right, especially considering that (with the exception of HBO's Rome) most television productions of pre-modern times tend to be horribly campy and cheesy (remember the Xena and Hercules series?). This production of the legends, fresh out of Britain and now playing on BBC America as well as released on DVD is a completely new rendering of the story, made fully modern in it's imagery and poignancy, but still keeping to many of the classic elements of the tale while giving them a new spin.

First off, Robin himself is younger than his cinematic predecessors. In this version, he is still in his early or mid-twenties. He's a little more cocksure of himself than the other depictions, especially when considering his own mortality. As Marion points out, he acts as if he could never die. He can be a bit of a womanizer too, as evidence in the first episode when he decides to dally with a peasant's daughter right behind her father's back. But Jonas Armstrong proves that Robin is the original romantic swashbuckler, with super-human archery skills to boot. The show takes full use of modern special effects to render Robin's mad bow skills, allowing him to pluck off arrow after arrow with amazing precision. Robin's fighitng style is also different, influenced by his time in the Holy Land. Instead of using the typical English longbow, he wields a shorter re-curved Turkish bow, which the show uses to explain some of the edge of his archery prowess; additionally rather than fighting with a broadsword, he carries a Middle Eastern scimitar. One other thing that this younger, hipper, Robin presents is a far greater sense of altruism and idealism. Sure, the very nature of Robin Hood is his philanthropic "rob from the rich, give to the poor" philosophy, but this time he takes it a step further. While it's clear that Robin could use his superior archery skill to pick off any number of baddies, Robin holds to a philosophy of (almost) non-violence. Far from being a pacifist, he nevertheless refuses to use outright violence to defy the Sheriff and his men, stating several times that bloodshed has solved little. While giving a depth to Robin's charater, it does stretch the level of believability sometimes. There are several moments when Robin is face-to-face with the Sheriff, and could easily put a dagger in his throat or an arrow through his gut, and after the third time this happens you kind of want to shout "Oh off it, and kill the bloody bugger!"

Speaking of the Sheriff of Nottingham, Keith Allen portrays that most wickedly evil, amusingly dark depiction of the classic villain (sorry Alan Rickman, you're no longer on the top). Unlike in other version of the tale, the Sheriff is no skilled swordsman, maniacal warrior, or masterful battlefield tactician. Keith Allen's Sheriff is older, shorter, and scrawnier, yet no less menacing. The Sheriff here is the brains behind the operation, sitting in his castle at Nottingham and plotting all the evil cruelties to dish out to the peasantfolk. Not just evil, he's actually funny in a dark, twisted sort of way. He gets a queer pleasure out of being evil, and it's rather infectious. You have to chuckle to yourself when he sits watching his guards plucking out peasants' tongues and casually remarks on how he drinks the finest of wines...and yet strangely enough can't taste any of them. Oh well (dumps the wine out). Oh, not to mention he crushes sparrows with his bare hands. At the Sheriff's side is Sir Guy of Guisbourne, played by the darkly handsome and sleekly villainous Richard Armitage. Most versions of the legends have either passed Sir Guy up, or relegated him to a minor role as an ever-failing henchman. Here, he is given all his evil due, dressed in shining black leather that perfectly compliments his sharp, narrow features and blazing eyes. As the Sheriff's strong-arm, he is the military force of the shire, and depicts a cool calm exterior to the Sheriff's often frivolous demeanor. The interplay between the characters is probably one of the best things about the show. It's never openly depicted, but one gets the sense that Sir Guy is rather fed up with the Sheriff, and easily believes he can do a better job. Yet the Sheriff represents job security, and even Sir Guy is a little afraid of him.

As for the rest of the gang, they also get their fair share of makeovers. Much (or Mudge, depending on what spelling you use) is no longer the gawky miller's son saved by Robin Hood, but is rather Robin's former manservant raised to squire for his valor during the Crusades. He presents an amusing comic relief for the band of Merry Men, and almost every time he opens his mouth, something funny comes out. Will Scarlett is perhaps one of the most drastic changes, both in terms of personality and backstory. In the original ballads and version of the tale, Will is often Robin's cousin, forced into a life of thievery after killing several of the Sheriff's men in self defense. He is usually portrayed as being sneaky, cunning, and not always 100 percent on Robin's side. In this version, Will is the son of one of Robin's serfs, a quiet boy barely in his teens who is sentenced to be hanged for stealing grain from Sir Guy's stores. Little John is also a different character. He still has the super-human strength and massive size that is part and parcel of the character, but he is a more solemn, somber character rather than the boisterous, rowdy man given over in other depictions. When he walks on screen for the first time, you can't mistake him for who he must be, but you also have to remark on the new wardrobe he's given (the most striking being a dark floor-length highwayman's coat). Finally, Marion herself is a striking character...in more ways than one. Lucy Griffiths plays what is perhaps the most gorgeous of all Maid Marions, with rosy cheeks, dark sheeny hair, and the most beautiful pair of grey-green eyes I've ever seen. She is not the naive, simpering maiden of some stories, but a strong-willed character in her own right with convictions just as strong as Robin. All in all, the idea of the Merry Men (who are never actually called such in the series) is more realistic and believable. Instead of being an entire army living in a treetop village in Sherwood Forest, they are ragged band of about half a dozen men, tromping from makeshift campsite to campsite, perpetually on the run and pressed for food and resources.

As far as the show goes in its production and storytelling, it is also masterful. The series doesn't try to come off as too heavy-handed like some Robin Hood versions (such as the 1992 Kevin Costner film), and maintains a light air of action-adventure. One simply needs to listen to the show's opening theme to get that sense of swashbuckling adventure. Humor is spiced plentifully throughout, offset by the disgustingly vile actions of the Sheriff and Sir Guy. Yet despite the lightheartedness that the show tries to maintain, it rarely devolves into the campy realm of such series as Xena: Warrior Princess or Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Mind you, there are a few moments when plot loopholes or storyline conveniences become a little too much (one has to wonder how many times Robin can sneak into Nottingham Castle without getting caught), but those moments are few and can be easily ignored in the spirit of the series. The only other minor complaint is the episodic nature of the series; most plotlines are developed and wrapped up in a single episode rather than drawing out into intricate and complex scenarios. But again, this is an action-adventure series, not a high drama, and it works for that type of show. All in all, it's an amazing series filled with good old fashioned thrills, swordfights, and chivalrous romance. One of the most dashingly imaginative imaginings of the epic tale, it fails to disappoint and hits all the right bull's eyes.

Minuses: some rather large plotholes (ignore them and show works fine), some costumes which are rather too modern to be even remotely historically accurate, apparently a budget that wasn't large enough to include real chainmail. Oh, and where the Tuck is the Friar?! After playing him for an entire summer on-cast at a Medieval Faire, I was personally offended with his omission.
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28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
It begins, of course, with Robin of Locksley returning from the Holy Lands having been injured in the service of King Richard. He defends an outlaw and becomes one himself. His land is forfeit to Guy of Gisbourne, who is the Sheriff of Nottingham's right hand man.

The actor who played the Sheriff (Keith Allen) recently appeared on The Brit Awards, a music TV program from London. The whole crowd was standing and screaming when they saw him. He truly is a villain who you will love to hate and a worthy opponent for Robin Hood (Jonas Armstrong). And Lady Marian (Lucy Griffiths) is a strong tough woman who's been defending her people long before Robin Hood came to take up the cause.

This is one of the best versions of the Robin Hood story I have ever seen and believe me, I have seen quite a few. You've got actors with real Brit accents, real Brit forests--okay and you have the devastating humor thrown in. The occasional gag on contemporary culture is just too good.

This version is well worth the purchase price and will definitely entertain for years to come.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Some of the previous reviewers apparently expected a Simon Schama documentary or a reenactment with 12th century dialogue and sensibilities. If you want it that way, go buy Chretien de Troyes instead and prepare to be thoroughly bored.

On the other hand, this series is engaging and often funny, with excellent acting by Armitage, Griffiths, Armstrong, Allen...well, every cast member. Sometimes the writers are a little heavy-handed with the modern parallels they draw, but it's only noticeable in the first few episodes. Otherwise, the strength of the series reveals itself through the complex interpersonal relationships between the characters. (My personal favorite is the Robin/Marian/Guy dynamic.) Additionally, Robin & Co. are well-rounded; each character has his/her own traits, history and humanizing features.

All in all, this is an appealing and endearing version of an old classic. Before watching this series, I was never remotely interested in the Robin Hood mythos, but the characters drive the story and the show ultimately benefits from palpable, modern situations and writing.
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