What is wrong with this picture? Apart from the fact it isn’t of Marian.
I’ve tried to like the BBC’s new series Robin Hood. I know some people didn’t like it, but I thought the first episode had some redeeming features and I think I’ve been proved right, because they were removed for the second episode. I grudgingly admire the way they’ve sought to hide the poor quality of the story by distracting the viewer with truly awful cuts in editing, but it’s not working. Take the shot above for example. In the lead up to this Robin breaks into the Sheriff’s room and threatens him with an arrow. The Sheriff, being Keith Allen, just laughs and sneers because he thinks Robin doesn’t have the guts to kill him. He’s probably right, despite all the fighting no-one’s died yet. He signals to a soldier sneaking up behind Robin. In an instant Robin turns round, shoots the guard dead and returns to threaten a now cowering Sheriff. The problem is that he didn’t kill the guard. The guard was a Merry Man acting dead. To protect him from the arrow he was wearing a board over his heart, which you see later hence the shot above.
If the programme had a plot then this would be called a spolier, but fair play to the BBC they’ve done that already.
Shooting secateurs out of guards hands, and then immediately shooting them again to smash them in mid airt doesn’t bother me. Killing a man and instantly taking another arrow to the bow doesn’t bother me. Robin has superhero powers with a bow, so I can live with that. But I cannot live with a Merry man surviving an arrow to the heart with a flimsy board over his chest. This man should not be at all merry. In the hands of a good bowman the arrow is a deadly weapon, even if you’re wearing armour at a short distance. If the bow were pulled properly at this range I’d expect to see an exit wound. With the thin board as armour even a relatively poor bow should cause a lack of jollity. So clearly Robin couldn’t have pulled the bow properly. But that would be painfully visible to the Sheriff and so not at all scary. In Robin’s hands an arrow becomes a magic wand, and magic wands tend to kill stories when in the hands of the good guys.
This is the major feature killing the show for me. There’s fighting but no-one suffers. In this case the soldier could have died in a morally acceptable fashion, Robin’s shot was self-defence, but instead a ridiculous explanation is give to show why no-one really dies. It’s like the A-Team without the gritty realism. The fighting in the courtyard between the professional soldiers and the outlaws is equally limp. You get your sword and you attempt to whack your opponent with as more force as possible so that should the intercept your blow with their sword they end up slicing their own shoulder off. Unless you’re fighting a Merry Man in which case you act like a very bad Morris Dancer.
There’s really no excuse for this. I’m told it’s to avoid upsetting children, but children love gore. It might be to avoid upsetting their parents, but learning that when people fight they get hurt and even die is an important life lesson. Learning that you can shoot someone at point blank range and they’ll be ok is a very dangerous lesson. Besides how heroic is a hero who isn’t risking his life?
I don’t know if this is the onset of middle-aged grumpiness, or whether it’s simply that the definitive Robin Hood was a fox. Mind you, so is Marian.
In related news Nottingham University are offering an MA in Robin Hood Studies.