Sunday, August 31, 2008

Robin Hood Series 2 (2007)

The advance publicity for Robin Hood series 2 heralded it as a "much darker" drama than series one had been. Just how much darker was not anticipated, and whilst the best of its episodes were certainly on a par with the best of series one, the conclusion in which Marian was murdered, alienated infinitely more fans than it ever stood to win.

For much of series two, the smiling, heroic, charismatic Robin Hood which Jonas Armstrong had portrayed before, was a thing of the past. If anything the second series documents the mental breakdown of the character, as hero becomes loser: Allan A ' Dale deserts him and turns traitor; his fiancé, Marian, rejects the idea of living in the forest with him, preferring to return to Nottingham; John disobeys him and briefly returns to the traditional "give to the poor" concept; and perhaps worst of all, Robin Hood frequently kills his enemies. The basic reason for all of this is Robin's belief that everything depends on King Richard's return from the Holy Wars, whereas Marian and the Outlaws feel the welfare of Nottingham should be their number one concern. And against this backdrop of "darkness and despair", popular characters like Will Scarlet (Harry Lloyd), and especially Djaq (Anjali Jay), are notably absent from the screen.
Nevertheless, although this reviewer's preference is for the characters as portrayed in the first series, episodes 1 - 7 of series 2 continued to thrill and delight fans everywhere. The tension created between Jonas Armstrong's Robin Hood and Joe Armstrong's Allan A' Dale, was palpable, culminating in some great fight scenes, and (need we say it), Lucy Griffiths as Marian continued to be the most popular cast member with readers of this site, turning in consistently outstanding performances. Indeed, in a series which once again involved great performances from a predominantly young cast, the only thing which lacked real consistency, was the writing.
Internet debates over the removal of Lucy Griffiths from the show, not to mention the manner in which Marian was murdered at such an early hour, will continue to rage. Partly because the centuries old Legend is far better than anything a contemporary writer might foist upon us for a half dozen years at best; and partly because taking perhaps the single most popular cast member out of the show made no sense either financially or creatively. Put bluntly, the murder of Marian was a dumb idea, of no artistic merit.

Was Lucy pushed? The writer's say they had explored her character via the "love triangle", as far as they could. (As if that's all Maid Marian was about). Jonas has said she wanted to pursue other opportunities. (A similar comment to the BBC's). Lucy said that "whatever happens at the end of the show happens by mutual consent". Whatever official statements might say, the opportunity to expand upon Marian as a member of the Outlaws living in Sherwood Forest, not to mention her Night Watchman role (and how she acquired those skills), was thrown away. For myself, and the vast majority of readers who leave comments on Robin Hood 2007, between episodes 8 and 11 the series was leaving the tracks, only to be completely derailed in the disaster that was episodes 12 & 13.
Robin Hood Series 2 episode guide can be found on this link.
Robin Hood Series 3 episode guide will be featured on this link.

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