Sunday, 14 June 2009

TV Snark - Robin Hood: The King Is Dead, Long Live The King OR Bye Bye Prince John

Long time no blog. I've moved into my new home and now have an internet connection so I can get back to writing my own special brand of drivel. Read on...

In a workshop somewhere in London, a craftsman completes his work and is immediately rewarded for his efforts with a fatal stab in the back. The stabber grins evilly as he examines the mysterious object.

Robin and Much are practicing their sword skills with big twigs whilst Alan is sitting on the sidelines and shining the sun into people's faces. I guess because he's a bit of a dick. Alan eventually causes Much to run into a tree when he blinds him during a charge. He's a good friend that Alan, what with being a traitor last series and an annoying git in this one.

The Merry Men run off to Nottingham to see the newly arrived king's carriage. Lord Sheridan is on board, former mentor of Robin and formerly loyal servant of King Richard, and also the murderer from the opening scene. Prince John appears and shows his melodramatic grief as Sheridan announces that King Richard is dead, killed by infidels in the Holy Land. Toby Stephens is great here as he clearly enjoys hamming it up for the show, a pity no one else other than Keith Allen is prepared to treat the material with the hammy performance it deserves.

The prince announces that he shall be coronated as soon as possible in the interest of national security. The prince summons the Archbishop of Canterbury to perform the ceremony. The archbishop seems to arrive on the same day, which means he was already in the area or he has access to some never before seen bishop mobile capable of traversing medieval roads in an instant. The prince and Sheridan manage to convince the archbishop that the 'corpse' before him is the king. The archbishop reluctantly agrees to perform the coronation after seeing the body, this makes me wonder if the archbishop needs glasses. The prince also announces that the capital of England will be conveniently moved to Nottingham so he can maintain control over the north and south of the country.

Later that night, the Merry Men break into the abbey to take a look at the body as Robin is convinced that the king isn't dead (due to his outlaw intuition). During the break in, Tuck disposes of a guard with a dart, which I presume contained a paralytic or a sleeping drug. Robin however, just flat out murders a guard by shooting him in the back at close range. I love Robin's moral code in this show, he won't kill an important character but nameless guards and extras are fair game. Much, Kate and Robin sneak into the crypt and take a look at the king's unconvincing 'corpse'.

The lighting isn't great in the above image but that's because the show is keeping things dark so you can't see that the corpse is obviously some hideous rubber/latex likeness of Richard actor Steven Waddington (he appeared at the end of series two, fact fans!). Kate figures out that the 'corpse' is made of wax when she holds a candle too close to an ear and it begins to melt.

After a brief boozy party to celebrate his impending kingship, Prince John sets off for, and arrives, at the crypt. This causes Robin, Much and Kate to hide in a couple of sarcophagi to avoid detection. The prince can't bear the sight of his brother's face and punches the crap out of the wax replica, totally ruining it as a convincing simulacrum. The prince doesn't care because he's already convinced the archbishop to coronate him. Best hope the archbishop doesn't request to see the corpse again or ask for an open casket funeral then.

Meanwhile, Guy (who's now an outlaw thanks to last episode's shenanigans) ambushes Isabella in her own home. Isabella pulls the trick that everyone pulls in this show when they're about to die, she asks Guy to kill her. Reverse psychology works every time in this show so Guy relents and agrees to work with Isabella so he can regain the prince's good graces.

The prince orders a couple of nameless guards to burn the wax corpse to hide the evidence. Again, let's hope no one else asks to see the 'dead' king. The Merry Men dress up as Death and scare off the guards (who amusingly let out a girlish scream and run away) and recover the now melted corpse.

The Merry Men decide that they can't tell the archbishop about the fake king because he's already seen the corpse, so they decide to steal the crown instead to stop the coronation. What? Why not mention it to the archbishop and ask him to request Prince John for a visit to the corpse again if he doesn't believe them? Because then we wouldn't have a convoluted heist plot then.

Isabella and Guy fallout again as Guy once again refuses to apologise for marrying Isabella off to the evil lord Thornton. Guy's right though, it's the middle ages, girls are for marrying off and gaining land. Isabella needs to forget those fanciful anachroni ideas she's picked up. Still, at least she knows how to act like a noble lady and doesn't buy her clothes from Top Shop like Marian did. Isabella then drugs Guy so she can hand him over to the prince.

The Merry Men set up a ruse in the local pub to steal the keys to the crown from Sheridan. Alan poses as a barman (in the same pub where he used to conspire with Guy against Robin Hood), Kate poses as a drunken wench and Robin poses as himself as he knows Sheridan. Sheridan proposes that Robin stop all his outlaw nonsense because he will become the sheriff soon and doesn't want to hunt down his old pupil. Kate distracts Sheridan and Robin and Alan steal Sheridan's keys. The Merry Men manage to competently steal something for once, I'm shocked.

Robin and Tuck go to the dungeons to find the crown (Robin murders the jailer by shooting him in the back - hero!) where they discover a chest protected by a ton of string. The strings are connected to concealed crossbows that shoot bolts once triggered. Robin then spends a minute contorting and jumping through the unconvincing string trap and reaches the chest, where he's attacked by concealed CGI scorpions. Luckily for Robin they don't immediately sting him so he easily avoids a poisonous death. Prince John arrives back at the dungeons causing Robin to hurriedly run through the traps after retrieving the crown. The bolts fire and none of them hit him despite his spastic flailing through the string. What was the point in that deathtrap then? Scorpions that don't sting and crossbows that don't shoot straight, that's a recipe for failure.

Robin reaches the gang's hideout and announces his successful theft of the crown. Unfortunately Sheridan is right behind him with some ferocious dogs:

The Merry Men split up, each carrying a sack said to contain a crown, in an effort to confuse Sheridan.

Meanwhile, here's a shot of Richard Armitage tied up in bed for all the ladies (and some of the guys):

Isabella's sering girl wants herself a piece of the Armitage but Guy is playing possum and suddenly wakes up and holds her by the throat. Later on, Isabella returns home with the prince to show off her captive. But lo and behold Guy has been replaced with the serving girl and Guy appears from the shadows to menace the prince a bit and then run off. Prince John is not amused by this and orders Isabella to be clapped in irons and hauled off to the dungeons.

Back in the forest there's some running around and some comedy violence is inflicted on a hapless guard as he opens one of the fake bags and gets hit with a mousetrap. He then opens a second bag and gets stinging nettles in his hand. The guards in this episode remind me of Gary and Graeme from Maid Marian and her Merry Men. They were a great hapless duo. Eventually the crown is recaptured after a brief fight between student and mentor which ends when Robin is surrounded by guards and Sheridan banishes Robin to Hull.

Sheridan triumphantly returns to Nottingham and presents Prince John with the crown and claims Isabella as his reward. The Merry Men bicker and argue without Robin so Tuck takes charge by SHOUTING. Tuck formulates a suicidal plan to steal the crown during the coronation and then run off. It's not a work of genius.

Fortunately for the outlaw gang, Robin easily escapes the guards whilst being transported to Hull and rejoins them. Robin has an equally stupid plan that is more complicated with an equal chance of death. It's also not a work of genius.

Robin and co interrupt the coronation by using really, really shiny shields to dazzle everyone while Tuck puts on his best King Richard voice. This confuses everyone for a few seconds, which is enough for Sheridan to turn cowardly and admit to the archbishop the whole waxwork corpse plan. Then everyone realises that the king isn't really there and it's just Robin Hood wearing his hood. I bet Sheridan wishes he'd waited more than two seconds before blurting out a confession.

Guy appears with a crossbow to assassinate the prince but Robin adds some sanity to proceedings by claiming that the country will slide into civil war without a clear royal leader. Guy doesn't care and tries to shoot Prince John anyway but Isabella jumps in front and takes the bolt in the arm. Robin then shoots Guy in the back (hero!) but this doesn't kill him, allowing him to be captured by the guards. The archbishop tries to stop the violence by claiming that anyone who sheds blood in the abbey will be damned. Well, Guy and Robin are already damned then aren't they? Still, rather than stop fighting both groups indulge in light, unconvincing fisticuffs instead. The archbishop eventually commands everyone to let the Merry Men go and so they flee with the crown in hand.

Later on, Prince John confirms that Isabella is the new sheriff and decides to pack up and leave Nottingham for no real reason. Robin ambushes the archbishop to return the crown to him. Hurrah for King Richard and all that.

NEXT EPISODE: That annoying girl from Demons. Yeah, her. Ruby. Gah.

No comments: