Sunday, 28 October 2007

Robin Hood Series 2, picture gallery 4

Above: Robin Hood cannot console the Scartlet brothers after the murder of there father. Below: Some people keep their dentures in a glass overnight. The Sheriff of Nottingham prefers to keep his false tooth in the jaw of one of his victims!
Above: Marian, dashing over the rooftops of Nottingham and into the arms of Robin Hood! Below: Like the Big Bad Wolf come knocking at her door, Gisborne is on the prowl!

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Saturday, 27 October 2007

Robin Hood. Series 2. Episode 4: “Angel of Death”.

The story begins in Sherwood Forest when an impressively camouflaged Robin Hood and his men capture two travellers who turn out to be Will Scarlet’s father and younger brother. (The outlaws look great, and one of the really nice things about the timing of these shows as they air in England is their synchronicity with the actual seasons). Will’s father wants him to join them in Scarborough, but having been impressed by his work building their hideout, agrees first to watch his son in action before pressuring him any further to leave.
As night falls Allan A’ Dale takes a particular interest in a letter Robin is writing. Robin explains it is destined for King Richard, to inform him about the Sheriff’s Black Knights. Meanwhile, back in Nottingham, there is more trechury afoot as a fake Night Watchman (Joseph), is delivering poisoned pies to the poor people of the town. This he is doing not only for the Sheriff of Nottingham, but because of his own fascist obsession to kill off the weak in order to improve the English race.
By morning Marian has discovered her father Edward has been locked in the dungeon without food, as a punishment for her own behaviour. The Sheriff agrees to feed her father if she reads out a message to the people informing them that the Pestilence has arrived in Nottingham, and that Pit Street is to be barricaded up with all its residents under quarantine. Sure enough, as the message is being read, children are falling prey to the sickness, not realising yet the true source of the problem. It is Will’s father, upon seeing one of the sick children, who realises it is not in fact the Pestilence, and that the Sheriff must have some more devious reason for the barricades. But before his protest can be fully heard he is slaughtered before his sons' very eyes.
As confusion breaks out, Robin Hood and his men enter Pit Street before the barricades are in place, thinking themselves better positioned to help the people. The traitor Allan seizes this moment to offer to deliver Robin’s letter to the King’s messenger, whilst Will elects to take his distraught brother home to Scarborough. But Will’s stated intention is only a ruse to placate Robin, for as soon as his brother is over the Castle walls Will turns back, his mind bent on revenge, and the words “This place is about to turn to Hell” coming from his lips.
Marian, locked in her room, swaps clothes with her servant in order to escape and join the action. No sooner does she reach Robin’s side than she sees Joseph amongst the Outlaws espousing his twisted beliefs about genocide to Much. She recognises him from the Castle and his cover is blown, but not before a few well aimed arrows must knock the poisoned supper plates from the outlaws’ hands! Joseph remains unrepentant. Gloating there is no cure for his poison before he escapes them.
It is John (not Djaq!) who comes up with a possible remedy. He remembers that the poison belladonna can in fact work as a cure for other poisons. He rubs a small amount on a sick child’s lips, and a dreadful silent pause ensues…
Only now do the outlaws learn from Marian that Will has been seen inside the Castle. Robin Hood vows that Will must be stopped from killing the Sheriff “whatever it takes”, and they bluff their way through the barricade to go after him. But they are too late. Will has taken the disguise of a servant and delivered a glass of poisoned wine to both the Sheriff and Joseph. Not only that, but upon leaving the Sheriff’s quarters, he locks Djaq up in a room with the antidote. When Robin catches up with Will he knows only drastic action can get him to reveal where Djaq is hid. So he himself drinks from what is apparently a bottle of the poison and writhes in pain on the floor. Will naturally wishes to save his leader, and Djaq and the antidote are soon located.
As the Sheriff lays dying, Robin asks Will himself to either administer the antidote, or know that King John will slaughter all the people of the town as an act of revenge. What Will does next he does in his father’s name…

Comment: Good episode. We’ve waited since the series began to see Harry Lloyd have a chance to do something other than strike a pose. (Although that is more than enough for Harry fans I know). So it was good to see an angry, “scarlet” Will Scarlet for a change. I personally think it a shame this isn’t going to sustain as it did with Ray Winstone (or even Christian Slater), but Harry’s version of Scarlet is absolutely perfect for this particular show.
The psychopathic tendencies of Joseph were interesting. We haven’t had the “political” bit this series, so the sub text here about genocide (“ethnic cleansing” as the news politely puts it), once again related the legend to whole world issues.
And two lighter moments: Don’t miss the quick kiss from Djaq to Much (and his response), as well as Marian alighting from the rooftops into Robin Hood’s arms, but not before a scene in which Gisborne came knocking at her door!

More pictures in the week Hoodies!

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Sunday, 21 October 2007

Robin Hood. Series 2. Picture Gallery 3

Gisborne! Evil, ruthless, but no coward. If Gisborne has one scruple it would probably be that he wouldn't murder a child. Below: The Sheriff of Nottingham has no such scruples. Children or canaries, it's all the same to him!
Above: Marian praises Alan on his courage, but little sideways glances suggest the outlaws suspect something may be wrong...
Above: Robin Hood faces Gisborne in his Damasus Steel suit.

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Robin Hood. Series 2, episode 3: "Child Hood".

The story starts with some young boys playing in the forest pretending to be Robin Hood’s men. Obviously his legend has spread. They come across Guy of Gisborne and his archers testing the strength of some new armour on a live subject. Well, alive for the present… The children are seen and have to run. Whilst Robin Hood saves their leader, Daniel, the others are taken captive by Gisborne who decides to save them for his mines rather than slay them.
Robin takes the boy Daniel back to camp where Much is cooking and having to endure many jokes about what is apparently meant to be chicken. Djaq teases them all about their lack of any vegetable content to their diet. The boy recognises the men, reacting as any Hoodie might, but denting the pride of John, whom he thought would have been a real giant, and Much, who he thinks of as "the servant". This is a really nice scene. Very in keeping with the original "merry men" concept which has endured over the centuries.
Back in Loxley Village the Sheriff is inspecting the process by which this new armour is made. (Djaq of course will later recognise it as Damascus Steel!) He orders 5,000 suits of armour to be made for his proposed "indestructible army". He also discovers the children Gisborne captured, and wonders why they haven’t been slaughtered, thinking Gisborne is showing too much compassion.
Robin Hood and his outlaws have learned of the armour from Daniel, and go to Loxley Manor to steal the black diamonds which are a part of its secret formula. But as he is taking the box he is interrupted by Guy and a well screened fight ensues; the first of two between these characters in this episode! Outside a further fight breaks out between the Sheriff’s soldiers and the outlaws who are trying to rescue the boys and, although Robin and his men escape with the diamonds, Daniel is captured. To save the boy’s life Robin will have to agree to a trade.
Robin Hood goes to Nottingham Castle and tells Marian of both the boy’s plight and the armour for which the black diamonds are intended. She says she will rescue the boy, but the outlaws also devise a plan of their own just in case she fails. Their plan is to put pitch in the diamond box so, when the Sheriff takes it back, one flaming arrow can set it alight. Marian’s plan involves her obtaining a pass from the Sheriff, permitting her to leave the Castle at night, under the pretence of visiting Guy in order to make up to him for her past demeanour at the altar. The Sheriff signs her pass, not realising he has also signed a consent form for the boy to be escorted from the prison. She takes this pass to the outlaws, where the traitor Alan A Dale volunteers to be the one to trick the guards with it.
Marian then does indeed visit Gisborne that night, thus ensuring her story to the Sheriff won’t give her away. She enters Guy’s room as he is stripped to the waist, trying on his armour, and there is no mistaking her reaction to Guy’s rather impressive physique, not realising Robin is watching from the window! Gisborne will have another visitor that night in the Tavern when, instead of attempting to free the boy, Alan goes straight to him and discloses Robin’s plan about the booby trapped box! He is rewarded well, but not without a few good punches from Gisborne to make his alibi convincing.
The climax of the story starts with the boy at the gallows. Robin and the Sheriff do indeed exchange the diamonds for the boy, but because of Alan’s deal with Gisborne the booby trap plan fails. Suddenly Gisborne enters in all his Damascus Steel armour plated glory, looking like he could give Robocop a good kicking! But it is Robin Hood’s body which finds itself being thrown through various barn doors as his men look on, helplessly involved in a bows drawn Mexican stand off with the Sheriff’s soldiers. When Robin spies a pot of molten pitch nearby the conclusion is a fiery one, leading to an ironic twist in the tale where Marian saves Gisborne’s life!

Comment: Excellent episode! Great to see the two main characters involved in a pitched battle (no pun intended), and what about that scene between Marian and Guy? I think her reaction even surprised herself! The young boys were also outstanding in delivering their parts. (I loved the scene where John was offended at not being considered big enough and Djaq says "Men always lie about their size".) And how great is it to see Marian holding a dagger to someone’s spine and she’s not even in the Night Watchman costume?! She is certainly headed for big trouble. As indeed is Alan, who surely can only ultimately redeem himself with his very life…
More pictures in the week, Hoodies!

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Monday, 15 October 2007

Robin Hood. Series 2. Picture gallery 2

Above: A glamorous Djaq uses her feminine charms on the guards whilst a rather frightened looking Will nearly catches it in the neck from a poisoned dart! (Will Scarlet fans can view a VIDEO of his actual grave on this link.) Below: Marian, the original English Rose, Lucy Griffiths style!
Above: What will Robin Hood's outlaws say when they find out Allan is a traitor? Below: The Sheriff never stops scheming; today Nottingham, tomorrow the whole country!

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Saturday, 13 October 2007

Robin Hood. Series 2. Episode 2: The Beauty and the Booby.

Story opens in Loxley Village as Robin Hood and his men are relieving the Sheriff’s tax collectors of their takings. Not content with their successes they venture into Nottingham Castle and attempt to break into the Sheriff’s inner strong room. Although they manage to get a tantalising glimpse of the Sheriff’s gleaming treasures, the sophisticated security measures and booby traps defeat them. But the slightly reckless smile on Robin’s face tells us he can’t resist the challenge of returning at a later date.
News of their raid reaches the Sheriff of Nottingham and interrupts his bath time, which Guy is apparently being forced to attendant (most reluctantly!) The reason he is having his bath “six months early” is because he has invited the German Count Freidrich (already better known as "Fruitcake" amongst the Hoody fraternity after seeing the advance trailers), to come to Nottingham for a bit of gambling. He intends to win the Count's money for his coffers, and to this end he has built a Casino, complete with green baize tables. (This is one Sheriff who likes his canaries shaken but not stirred!) Gisborne is despatched to deal with those who built the Sheriff’s strong room and leaked the secret to Robin Hood. It won’t be pleasant…
Will Scarlet takes the outlaws to a man called Stephen, describing him as a great “teacher”. It was William who designed the strong room. He’s one of those blind but wise types who gained his martial arts skills whilst on a trip to the East (this being about the time when Richard Branson made air travel so cheap for the working classes). William is so wise he can feel your face and judge your character. He feels Will’s face and describes him as “passionate and angry”. (We wish).
Meanwhile back at the castle Count Freidrich arrives in all his splendour. (He is the Booby in this episode’s title). Marian has been instructed by the Sheriff to cater for the Count’s “every desire”, and wear something which will “stimulate the imagination”. Her red dress hit’s the spot, and double entendres such as “do you ride” and “gently caress the ball” will amuse the family orientated tea time audience.
That night Allan A Dale meets with Gisborne and tells him Robin is planning to rob the Sheriff’s strong room. The following morning he is suspiciously late for the meeting between the outlaws and Stephen as they try to learn its secrets, the most deadly of all being the molten lead designed to flood the chamber! As they formulate their plans, Marian and the Count are doing the same. The Count has overheard the Sheriff speaking about him, and has decided to team up with Marian against him. She takes him to see Robin, who appears more than a little jealous.
As night falls, a very glamorous Djaq gains entrance to the casino and lets the outlaws into the hallways outside the strong room. Whilst the Count and Marian commence their game at the dice table, Robin and his men pit their wits against an array of deadly swinging pendulums, poisoned arrows (nearly grazing Will’s neck), and molten lead…
Comment: I have to say I think the Casino idea is the most ridiculous since the retro ninja go go dancers of episode 10 (series 1). Why oh why couldn’t the Sheriff have challenged the Count to a Jousting Tournament? We could have seen the Count’s championed pitted against Guy of Gisborne! What a great story that would have made, especially watching Marian’s face if Guy was injured. At least we could have been given a more ruthless type of Count. Nevertheless, I loved the scenes here in the strong room, with Robin Hood’s almost reckless courage shining through whilst the ever faithful Much looks on. Also note how it’s always Little John who gives the men that one last push into action when the others look like backing out. Nice little detail in the character there. Another nice touch was in Djaq’s contrasting reactions to Will and Allan when they saw her in that dress…
More pictures in the week, Hoodies!

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Monday, 8 October 2007

Robin Hood series 2. Picture Gallery 1

Above: Jonas Armstrong strikes that classic Robin Hood pose. Below: A sinister silhouette flickers amongst the shadows of Nottingham Castle as the Night Watchman springs into action.
Above: Robin surrounded by Gisborne's men. "Welcome to the darkside". Below: Robin Hood and the outlaws in their new hideout designed by Will scarlet.

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Saturday, 6 October 2007

Robin Hood. Series 2, episode 1: Sister Hood

The story opens on a rather gruesome scene in the vast expanses of Sherwood Forest, and what appears to be a badly injured Robin Hood laying amongst the leaves. However, the rather rich looking travellers that stop to investigate soon discover they have been ambushed by Robin and his outlaws. A fight ensues in which these travellers reveal themselves to be trained knights, skilled in the martial arts. Their leader, a woman, shows more concern for what she alludes to as her “babies” in a large chest, than the money they are carrying. The outlaws escape to the sanctity of their new, camouflaged hideout. Once there they discover the Sheriff’s insignia amongst the loot, and realise the woman must be a very important person indeed to carry this.
Robin then goes to visit Marian, and asks her to join his gang and live in the forest. Fans don’t have to wait long before they kiss, and the continuity here from the last series is very encouraging. However, you guessed it, no sooner do they kiss than an argument ensues. Marian will not abandon her father, nor her home. And what better time for Guy of Gisborne to turn up?
Gisborne is acting under the Sheriff’s orders to take her and her father to Nottingham Castle. This he does, but not until he has forced Marian to beg him not to burn the Manor down. She begs, and he burns it down anyway!
Back in Nottingham Robin is able to identify the black hooded knights who are visiting the Sheriff. Whilst he is watching them an argument breaks out between Alan and Much. In keeping with sentiments Alan has expressed in the past, he wants to keep some of the outlaw’s loot for himself. He leaves Robin and Much to go gambling in the Tavern, but is soon arrested and tortured by Gisborne.
Before leaving Nottingham Robin talks to a woman, Rose, tied to a post and apparently taking a punishment on behalf of her children’s stealing. Robin promises to help, but the Sheriff appears with the children and orders that their hands be publicly chopped off anyway. Only the marksmanship of Robin Hood can save them as the executioner’s blade takes aim above their tiny shackled arms. But this time it was Robin’s turn to be duped, and Rose turns out to be no other than the rich lady he had ambushed in the forest. Not only that, but she is the Sheriff’s sister. Robin is arrested and taken away.
The scene then changes to inside the Castle as the Sheriff addresses his assembly of the Brotherhood of the Black Knights. Their long term plan is to take over England whenever (and whichever) King eventually returns. As he speaks Robin is revealed to be hanging from his ankles above a trap door. The trap door conceals the “babies” from the ambush; a pit full of snakes. Whilst he is tied in this position Gisborne tries to get him to reveal the identity of the Night Watchman. Right on cue, the Night Watchman herself has slipped into costume and causes enough of a diversion for Robin to escape, but not before the Sheriff’s sister falls into the pit. With a touch of irony, Robin and the Sheriff have to combine forces to pull her out, but not before she is bitten. Robin threatens to kill the Sheriff (yawn, heard that one before), but before the poison can reach her heart she reveals that Prince John has made the Sheriff a prince, and that if he was murdered Nottingham would be burnt to the ground.
Back in the dungeon Allan is striking a deal with the devil Gisborne. In exchange for advance information about Robin Hood’s plans, Guy is willing to pay him money. This would not be information about his whereabouts, simply his intended targets for robbery. Allan appears to agree, and returns to camp with a sizeable bag of coins secreted under his cloak. For one brief second, Djaq looks suspicious as only Djaq can…
Comment: Good episode. Very good continuity in the repeated kissing scenes between Robin and Marian, and in Allan’s dissatisfaction at his situation. He would never have agreed to sell Robin’s life (especially to the Sheriff who hung his brother), but to the cunning Gisborne? I think yes.
The Night Watchman’s new costume may not be to everyone’s liking, even though “his“ higher profile in the series surely will be. The new costume is very “Lincoln Green”, and if the Sheriff and Guy can’t see that’s a rather shapely woman underneath there, especially when the Sheriff is pinning her arms back, then they really should get out more. But I loved the bit where Gisborne held up that little Saracen blade to remind “him” of their last encounter. Wonderful!
And what about Djaq? Suddenly she’s become a complete girlie! Hope that doesn’t spoil her character. I’m sure she’s still capable of administering to the outlaw’s wounds, as she famously did with a dying Marian, but I can’t help thinking she might now want to get changed first.
So. LOTS of really good stuff boiling under here: The Black Knights; Allan’s treachery (which can only end in serious tears); plenty of romance; and above it all the Sheriff and Guy in obvious competition as to who can be the most evil!
More pictures during the week, Hoodies!

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