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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 29, 2009
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

There are many things you can do in a "Robin Hood" retelling. The BBC's version of the legend has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that killing off Maid Marian is definitely not one of them - though I'm sure many of us could have told them that *before* they actually went through with it. Prior to the airing of the third season of "Robin Hood", Laura Burrows of IGN interviewed Jonas Armstrong (Robin) on the upcoming series, with emphasis on the departure of Lucy Griffiths. She ended her article with this prediction:

"In total, the actor made light of Griffiths' quick exodus and did his best to throw us a few bones for the third season, but it seems that the writers may be scrambling to fill in the gaps made by a missing love interest and that the cast will be flying by the seat of their pants, acting scene-by-scene, until they came come to grips with an unsteady storyline." (August 4, 2008)

Burrows' prediction was spot-on. Although there are plenty of note-worthy things about Season Three, the show has lost most of its charm - not just because of Marian's death, but due to the complete restructuring of the show itself by new management. The man responsible for the decision to kill Marian (series creator Dominic Mingella) played no part in this season, credited as "creator" in the opening credits, but contributing nothing to the directing, writing or storylines at all. This is distinctly odd considering the self-congratulatory tones he took in various interviews and on the Season Two DVDs, in which he calls Marian's death an opportunity to "rock the show to its core," to "see a darker side to Robin," and to "open up new storytelling possibilities." If he was that enthusiastic about killing off Marian, why didn't he stick around in order to see his story through to its end?

Whatever the reason for his departure, there was a palatable sense of disorganisation in the Tiger Aspect/BBC studios in regards to "Robin Hood." Little effort was put into promoting the third season, the official website wasn't updated until a few days before the premiere, detailed plot synopsises were released prior to episodes airing, and the premature release of the DVD box set in the UK ensured that the final episode was leaked onto YouTube long before it was scheduled to appear on television. Interviews with the cast members were oddly evasive on the subject of Marian's death, but though a "close-mouthed policy" seemed to be in place, Richard Armitage made his voice heard, stating in no uncertain terms that he had grave concerns about the decision to kill Marian: "I think [the writers] are playing with fire."

All this behind-the-scenes trouble inevitably leeched the quality of Season Three considering that the show was passed on to a new batch of writers (only two of the thirteen episodes were penned by writers who had worked on the show before) who were clearly unfamiliar with the preceding storylines, and had little idea of what to do with the fallout of Marian's death.

For simplicity's sake, the following review is divided into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

As always, the brilliant cast of actors throw themselves into their roles with one hundred and ten percent, transcending the material they've been given and churning out urgent and believable performances despite the ridiculousness of the plots they're stuck in. The original cast members have incredible chemistry together, and by this stage have been working together for over three years. Such a history means that they are imminently watchable, even when they're being painfully under-utilized. This ensemble cast of talented actors, the characters they inhabit, and the performances they deliver are the number one reason to watch this show.

In terms of storylines, there are plenty of intriguing twists and turns among the "Team Castle" cast. A guilt-stricken Guy has swiftly become a loose cannon, and the Sheriff decides to cut his losses and rid himself of his once-loyal henchman. When Prince John (brilliantly portrayed by Toby Stephens) finally enters the scene, he soon has the two of them at each other's throats by promising Guy the position of Sheriff if he rids them of the current one.

Also in the mix is Guy's sister Isabella (whose existence contradicts two seasons worth of Guy insisting that he had no family at all, but never mind), an enigmatic presence whose loyalties are questionable and who arguably has the most important role this season as she instigates the power-struggles that drive the overarching plot. Richard Armitage and Lara Pulver capture the sibling dynamic perfectly, and their physical similarities mean they could easily pass for brother/sister in real life. For the most part, the "Dark Side" plot works very well.

There also seems to have been a bigger budget this time around, resulting in higher production values. The costumes are significantly improved, as is the general scope and atmosphere of the show. And someone has finally realised just how beautiful their surroundings are, for now there are plenty of establishing shots that exploit the gorgeous forest scenery. Speaking of eye-candy, this is the most beautiful cast since The Tudors and perhaps the best way to watch the show is to simply ignore the plots and enjoy the view (though despite the presence of Lara Pulver, male viewers may find themselves a bit short-changed with the loss of both Lucy Griffith and Anjali Jay).

Finally, this show has always provided plenty of laughs. Like how the entire population of England doesn't seem to notice that Tuck is black, or how Prince John's secret weapon ends up being a lion that's so decrepit that it can't even walk in a straight line, or how Kate is slightly out of sync when chanting along with an angry mob. Robin invents the first hang-glider and then defies the laws of physics with it; and Kate performs CPR on somebody whose injuries don't actually require it. And as always, a raised hood is an impenetrable disguise; and hiding behind a twig or a sapling will render a grown man invisible. Good times.

The Bad

As fond as I am (or, was) of this show, there's no denying that the writing is nothing short of abysmal. Although any one episode may serve as mindless entertainment, close inspection - or even "mild" inspection - reveals some of the sloppiest scripts ever committed to the screen. Many storylines are raised only to go nowhere, dialogue is often nonsensical, continuity is non-existent, logic is thrown out the window, characterization is butchered, and (as a result of all this) talent is squandered.

Anachronisms, silliness, and a dose of cheesiness were all part of the fun of "Robin Hood" right from the beginning, but in season three, the writers/producers lost sight of why people tuned in. I (and I'm sure many others) watched for the magnificent cast and the range of intriguing, poignant, complex relationships that they managed to forge between their characters: namely the warm camaraderie of the outlaws and the delicate balancing act between Robin, Marian and Guy. In season three, all this has been flushed away. Even the important relationships that *do* remain intact are given little to no attention (Robin and Much are practically strangers now, and there is no indication whatsoever that Allan worked with Guy for most of last season. Marian is hardly ever mentioned. Oh, and remember Will and Djaq? Nobody else does). In lieu of meaningful emotional connection, the show no longer has any real heart.

Rather, many plots rely on characters acting irrationally and against their own established personalities. Robin and Isabella's relationship ends just as incoherently as it begins. Kate flip-flops between anti-Robin sentiments to simpering fan-girl for no apparent reason. Guy leaves Isabella to drown in a dungeon and then can't seem to understand why she hates him so much. Much and Allan spend several episodes infatuated with Kate, yet have little to no reaction when Robin hooks up with her instead. For a monk, Tuck condones some rather morally dubious things. Allan saves Little John's life, only for John to immediately turn on him when a highly-untrustworthy person suggests that Allan is a traitor. Robin states that he implicitly trusts the man who killed his wife, and yet isn't prepared to give one of his own men the benefit of the doubt. Archer leaves his half-brothers to die after they've saved him from the noose, but then decides to join the team after Kate throws a tantrum. Even the extras behave inexplicably: a mob enthusiastically chants for Robin to be burnt at the stake, only to jump around cheering when he escapes two minutes later.

Um...is everyone a bi-polar schizophrenic with short-term memory loss? The swiftness with which characters declare their intentions, make foolish decisions, change their minds, assign blame, leap to conclusions, change their minds again, act rashly, and forget what happened three minutes ago is just mind-boggling, and I can only imagine that the erratic shifts in behaviour will be even more pronounced when episodes are seen in succession on DVD.

This choppy storytelling has never been more apparent than in what is known as "the flashback episode". With absolutely no foreshadowing whatsoever, the writers suddenly introduce a complex back-story between Robin and Guy that accumulates in the revelation that they share a half-brother. Neither man has ever mentioned their dramatic joint-history before, and the new information is relayed to Robin and Guy via Robin's long-lost father, who convinces them to save their long-lost brother, so that they can defeat Guy's long-lost sister. I can't believe I'm not making this up.

(And I've just realised why Robin gets over Marian's death so appallingly fast: if the writers had portrayed him grieving realistically, then his alliance with Guy would have been even more implausible than it already was).

Yeah, I know that the past two seasons were rife with their fair share of silliness, but by this stage, the show suffers from "mood whiplash". The writers are working in a context in which Marian's murder is hanging over everyone's heads, yet the producers' apparent desire to cater to a wide target audience results in the most erratic combination of content and tones I've ever seen on a television programme. It swings wildly between gritty drama, slapstick comedy, kiddie-friendly action/adventure, and melodramatic soap opera. Alongside vengeance, torture, adultery, murder, abuse, seduction, attempted rape and even mild incestuous overtones, are goofy child-friendly antics like hang-gliding, lion-taming, gladiator-fighting, and ninja-star throwing. At one stage they even stoop to gross-out jokes, wherein Tuck climbs up a sewage system and into a recently occupied privy.

Essentially, the show doesn't seem to know who it's for. Some parts are too dark and violent for children, and others are too preposterous for adults looking for a reasonable continuation of the serious tone the show set for itself with Marian's murder.

The Ugly

The departure of Will and Djaq left two vacancies in the outlaw gang. These were filled by the much anticipated Tuck and the dreaded "feisty village girl" Kate. Tuck initially acquits himself well, what with his enigmatic past and unclear motivations, but is soon rendered just another face in the crowd. Although this character was in a perfect position to act as a mediator between Robin and Guy, preaching the themes of forgiveness and atonement, he just ends up being Robin's PR spokesman with a tendency for impromptu speeches. What a waste.

As for Kate...well, you know you've got problems when a character's defining attribute is abject stupidity, and her only purpose on the show is to be the Mandatory Female. Whiny, pushy, sulky, petty, hypocritical, shrill, needy, dim-witted, arrogant... there's nothing even remotely appealing about this character, and her inability to do anything helpful, say anything pleasant, or be anything other than a complete liability gets very old, very fast. After her idiotic behavior gets her brother killed and her family's business destroyed, the outlaws inexplicably invite her to join the team, and we're subjected to faux-Marian stomping around Sherwood, blundering into trouble, emasculating the outlaws, and single-mindedly pursuing the only goal the writers bother to give her: become Robin's girlfriend. Even more nauseating, the outlaws seem to be under the impression that she's (in their own words) "amazing" and "brave and compassionate" and "a treasure," despite Kate never doing a single solitary thing to deserve these platitudes. Can you say blatant Mary Sue?

Oblivious as to how obnoxious she is, the writers give her way too much screen-time and eventually relegate her to the role of Robin's rebound girl, following a general theme of women going completely gaga over Robin. See Marian: dead because she couldn't contain her love for Robin in front of a crazy man with a sword, or Isabella: perfectly sane until the moment Robin dumps her, at which point she instantly reverts into a complete lunatic.

I know that not every female character in a show aimed at young people can be a positive role model, but it would have been nice if at least ONE was.

(Seriously though, the victimization of women on this show gets immensely disturbing after a while. Not only do we have Marian's stabbing at the hands of a man who claimed to have loved her (a scene that Dominic Mingella called "the consummation of Guy and Marian"), but also the fact that Isabella goes evil as a *direct* result of domestic abuse and her dysfunctional relationships with Robin and Guy. She is ultimately cast as the irredeemable villain, despite both men inflicting unprovoked violence on her several times. Kate's instantaneous hatred of Isabella is the result of her inevitable jealousy over Robin, and when left to her own devices, Kate is merely a damsel-in-distress who gets threatened/arrested/kidnapped practically every episode, requiring a male character to rescue her from her own staggering incompentence each and every time. Even the prominent guest-stars Ghislaine and Meg are both sacrificed on behalf of men they are trying to protect.)

Ultimately, the biggest disappointment of Season Three stems from the fact that the new writers don't seem to have much affection for, interest in, or even basic understanding of the characters they've inherited, and many of their storytelling decisions are just...well, "mean-spirited" is the only word I can think of to describe it.

Why were Will and Djaq written out of the show in such an unsatisfying way, never to be seen or heard from again? Why would Robin enter a relationship with the (married) sister of the man who murdered his wife? Couldn't the outlaws have been given something - anything! - else to do besides run around after Kate like a bunch of harangued babysitters with a disobedient child? Was it entertaining to see Isabella suffer a mental breakdown after a lifetime of domestic abuse? Was it meant to be fun watching poor Much get his heart broken by his best friend and a shrieking harpy? (After his passionate rant to Robin last season about how he's not appreciated, it was a bitter pill indeed to watch him reclaim his dignity from Robin only to sacrifice it all up to Kate).

If Allan had to die, would it have been so hard to let him go down in a blaze of glory instead of a heartless, meaningless Red Shirt death? After ignoring him all season, the writers have him shot in the back on the side of the road, failing in the attempt to deliver an important message, and dying in the belief that his friends consider him a traitor. What a pathetic and hateful way to get rid of one of the show's most popular characters.

Little John...was he even in this season? Was it really necessary to introduce the ridiculous plot device of the half-brother, a gimmick that required the restructuring of canon itself? Why was so much time wasted on hooking Robin up with Kate in a relationship that was never going anywhere, was void of any chemistry, and which played out like a bored rock star finally caving to a desperate groupie? Why Kate, period? The show gains nothing from her presence, and her aggressive, childish pursuit of Robin is just cringe-worthy. And Guy...well, I'm still speechless over what they did to him.

None of these storylines are particularly entertaining, instead each one lies somewhere between "annoying and pointless" and "way too dark and depressing for a family show".

Maybe I expected too much; but given that the writers were handed the legend of Robin Hood as well as one of the most talented ensemble casts in living memory, this show had the potential to be the best retelling of the story ever, something that was sabotaged by an onslaught of terrible creative decisions, starting from the moment Guy plunged that giant sword into Marian's abdomen. This was the first and biggest nail in the show's coffin, and to this day I cannot understand how Dominic Mingella could have deemed Marian's murder an appropriate and entertaining "twist" in what had previously been such a fun, light-hearted show. When did Marian getting murdered by Guy EVER seem like a good idea? What on *earth* was this meant to achieve? I'm sure that for many, this show died with her.

At times, this season does manage to capture some of its past magic (Guy versus the Sheriff; Prince John; Guy/Meg; Robin's reunion with Marian), but the new stories are a significant step down from previous seasons, especially since the new characters are emphasised at the cost of our old favourites (check out the cover art on the DVD: the fact that Kate's image is significantly larger than Guy's is the perfect visual image of everything that's wrong with season three). The BBC blamed poor ratings for the cancellation of the show, but unfortunately the writers had already put a lot of effort into setting up for a forth season, meaning that Season Three feels more like setup for the future than closure on the past.

But it came as no surprise to me when "Robin Hood" was cancelled - by this stage the Powers That Be had systematically removed everything from the show that made it worth watching in the first place.
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on December 30, 2009
One big challenge of this season was to cope with the loss of Marian. As a number of people have noted, her death left a big emotional hole at the center of the show, one that Season 3 was never quite able to fill (despite Isabella). At the same time, it set up some fascinating storylines, particularly for Guy of Gisborne. Do I wish they hadn't killed Marian? Yes and no -- obviously, it depends on what sort of alternate Season 3 we would have gotten with Marian alive. I realize that for some people a "Robin Hood" without Robin and Marian is unthinkable, but I'm not one of those people. I also didn't mind the lack of a happy ending; many versions of "Robin Hood" do not end happily, and this version of RH was always pretty dark, IMO, despite its lighthearted moments.

With that in mind, here are my grades for the various components of this season....

(SPOILERS GALORE! YOU WERE WARNED...)

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

A:

* Guy's character arc. It was fascinating to watch Guy grow a spine vis-a-vis the Sheriff. I liked the fact that his remorse and horror at what he has done does not immediately plunge him into a quest for atonement. Instead he becomes an even darker character for a while than he was in S1/2; he flails around, first seeking revenge against Robin and sinking deeper and deeper into self-loathing, then throwing himself back into ambition and the quest for power only to realize how empty that quest is, and hitting rock bottom before he can rediscover his humanity and reconnect to his love for Marian. I'm not a huge fan of the "redemption by death" motif, and (apparently unlike Richard Armitage) I don't care for the idea that Guy had to die at the end to pay for his crimes. Personally I would have loved to see another season of Guy trying to live as a good man (and hopefully succeeding!), but maybe it is true that he could have only found peace in death; at any rate, if he had to die, I can't think of a better way for him to go. I also liked the development of his principal relationships -- with Robin, Isabella, and Vaisey -- and the short but sweet storyline with Meg. I initially disliked the backstory with Guy's and Robin's families, but it has strangely grown on me.

* Prince John. Do you love me? Yes, we do, PJ, you slightly psychotic but irresistibly entertaining throne-usurper. Toby Stephens' version of Prince John was just perfect for the show, with exactly the right blend of camp and real menace. (The moment when he invites Guy to drink to killing Robin Hood and his own sister was genuinely terrifying.) Best villain next to Vaisey; I only wish we'd seen more of him.

* The lion. Ah, umm... just kidding.

B:

* Robin. I know some people have said that Robin didn't seem sufficiently affected by Marian's death after the first episode, but I have to disagree. I think this was definitely a more grown-up version of Robin than in the previous two seasons -- yeah, he still has his cocky moments with the adorable (or infuriating, depending on your take) smirk, but they're definitely fewer; he is no longer the boyish adventurer that nothing ever sticks to. Instead he is someone who now sees his hero status as a burden he can't escape. He's not always particularly attractive -- his treatment of Isabella is rather appallingly insensitive at times, IMO -- but he's a compelling character. The main reason Robin gets a B is because of Robin/Kate. I could have actually bought his relationship with Kate -- I can see that, after Marian, he's really no longer looking for true love, just for emotional and sexual comfort with a girl in the gang for whom he feels nothing more than affection -- but Kate's obnoxiousness, and the fact that Robin is having this fairly casual relationship with a girl that his very loyal friend Much is genuinely smitten with, really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

* The Robin/Guy storyline. In the absence of Marian, Robin and Guy are pretty clearly the show's main relationship (okay, probably not "like that"...). The idea that these two are mirror images of each other and that Guy is "Robin Hood manqué" really comes to the fore this season. I really love pretty much everything about the progression of their relationship, except for the daddy ex machina contrivance of Lord Malcolm showing up out of nowhere at a key moment to inform the boys that they have a mutual half-brother they need to save from hanging. I'm really torn, because while it's pretty clear at the start of the show that Robin and Guy did not know each other before (let alone have a complicated history), I've rather come to like the idea of their lives being entwined, and the backstory has grown on me (as has the character of Archer). I don't particularly like how the show got there, but I like the end result. So, a B. (By the way, I must really disagree with R.M. Fisher's assertion that Robin was never shown properly grieving for Marian because otherwise his friendship with Guy would have been too improbable. His grief felt very real to me, and Guy's murder of Marian was brought up in both of the episodes that dealt with Guy and Robin becoming allies.)

* Isabella. A bit too Cruella de Ville by the end, but still overall a compelling character; her interactions with Guy in 3x13, including the final look at his dead body, redeem her somewhat in my eyes. I'm not sure what the writers intended, but to me she remained somewhat sympathetic to the very end; she is a woman who we know without a doubt (after 3x09) has been horribly abused, and I think she does have legitimate grievances against both Guy and Robin. I can understand why she'd go slightly nuts after Thornton's returns and Meg's betrayal, but I liked her better when she was opportunistic and clever with only a hint of instability, rather than slightly nuts.

* Vaisey. Watching him lose his grip on power was quite fascinating, as was the escalation of his conflict with Guy to an outright battle to the death; but his return in the finale was a bit of a disappointment.

* Much. He was very good when he got decent screen time, but there really wasn't enough of it, and it's kind of a shame that the main storyline he got was to pine for a girl who treated him like crap, clearly didn't merit his affection, and went after Robin. Much deserved much better. However, his A-caliber material and performance in the two-part finale elevates his overall S3 grade to a B.

* Tuck (B-). A character who started out very promising (to quote Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront", he could have been a contendah!) and then fell flat because of underdevelopment. He did get some meatier stuff to do in the two-part finale, at least, but there was a lot of unfulfilled potential there.

C:

* The underuse of Allan. I actually liked the Allan material at the end, and in the premiere -- but basically, in Ep 2-Ep 11, he's pretty much MIA (and I really did not like Sexist Allan in Ep 9). It's almost like, once his loyalty to the gang is no longer in question, there's nothing interesting for him to do. The lack of Guy/Allan material was especially unfortunate, given their rich history in Season 2. I'm not saying it's implausible that they would barely interact with each other once Guy joined the gang. I'm sure that Guy still had way too much resentment over Allan's betrayal in 2x12 while Allan would have worried that getting too chummy with Guy would remind the gang too much of his earlier betrayal, but all those are actually issues that could have been explored in very interesting ways if Guy and Allan were forced to deal with each other.

* The underuse of the gang in general, and the fact that so much of the gang time ended up being consumed by Kate. Which brings us to...

D:

* Kate! She had some okay moments, but for the most part, she really was a waste of screentime. Do I need to elaborate? Probably not.

So, my overall grade for the season... I would say a B-minus, because unfortunately, the D component took up a lot of space and time. There were definitely things I would have done differently; for one thing, lose the two Guy-less eps (which were not bad, but with only 13 episodes in a season I don't think the show could afford to do what were basically filler eps with regard to the main storyline), have Isabella show up and Guy return (hopefully sans lion) in Ep 3, and then move up the entire storyline so that there was more time for Guy's integration into the gang and the Guy and Robin Buddy Show. But ultimately there's no use crying over spilled milk or missed opportunities, and on the whole I'm pretty happy with a lot of what we got. Particularly since the finale sent out the show and the characters on a high, if tragic, note.
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on August 10, 2010
...because this show was genuinely one of my favorite things in life. It had so many wonderful things, and even after the second season ended, I held out hope that the third season would work its magic to make the lack of Marian-Djaq-Will bearable. But no. The last few episodes literally had me crying--all the characters I had loved since the beginning met lackluster and pitiful ends. I felt so bad that this is how I would last remember them. The new characters weren't terrible per se; they just could not compare with shoes left behind. Isabella was God-awful, and I wishing for her death the moment I saw her on screen. Call me a traditionalist, but to see an evil, manipulative and selfish character replace the determined and righteous Marian was just too much. Tuck was promising but faded into just another prop piece with an occasional line or two. I can say though the last three minutes were my favorite part of the series, but I didn't like what I went through to get there. I really wish I hadn't seen this season, it just left me feeling empty and depressed over what became of the show.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 4, 2012
If you didn't think that one more Robin Hood incarnation could possible hold its own against the long series of productions over the past decades, here's the proof that it indeed can--and HAS--been done. This remake of the Robin Hood epic, made by the BBC and filmed in 2006, as a superb new look at the story and the characters, and is completely remade for a 21st century audience. The story is the same, with (for the most part) all the same characters, and the motives of the merry band of men remains unchanged: the Sheriff of Nottingham, along with his henchman, Guy of Gisborne, have illicitly taken over Nottingham (the rightful manor of Locksley himself) and Robin and his men are taking from the Sheriff to feed the poor and the needy while they wait for the return of the King so that things can be made right.

You would think that in this age of Avatar that there would be almost no way such a show could be of interest, and yet this wonderful series from the BBC shows that it can indeed be so, and Robin Hood here can hold the attention and interest in parents and children alike. It's updated, to be sure, and, yes, it contains numerous anachronisms, but that isn't the point at all: this is the classic Robin Hood story told all over again for today's audience in a dramatic, exciting, and fun-loving way. The show follows the classic Robin Hood story in Season One (the show runs a total of three seasons, and takes a slight turn in the standard story in Season Two, and takes an even bigger turn in Season Three), and if you know the story, you'll enjoy seeing how this show tells it in their own way. But nearly any child watching will be able to pick up the story quite well, with clear villains, heroes, and motives. It's fun, dramatic, and exciting.

The show is lushly filmed. Using a full-scale, outside set that was built in Hungary (you would swear this was in the middle of England, near to the true Sherwood Forest), the scenes are acted out on a grand scale that makes us completely unaware that this is a dramatic production. Colors are lush and intense. The costumes worn, though replete with anachronistic styles (some of Marian's outfits appear as though they just came off the rack at J. Crew), are gorgeous and fun to look at it, and really, that's the point: you should just sit back and enjoy this for what it is. It isn't a historical examination of the mid-twelth century English setting: it's the story of Robin Hood, told for a modern audience. The filming is so lush that the closest thing I can think of to which to compare it is the BBC's MI-5, which is a modern-day police drama that also uses the intense colors and slick production values to a similar effect. It's gorgeous, and its such a shame that, to date (December 2012) only the First Season is available on Blu-Ray.

Some standout performances exist, although nearly all the cast is excellent. The evil Sheriff (Keith Allen) is both menacing and funny, his sidekick, Guy (Richard Armitage) is a double-minded, tragic figure, Robin Hood himself (Jonas Armstrong) is the hero's hero, Little John (Gordon Kennedy) is the group's moral compass, and Much (Sam Troughton) is both hilarious and heart-tugging.

Season Three is the most unusual of the three Robin Hood seasons, taking the original story and extending and working with it to create its own set of stories that are based on the orignal. Friar Tuck, finally introduced in this last Season, takes on a major role in the story, and Robin himself finds his epic battle with Guy of Gisborne elevated into a new area not before seen. I would highly recommend that the viewer start with Seasons a=One and Two before moving on to Season Three, as the traditional story is more closely told and established in those first two Seasons, and then you can watch the fun the writers have with the material as they enter Season Three.

This show is fun, entertaining, and often, thought-provoking. It pulls on your emotions. It draws you in. Kids can enjoy it as well as adults. Five stars.
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on January 12, 2010
As a rabid "Robin Hood" fan who loved seasons 1 and 2, season 3 is a must-buy for me. Yes, this season had its flaws--some unlikable characters (Kate), lack of continuity in some of the stories, a less-than-happy ending, etc., but the superb acting and some very memorable and moving story lines made it worthwhile. So much to love about this series when you look past the negatives. Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne alone was enough to keep me watching! Can't get enough of the bad boy in black leather! He's simply breathtaking in this season as he sinks to the depths after killing Marian, then makes his slow and painful climb toward redemption. Best part of season 3,IMHO. I definitely recommend this to anyone who loved the first two seasons!
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on November 18, 2009
The reason I love this series is because it is so much fun. I am a huge fan of the Robin Hood legend. My favorite rendition is Errol Flynn ("Adventures of Robin Hood", 1938) but what Jonas Armstrong brings to the character shouldn't be missed. Armstrong's facial expressions and delivery makes you love Robin even more.

The actors who portray Hood's gang was well cast. They play off each other beautifully. I feel the group is more unified that I have ever seen before-I love it when they state together, "WE ARE ROBIN HOOD". you realize that is is more than one person, it is an ideal.

The storytelling is also well done. It gives you more than Robin Hood and his band of thieves stealing from the rich (and giving to the poor). From the beginning of season 1, you discover the history of Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham (brilliantly played by Keith Allen), the battle of the throne between Richard and John as well as how the gang was formed.

The 3rd and last on BBC America is another gem even though I miss Allen as the Sheriff (was in the first few episodes only). There has been a different approach (with new characters) and unique story lines this season-like discovering that Robin's father is still alive and he has a half-brother. Of the three seasons, I would say the 2nd is my favorite.

So many people are critical of certain details (i.e. accuracy of costumes). Personally, I think it is a beautiful telling of the legend in every way. It is an enjoyable series-lighthearted and fun.

I hate to say goodbye to Jonas Armstrong's Robin Hood after only three seasons. Thank goodness for DVDs so I can continue to invite him, Big John, Much, Tuck and the others in my home.
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on December 6, 2009
I don't have too much to add to the comments above, other than I think the actress who portrayed Kate probably did the best she had with the material she was given to work with, which was not much. I agree with everyone that her and Isabella were completely unnecessary characters, brought in for female diversion with the killing of Marian in season 2. Since this Robin Hood decided to take on soap opera plots, then would it have been less unreasonable to have Djaq and Will find some Middle Eastern whiz who was actually able to revive Marian and save her from her fatal wounds? I KNOW - they did that at the end of season 1 - and maybe that might have seemed even sillier - then Marian would have been the unkillable girl or something. BUT, That would have even made for a better television show than what was dished out this year- and then hers and Robin's return to England as a married couple and how they managed it with the rest of the gang might have made for much more interesting plot possibilities. It couldn't have been worse than the Bobby Ewing/It was all the dream thing they did with Dallas in the past. Surely they could have found an actress that looked and sounded enough like Griffiths to be a believable replacement. I said this in one of the comments, but Robin taking up with both Isabella and then Kate so shortly after Marian's death made me think of Tommy Steele in Finian's Rainbow - when I'm not with the one I love, I love the one I'm with.

Armitage, Jonas and Joe Armstrong, Sam Troughton and the rest do what they can with what they've been given to work with, and there are moments worth watching, particularly the episodes with Toby Stephens as Prince John, whose over the top performance was the most entertaining of the entire season in the episodes he appeared in, but the rest of the plots and characters were too irrational and too changeable to be entirely believable, unless, as I stated in the past, you want to believe that both Guy and his sister suffer from severe reactive attachment disorder or BPD which would explain their exceedingly changeable jeckyl/hyde behaviors to people as adults. The episodes where Guy and Robin are shown that Guy's mother took up with Robin's father while Guy's father was believed dead from the Crusades, then returns unexpectedly as a leper, and Guy's mother, now expecting a child by Robin's father, has to make the decision to renounce/repudiate her husband when the society declares him unfit to live amongst others, might have been some cause for that, but there is no indication otherwise in the plot/backstory except for Guy's selling of his sister to a cruel man to marry which would have purportedly given her cause to become such a bloodthirsty, mood-swinging maniac. The fans of this series could have written better plots, and indeed, the ladies who write fanfiction on the C19 armitage message board online have written better plots. Even a dream sequence where Guy dreamed he was actually married to Marian instead of Robin, or letting the only truly interesting gal introduced this season, MEG, LIVE, and have a romance with Guy until the end - that might have made for more interest this year. It is probably a microcosm of how bad the writers did this year that they did immediately kill off the only truly interesting female they came up with - Meg - the same episode they introduced her. That actress resembled Griffiths' physicality enough that even SHE would have been a believable replacement as Marian, in my opinion.

It also bothered my husband and I that (1) Guy's illegitimate child by the maidservant from season 1 was never mentioned again; (2) the gal Much loved in the past was never brought back in the series (3) we thought the Saracen bow Robin had was brought back by him from his wars with King Richard and then all of a sudden his father has it with him when he's a boy? Did the writers watch the other seasons at all?

The throwaway death of Allan a Dale was also a complete tragedy. All in all, what had been a very entertaining, watchable, brilliantly acted series died this year from bad writing/scripts. It is a tribute to the marvelous acting prowess of this cast that they were able to give it as much entertainment value as it had from the silliness they were given to work with.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 3, 2012
If you didn't think that one more Robin Hood incarnation could possible hold its own against the long series of productions over the past decades, here's the proof that it indeed can--and HAS--been done. This remake of the Robin Hood epic, made by the BBC and filmed in 2006, as a superb new look at the story and the characters, and is completely remade for a 21st century audience. The story is the same, with (for the most part) all the same characters, and the motives of the merry band of men remains unchanged: the Sheriff of Nottingham, along with his henchman, Guy of Gisborne, have illicitly taken over Nottingham (the rightful manor of Locksley himself) and Robin and his men are taking from the Sheriff to feed the poor and the needy while they wait for the return of the King so that things can be made right.

You would think that in this age of Avatar that there would be almost no way such a show could be of interest, and yet this wonderful series from the BBC shows that it can indeed be so, and Robin Hood here can hold the attention and interest in parents and children alike. It's updated, to be sure, and, yes, it contains numerous anachronisms, but that isn't the point at all: this is the classic Robin Hood story told all over again for today's audience in a dramatic, exciting, and fun-loving way. The show follows the classic Robin Hood story in Season One (the show runs a total of three seasons, and takes a slight turn in the standard story in Season Two, and takes an even bigger turn in Season Three), and if you know the story, you'll enjoy seeing how this show tells it in their own way. But nearly any child watching will be able to pick up the story quite well, with clear villains, heroes, and motives. It's fun, dramatic, and exciting.

The show is lushly filmed. Using a full-scale, outside set that was built in Hungary (you would swear this was in the middle of England, near to the true Sherwood Forest), the scenes are acted out on a grand scale that makes us completely unaware that this is a dramatic production. Colors are lush and intense. The costumes worn, though replete with anachronistic styles (some of Marian's outfits appear as though they just came off the rack at J. Crew), are gorgeous and fun to look at it, and really, that's the point: you should just sit back and enjoy this for what it is. It isn't a historical examination of the mid-twelth century English setting: it's the story of Robin Hood, told for a modern audience. The filming is so lush that the closest thing I can think of to which to compare it is the BBC's MI-5, which is a modern-day police drama that also uses the intense colors and slick production values to a similar effect. It's gorgeous, and its such a shame that, to date (December 2012) only the First Season is available on Blu-Ray.

Some standout performances exist, although nearly all the cast is excellent. The evil Sheriff (Keith Allen) is both menacing and funny, his sidekick, Guy (Richard Armitage) is a double-minded, tragic figure, Robin Hood himself (Jonas Armstrong) is the hero's hero, Little John (Gordon Kennedy) is the group's moral compass, and Much (Sam Troughton) is both hilarious and heart-tugging.

Season Three is the most unusual of the three Robin Hood seasons, taking the original story and extending and working with it to create its own set of stories that are based on the orignal. Friar Tuck, finally introduced in this last Season, takes on a major role in the story, and Robin himself finds his epic battle with Guy of Gisborne elevated into a new area not before seen. I would highly recommend that the viewer start with Seasons a=One and Two before moving on to Season Three, as the traditional story is more closely told and established in those first two Seasons, and then you can watch the fun the writers have with the material as they enter Season Three.

This show is fun, entertaining, and often, thought-provoking. It pulls on your emotions. It draws you in. Kids can enjoy it as well as adults. Five stars.

Also see ...
Robin Hood: Season One
Robin Hood: Season Two
Robin Hood: The Complete Series
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on January 19, 2010
This season wasn't perfect and as others have said it was tough to fill the void left by Marian's untimely death but I strongly feel that some fans who were upset by how the second season ended are not really giving Season 3 a chance. Watch for yourself and decide. Personally I loved Gisbourne's tragic story in this season and the development of his relationship with Robin. Also Isabella was a fantastic character and Lara Pulver had great chemistry w/both Richard and Jonas. Toby Stephens is the best Prince John ever. And even Kate IMO wasn't as bad as most people seem to think, not the best character to be sure but she had some good moments. The story remained riveting to the end, as always with a nice mix of drama and comedy and very clever dialog. It's really too bad we didn't get a 4th season, I would have totally stayed tuned for the adventures of Robin, Guy and Archer.
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on April 6, 2011
Tongue and cheek humor, brilliant cast dynamics... all gone on this season. The characters we loved or loved to hate either left in season 2 or were left as former shells of their glory. The interactions between the remaining characters were just blah...

They tried to bring in new cast but it did not work. Kate serves to remind us of how much less of a woman she is compared to Marion. She is a silly, one dimensional woman with no depth. How Robin can forget so easily and be swayed by the likes of her and Isabella is beyond me. Tuck seemed like he was going to be a good addition in his first appearance but after a few episodes, we come to realize that he is also a one track character. The only person who was entertaining was Toby as Prince John but even then, his performance was a fraction of what he can normally do.

The storylines were ridiculous. After two seasons, the characters that we have grown to love deserve to be treated with respect. The writers' treatment of Alan, the sheriff and even Robin is just pure laziness. This season just fizzled...badly.
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