Robin Hood: Anacronisms, HO!
I find myself divided with this show. It is a fun show well acted by its cast, but it is also one of the most anachronistic shows I've seen, and the plots can get a mite predictable. So which triumphs: the decent acting or the mediocre writing?
After consideration, I decided that the good writing and pure fun of the show trumps its predictability and anachronistic nature. It's good enough to watch, although not an essential show by any means.
The show starts with Crusader Robin Locksley (Jonas Armstrong), who has been honorably discharged after getting wounded defending the life of King Richard the Lionheart during an assassination attempt, returning home to Nottinghamshire with his manservant Much (Sam Troughton). However, he finds himself horrified at the corruption of Nottingham's Sheriff, Vaisey (Keith Allen), who bilks the common people of taxes with the assistance of cruel knight Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Richard Armitage). Robin tries to use his role as feudal lord of Locksley to ease the suffering of his people, but when some of the young men of his village are to be executed for stealing the Sheriff's flour, he is forced to save them, in the process becoming an outlaw.
The rest of the episodes generally feature Robin and his men (made up of Much, a conman named Allan-a-Dale, one of the rescued boys named Will Scarlet, a taciturn bandit named Little John, and an escaped female Saracen slave who goes by Djaq), sometimes assisted by Lady Marian, the daughter of the former Sheriff, struggling to protect, free, or steal someone or something who is desired by the Sheriff. There are many break-ins of Nottingham Castle's dungeon, robbing of the Sheriff's tax incomes, and daring swashbuckling going on. All of this makes episodes fun and exciting to watch, although as I have remarked, it can be repetitive (seriously, Nottingham Castle gets broken into at least once an episode). The few times the pattern is broken are all the more shocking, however (there is at least one episode where Robin is too late to save the men captured by the Sheriff, and one where they successfully rescue someone only to have them die anyways).
The fun of the show is helped by its general good acting. Lucy Griffiths as Lady Marian is really the only weak link, as she generally underacts and her expressions rarely change. Richard Armitage's Guy can also sometimes be one note, although he reveals some rather interesting dimensions to his character as the show goes on. Sam Troughton's Much and Keith Allen's Sheriff, on the other hand, are the stars of the show, with Much acting as the comic foil to the relatively serious and straight Robin, and the Sheriff hamming it up as much as possible, seeming gleeful at the extent of his evil. The two are together the best reason to watch the show, as both steal any scene they're in with effortless grace.
One of the more irritating things about the show are its anachronisms. And of the anachronisms, it's really the small things that are the most irritating. Some of the most seemingly egregious unlikelihoods are actually well-justified-- we get a fairly good reason how an Arabic woman like Djaq could end up in England, for instance, and Robin's rather enlightened views for 1192 fit remarkably well for his character. However, things like a scene where Marian is practicing tai chi for no reason, various characters who seem to be wearing suspiciously modern-looking clothing, and Allan-a-Dale's hair gel bugged me whenever I saw them.
All in all, this was a fun series but not a must-see. I liked it enough to look for the second and third seasons, but if you're not interested in swashbuckling and silliness, this may not be the series for you.
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