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Robin Hood 2.1: Sisterhood

October 6th, 2007 (08:35 pm)

A doubtfully welcome return for the series with perhaps the strongest sense of period ever - that is, if you think all historical periods run concurrently and everyone was dipping into the same dressing-up box. This must be the first twelfth-century drama in which henchmen walk around wearing what look like berets that might be worn by some continental national guard. While Robin and his men's attire is a little less Marks and Spencer than last year, Guy of Gisborne is still desperately seeking his motorbike. Davina, the Sheriff's sister, seems to be a pioneer in cosmetics, in latex, and in whatever combination of fibres her Queen of Sin outfit was made from (a tribute, I suppose, to the Saturday nights of the 1960s and Diana Rigg's encounter with the Hellfire Club in The Avengers); Mark Wright at The Stage blog applauds her sexiness, but I found her performance and its presentation largely stale and, like her make-up, overdone. I made allowances, as I thought she was going to be developed in future episodes, but I was proved wrong.

Jonas Armstrong shows a bit more spirit as Robin - and the fact that he bites his fingers at times of stress, like me, makes him sympathetic - but remains notedly uncharismatic. Lucy Griffiths is improved as Marian. Pre-publicity emphasised that both had put on bulk; this isn't noticeable with Armstrong, but Lucy Griffiths is more curvaceous and this helps her look older and gives her more physical strength to support Marian when she needs to be forceful. Unfortunately it makes it more difficult to disguise that she is female when garbed as the Night Watchman; during one fight scene I was expecting the Sheriff or Gisborne to exclaim that the Watchman was, in fact, a Watchwoman.

Armstrong's best scene was the one which potentially laid the scene for his elimination from the ongoing series, when he led the outlaws in proclaiming that they were all Robin Hood. There is evidently a little more attempt at character development this time; the Sheriff's leadership of the Black Knights and their ambitions for England provide a bit more focus to Robin's fight, and the treason of one of the 'merry men' will at least help differentiate them a bit. The new title sequence is an improvement, and the greenwood looks a bit greener this time, though the landscape remains mostly unEnglish. The new signature graphic of Robin's brilliant green iris indicates what the production is trying to get at; but Robin Hood's new camp, hidden by mounds of brown autumn leaves, is definitely at the poorer end of Camp Nonsense, and to survive the series concept needs a good deal more coherence and substance.

Comments

Posted by: ms_rebecca_riot (ms_rebecca_riot)
Posted at: October 7th, 2007 06:29 am (UTC)

We're still on the first series here.
I do like Marian, I watch it for her, and the sheriff, (Keith Allen does an excellent evil).
J Armstrong is sortof like a Eminem of Sherwood with less rapping and more beardy.
Period authenticity (cough)- marion's 'camouflage frock. How post-modern.
Well Dr Who is about to start- the one about him n Martha in spacesuits.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 7th, 2007 09:36 am (UTC)

This week's Radio Times in the UK leads with Keith Allen and Richard Armitage on the cover and the line 'Boo! Hiss!' There's definitely an assumption that Robin Hood is watched for the villains.

Marion has a good line in camouflage frocks... and the one thing that works as a period comment and as part of the whole postmodern thing which I agree they are trying for, is the idea that culturally Robin's England is in thrall to the Middle East, so we have Djaq, references to chess as a novelty (Shah mat, rather than checkmate) Arabic-influenced designs on clothes, particularly Marians.

Posted by: ms_rebecca_riot (ms_rebecca_riot)
Posted at: October 7th, 2007 07:34 am (UTC)

update- Dr Who excellent- some funny moments- ie our life depends on a pub quiz, the Darth Vader style breathing noises, Matha's increasingly sinister mother. Rather excited about next week- when they go back to 1913, since I've heard a lot about it, the Dr going human etc. Really the perfect show for a disgustingly rainy Sunday.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 7th, 2007 09:38 am (UTC)

It's extremely Doctor Who, somehow, that survival should depend on a pub quiz rather than the outstanding technical ability of a starship crew.

You will not be disappointed in next week...

Posted by: Delia (chainmailmaiden)
Posted at: October 8th, 2007 01:11 pm (UTC)

...the series with perhaps the strongest sense of period ever - that is, if you think all historical periods run concurrently and everyone was dipping into the same dressing-up box.

LOL Oh that is so true! It is also one of the reasons why I can't bear to watch very much of it in one go. I saw some of the episode on Saturday and that was enough to put me off it again. I too had read that Jonas was supposed to have bulked up, but you could have fooled me and that "I am Robin Hood" bit, although useful in the terms of plot, made me feel faintly nauseous. Then again, I just find Jonas Armstrong insipid and weak anyway. Something about him just makes me want to give him a good slap.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 8th, 2007 01:17 pm (UTC)
arthurelaineletr

There's a review, which writes a lot of sense, at Off the Telly.

Posted by: Delia (chainmailmaiden)
Posted at: October 8th, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC)

That is a very good review & sums up much of what I feel, thanks for pointing it out :-)

Posted by: ms_rebecca_riot (ms_rebecca_riot)
Posted at: October 14th, 2007 08:05 am (UTC)
Dr Who
Idris

I've just seen the first Dr Who Family of Blood episode. I'm NOT COPING. (bites knuckles in woe).