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!

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