11 October 2006

Robin Hood: okay, it's not that bad

Further to my earlier post:
Robin Hood says, "social inclusion, innit?"

Having watched the first episode of the BBC’s new series Robin Hood, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s actually quite good fun - though at times it seems a little too funny, sort of like panto.

It’s certainly great to look at. The production has a sexy feel, with the women done up attractively - though somewhat anachronistically - as babes. The sets look good, with the town of Nottingham in particular very realistic. Jonas Armstrong makes an appealing 'new man' kind of Robin, though he’s perhaps too puckish to make an entirely convincing rebel aristocrat slash champion fighter. Even the sometimes irritating and awkwardly cast Keith Allen has been found a role which suits him, as the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.

The romanticism has not been stripped too much from the story. There is a touch of Lord of the Rings about the production, and indeed occasional visual references to the Peter Jackson movies.
So it doesn’t suffer from the dourness of many recent BBC historical dramas. But I wonder whether it isn’t a bit superficial, even by the standard of past Robin Hood TV series. It reminds me of the current Doctor Who. In the sense that it’s fun, appealingly frothy, and fairly watchable, but afterwards you feel slightly empty and kind of cheated. Not that the old Doctor Whos or Robin Hoods were that great, but somehow they didn’t leave one with the feeling that part of one’s brain had been highly stimulated while one’s heart had been left cold.

Robin Hood does seem a bit proletarianised. Most of the characters speak 'working class', including aristocrat Robin. Maybe that’s historically more correct - though how on earth would anyone know what accent most people spoke with in 1192? But why bother trying to be accurate with accents if you’re going to let characters use anachronisms like “purlease” (Little John to Robin)?

Bottom line: well worth watching while you eat your dinner.

By the way, from next year you will be able to take a Master's Degree devoted exclusively to the subject of Robin, courtesy of the University of Nottingham. (BBC News) Happy studying!