tek's rating: ½

Robin Hood, BBC One (British)
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Caution: Spoilers!

Well. It begins with Robin of Locksley returning home to England after some years away, fighting in the Crusades. Accompanying him is his manservant, Much, to whom Robin has promised his freedom and some land. However, Robin and Much obviously weren't the only ones away; while King Richard is fighting in the Holy Land, Prince John has been ruling the country in somewhat less honorable a fashion, I suppose. Though we don't see him in this series until season 3. Robin had a friend in Edward, the former Sheriff of Nottingham, but he's no longer in power. The new Sheriff, Vasey, given his position by Prince John, is a ruthless man who enjoys abusing his power, and the people have suffered under him, and his henchman, Sir Guy of Gisborne.

So of course, Robin does what he can to help people, which means opposing the Sheriff, which of course makes him an outlaw. So he's stripped of his land and title, and Locksley is given to Sir Guy, whose own land, I guess... well, I'm not sure what happened to it, but he hasn't got it anymore, if he ever had any to begin with. However, Locksley isn't the only thing he desires. He also wants to win the love of Marian (who we like), the daughter of the former Sheriff. She doesn't like him, but she does have to put up with Guy, and with the new Sheriff, for appearance's sake. In truth, she has spent the past few years secretly helping the poor, disguised as a hero called the Night Watchman. Anyway, she and Robin clearly have a past potential romantic history, but she pretty much gave up waiting for him during his years of absence. Now that he's back, her feelings seem mixed. He's the new hero of the people, so I suppose she's a bit... not so much jealous as resentful that it's almost like her own efforts as a hero are beginning to be overlooked. Not that she has any intention of ceasing her efforts, despite the danger of discovery. Aside from that, she also doesn't seem to like various aspects of Robin's attitude or methods much. But they clearly still have feelings for each other, and they're both on the same side, even if they don't exactly work together, much.

Anyway, now that he's an outlaw, Robin lives in Sherwood Forest, with a band of outlaws including Much (who, in spite of his freedom, still acts as if Robin is his master, though he will sometimes resent Robin treating him that way), as well as Little John (who already had his own band of outlaws), Will Scarlett (something of an inventor), Allan A Dale (who is often being funny), and maybe some others, who we don't really get to know. There's a guy named Roy, though he doesn't last long. And in episode 5, a Saracen woman (who we kinda like) called Djaq (an assumed name, as she's pretending to be a man) was among a group of slaves to be sold to the Sheriff, though Robin helped them escape, and she joined his group. Eventually she stopped pretending to be a man, but she still goes by "Djaq."

Well, what else can I say? The basic plot is pretty simple: Robin and his outlaws make trouble for the Sheriff and Sir Guy, while always waiting for King Richard to return, which would make everything better. Of course, Robin could kill Sheriff Vasey, but if he did so, Prince John would have Nottingham razed, so that's not really an option. And at the end of the first season, Marian appears to die, but actually does not. And then, Marian is nearly forced to marry Guy, to protect her father. But... that doesn't happen.

In season 2, Edward is kept in the castle dungeon, and Marian will be mostly confined to the castle, though she still sometimes provides information to Robin. Meanwhile, the Sheriff and Guy are involved in a group called the "Black Knights," who are plotting to kill King Richard. That'll be a running theme throughout the season. Also, Allan eventually is forced to become a spy for Guy, and when he's finally found out, he's forced out of the gang. So, he starts working for Guy, though he still tries to help his former friends in whatever little ways he can, even though they hate him now. And there are some things he'd never do, such as reveal the location of Robin's camp. Edward eventually dies, and Marian leaves the castle to join Robin's gang. The two of them get engaged, but then she's taken back to the castle. Meanwhile, the gang finally manages to send a message of warning to King Richard. Eventually, Guy learns that Marian was the Night Watchman, which hurts him, but doesn't really stop his feelings for her. Finally, the Sheriff and Guy head for the Holy Land, to kill Richard there, rather than waiting for him to return to England. They take Marian along. While Robin and his gang are surrounded by mercenaries, they make confessions to one another, one of them being that Djaq and Will love each other. Allan returns to rescue the gang, which he then rejoins. They all head to the Holy Land to save the king. Which they do, but not without some loss. Djaq and Will decide to stay in the Holy Land together while the others return to England... except for Marian, who is killed by Guy when she finally confesses her love for Robin to him. (But... she doesn't die until after she and Robin exchange wedding vows.)

It's a shame, not just that she had to die, but about Guy... he was always a villain, of course, but Marian always saw some good in him. And so did I. He definitely had his share of more virtuous moments, and I always felt a bit bad for him, knowing he could never have Marian. And I felt kind of bad for Marian, too, since she had to feel bad about letting him believe there was a chance, when she knew there wasn't. And under other circumstances, hell, maybe there would have been a chance. But now... any trace of good seems to be gone.

At the start of season 3, Robin was ready to give up on his friends and his heroic persona, after Marian's death. But he was turned around by a certain monk by the name of Tuck. About time they got around to introducing him. He doesn't look anything like you'd expect, but his personality is reasonably familiar, I'd say, and this was a good way to introduce him. Anyway, he joins the gang, which is good, since there are fewer members at the moment. Robin, Much, John, Allan, and now Tuck. Meanwhile, Guy is struggling with guilt or whatever, and the Sheriff is no longer particularly in the good graces of Prince John. Eventually, John shows up in Nottingham. He seems unable to understand how the commoners fail to love him, in spite of his cruelty. And of course, he wants to become King. Meanwhile, he sets the Sheriff and Guy to try to kill each other. Finally it seems Guy wins, and is made Sheriff himself for about a minute. But also this season, we meet Guy's sister, Isabella (who we kinda like). She hates Guy for having sold her to a husband she hated, years ago. Now she's escaped from him, and starts a relationship with Robin. But eventually she proves to be... not exactly right for him, let's say. And she doesn't take it well. She eventually becomes the new Sheriff of Nottingham. Meanwhile, there's another new addition to the cast, a woman named Kate, whose brother was killed by... eh, Vasey I think. I forget. Anyway, she joins Robin's gang, and Much has feelings for her, but she likes Robin. She's jealous of Isabella for awhile. I dunno, I didn't really care for Kate, and certainly didn't think she should be with Robin. Especially so soon after Marian's death. But whatever.

Um, anyway. Once Isabella is in power, Guy is set to be executed. But he eventually escapes, becomes a fugitive. Then one day, he and Robin are fighting, when a stranger shows up, who tells them a story of their past, when the two were childhood friends. So we get to see flashbacks about their parents. And finally Robin and Guy learn they share a half-brother named Archer. Who they have to go rescue from his own predicament, in York. And Guy joins Robin's gang, though of course no one trusts him, at first. (It's funny, at the end of season 2, I thought he was beyond redemption, but I guess I was wrong. This whole thing kind of reminds me of Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender.) Anyway, the series ends in a 2-parter where first the gang manage to capture Nottingham and lock up Isabella, but then they find themselves surrounded by an army led by... well, I won't spoil it, even though it was totally predictable. But in the end, of course, the good guys win, though not without some tragic losses. And... well, the battle's not over, because Richard still hasn't returned, and John is still in control of England. But whatever. The series is over, so... I'm done caring about this incarnation of the Robin Hood story. Nice end, though. And it was nice to see Marian again, sort of.

Anyway... it's a reasonably entertaining show, which I suppose does a fair job of blending the traditional Robin Hood legend with a modern sensibility. Much is rather an amusing character, I guess. The best parts of the show tend to be the little occasional impromptu chats between Robin and Sheriff Vasey. Or really, the Sheriff and anyone. He really is a great villain, and I enjoy the fact that he even has his occasional victories. For the most part, I considered season one fairly light fare, though of course it had its more serious moments. Season two was darker, though it still had its share of humor. And the plot really gets thicker, more substantive. I definitely felt the quality and continuity improved. Season three... on the whole, I think I liked it the least of the seasons, but it definitely had some things I really enjoyed, especially the finale.


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