Monday, 30 March 2009

TV Snark - Robin Hood: Total Eclipse OR The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

Robin Hood is back - hooray!

Yes, season three of Robin Hood has begun and now so have my recaps. So join me in dissecting this amazing piece of television.

By amazing I do of course mean awful.

The show begins with no recap of the previous season's events whatsoever. This is a problem as Robin Hood hasn't been on the BBC since January 2008. This episode carries over a lot of baggage from the season two finale so if you didn't see it or can't remember what happened, then there's no help from the show. Thanks guys.

Luckily I was stupid enough to recap that very episode here. Basically the Sheriff and Guy travelled to the Holy Land to assassinate King Richard. The scheme was foiled by Robin Hood and co, but along the way Marian was killed by Guy of Gisbourne and Will Scarlet and Djaq decided to stay in the Holy Land together.

Knowledge of the previous series is quite important in understanding why Robin is running around like a stroppy teenager at the start of the episode. Why the show decided that you didn't need to know all of this before embarking on this episode, I'll never know.

The episode begins with a boat pulling up to shore. A large man disembarks, picks up some beach pebbles and states, "England." Thanks for telling us mysterious stranger.

We then cut to Robin and his small band of Merry Men charging through the forest. Robin is trying to run away from his gang but they won't leave him alone. It seems that he's intent on REVENGE! Robin hits Little John, calls Alan-a-Dale a traitor (to be fair Alan did side with the Sheriff last season, and tried to set fire to Robin while he was hiding up a tree) and calls Much a leech. The Not Very Merry Men let Robin run off to kill Guy of Gisbourne.

At this point I started to wonder about Robin's appearance. He's looking a lot scruffier in this episode than he ever has before. He's not even wearing his hoody top (although he does have a green hood under his leather). Also Robin seems to have lost some hair since his adventure in the Holy Land.

That looks like a comb forward in an effort to hide a receding hair line. As someone who is also gradually losing his hair, I offer my sincerest condolences to Jonas Armstrong and his haircut. Still, it does give Robin a more naturalistic medieval hairstyle than Alan-a-Dale's highlighted 'do.

Robin wanders into a village and almost shoots a small girl who makes the mistake of stepping out of her front door. Robin decides not to ruin his reputation by shooting a small child and instead fires an arrow into Guy's bedroom. The arrow lands in the headboard of Guy's bed and Robin cries, "Gisbuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrnnnnnnnn!" which wakes up Guy. Guy's response? He says, "He has come" to himself. Hahahaha.

Guy has apparently stopped washing his hair and let it grow wild (I'm obsessed with hair today, what's wrong with me?) and taken to sleeping on top of his bed in his clothes. He's so depressed that he's not even wearing his usual eyeliner. He probably has some poetry about his feelings that he'd like to read to you after the show.

Guy charges at Robin. Robin charges at Guy. "Grrrr!" says Robin. "Graaar!" says Guy. Some Hungarian extras get involved (I love those guys, they play the guards and don't ever talk, or react to anything, or act in any way at all. They're fantastic) but Robin makes quick work of them. Guy uses the Hungarian extras as a distraction so he can kidnap the small girl from earlier and take her to the conveniently placed cliff next door to the village. Guy threatens to throw the girl off the cliff but Robin manages to convince Guy to release her to her parents. So much for that plan Guy, you gave up your hostage for no benefit. No wonder you're one of the worst TV villains ever.

Robin and Guy exposit and emote at each other about Marian's death and they go back to the finely tuned dialogue of "Grrr!" and "Graaar!" Robin bangs his head on a rock so Guy uses the opportunity to pick Guy up over his head and throw him off one of Nottingham's famous cliffs(?) like a poor man's Ultimate Warrior. At this point Guy gives a triumphant cry of "Aaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwrrrrrrrrrrr!" This is a more positive and triumphant version of the traditional doom laden "Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!" so I award this show extra style points for trying to avoid cliche and aim for the ridiculous instead. Take a look at Guy's triumphant face.

Much attempts to avenge Robin but manages to get punched out by an exhausted Guy. That Much, he's the useless one. Alan helpfully points out that Much has just been captured. Thanks Alan but WE JUST SAW IT HAPPEN!

Meanwhile the Sheriff of Nottingham receives a guest. It's Prince John's messenger from last season who looks and acts like Boycie from Only Fools and Horses! The Sheriff is ordered to pay a penalty tax for failing to kill King Richard. Oh yeah, Boycie adds that the Sheriff should also get around to killing off Robin Hood. Guy arrives and announces that he has done the deed but doesn't have any proof other than Robin's outlaw medallion. Guy is sent off to find the body...

The mysterious stranger from the beginning of the episode fishes Robin's unconscious body out of the river and takes him to his humble cave. He then tries to treat Robin by rubbing him vigorously and shouting, "Come on!" It just looks wrong.

Guy happens to wander into the same area as Brother Tuck's (for it is he, I can't be bothered typing mysterious stranger anymore) cave but Tuck distracts him by being helpful and priestly.

Tuck heads back to his lair and this episode begins to turn into Misery. Tuck notices that Robin has awoken and decides to reset Robin's dislocated shoulder without warning. He then tells Robin that he didn't want to fix it "...until he was on the mend." What? Just five minutes after being fished out of the water, after an almost fatal plunge, is enough to be "on the mend"? Robin wants to leave so Tuck punches him out. Yep, he's becoming Kathy Bates.

Back at Nottingham Castle the Prince's messenger uses the word 'spondulics'. I'm pretty sure that wasn't a word in common use in medieval England. Hell, it's not even a word in common use in 21st century England. Anyway Fake Boycie mentions that Robin probably has a stash of money (FACT - Robin had loads of money in a secret hidden stash last series) and the Sheriff should probably find it so he can pay Prince John's new tax.

Back in the cave of Misery, Tuck has tied Robin to a rock and prepared some kind of soup for him to eat. Robin refuses at first but eventually gives in to his priestly stalker. Tuck explains that he has returned to England to seek out Robin so he can help to revitalise the people of England. Robin doesn't care anymore though, he'd prefer to stay dead to everyone.

Back in the castle dungeons the Sheriff decides to torture Much. As usual the show can't decide between light and dark in tone and almost shows Much being branded by the Sheriff. Then we cut to Little John and Alan trying to figure out how to break into the castle and free Much. Here's a suggestion, put your hoods up guys! It has worked in every other episode! Much conveniently drives past the two of them in a prison cart so they follow him into the forest.

Robin tries to escape from his number one fan again but is stopped by some nameless soldiers who happened to be in the area. There's a brief sword fight and Tuck convinces Robin not to murder a young soldier. Is this show for kids or what?

Much continues to cheek the Sheriff as he fails to reveal where the stash is. The Sheriff is about to have Much buried alive but John and Alan turn up and rescue him.

Guy raids a village as he demands the peasants' money and valuables. Tuck tries to convince Robin to intervene but Robin is still feeling sorry for himself and doesn't want to. Waaa, waaa. That's all this show needs, more excuses for Robin to moan and mope about. Tuck tries to convince Robin to reform the band but Robin won't because of the horrible things he said to them at the beginning of the episode.

Tuck visits Guy and tells him where the remaining outlaws will be (at Dead Man's Crossing apparently; I think it's next to Pirate Cove). Meanwhile the Merry Men hold a funeral for Robin but it's interrupted by Tuck who tells them that Robin is alive. He invites them to meet up with Robin at Dead Man's Crossing. Ooooh, subterfuge.

Unsurprisingly the Merry Men are captured by Guy when they arrive at Dead Man's Crossing. This of course means that the episode has gone back to formula as Robin now has to save his friends from being executed by the Sheriff. For a change. Robin grudgingly rediscovers his passion for being a famous outlaw and decides to rescue his men with the help of Tuck.

The Merry Men are restrained in front of a multicoloured board and are sentenced to death by ballista. That's pretty funny actually. Unfortunately it's stupid too as the Merry Men can still move around and proceed to step out of the way when the ballista is fired. The Sheriff thinks it's great entertainment, everyone else is too afraid to tell him that it's a pretty stupid method of killing three slightly restrained men.

Tuck arrives and distracts the Sheriff by ranting and raving. The sky turns dark due to an eclipse and Tuck says, "Soon the skies will turn dark..." THEY ALREADY HAVE DONE! He's also holding ye olde medieval flare.

The peasants begin to panic and flee at the sight of the eclipse whereas Guy and the Sheriff think it's one of Robin Hood's tricks. Yes, they're so afraid of the man, they now think he has the power to snuff out the Sun. The Sheriff decides to shoot the Merry Men himself but is shocked when his ballista hits nothing, and discovers the Merry Men have escaped in the confusion. Robin appears as the eclipse ends (the eclipse lasts all of ten seconds) and delivers a patriotic speech. Robin attempts to kill Guy but discovers that Guy has a death wish so he lets him live instead. Robin and Tuck throw money to the poor and escape from the castle.

Later on Tuck joins the Merry Men in their forest lair and he becomes an official member of the gang. You see, stalking and betrayal does have its rewards! Robin apologises to his friends and they all have ice cream.

NEXT EPISODE: The Irish! A new girl! Arrows!


Chris said...

Huzzah! Quality snarkage, makes me want to watch the episode again.

You avoiding making any puns about Tuck kissing Robin's ring while he was asleep too. Well done.

Aaron said...

Well there are levels that even I won't stoop to (unless I'm having a creatively bankrupt day).
I'm wondering if I should change the format a little bit and turn it into a commentary track like I did for the Merlin Children In Need Special? That was fun and slightly easier to do. Of course it would mean that you lot would have to sit and watch the episode with blog commentary in hand, which is something no right thinking person would probably want to do.

Jim said...

I caught the end of the episode and thought I'd sit through it to see if it had improved at all.

Erm... no.