I mentally laboured on how to begin this review. After all, how do you begin a post on something this… big.
Ever since I began watching it about three months ago, BBC’s Robin Hood has become my favourite British television show to date, even topping the wonderful and illustrious Lark Rise to Candleford. It was not without some hesitation I went into it, however, for though I’d heard tale of its magnificence, I had also been warned of absolute cheese and predictability. But as I quickly discovered the utter delight and all-around epic factor of this show, I pardoned the cheesiness and gleefully watched all three seasons.
Robin of Locksley returns home from the Crusades in the Holy Land with his faithful servant and friend, Much, only to discover England is being tyrannized by the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham and his minion, Guy of Gisborne. After being declared an outlaw, Robin, Much, and a gang of new comrades retreat to Sherwood Forest, where they resolve to fight against this injustice and bring liberty to England. Thus, the legend of Robin Hood is born.
From some cheap costuming and less-than-impressive special effects, it is obvious Robin Hood was a lower-budget production, but the makers definitely made up for it with their side-splitting humour, intriguing plotlines, and the high sense of adventure which pervades every episode. Although some sequences could only be described as “cheesy,” the acting was never lacking (bad acting is a colossal pet peeve of mine). Robin Hood is an addicting, action-packed medieval adventure, with a splash of modern and a heap of fun.
As you would expect, all three seasons come packed with a variety of characters, all of them being incredibly complex and interesting to study. I disliked Robin himself at first, but he managed to grow on me with every episode. And to the disbelief of my friends, I liked him the best in Season Three. I think it was because by that time, I had seen every side of him; I knew exactly how his mind worked and why he did what he did. I understood him (although his season three hairstyle and I did not get along). Much is the epitome of hilarious perfection; that’s all I’m saying. I never could get fully endeared to Marian. Of course she had her good points, but she was way too self-righteous, with a huge condescending streak thrown in there. But hey, the girl also wore daggers in her hair and was Robin’s true love (you cannot have Robin Hood without Marian; it’s like having me without coffee), so she’s all right with me. The Sheriff of Nottingham was pure genius. He was the perfect balance of wicked and humorous. (“A clue: no.”) I loved to hate him. And Guy of Gisborne… well, I despised the man all the way up until the last four episodes of season three. *and all the Richard Armitage fans come at Petie with swords drawn* I stand my ground! He was cruel and manipulative and selfish and horrible, and I was almost mad at myself for starting to like him. I loved Little John. He was just a giant teddy bear, and he should have been the gang’s official hugger. You know, if anyone was depressed, Little John could have gone and hugged them and made it all better. Allan A Dale; I’m not being funny, but there is an interesting character. I loved him in the first season, abhorred him in the second, and adored him in the third. Allan rises, falls, and rises again throughout the show, but he eventually made my all-time favourite Robin Hood characters list.
Oh, and speaking of that all-time favourites list, do you want to know exactly who my all-time favourite characters are? Of course you do. The answer to that question is childishly simple: Will Scarlett and Djaq. Obviously, I like them individually, but together they are simply the best. Will I liked right off. My only complaint is that the show didn’t focus on him enough. He’s the quiet sort, only speaks when he has something of value to say, but sometimes you can just see the passion and fire for justice burning in his eyes. He is loyal, brave, plain ol’ smart, and hey, he can chisel through doors and cut through hinges and make keys just like that. And his skill with that axe of his should not be underestimated. I actually liked how they included that bit at the end of Season One where he and Allan almost desert the gang, because it proved he wasn’t flawless (really, flawless heroes are boring). But even though he does make mistakes, in the end Will Scarlett always does the right thing. *insert inspiring background music* Basically, he is strong and true and he fights for what he believes in and that is why I love him… oh, wait. I think I’ve heard those exact same words before… *wink wink* Enter Djaq. I love this little tiny Saracen girl. She’s amazing at being a strong fighter, but such a soft little woman at the same time. (“Pepper! OUCH!”) It was darling to see her develop from being a tough girl who tries to hide her weaknesses to a confident woman who isn’t afraid to express her feelings. As Season Two progresses, the real Djaq begins to unfold. After episode eight in Season One, I was pretty much idiot-grinning whenever she and Will were within a three-mile proximity of each other. They were just so. stinkin’. cute. (the ending of episode five season two, anyone?)
So. Now that you know how crazy I am over these two people, you can imagine my despair at the Season Two finale.
just look at their faces! aren’t they adorable?
Season Three was certainly my least favourite, my top favourite easily being Season Two (for reasons that can mostly be explained by the words Will and Djaq). I expected to dislike Season Three, but I actually didn’t. True, after that horrendous Season Two finale, there was this big void in Season Three and it could never be as good as the first two seasons, but they still made a decent job of it. By spinning a few plot twists and introducing new characters such as the prodigious Brother Tuck and Prince John the Hysterical, they managed to save it from being completely bad. But seriously, they could not have made me cry harder with how they ended that thing. That scene between Robin and Much… Whew. Season One, of course, will always be special since it is, after all, the first season, the one that got me hooked on the whole show. It lays the foundation for all the characters, and I would never want to imagine Robin Hood without that eighth episode (“I think I love her…”). Season Two was my favourite because we got to know the characters even better, it was the funniest and most clever season, and several people’s relationships (!!!!) were deepened and fleshed out. It also seemed to have more diverse plotlines, rather than simply someone getting captured and the gang breaking them out. And episode twelve was just gold, for more reasons than one. Once I finished episode twelve of Season Two, I felt like I deeply and thoroughly knew each and every person in the gang.
Perhaps you have shared a similar experience, but after watching three whole seasons of this show, cheering for the gang and crying at their losses, I somehow felt as if I had traveled with them, fought their battles, and felt their individual and corporate griefs. The season two and season three finales, which both include monumental, emotionally-traumatizing elements, left me feeling as though I had personally been affected (the fact that I was forced to use makeup remover and cotton balls to erase all the mascara plastered on my cheeks is testament to the depth of my emotions). Now, some of you out there are probably thinking this is the most pathetic thing you’ve ever heard, but to me, that proves this show was well-done and the characters are human and relatable. They were incredibly real characters, and I was wholly drawn into their stories.
Yes, this show ripped me apart at times and I often had to seek friends for therapy and a caps-lock-only debriefing via email (my heartiest thanks to my dear Jess, AnnaKate, and Mal for their forbearance with my wailings), but it was so worth it. If I had never watched Robin Hood, I would have missed out on so much adventure, hilarity, excitement, and some pretty amazing characters. I never would have known the man behind the legend. And Much would never have provided me with so many one-liners and impressed upon me the importance of knowing the real meaning of honey. Oh, and I never would have met the amazing Will Scarlet and watched him fall in love with the adorable Djaq. The end.
We are Robin Hood. Now and forever.
(content advisory: Season One is very clean, with the exception of a totally ridiculous and unnecessary scene in the first episode involving Robin and a peasant girl. Throughout the series, Guy of Gisborne makes some aggressive advances on Marian, but she always refuses him. Season Two is also pretty clean, excepting the latter half of episode eleven when we meet Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is rather crude toward Little John. Season Three requires a bit of caution. One character, Isabella, is not afraid to use her femininity to get her way. There is a lengthy scene we skipped in episode eleven involving two characters we hadn’t met before. There is also some mild language in Season Three.)