Monday, 18 May 2009

TV Snark - Robin Hood: Do You Love Me? OR The Madness of Prince John

This episode is a vast improvement on the previous efforts. Why? Because Prince John is awesome.

The episode begins with a shot of Guy (for the ladies) in bed. I immediately notice that Guy has adopted a strange sleeping position, almost as if he's gently sobbed himself to sleep or he's nodded off while writing in his journal about his feelings. Guy's sleep is rudely interrupted by a small group of ever-silent Hungarian guards who drag him out of bed and into Prince John's tent. Prince John looks a lot like Rik Mayall (he's actually played by Toby Stephens).

The Prince asks Guy if he loves him and there's an air of slight sexual tension as Guy professes his love for the prince. The prince goes on to explain that his father told him to surround him with loyal subjects, those who love him being the most loyal. The prince uses his warped logic to determine that, as the Sheriff has not killed Robin Hood, he doesn't love him so he commands Guy to remove him from office, permanently. Then they almost kiss.

The next day, the Merry Men are chased around the forest by Prince John's men. The Merry Men regroup and exposit the political situation in England (Prince John is bribing lords to rally to his cause in order to seize the throne from the absent Richard the Lionheart) and decide to relieve Prince John of his bribe money. They're going to recruit some peasants to help. This can't end well.

The Sheriff offers a truce to Guy in order to work together against Prince John. Guy attempts to stab the Sheriff a couple of times during the conversation but the Sheriff always turns around at the last minute before Guy can stab him in the back. Don't you just hate it when that happens? I don't know why Guy just doesn't stab him in the face while they're both alone, I mean it doesn't matter where the dagger is thrust, people are still going to know the Sheriff was stabbed to death. Who's going to investigate the murder afterwards? Oh, that's right, the new Sheriff - Guy. He can pretty much frame whoever he wants for it or cover up the whole thing. Stupid Guy. Anyway, Isabella finally interrupts the game of cat and stab when she wanders into the corridor so Guy decides to forgo the stabbing.

The Merry Men round up some peasants and attack Prince John's carriage. They manage to overwhelm the guards but Kate rather carelessly gets stabbed by a mysterious flying dagger and no-one notices. She's left to lie on the ground in silent agony whilst the Merry Men discover that Prince John isn't in the carriage, but rather his physician is in there instead acting as a body double. Also there's no cash. So it's another successful Robin Hood ambush.

Eventually Much finds Kate slumped in the road. Luckily for the Merry Men the Prince's double is a physician (Benjamin Palmer) and manages to remove the knife from Kate and prevent her bleeding to death. Ben goes on to explain that he's a decent chap but has to serve Prince John or he'll probably be executed. He then offers a story about Prince John's attempt to cure scrofula by his divine monarch touch. It's said that only a king can cure scrofula and Prince John wants to perform the deed and legitimise his claim to the throne. The Merry Men release Ben so he can return to the prince.

The prince arrives at Nottingham Castle and greets the Sheriff by stating, "Oh, you're still alive." Not subtle, but funny. The prince reiterates to Guy that he wants the Sheriff dead.

Of course, the prince visits the Sheriff later on and tells him to murder Guy. But Guy sees their meeting as he was lying in wait to murder the Sheriff. Guy looks disappointed but still seems committed to murdering the Sheriff.

During the evening meal Guy has a page taste his food in case the Sheriff tries to poison him (which the Sheriff is totally trying to do) but this little subplot goes nowhere as we never find out if Guy ate a poisoned prune. The scene ends when the prince has Ben arrested after Ben tells him that Robin Hood called the prince a coward. The charge is 'impersonating the Prince Regent'. That's funny, BUT DOES GUY EAT POISON? We will never know.

Prince John and his retinue visit Locksley Village where there is a wedding in full swing. The Prince loves weddings and gives the wedding his royal blessing. The prince also indulges in some flirting with Isabella (who plays up to his vanity, JUST LIKE MARIAN SHOULD'VE DONE AT THE START OF THIS SHOW). After giving the blessing the prince waves the peasants off into the church and then becomes more evil than the Sheriff ever was, "Wait until they're all inside the church and then burn it to the ground." Well, that'll teach them I suppose. Although again the characters in Robin Hood fail to grasp the economics of the period; if everyone in the village is dead, who will work the fields?

The peasants manage to escape the burning church because the Hungarian guards block the door with a small broom. Prince John asks God to forgive them for their disloyalty, that's some good comedy hypocrisy. The prince is unimpressed with the peasants attempts to put out the fire so he orders the guards to continue feeding the burning church. Isabella asks him to be benevolent in order to win the peasants' hearts but the prince claims he is being benevolent. This is what the show needed, an over the top villain who is clearly mad. It fits in with the show's tone and the dynamic between the villainous characters is already much more interesting.

Guy and the Sheriff try and kill each other during the fire; Guy attempts to collapse a building on the Sheriff but misses, and the Sheriff tries to shoot Guy with an arrow but accidentally saves his life instead. The Tom and Jerry fight continues...

The prince is bored of the burning church so he leaves, Isabella stays behind to help the peasants and the Merry Men turn up to kill off the Hungarian guards. There's a lot of shots of the burning church, which means that the director is a pyromaniac or the BBC are proud of the special effects and want to get their money's worth.

Robin and Isabella flirt some more and Robin robs her again. She'll have no jewellery left by season's end. Robin clues Isabella in on his plan to rob and humiliate the prince and then they snog. Marian who?

Isabella visits the Merry Men's hideout which causes Tuck to break out in shouting. He turns into Brian Blessed and beings SHOUTING EVERY LINE! The Merry Men decide to use physician Ben to help them infiltrate the castle and present Kate as a fake scrofula sufferer.

Isabella returns to court and feeds Prince John's ego by describing a fight between her and the Merry Men which ends with her shouting, "Long live Prince John!" the prince thinks she's adorable. Isabella convinces the prince to attempt to prove his divine right by curing scrofula and she convinces Ben to lie about seeing a scrofula sufferer. The prince releases Ben after wondering why the Sheriff had him arrested in the first place, he is his physician after all! Haha, what a guy. The prince will cure the scrofula victim that very night.

The Merry Men infiltrate the castle (again, probably by wearing hoods) and Kate is presented to the prince. She's been given a potion to give her the cosmetic symptoms of scrofula. The prince calls upon his divine powers to cure the disease.

Guy and the Sheriff decide to finally fight it out while everyone else is preoccupied. Once again the fight is much better than anything Merlin produced and involves crashing through windows and improvised weapons. The Sheriff tries to reason with Guy and stop the fighting but Guy doesn't care about being manipulated by the prince and wants to kill the Sheriff for himself. Well, that makes sense, the Sheriff has been a colossal jerk to Guy throughout the series.

Meanwhile, the prince is upset that Kate's scrofula isn't cured. He orders her to be cured but that doesn't work either, then Robin turns up and fires an arrow into the prince's throne. Everyone decides to stare at the arrow rather than the man who quite blatantly walked into the room and shot the throne. "It must be Robin Hood!" they proclaim whilst studiously ignoring Robin and the fleeing Merry Men. This scene is so poorly done and incredibly stupid, did they not have any balconies or concealed positions for Robin to shoot from? Dumb!

Guy and the Sheriff continue to fight, which produces a picture that writers of slash fiction will enjoy:

The fight ends on the castle wall as the Sheriff tries to throw Guy off but Guy stabs him in the chest. The Sheriff tries to give Guy some advice before he dies, claiming that "nothing is as it seems." Hmmm... will this lead to a genuine mystery or will it be wasted? I'm not holding my hopes up.

The prince proclaims that the Sheriff was killed by Robin Hood and Isabella proposes a toast to Prince John, "Long live Prince John!" "Long live me" replies the prince.

Later, the Merry Men count their stolen coins and laugh like mentalists. Or like the ending to an episode of Thundercats.

The dead Sheriff is carted off by Hungarian guards but his hand twitches from beneath the blanket. Could he come back... as RoboSheriff?

NEXT EPISODE: The prince introduces water rates!


Zoso said...

That's Rhys Darby as Murray from Flight of the Conchords, isn't it?

"All right, band meeting. Guy? Present. Prince John? Present."

Aaron said...

Argh, it's so obvious now you mention it!