13 June 2007
There's A New Robin In The Hood
In 1215, some of the barons of England banded together and took London by force on June 10. They, and many of the fence-sitting moderates not in overt rebellion, forced King John to agree to the "Articles of the Barons", to which his Great Seal was attached in the meadow at Runnymede on June 15, 1215. In return, the barons renewed their oaths of fealty to King John on June 19, 1215. This group of documents became known as the Magna Carta So much for today's history lesson, read all you want at Wikipedia and any number of esoteric descriptions all over the web.
Now on to the fun stuff: Robin Hood is back in town courtesy of BBC America. We all know the story. Good King Richard the Lionhearted is off on a crusade to the holy land to recapture Jerusalem (Not one of the more noble actions of the west and still causing trouble today, but again not today's tale). His brother bad bad Prince John (eventually to be the King John of the Charter) is running England and everyone is thoroughly miserable. His minions, the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and the treacherous Guy of Guiseborne, are bleeding the people dry with taxes, taking over the property of the noble knights camped out with Richard, and in Guy's case threatening the virtue of the luscious Maid Marian who is more than a little miffed about her fiance going walk about with Richard.
Robin comes back from the Crusades to find that he has been disposessed for back taxes, Guy is living in his castle, and Marian is decidedly snippy at him for taking off to do a little sword banging instead of staying home with her. Being unhappy with the situation Robin ends up outlawed, living in the forest with an eclectic collection of equally abused men, and stealing from the rich to spread around the neighborhood making the peasants glad he's back home.
And that is where all similarity to the old story ends when you hit the BBC. Maid Marian is a feminist who takes to dressing up to do a little sword banging and spreading of the wealth herself. Guy is evil to be sure but he confuses easily when in a tug of war between his lust for Marian and his greed and thirst for power. The Sheriff is, well, so rotten and dispicable that you can't help but laugh at his sordid little antics particularly when they come in the form of puns with a rock music background.
Robin is very very handsome in a rather pretty boy way but not nearly as swashbuckly as say Doug Fairbanks or Errol Flynn. He gets rather petulant at times, particularly when Marian is riding him about not doing enough for the peasants. The titles of the episodes are almost as entertaining as the dialogue: "Who shot the Sheriff", "Parent Hood", "The Taxman Cometh" ... well you get the idea, and yes the last line of the dialogue in "Who Shot the Sheriff" was, "I didn't shoot the deputy."
Season one just completed but they are showing reruns if you have access to BBC America. Also the first 13 episodes are available on DVD. Do yourself a favor and catch up on Season one before the group in the greenwood get up to their antics again.
The Sheriff of Nottingham
Robin & Marian
Guy of Guisborne