Blightyvision: “Robin Hood” Series 2 and 3

Created by Foz Allan and Dominic Minghella
Starring Jonas Armstrong, Gordon Kennedy and Sam Troughton

After the first series of BBC’s “Robin Hood” (which I reviewed here many moons ago), I sort of fell out of watching it.  It had been a laugh and a bit of a guilty pleasure, but while the characters amused me, I didn’t get as invested in them as I did characters in other shows in my viewing queue.  Also, I’ll admit to being under the impression that it was still running, or at least between series, and figured there would be time enough to play catch-up once the show had ended.

Well, the show had ended, and apparently it had ended rather brutally and controversially — at least amongst the “Robin Hood” fandom, which apparently there is (or was).  So it came time to step up my guilty pleasure to at least something of a priority and see exactly what happened to make this show cut off forever at Series 3 and leave the viewers seemingly gobsmacked.

Series 2 goes completely to formula, and it was a comfortable spot to find myself in again.  Nothing preachy or deep, no attempts to act like anything more than it set out to be, and more anachronisms than you can shake something 21st-century at.  While normally I consider this sort of groove (or occasionally rut) to be a bad thing in a show, for something like this I see no problem.  The characters aren’t dynamic or progressive or particularly dramatic.  They’re fun and you know who they are, and you’re popping in every week to see what’s up and if that crazy Sheriff (Keith Allen once again chowing down on some tasty Nottingham scenery) is gonna get his butt kicked again.  That’s all we signed on for.  I expect nothing more of you, dear show.

But apparently the writers got nervous.  Real nervous.  Maybe people disagreed with me.  Maybe they were worried about the day when the formula would finally dry up.  In my mind, for a show like this, when you’ve nearly used up all your plots and all your jokes it’s time to tie up a nice little tidy ending and put it to bed while it’s still enjoyable.  But Mr. Allan and Mr. Minghella chose another approach: sweep out two major characters completely, yank out two major plot threads, and plug up any remaining holes in the cast to meet quota.  Basically, rather than jumping the shark in another season or two, they waved it over to them and asked very nicely if it could duck down a bit and let them by, please.

I was really, hugely disappointed with Series 3, and I will concede that the people who warned me off it were quite right to do so.  But I’m a completist — and I watched it to the end so I could do a proper review of it.  If I hadn’t planned on writing anything for it … well, I would have dropped it after maybe two episodes of the final series.

It’s a pity, and an unfortunate ending to what had up ’til then been a fun afternoon’s amusement.  I would much sooner have seen a simple, open-ended finish to a show that never seemed to be leading up to a specific narrow end point.  And while the last five minutes of the last episode were very prettily done, it felt like a bit much to have to watch the deconstruction of the show for eight episodes leading up to it.  Sorry, “Robin Hood” … I had a soft spot for you, but I fell out of love.

The complete series of “Robin Hood” is available in a DVD box set from Amazon.  It really is horribly tempting to just wreck the ending now so you lose any desire to watch the whole thing, but as much as I’d love to save you those extra hours, it’s not good ‘netiquette.

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  1. Written by Gazhack
    on 2011-07-27 at 11:08

    Pithy little overview. I’m afraid I just couldn’t get into this latest version of Robin Hood. I suspect that’s mainly because the eighties version is too embedded in my psyche. But this band of outlaws seemed a pale bunch and the there didn’t seem to be much fun. Maybe the next generation’s version will be better?

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