Tv review: Robin Hood | The South Bank Show
Robin Hood, BBC1, Saturday The South Bank Show, STV,
BETTER isn't always an improvement. Robin Hood, which began as a Saturday teatime stand-in for when Doctor Who was on his holidays, was utterly silly but sort of entertaining, with its TopShop costumes, slangy dialogue and repetitive storylines. There was some fun to be had in wondering just what anachronism would turn up in Sherwood Forest next – there were cowboy hats, masked superheroes, a medieval casino and female Saracen ninjas in leotards (honestly).
The show didn't seem to know how daft it was, though, as it kept trying to shoehorn in supposedly relevant contemporary parallels, like Robin having post-traumatic stress disorder after the Crusades. Half the cast thought they were in a serious drama, half thought they were in panto. It was a mess, really (though still better than ITV's equivalents, Primeval and Demons).
But now, midway through its third series, the quality has definitely gone up. The Merry Men (and Women) are somewhat depleted, last series' finale having dumped some and killed off Maid Marian. A touch of class has been added with David Harewood as a very debonair Tuck (no fat friar, he) and some of the cheesy touches have been dropped, like the location captions being shot on to the screen as arrows.
So now, instead of being amusingly bad, it's just boringly bad. The plots are still piffle and Jonas Armstrong's Robin is still hopelessly miscast, gurning and squinting from under his annoying floppy haircut, so the efforts to take the show upmarket only make it less fun.
In this episode, Guy of Gisbourne, who killed Marian, returned from a shopping trip, having restocked his supply of black eyeliner and brought back a big secret weapon to kill Robin: a box with a lion in it. A rather mangy lion, actually, which tottered forward on spindly legs and roared half-heartedly (much like Keith Allen's Sheriff of Nottingham). The outlaws defeated it by throwing ye olde mustard powder in its face and running away – well, you can't kill an animal on a kids' show, can you?
Gisbourne is played by Richard Armitage, whose role in the series is to smoulder constantly and cause everyone over 30 to continually bemoan why he wasn't cast in the lead. His character's sister turned up, who will basically be the new Marian, yet unfortunately there was rather more chemistry between her and Guy than with Robin. Oops.
I was more amused by Denise Black's guest turn as proprietor of a travelling wrestling show: "Bertha of Bath – famous from Huddersfield to Hambleton." There were shenanigans involving a fixed fight and Little John, but luckily a plucky tyke saved the day, before being dropped off at an orphanage. Or, as the caption called it, an "orphanage, near Locksley". Bad, but not quite bad enough.
William Goldman would have known how to make Robin Hood work – he wrote The Princess Bride, the much-loved film that both parodied and embraced the swashbuckling romance. It didn't come up in his South Bank Show interview, but then he has written a fair few other films too.
Memorable anecdotes from his long career included the story of how Steve McQueen was dropped from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid over a dispute about who should be billed first in the credits. Goldman's witty and candid observations made this an excellent insight into Hollywood.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west