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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A partial defense of Season 3, December 30, 2009
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This review is from: Robin Hood: Season 3 (DVD)
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....




* 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.


* 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.


* 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...


* 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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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 31, 2009 11:12:25 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 31, 2009 11:52:41 PM PST
R. M. Fisher says:
Hi there! It's me, ravenya03! Not sure if you realised that I was R.M. Fisher, but concerning this:

"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..."

I'm going to take the opportunity to defend my POV...

Robin certainly missed Marian, particularly in "Total Eclipse" and "Too Hot to Handle," but it was also apparent to me, that with the departure of the show's creators and all but two of the writers that worked on the first two seasons, the new management were eager to "clean slate" several aspects of the show and to handle several difficult plotlines that had been set up for them in S2 by simply ignoring them.

Marian is a key part of not only this show, but the legends in which they are based on. Her death left nothing less than a black hole in the storylines, and her absence didn't nearly have the impact that it should have had on Robin (or, in fact, anyone except Guy. She was a notable figure in the community, and a friend to the outlaws. It grated that her presence on the show, even after her death, came to so little).

We know that this portrayal of Robin was a very private person, and that it's not in his nature to share his feelings with others, and yet there was ample opportunity to display just how much this character desperately missed the woman who was (supposed to be) the love of his life without stating the fact. We could have seen him erect a memorial in Marian's honour, or whisper prayers to her in times of trouble, or keep his wedding ring around his neck as a momento, or visit places that were meaningful to two of them.

Likewise, I always found it a point of contention that he never made public that Marian was the Night Watchman to the populace, to let them know who it was that had been helping them for so many years, or to infuse Marian's death with meaning by using her name as some kind of rallying point that the villagers could get behind (not that any of the villagers or nobles seemed to notice or care that she suddenly disappeared). None of these ideas would have taken much time or effort to insert, and the only reason I can imagine their absence is because they wanted Guy and Robin to team up at the conclusion of the show.

Had Robin been shown as a man who desperately missed his wife, who was traumatised at the fact that he witnessed her die a painful and prolonged death in his arms, who was crippled with grief at his loss then there's no way that I can concievably grasp Robin agreeing to team up with the man who took her from him in such a violent way. Therefore (to me) Robin's lack of prolonged mourning and the writer's neglect to wring any sense of poignancy or depth from Marian's absence in Robin's life seemed a device to make his team up with Guy more plausible, in which Robin's main objection to the alliance came in the form of that truly bizarre line: "He's not sorry enough for Marian's death."

(Problematic because, a. Guy very clearly IS sorry, to the point where he begged Robin to kill him in the first episode, and b. why is "not being sorry enough" a more unforgivable crime than the murder itself, particularly since Robin has no idea what actually happened between Guy and Marian in those final moments?)

In short, the writers had a choice: to write Robin as a mourning widower and forego the dramatic opportunity to have Guy/Robin form an alliance against a common enemy, or to "gloss over" Marian's brutal murder and the affect it would have had on Robin (which according to several press releases, was the initial point of doing it in the first place, as in this from Commissioning Editor Sarah Brandist: "We felt that Robin Hood mattered most to our audience, and what mattered most to Robin was Marian...and therein lay the most compelling and dramatic climax to the end of Series 2") so that they could introduce Archer as the "new Robin Hood" as a device to force his half-brothers to work together and in order to lead the show into its forth season.

They chose the latter option, and although this certainly gave us some strong, poignant, funny and moving scenes between the two men (for instance, I think that Guy's death in Robin's arms was thematically appropriate, as was Guy's final acceptance of Marian's right to have loved Robin), I also think that it would have been equally acceptable for Guy to have achieved redemption WITHOUT Robin's involvement, and for Robin to have continued to fight the good fight in Marian's name without the need for two new girlfriends. And since the main point to Archer's existence was to create a new main character for the proposed season 4, the painfully contrived sequence of events that put his story into motion seemed a waste of time considering the show's inevitable cancellation.

In short: a man creating an alliance with a character who brutally murdered his wife in order to save a half-brother who by the show's own continuity had no right to exist at all, was just too much for me. There are some things that human beings, even fictional ones, just do not do. (And on a practical level, I'm not entirely sure why Robin needed Guy's help at all. Surely Robin and the outlaws could have handled Archer's rescue on their own).

To me, the majority of the show involved Robin acting just too absurdly cheerful for the tone that the show set for itself after Marian's death, and it all seemed to be done in the attempt to make the Archer plot work (as well as to justify his romantic involvement with Isabella and Kate. Like you, I wasn't adverse to Robin seeking some level of comfort with another woman, but with his wife's killer's sister? And with whiny Kate? Just no).

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 12:41:40 AM PST
Cathy Young says:
Hi Rav! Yes, I know that it's you. :) We seem to be meeting everywhere, aren't we? :D

I will point out that a lot of fanfics written between Season 2 and Season 3 envisioned a reluctant alliance between Robin and Guy, and a number of people who posted commentary about the show on their blogs also envisioned such an outcome at the start of S3. So maybe it's not THAT far-fetched.

Anyway, regarding Robin's grieving or lack thereof: I will say that at one point I myself was of the opinion that Robin moved on too fast and that this shows his feelings for Marian were never that deep in the first place. I changed my mind after actually watching all of Season 3 on BBC America and paying attention to what was happening throughout the episode, rather than mostly watching the scenes with Guy and either skipping or tuning out a lot of the rest. (I had, for instance, completely forgotten the icky Robin/Kate campfire scene at the end of 3x09 -- I think I had actually been under the impression that the episode ended with Meg dying in Guy's arms.) It was, for instance, quite evident to me in 3 x 07 that Robin was still mourning Marian and would never really fully recover from her death. It was also very clear to me that there was never any question of love between Robin and Kate. It was more like she was "his woman" in the gang, someone who was there for emotional and sexual comfort but nothing more than that. It wasn't very attractive, mind you, and I still wish they'd skipped that whole storyline, but I didn't find it implausible. (The unattractiveness, to me, was not in the infidelity to Marian's memory but in the fact that Robin seemed to be basically using a girl who was seriously smitten with him when he had no such feelings for her, and ESPECIALLY that this girl was someone that Much was in love with.)

It's interesting that the possibilities you mentioned -- Robin fighting in Marian's name or making sure that the populace honored her as a hero -- never really crossed my mind. I think that in a way it would have made his mourning too public; it would have made her less Marian, the woman he loved and more Marian, the abstract heroine. Also, you may disagree but I don't think Robin particularly liked Marian's Nightwatchman gig, so I'm not so sure he would have wanted to honor that aspect of her.

The "he's never shown any remorse for killing Marian" line definitely threw me at first, particularly since in Episode 2 Robin actually told Guy that if he killed him (if Guy killed Robin, that is), it would not end his own suffering and self-loathing and that he would never hate Robin as much as he hates himself. However, I saw someone explain it in a way that makes sense to me -- that at this point Robin is angry about being asked to ally himself with Guy, and basically wants to see Guy in the worst possible light -- as a completely remorseless murderer.

By the way, I do think that Robin is supposed to have some idea of what happened between Guy and Marian in those final moments. At least judging by his words in 3 x 01 -- "She didn't love you, you couldn't have her" -- he knows that it was a crime of passion, and not, say, Guy cutting down Marian because she was standing between him and the King. How does he know? I think there are two possibilities (well, other than "the writers forgot that Robin shouldn't know this"...). One -- he just knows, instinctively, that this is the only way Guy could have ever conceivably done such a thing. Which I think makes sense, considering that he knows Guy was willing to allow him to escape and get a crucial message to the King in 2 x 09 rather than risk harm to Marian. (He MAY also know, from Will, that Guy returned to Nottingham to a near-certain death rather than leave Marian behind in 2 x 10.) Two -- King Richard, who was lying on the ground just a few steps away from Marian and Guy, may have told him what happened. He might have even thought that it would make Robin feel better to know that Marian was killed proclaiming her love for him.

By the way I will be the first to say that if the RH PTB wanted a storyline of "Marian dies and then Robin and Guy team up", there was a much "safer" and more logical way to do it, which would be to have the Sheriff kill Marian. That would have still left plenty of room for angst and remorse for Guy (especially if he had not only failed to protect Marian from the Sheriff but had indirectly precipitated her death with his own actions), and I'm sure it still wouldn't have been easy for Robin to accept Guy as an ally under those circumstances, but their alliance and uneasy friendship certainly would have been more plausible. Plus, it would have avoided the disturbing issue of turning one of the two main 'ships on the show into what could be arguably described as an abusive relationship culminating in murder. Of course one could argue that by doing what they did, the producers made a bolder, more dramatic choice ... or maybe a sicker and more twisted one. I really do believe it can be seen either way, and I feel very ambivalent about it myself. Still -- all in all I was fine with how they handled Robin and Guy in S3. Of course, that's just my own opinion!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 2:26:14 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 1, 2010 2:32:49 AM PST
R. M. Fisher says:
I think ultimately, it wasn't what they did, but the *way* they did it. A Robin/Guy alliance was (by itself) a good idea, as was Robin finding a temporary "comfort" love, but the way in which it was done was so awkward and ungainly that it stretched my suspension of disbelief to breaking point (I imagine the scenarios that fanfic writers come up with are vastly superior to what happened on the show).

As you say, there are several things that COULD have happened "off-screen" that would have made everything more feasible that the audience didn't get to see (such as, Robin finding out the circumstances of Marian's death via King Richard, or being told about Guy's feelings for Marian via Will after the events of "Walkabout.")

And yet something so important to both plot and character can't just be assumed by the audience. It needs to be *seen*, if not just because it would have made for incredibly effective moments, not to mention continuity and consistency. So for me (the cynic), I'm just more inclined to chalk up the "gaps" in the story to bad, lazy writing. I usually agree with the theories you come up that can plug plot holes and explain character motivation, but I also don't think that it was the audience's job to connect all the dots. It should have been in the product itself, and that's where this season looses its points for me.

Two more things:

Firstly, it is indeed a mystery as to why they had Guy kill Marian and not the Sheriff (only slightly less baffling to me than why on earth they felt the need to kill her off at all). But had the Sheriff done the deed, Dominic Mingella would have gotten his all-important "shock value", and there would have been a much better base for a Robin/Guy alliance in the future, with the two of them teaming up to avenge Marian and fight in her name. (Because I am still firmly convinced that Marian's legacy was more or less ignored in S3 because the writers either didn't want to deal with it, or they felt that dwelling on it would make the Guy/Robin plotlines too difficult to swallow).

And of course, you already know my opinions on the Guy/Marian ship!

Secondly, there is a Robin/Kate moment that I appreciated in the finale in which Robin says farewell to her. It's not only highly amusing that Kate doesn't say a word during this goodbye (the writer clearly realised that her opening her mouth would spoil the moment), but there is a very clear scene in which Kate puts her hand on Robin's cheek and leans forward, only for him to deliberately turn away and deny her a last kiss. I liked the fact that in his last few minutes of final accountability, he couldn't bring himself to kiss someone that he didn't care for, not even for her own sake. Like you, my main problem with R/K was the Much-factor, but this at least drove the point home that Robin's heart was always with Marian.

But yeah, as you probably gathered from my own review, my main problems with this season wasn't just the characterisation, but the storylines that were dropped (What happened to the Black Knights? Was there ever a point to Allan and Much having a crush on Kate? What was the deal with that book that Isabella hid in the hollow log?), the bizarre "mood whiplash" between kiddie comedy and adult themes, and the total lack of continuity, from Robin suddenly sporting a tattoo, to the flashback episode, to the fact that Will and Djaq were erased from everyone's memories, to Guy contributing "vital" knowledge of the secret tunnel to the outlaws (because goodness knows, breaking into the castle is SO DIFFICULT). Still - there were some good components, and the actors (bless them!) were always putting in 100%, which is why it got two stars instead of one.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 3:38:32 AM PST
Cathy Young says:
Well, I suppose I have more tolerance for "gaps" that the viewer has to fill in. I think the show always had these, and frankly some of the ones in S1/2 bother me a lot more than some of the ones you mention from S3. The biggest of these is the "Guy's illegitimate son" storyline -- we never learn what actually happened there (did Guy actually leave the baby in the woods to die? or did he give it to a servant or guard with instructions to take it to the abbey, and then the servant/guard left it in the woods instead, probably not even realizing it was Guy's own child?), and we never learn whether Marian knows that the baby was Guy's. And really, you'd think that this is something Robin would mention when Marian starts talking about Guy's "qualities." Or: how come, when Allan starts working for Guy and by extension for the Sheriff, no mention is ever made of the fact that the Sheriff hanged Allan's own brother? (You would think that Robin or Will would throw it in Allan's face to rub in how despicable he's become.) Or: If Marian started doing the Nightwatchman thing three years before Robin's return, how come neither Guy nor the Sheriff seem to ever had heard of the NWM prior to Guy's encounter with "him" in 1x05? Because in that episode it's pretty clear that Guy has no prior knowledge of the NWM and considers "him" to be some lowly associate of Robin's. Or: How come Guy never finds out that Marian rode off with Robin (in front of a huge crowd of people!) after the aborted wedding? ... and so on, and so forth.

Oh, and btw, the Black Knights were disbanded; that's actually mentioned in either 3x01 or 3x02. Guy mentions it in one of his confrontations with the Sheriff.

Very good point about the Kate/Robin farewell. Funny story about that: When I was rewatching the finale recently, when Robin bids Kate good-bye and he says, "I hate that I have to leave you ... all of you," I initially misheard "all of you" as "I love you." Cue my eyes slowly popping out of my head. :D Then I rewound it to listen to that bit again, and ... oh. "All of you." It's actually interesting that he says that, as if to immediately stress that his regrets about bidding a last good-bye to Kate are no different than about the rest of the gang. But there was an interesting moment before that as well, in 3x12, when Kate asks Robin to give her some motivation to stay with the gang and fight rather than go back to her mother and sister at a very difficult time for them. She says something like "Tell me you need me more than they do," and Robin just gives her a pained look and says nothing. That spoke volumes to me. Also, a little later when Much told Robin Kate had bolted (after finding the locket), Robin's reaction was pretty casual. Actually Kate could have been a very sympathetic/poignant figure (a young woman in love who knows that she'll never be able to compete with her lover's dead wife) if she hadn't been so unattractive in so many other ways ... but then I suppose that if Kate had been more sympathetic on that score, it would have made Robin look like a real creep!

Anyway, I do agree with you that "how they got there" wasn't always satisfactory, but as I said -- overall, it worked for me. To each their own, of course!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 12:52:02 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 1, 2010 6:30:36 PM PST
R. M. Fisher says:
Yes, there were indeed massive plot holes in the first two seasons as well, though I suppose I'm more forgiving since at that stage the show still had that element of fun and interesting character dynamics. By S3, "fun" had become hang-gliders and half-dead lions, and my two main points of interest (the love triangle and the outlaw camaraderie) had become the Kate-centric love dohecahedron.

Still, I'm sincerely glad for you that the Guy-redemption arc worked for you. I know of a couple of fans who (looking at the alliance from Guy's POV) found it just as difficult to believe Guy would willingly work with Robin than Robin would agree to work with *him*!

Regarding what Kate could have been, have you read "Last Song of the Sirens" by Trixter? It's reasonably short, but it introduces a post-Marian love interest for Robin, who is everything that Kate and her storyline should have been, and wasn't.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 5:10:50 PM PST
Cathy Young says:
By now I've actually run into a couple of Guy fans who found his development after Episode 9 implausible; I'll just say that, having read their fanfic, I can tell that they see a very different, much nastier and less vulnerable Guy than I do throughout the series. I actually think the character is ambiguous enough to allow for multiple valid readings, so I won't say that they're necessarily wrong, just that I don't agree.

Re "Last Song of the Sirens": it's REALLY funny you should mention that, because I just read it the other day and found it very moving. While I know Trixter is not a Guy fan, I quite liked the bit where the PMLI (post-Marian love interest :D) closes Guy's eyes after he is killed and says a quick prayer over him, feeling a certain kinship toward him because of his unrequited love for Marian and hers for Robin.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 6:36:45 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 1, 2010 6:48:43 PM PST
R. M. Fisher says:
Ha, that is funny! I'm sure you've probably seen my review that I posted on the actual story, so I won't repeat it here, but yeah:

Denise >>> Kate, particularly in regards to that little moment of compassion for Guy. (And the fact that she wasn't a blatant Mary Sue!)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 7:03:02 PM PST
Cathy Young says:
Actually I didn't get a chance to read the reviews -- but yeah, though in fairness Guy never killed anyone close to Denise (I think).

Posted on Jan 12, 2010 8:32:31 PM PST
M. Smith says:
(hey this is robin-redneck on BBC and Michele21 on yuku). I have to agree with you on almost all of your review. Only I wouldve given Kate an F, because I saw no reason for her to even be in the show. I feel sorry for the actor because of what she had to work with. And I completely aggree on the underuse of the gang. In season 1 and 2 the members of the gang actually had feelings, and did things other than just stand in the background. Also the way everyone turned on Allan so easily, but trusted Guy still really bugs me. But other than that I think you're pretty spot on.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2010 8:33:32 PM PST
Cathy Young says:
Thanks! :) good to see you here!
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