troyce: (RH Stairs fight)
As you can probably tell from my pics, I'm a big fan of Errol Flynn's Robin Hood film, and Basil Rathbone :) I have the silent Fairbanks version on dvd, as well as the Flynn (and even have a prop sword used in both films. I have a publicity photo from the Flynn film that shows it in the background). My collection includes Bandits of Sherwood Forest with Cornel Wilde (and using outtakes and costumes from the Flynn version) as well as the complete import DVD boxed set for the old Robin of Sherwood series from Showtime in the 1980's. "Prince of Thieves," the old Richard Greene TV series from the 1950's. The main thing I'm missing is the Robin Hood miniseries from the old PBC series "Once Upon a Classic," but that one had a lame ending where Robin dies of disease in the forest.

All of this to preface my review of the first episode of the new BBC Robin Hood series. It sucks.

Now, I wanted to like this series going in. I was curious to see if they were going to do a swashbuckler approach ala Flynn, or fantasy like the Praed series. I'm not sure what they decided, and I doubt they know either. Some parts slightly echo the approach "The Knight's Tale" took, making it a modern tongue-in-cheek romp, but I think they mean it to be historical, God help them.

Let's see, first thing I notice is Robin has a buzzcut hairdo, and has all the charisma of of a Xerox copier salesman. Gisbourne is running around in a black leather duster with wide lapels and a shouldercape. I guess he lost his motorcycle. The soldiers are in cheap fake cloth chainmail that no self-respecting historical piece would use anymore (come on, you can get a whole suit of mail from Museum Replica, even riveted. NO ONE should be in cloth mail anymore), with black feathers in the peak of their helmets and chain mail covering from the eyes down in front so the look totally Moorish.

But worst of all. Robin doesn't use an English (actually Welsh) longbow. He uses a Mongol recurve bow. You can't be more damning to them than this. They got the bow so wrong the only way it could be worse is if he used a crossbow. Even though Flynn used an American flatbow, it could pass close enough for the casual fan. But a short Mongol recurve?

No one has any screen presence. Maid Marian shows the most competence with her carefully thrown hairpin. The filming of Robin doing his special shots tells me they watched Prince of Thieves at least. In fact, this first episode really makes me want to see Prince of Thieves soon. Hell, it makes me want to see the Star Trek TNG episode where they were Merry Men (except for Warf, who still protests that he's not a merry man).

Word on the net says it improves with later episodes. Hopefully that means they recast Robin, get a new costume designer (and how about some color please? Must everything be grey and dull?). And get that boy a real longbow! At this rate, I'm betting on the Sheriff and Gisbourne to win. If Richard should ever get back from the Crusades, he'll probably parden John, die in France, leaving John to reign and loose all the continental holdings of the Angevin Empire and be humiliated into signing some charter or something.

Arrow fu, sword fu, hanging fu, no breast, 1 bucket of blood. Joe Bob Scarlet says forget it.

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Troyce

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