Wednesday, 29 April 2009

TV Snark - Robin Hood: Lost In Translation OR Neither Bill Murray Or Scarlett Johansson Are In This Episode

Late, late, late. Anyway, here it is, the third episode recap of Robin Hood.

It's a dark and stormy night in Nottingham and The Abbot is racing toward the castle in his primitive Pope-erm Abbot Mobile. The Sheriff has summoned him to aid him in his battle against Robin Hood. The Sheriff has one month to execute Robin or Prince John will kill him (or something, I'm never entirely sure what the deal is between those two, especially as there's a standing order to destroy Nottingham if the Sheriff is killed). The Sheriff blackmails The Abbot into helping by threatening to read from his Necronomicon (okay I'm being melodramatic, maybe it's only a copy of De Vermis Mysteriis or Parchments of Pnom)

The Sheriff starts to talk about finding explosive nuggets and how this book is the most explosive nugget of all. I bring this up because I find the word 'nugget' amusing and also because I think the Sheriff doesn't know the word 'book'. Anyway, the Sheriff's threat is enough to force The Abbot to concede in a shouting match and the Sheriff tells him that he will help him capture Robin.

Next day the Merry Men arrive in Locksley village (why is it always there? What about Worksop?) and find the Sheriff and The Abbot addressing the peasants. Robin and his gang are dubbed "satanic killers" for attempting to rob the local abbey (they totally didn't though!) and The Abbot kind-of-but-doesn't declare them heretics.

Tuck decides that he's going to visit The Abbot later that night and find out why he's turned against the Merry Men. Tuck breaks into the abbey via the (presumably Roman) sewers. It's at this point that he discovers his only point of entry is via a toilet or primitive poop chute. At this point I lose it when I realise that the subtitles have come up with a piece of childish comedy gold.

Which is swiftly followed by this:

As you can no doubt guess there are some comedy poop sound effects at this point. Truly we have reached the zenith of the age of television. I am so glad I started watching these episodes with the subtitles on, it does all the work for me.

Tuck manages to find The Abbot and questions him about the whole heresy accusation thing. The Abbot offers to show him the reason why, but then betrays him to the guards. There's a slightly exciting fight scene (again much better than anything Merlin produced) but Tuck is eventually overwhelmed. Oh well, someone's been captured by the Sheriff again, it must be Saturday.

The Merry Men visit Locksley to hand out stolen goods but Kate's stroppy mother won't take their charity as she fears heresy. Kate hides the Merry Men as the Sheriff conveniently rides into the village at the exact same time. The Sheriff has Tuck in chains and shows him off to the villagers as he shouts at them about catching Robin Hood. He also announces that Tuck will be torn apart on a rack tomorrow. Well, that's a new crappy deathtrap that won't work. Kate then banishes the Merry Men from the village... FOREVER! Or until this storyline is resolved anyway.

The Abbot visits Tuck in gaol and explains why he is helping the Sheriff - he is translating the bible from Latin into English. Tuck is amazed and appalled (probably because it took The Abbot ten years to translate one page of text in two languages he already knows). The Abbot is scared that the Sheriff will burn his book and so doesn't mind sacrificing the Merry Men instead.

Later on, Robin buys some tar and Much tries to chat up Kate but she calls him smelly and dangerous. Well she's right about one thing.

The Sheriff's traditional supervillain execution scene is next and it fails like all the others as Robin arrives and shoots a bunch of guards. The Merry Men dump tar on the Sheriff (for no real reason) and use the rest of the tar to make a wall of fire to seal off their escape. Not that they need to bother as we all know the Hungarian guards won't bother running after them.

That night the Sheriff decides to exhume some bodies in the local graveyard so he can manufacture a holy relic. He needs this so he can... well, so he can produce something that he can claim Robin Hood was trying to steal. The Abbot is horrified by this and threatens to quit but the Sheriff burns a page of The Abbot's translated bible and he soon tows the line.

Tuck and Allan break into the Sheriff's quarters and steal back the bible while the Sheriff delivers a sermon at the abbey to the local peasants (Allan gets captured in the process though.) The Sheriff shows off his fake holy relic as evidence of Robin's intended heresy. Robin Hood decides to gatecrash the sermon and tries to convince The Abbot to admit that Robin isn't a heretic. Unfortunately The Abbot is still a book loving wuss and won't support Robin so Robin is captured along with Much and Little John and sentenced to death by burning. Two deathtraps in one episode, we are truly spoiled!

Tuck tries to blackmail The Abbot into helping free Robin by threatening to burn the bible but the Sheriff suddenly appears to conveniently arrest Tuck (again) so all of the Merry Men can be placed in the deathtrap.

The villagers have turned on the Merry Men and are chanting "burn them!" Ungrateful, fickle, sods. But Kate manages to slip Robin an arrowhead so he can cut his bonds. Robin clumsily drops the arrowhead though and it takes the intervention of The Abbot to save the Merry Men. The Abbot admits that he made up all the charges of heresy and this causes enough distraction for the Merry Men to break their bonds and escape. The Sheriff throws the bible onto the fire in a fit of rage as the Merry Men run off and the guards fail to pursue them. The Abbot gives a customary "Noooooo!" as his book burns.

Don't worry though because The Abbot is safe and sound, SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE. He's translating a new book this time...

NEXT EPISODE: The Actor Kevin Eldon!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

TV Snark - Robin Hood: Cause and Effect OR The Sassy New Merry Woman

Wow, this one's late. If you've been following me on Twitter then you'll know I had a busy time at work last week. I'm back to my usual routine now so let's take a look back at the second episode of series three...

Straight away we're treated to a patented Robin Hood ambush where Robin declares, "...this is an ambush!" I think that has officially become his catchphrase, which is pretty awful really. You can't announce an ambush, it defeats the point of catching someone by surprise, which is the entire purpose of an ambush. Robin goes into a speech and a montage of Robin and the Merry Men robbing various Hungarian extras begins. It ends with Robin conning some Hungarian guardsmen into thinking that his Merry Men number more than four by using a concealed Rube Goldberg device. One of the guards speaks to Robin but his mouth is covered so the crew can dub in a Northern accent afterwards. The guards are scared off by Robin and Much announces, "We're back!"

Later on in Locksley Village, Guy and his men round up the male peasants and put them onto carts. They're to be soldiers. Well it probably beats tending to the mud fields, eating scraps and being robbed by the Sheriff every week. We're introduced to Kate, the feisty new regular character, she tries to save her brother from being taken away but Guy sees through her simple deception and takes the brother away and orders Kate to be flogged. He's such a charmer.

Kate escapes the flogging by kicking one of the hapless guards and running off. Robin grabs Kate and hides her and she meets the Merry Men. Much has a crush on her. So, he's not gay this year then?

Meanwhile at Nottingham Castle, Guy disturbs an Irishman by the name of McMurrough from his sleep. Seems that Guy doesn't get on with him and McMurrough challenges Guy to a first strike duel. There's a bit of sword fighting action (which is far superior to any of Merlin's fight scenes) and McMurrough tricks Guy into getting close and wins. The Sheriff approves of McMurrough's sneakiness.

Robin prepares to ambush the train of slave peasants and is probably thinking of the best time to shout, "This is an ambush!" when Little John does something amazing. He sniffs out trouble. He actually stands at the back of the group and twitches his nose like he's in Watership Down. Apparently Little John developed this superpower between episodes. He doesn't know what the smell is but it's 'trouble'.

Kate shows Robin how to ambush by attacking a guard and not immediately shouting that she's ambushing him. She manages to steal a sword and wield it with some skill; she'd better have a backstory for her sword skills because she seems to be a peasant girl. Marian had an excuse as she was a noble and would have the time and money to learn swordplay, what's Kate's excuse?

Oh yeah, that 'trouble' that John sniffed out? Some Irish dudes who appear and attack the Merry Men. John reacts by shouting "TROUBLE!" Gordon Sinclair gets all the best lines. Robin's men retreat by stepping to the side, they don't even hide, they just stand on the other side of the road. Fortunately the Irish ignore them so the leader can deliver a speech to his new peasant army. Robin is captured with the peasants and in order to disguise himself he puts on a hood over his jacket that ALREADY HAS A HOOD. Plus, it's not a great disguise. What's the first thing you'd expect Robin Hood to wear? A HOOD!

Kate decides to leave the Merry Men to their bickering and we cut to the castle where the villains exposit their plans. The Sheriff is selling his peasants to the McMurrough brothers who will use this mighty army of almost a dozen peasants to conquer Ireland. One of the McMurrough boys is very serious and angry and the other is a care-free drunkard. And they're not stereotypes at all. The Sheriff's plan is somewhat desperate as the brothers are enemies of Prince John but the Sheriff needs the money from his evil scheme to pay off the tax levied on him in the last episode. The Sheriff and Guy have a tiff that leads the Sheriff to throw a dagger at Guy and cry out "I AM THE SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM!" Yes, thank you. We know.

The Merry Men are awed to see Kate break into the castle by joining a queue. They are amazed at her subterfuge. They also seem to have forgotten that they break into the castle every week by simply putting their hoods up. Kate's plan doesn't work too well though as Guy recognises her as soon as she's in the castle.

Guy orders Kate's brother put to death and stipulates that she has to watch. Fearing for her brother's life, Kate informs Guy that Robin Hood has infiltrated the prisoners. Guy has the guards charge the prisoners to capture Robin and a donnybrook breaks out! Unfortunately Guy stabs and kills Kate's brother during the fight. There's some sad music and wailing from Kate and Robin once again vows to make Guy pay, but we know by now that he probably won't. Guy wants to kill Robin now but the Sheriff insists that Robin suffer a slow death even though every week they capture Robin and he escapes from their convoluted deathtraps or execution scenes.

Robin's placed in a prison cell and Sheriff and Guy gloat, blah, blah, blah. The elder McMurrough brother tries to tempt Robin into joining him and becoming the new king of England. Robin, although restrained, attacks the Irishman and insists that the rightful king is Richard. Rebuffed the McMurrough brother leaves and it's revealed that Robin has stolen a rather large Celtic hat pin from him.

The Merry Men decide to rescue Robin but Kate complains that letting the Irish kidnap all the village men will kill all the villages for miles around. What? Like a sudden epidemic? Or does she mean in a civic sense as the women and children leave the area and settle somewhere else? What are the Sheriff's plans for urban renewal? And how does he plan to earn money from his lands without his workforce? I think someone hasn't thought this through... Although Tuck claims that villages are dying all over England so maybe there is a killer virus and the only cure is the hope of Robin Hood.

Meanwhile Robin makes friends with a mouse and the McMurrough brothers argue over whether to break out Robin Hood so he can lead their revolt in Ireland. Eventually Robin breaks his chains after two strikes with a loose building stone (cheap chains, the Sheriff must be short of cash) and Tiernan, the younger McMurrough brother betrays his brother to the Sheriff. The imprisoned McMurrogh brother is placed rather conveniently in the same cell as Robin...

Kate returns home and tells her mum that her brother is dead. Kate's mum fears reprisals from the Sheriff and Kate says that they should stand and fight, Kate's mum slaps her for being a communist.

The Merry Men struggle to come up with a plan to infiltrate the castle (they must have left their hoods at home) but Kate joins up with them to help.

Turns out that they didn't need to bother as Robin and Finn McMurrough escape by making a hole in the wall and climbing out of a drain. There's a bit of 60s Batman as Robin manages to throw and snag a chain around the battlements and scale the side of a tower.

Then Robin and Finn build a parachute/hang glider and jump off the top of the tower. I've left the subtitles in this screencap. I think the words are perfect.

They're FLYING!

Robin escapes and we cut to the Sheriff and his prisoners walking down the COASTAL ROAD. In Nottingham. Hmmm... It's a bit too central to have a coastal road but hey, I didn't know that Nottingham had big cliffs and ravines (as shown in the last episode) so what do I know?

Robin manages to successfully ambush the Sheriff and rescue the peasants by using the Rube Goldberg device from earlier. The arrows fired from the device fly around but fail to hit anybody, including the peasants who seem to be in the field of fire.

Finn catches his back stabbing brother and ties him up for trial back in Ireland. He then gives Robin a big chest of money for his trouble as he decides he doesn't need all of his money to hire an army. Robin and Finn share a manly hug and go their separate ways.

The Sheriff doesn't have the money to pay Prince John so he offers Guy to the Prince's men instead. Guy is to explain why the Sheriff hasn't paid, which is certain death for Guy. Guy yells, "I'll be back... for you." I don't know why he left a pause in that line but it makes it all the more awful.

Kate leaves the Merry Men as she thinks Robin is giving the people false hope. Tuck tells Robin not to worry though, she'll be back when she's good and angry. Robin delivers a speech to the recently freed men and asks them to form a revolt when Robin gives a future signal. Communists.

NEXT WEEK: A spooky abbot! Heresy! Fire! Tuck climbs up a toilet!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

My Hero

Burn Gorman is my hero. Look at his heroic features. Marvel at his ability to stand in front of the camera and gaze into the distance.

Doesn't he do it well?

That's why he's my hero.

I am also jealous of him.

Hmmm... smoldering. He's in the dark and he's mysterious. Or is he?

Here he is in front of that building with the funny writing in Cardiff Bay. He is much like me, a stranger in a strange land. I too know the hidden dangers and terrors of living in Cardiff as a non-Welshman.

You may think this photo is the same as the first, but look closely - he is wearing a hat.

I have written a haiku in his honour.

Burn Gorman is great
Even while wearing a hat
I wish I was him

Note the 5-7-5 syllable structure but lack of mention of a season. I'm sorry, but mere seasons pale in comparison to Burn Gorman's magnificence.

You know who could turn around Robin Hood? Burn Gorman.
You know why Demons was awful? No Burn Gorman.
You know why Torchwood series three will probably be awful? Poor writing, performances, ludicrous stories - oh sorry, no that should be, NO BURN GORMAN!

I love you Burn.

But not in a funny way.