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A New Robin Hood for a New Generation
on 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