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None more evil

This weekend I watched a whole episode of the current series of the BBC's 'Robin Hood', frankly only because Denis Lawson was in it. I've watched bits and pieces of other episodes and found it too carelessly modern to appeal to me, plus Robin seemed a bit of a wuss. I don't insist that productions of Robin Hood have to be purist and accurate. I enjoy the Errol Flynn movie version, and love 'Maid Marion and her Merry Men.'. However, this version seems to want to be both a drama, and a camp entertainment, and can't blend the two.

Anyway. Denis appeared as the Sheriff of Winchester, an old friend of Marion's father, apparently being forced into signing the Sheriff of Nottingham's Evil Pact. He first appears travelling in a coach apparently made from venetian blinds, and Robin confides his cunning plan to him. Robin sneaks about the castle in stolen armour, including a 'chain mail' balaclava. When he wants to reveal his face to a prisoner, he pulls down the lower part of the balaclava, which stretches and gives in a way possible for silver-painted wool, but not chainmail.

Guy of Gisbourne, meanwhile, is distraught that Marion is being given away to Denis as a bribe, and tries to talk her into fleeing from the castle. I was rather distracted from his talk by Marion's top. It was a fetching blue number, with white flowers printed on it, rather reminiscent of a Laura Ashley outfit. It was also short-sleeved, which which seemed frankly unlikely. Marion must have some kind of time machine, or else a 21st century make up and costume designer fell through a hole in time and landed in 13th century Nottingham to end up as Marion's maid. I'd already been boggling at the way Marion had got her hair into an immaculate French Pleat ( a well-known medieaval hair-do). It turned out that was just so she would have a hair pin handy for Robin to use as a lockpick. Naturally,  this one hairpin was the only thing holding her style in place. and her locks came tumbling round her shoulders when it was removed. In order to escape the castle, Marion changed into a bright red top with a low, sweetheart neckline, a little upright collar at the back, and fastened down the front with clips. Not at all the sort of thing to draw attention to herself.

Sadly, after leaving her to finish packaging, Guy found that Keith Allen (Sheriff of Nottingham) was onto him. Keith applied some emotional blackmail, ending with wiping away a trace of a tear from Guy's face, as Guy accepts that his destiny is with Keith as his servant, not with Marion. It was done well, but I couldn't help thinking of all the slash fiction that would be fed by this interplay. 

Robin's cunning plan fails, and he ends up standing on a plank of wood laid across the top of a cauldron about the size of a hot tub. Said cauldron is full of boiling pitch. Robin is condemned to fight an ex-friend, having to batter one another with padded sticks until one or both fall into the pitch. Robin's men have sneaked into the castle as minstrels, their weapons cunningly disguised as musical instruments. They stand and watch Robin fighting for his life over the giant cauldron of pitch for the best part of a minute, before starting a fight. Then the harp unravels ti turn into Robin's recurve bow, and battle commences. In the course of the fight, Robin pierces the cast-iron cauldron with an arrow, causing it to leak pitch (what the hell are his arrows made of - durasteel ?). Another arrow is, conveniently, a fire arrow, which he uses to set light to the spilled pitch, enabling himself and his men to escape.

Denis gets to gloat at Keith's expense, and a marvellously scenery-chewing Keith decides that as he now has Denis' signature, he can have Denis killed off. Surely this would mean that Denis' signature on the Evil Pact is now worthless, (him being dead and therefore no longer the Sheriff on Winchester)  and Keith will need to get whoever Denis' heir is to sign. I guess that's just a detail. More important for Villian of the Week to be satisfyingly killed at the end.

I loved seeing Denis Lawson and Kieth Allen acting together, especially when they're rivals like this. And they both acted Robin Hood off the screen. Still, at least I got a pic to make a new icon.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
12th Nov, 2007 19:08 (UTC)
I watched a few episodes of this series on BBC America, but the far-fetchedness and the costuming (especially Marion's) got to me. Okay, that and the fact that Guy of Gisbourne appeared to have stolen Harry Dresden's black leather duster. This episode sounds fairly typical.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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