Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Robin Hood Guest Poll. RESULTS!

The most popular guest character in episodes 1 - 8 of Robin hood series 2 were:

1. Matilda the Witch.

Matilda won 36% of the votes, and rightly so. Where would a good Robin hood story be without a little superstition and witchyness? In fact, I'd like to see a lot MORE stories with some kind of superstitious or Pagan content. Remember, many people believe the roots of the Robin Hood legend come from Pagan beliefs in "the Green Man".

2. Count Fruitcake (Count Freidrich).

The Count won a staggering 25% of the vote! It must be something to do with his romantic charms…

3. Carter the Crusader

Carter won 21% of the vote. A very respectable result, and a popular character should he ever decide to return to the outlaw gang.

More polls in the future, Hoodies!

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, 26 November 2007

Robin Hood, series 2. Picture Gallery 8

Robin Hood assures Much with a wink that he hasn't fogotten about his loyal partner, nor lost his affection for him. Below: Maid Marian and Robin Hood, together in the forest at last. But for how long?
Hoodies! (The original Hoodies!) Below: The Sheriff of Nottingham gives Gisborne a hard time, and Gisborne passes it on.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Robin Hood. Series 2. Episode 8: "Get Carter".

Nottingham Castle is host to a new guest; the Sheriff of Nottingham has hired Carter, a Crusader, to assassinate Robin Hood. Robin doesn't know it yet, but Carter believes the outlaw leader killed his brother, and he wants revenge more than he wants the purse. Carter shows great respect for the Sheriff, bowing to kiss his hand, which leads the Sheriff to ask Gisborne "How come you never kiss my ring?"In Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood's gang are watching a village as the Sheriff's soldiers prepare for a hanging. Against Robin's orders Marian recklessly charges right in, sword arm flailing mercilessly. Robin is afraid she will be recognised and drags her from the fight to tie her up out of sight. Then, in the heat of battle, the assassin Carter rides up and rescues Robin Hood, killing many soldiers in the process, and gaining the admiration of the outlaws.After the fight is over Carter secretly inflicts a wound upon himself, so Robin Hood will take him back to their camp for treatment. On the journey there Carter explains he is in England to seek his brother's killer, whilst Much questions him more about his background, suspicious that he's seen him somewhere before.
As they all recuperate from the battle Robin chides Marian for her conduct, telling her she must accept orders and function as part of a team. She storms off, declaring Robin is basically being sexist. Then, in a particularly illuminating scene, it is Little John who goes to console her with a huge friendship hug, saying that he understands she is grieving over the loss over her father, and that that is the cause of her unrest. (Note: Good to hear him addressed here as "Little John", something which doesn't usually happen in this series). But whilst John is comforting Marian, Carter is at work stealthily attacking the outlaws one by one. Before long, both Marian and John will also fall victim to his skills.
When Robin Hood returns to camp he is met with the sight of everyone tied up on the cliff edge, and Carter insisting he be given the Sheriff's Pact or they all die. Robin is able to overcome Carter, and tie him up in return. At this point Marian plunges once again into a mental red mist and starts throwing punches, demanding information from Carter "one way or the other", all of which provokes Robin to say that's not the way they do things. (Note: It was last week!) It is decided to send Carter back to the Sheriff, knowing the Sheriff will hang him for his failure. On their journey back to Nottingham, Robin shows Carter the plight of the poor villagers, believing he can redeem him by showing the assassin the error of his ways. However, when Carter breaks free, it seems Robin's hopes are in vain and a chase leads to a duel in a barn before Carter does indeed break down in tears when he finally accepts the truth about his brother's death. In that moment Robin and Carter decide to combine forces against the Sheriff.
Back at the hideout Marian has been confined to camp, and is practicing her knife throwing skills when no less that Allan A Dale creeps up on her (nearly losing an eye in the process). Allan explains that Gisborne has sent him for her, but that they could pretend Marian has sought life in the Priory as a nun. Marian is not sure Allan could get the required fake proof, but he smiles saying "Trust me, I'm good with nuns", and their plan is hatched. However, when a wise cracking Allan returns to Guy with the story, he is not readily convinced.
Robin Hood's plan regarding the Sheriff is to feign his own death, have his body taken into the Castle as if Carter really had killed him, get the reward money which is carter's fee, and give it to the villagers. Djaq (of course) administers the potion, and Robin is quickly put to sleep, having once again ordered Marian to stay behind. This she does not do, and hides amongst the outlaws as they enter the Castle courtyard. They are greeted by Gisborne, who wants to be sure Robin Hood is dead and draws his sword to do just that. In order to save Robin, Marian appears from the crowd, expresses no regret at seeing Robin dead, and tells Guy she must speak with him at once. Distracted and delighted, Guy puts his sword away and goes with Marian whilst the cart bearing Robin's body is brought before the Sheriff.
Marian tells Guy she has come to ask him not to visit her at the Priory; that she needs time to grieve. Guy believes the best solution for grief is to bring a new baby into the world, and is not easily persuaded otherwise. At one point, to keep Guy distracted from the outlaws, some rather heavy snogging is necessary on Marian's part!Meanwhile, in the Sheriff's quarters, Robin Hood rises smiling from the table as he and Carter prepare to make their escape with the money whilst consciously avoiding any bloodletting in the process as they fight off the soldiers. But the true climax of the episode is not really this swashbuckling sequence at all but rather Marian's simple advances and apologies to Robin for her recent behaviour. They tease each other playfully, before Marian takes his hand in hers; "an item" for all to witness.

Comment: Good episode, in which the subplot was far more satisfying than the main story. Great character development in the Little John role. Kennedy is great at these scenes (as he was in the childbirth one), and it's a shame we went an entire first series without seeing more of this. Similarly, a really nice short scene between Much and Robin when Much was trying to ascertain if Robin still cares for him. Allan breaks me up the way he is so flippant with Guy, and yes it's official, Marian is still a "Maid" Marian (or so she tells Guy). If I had any negative observations it would be about the inconsistency in the way the writers are portraying Robin Hood. In this episode he went out of his way to avoid any killing of soldiers and, more notably, the very assassin that was trying to kill him. What's going on? For the last couple of episode's he's been positively merciless. If Carter had appeared last week he'd be dead!
More pictures to come, Hoodies!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, 19 November 2007

Robin Hood, series 2. Picture Gallery 7

Allan A Dale, hero or villian?
Robin Hood determines to kill the traitor. Only Marian, the person who stands to lose everything if Allan reveals her secret, can stay Robin's hand.
Edward, Marian's father, dies a hero's death. He may have spent his final years in feeble acceptance of the Sheriff of Nottingham's plans, but in the end it was he who obtained the Pact for Robin Hood, and which can prove the Sheriff's acts of treason.
Robin attempts to console Marian by once more offering her a change of lifestyle in the heart of Sherwood Forest.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Robin Hood. Series 2. Episode 7: "Show Me the Money"

Robin Hood is trying to steal the Pact from Nottingham Castle; this being the document which proves the Sheriff of Nottingham’s acts of treason. As he is discussing the matter a traveller, John of York, passes through the forest and is caught in one of Will Scarlett’s traps. Such traps suspend the victim helpless above the ground. John of York explains he has no money, but is on his way to Nottingham to release his sweetheart Beatrice by paying her bond. He doesn’t in fact have enough money, but Robin Hood decides to give him the required amount from his loot. Robin‘s plan is to bore a small hole in the treasure chest, and follow the trail of sand which trickles out, thus leading him straight to the place the Pact is likely to be kept. Clear so far? Okay, because it does get better.
Once Robin Hood and his gang have followed the treasure into the Castle (looking completely out of character in 1940’s hats and overcoats!), they witness more evidence of Allan A Dale’s treachery. Allan has warned the Sheriff that the boxes containing the treasure are those used by Robin Hood, and the Sheriff follows his advise to have the treasure hung in the courtyard in full view of his deadly archers, where everyone can see it but no-one is likely to attempt to take it. Not only that, but John of York is told by Canon Berkley that he must find even more money to free Beatrice, and his resulting protests land him in jail.
Marian has already once overheard Allan helping the Sheriff, and held a dagger to his throat saying she will kill him if he doesn’t stop. Now she overhears the Sheriff saying he must lead Gisborne to Robin Hood’s secret hideout. At first Marian consults her father, Edward, about what to do. But as ever he is reluctant to make a stand, and tries to embrace her through the bars. Marian says “I’m ashamed of you sometimes”, and leaves. Edward discovers he has inadvertently removed the small dagger from her hair…
In order to leave the Castle, Marian persuades gullible Guy (one more time) to let her walk with him as far as the physician’s. He is on his way to the hideout; she says she needs medicine for her father. Of course, as soon as Gisborne is out of sight she dashes to the forest to warn Robin, only to find herself suspended helplessly from the trees in one of Will’s traps! Robin Hood finds this most entertaining, until a swift punch from the freed Marian brings him to order. Then, in spite of Djaq’s pleas, they resolve to stop Allan and Gisborne, - permanently! One by one the silent arrows from the trees find their mark in the chests of the soldiers. At one point it seems like it could also be the end for a dismounted Gisborne, until Allan A Dale himself sweeps him up onto the back of his own horse, and rides hell bent for Nottingham!
Robin Hood’s outlaws put on the soldier’s clothing and go in pursuit. Once inside Nottingham Castle, Robin wastes no time in locating Allan. Swords are quickly drawn, and an impressive duel begins. Eventually Robin gains the upper hand and presses his blade against the traitor’s throat. But it is Marian who suddenly appears and pleads with him not to kill Allan, saying “If you love me let him go”. Robin declares “I do love you”, and explains it is for her safety that he must kill Allan. Reluctantly, he gives way to her request. As Allan crawls away Marian hurls the dagger at him. It lodges inches from his face, and he promises never to betray her. Robin and Marian slump exhausted to the floor. “You took a long time to tell me that”, she smiles, and Robin confirms that yes he does love her. (If the viewer’s tears aren’t streaming by this stage, believe me, they soon will be…)
Later on Marian takes Edward his food. But Edward appears to be sleeping, and she decides not to disturb him. However, possibly in response to Marian’s last words to him(!), Edward has used the dagger to kill his guard and sneak into the Sheriff’s quarters to get the Pact. Once inside his plan coincides with that of Robin Hood, and they are forced to escape together into the marketplace. It seems they have been successful, until Canon Berkley (the man to whom Beatrice’s bond has to be paid), sees Robin Hood with Edward and grabs the old man, holding him at dagger point. Robin Hood doesn’t hesitate in placing a well aimed arrow in Berkley’s heart. However, as Berkley’s grip loosens, we see his dagger protruding from Edward’s chest!
A highly emotional conversation ensues between Marian’s father and her true love Robin. Edward at long last expresses his belief in Robin Hood's mission, glad of his daughter’s affection for him, and passes on a message for her via Robin: “It’s good to dream”.
When news reaches Marian she is of course inconsolable. Guy attempts to appease her, declaring his feelings for her are stronger than ever. He even returns her dagger to her, knowing the one Edward used to kill the guard is hers. But it’s not Guy she needs, and as she returns to her room Robin Hood is waiting with a simple invitation: “Come into the forest. I have a horse waiting”….
Comment: About 15 minutes into this episode I thought it was rather average, and a bit “wordy”. All that stuff about the Pact, the Bond, and John of York. But oh boy, was I proved wrong. The fight between Allan A Dale and Robin Hood was excellent (best of the series?), and the emotional roller coaster ride which carried us from the romantic declarations of love, to the final scenes with Edward, had me on the edge of my seat. Brilliant. Will Guy now finally give Marian up? Will Marian regret her last words to her father? Will Djaq now accept Robin’s advice about Allan, or will she make an attempt on her own to save him? Will Marian have to buy a new wardrobe for the forest? Will Lucy look good in green? As she says, it’s not really her colour! And why does Robin ever need a disguise to get into Nottingham Castle? He spends half his time in Marian’s room anyway! Just one criticism. Those stupid 1940’s hats and overcoats?! What the heck was that all about? Otherwise? Excellent, with top honours going to Lucy Griffiths (in particular), Jonas Armstrong, and Joe Armstrong for their excellent work. Robin Hood films rarely ever venture into such emotional territory as this!
More pictures in th week Hoodies!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, 12 November 2007

Robin Hood, Series 2 Picture Gallery 6

Above: Deep inside Nottingham Castle the Green Man of ancient legend and England's first Rose, unite against tyrany as Robin Hood and the maid called Marian go into action!
Above: Allan A Dale on his last mission as part of Robin Hood's "merry men". Below: These days Allan takes his fashion tips from Guy of Gisborne...
Above: Harry's Hat! This idea of depicting Will Scarlet as a minstrel, no matter how brief, does in fact go back many decades. In both literature and films, Will Scarlet has mostly been depicted as a brightly clothed rogue with musical skills. Below: I wonder how long it took them to persuade Gordon Kennedy to get into that outfit!
Above: The Sheriff of Nottingham, lord of all he surveys. The Sheriff wants his cake and eat it. But as long as that cake is England shaped Robin Hood has other plans. Below: Ninja Robin Hood resolves to kill the Black Knight, Winchester.
Above: It's bad enough that Robin Hood's gang have to eat Much's food, let alone listen to him chattering on!

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Robin Hood. Series 2. Episode 6. "For England!"

The Story opens as the Sheriff of Nottingham is throwing his mute scribe from the battlements of his Castle. It's a simple way to ensure secrecy! The scribe had just prepared a document upon which the Black Knights will be required to pledge their allegiance to Prince John, and against King Richard.
Deep in Sherwood Forest Robin Hood and his gang come across Allan A Dale as he searches for the purse of blood money he dropped there. They taunt him and, although Djaq seems to want to give him a second chance, Robin declares Allan might as well be dead as far as they are concerned. As they are talking, a small number of Black Knights pass by and Robin decides to follow them into Nottingham to investigate. (Both his gang and myself are left wondering what he needs them for in the first place if he's always telling them to stay behind?)
In Nottingham Castle Guy of Gisborne presents Marian with a new dress and invites her to be his partner at the celebrations where the document supporting Prince John will be signed. As he leaves, Robin enters by the window and he and Marian resolve to find out exactly what the document is all about. This they do, and Marian is startled to read the Duke of Winchester's name listed upon it. He was an old friend of her father, Edward, and she cannot believe he would betray the King. So Robin goes to intercept Winchester and make an ally of him. When he does so, Winchester appears to take Robin's side.
Robin Hood then returns to his camp to enlist the outlaws' help. But Will Scarlet is one step ahead of him, and has been using his skills to produce a range of musical instrument which conceal deadly weapons. ("Q" would have been most impressed, as would 007 himself!) Dressed as minstrels the "Merry Men" (and woman) gain access to the Castle under the pretence of playing later at the banquet where the Black Knights are to assemble.
When Winchester arrives at the Castle he asks to see Edward, and tells him of his encounter with Robin Hood. Much to Edward's alarm, he also tells him he is in fact going to sign the document and take Marian for his own; this being in revenge for the fact Edward married the woman Winchester once loved (Marian's mother). And that's not all. Winchester also insists to the Sheriff that, unless he gets Marian and the county of Sussex, he will not sign his pledge.
Gisborne is beside himself with rage at the prospect of Winchester gaining Marian, but the Sheriff gives way to the demand. However, Sussex is not a prize he is best pleased to lose and, when Winchester leaves the room, he insists that Gisborne arrange a hanging just to cheer him up! And who should enter the room at that ill timed moment? Allan A Dale, now working for Guy! Guy speaks on Allan's behalf, but as far the Sheriff is concerned he is of no further use, and Allan renews his acquaintance with the dungeons. (He must know his way around there by now!)
The tension then rises dramatically. In another part of the dungeons Robin Hood learns from Edward that Winchester will betray him and pledge support to Prince John after all, whilst up in Marian's room an uninvited Guy tells her all about Winchester's designs on her and that she must run away and escape! This is a great scene, presenting us at long last with a very different side to Gisborne as he kisses her cheek and leaves her to prepare. And it gets better! Outside the room Guy is stopped by the Sheriff who is well aware of what's been happening. Rather than fly into a rage, or indeed have an armed escort at the ready, the Sheriff uses only the power of his personality and authority to "seduce" Guy back into line with his promise of the great power which he stands to inherit. As Guy loses all sense of pride and gives in, the Sheriff even seems to brush a tear from his cheek, putting him firmly back in his place. (A remarkable touch this, and just the kind of tiny ad-lib one suspects Keith Allen has placed there in the moment). Marian is then stopped from leaving. Her wrists are chained as Guy and his men escort her to the Duke of Winchester.
After learning that Winchester has betrayed him Robin Hood knows there is only one plan of action open to him. He must kill the Black Knights so that England might live, even though he knows it will cost his life, and he writes a note to Marian expressing his love and his regret. Disguised as one of them Robin attends their meeting, leaping on the table after Winchester signs his name. Before they can summon the guards, or even defend themselves, Robin Hood displays his skills with the knife; his blades fly through the air and sink deep into the hearts of everyone present, including Guy and the Sheriff!
But wait… can they still be alive? And laughing? Robin hadn't reckoned on Winchester telling the Sheriff of his likely presence in the Castle, and they have had time to pad their clothing. Now the show's true climax can take place as the Sheriff pits Robin Hood against Allan A Dale, high above a vat of boiling oil in the Castle courtyard! The insults between these former friends fly thick and fast as they are forced to fight to the death, with Marian (still chained) looking on and the minstrel band of outlaws awaiting a safe moment to just try and intercede….

Comment: Another fantastic episode. Great to see Guy risking his own life for Marian, as well as his very own special way of rescuing her in the end. We were told this series was going to get darker, and it has. When Robin threw those blades there were no "trick shots" intended, just a clean kill! As with Allan. When Robin was distracted, Allan took full advantage of the moment and wanted him in that oil! Also, how scary is Keith Allen? Less panto more psycho!
Good bits of humour too. We even got a musician joke when the guard looked rather incredulously at John, and Much said "He's the drummer". Other fun bits for me were Much chatting up the "groupie", and Will only making John the bells after he'd made everyone else a deadly musical weapon.

More pictures in the week Hoodies!

Labels: , , , , ,

Robin Hood pictures: Harry Lloyd, Jonas Armstrong & Joe Armstrong.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Robin Hood, Series 2. Picture Gallery 5

Above: Mr and Mrs Hoodie?
Above: Allan A Dale leaves his signal for Gisborne. Below: A friendship is broken.
Above: Mistrust in Robin Hood's camp. Below: A new life is born in Sherwood, assisted by the forest giant's hands.
Above: Are we all getting a bit tired of the Marian and Guy situation? Isn't it just better when he's just plain mean to her? Below: Robin Hood turns for continued support to his now depleted band of outlaws.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Robin Hood. Series 2. Episode 5, Ducking and Diving

The story opens on a dark, gloomy night in Nottingham as the familiar black shape of Gisborne strides towards another meeting with Allan A’ Dale, once loyal outlaw, now turned traitor. Allan tells Guy of Robin Hood’s plan to ambush Henry of Lewis, messenger to the Sheriff of Nottingham with information about where King Richard will land on his return to England. Later, when Henry fails to show up, Robin realises he must have a spy in his midst, and warns Marian she may be in danger of having her secret identity revealed as a result.
Before Guy of Gisborne can get him to the Castle, Henry is taken ill and the Sheriff’s own doctor is unable to cure him. The Sheriff then sends for Matilda, a woman renown for her ability to heal people, but whose own daughter is about to give birth to a breached baby. Although the Sheriff doesn’t know it yet it was Matilda who delivered the baby Robin of Loxley, something which pleases him even less than her greeting of “Hello baldy!”
Fearing she might be able to save Henry, and that he will deliver his message to the Sheriff, Robin gains access in disguise and threatens to kill him first. Matilda intervenes, but drugs Henry so he is unable to speak sensibly. Robin then escapes to help Matilda’s daughter, whilst she herself is restrained by the Sheriff.
Whilst this was going on Marian has used her charms on Guy to persuade him to allow her to roam the castle without an armed escort. She hopes to spy on him and find out who the traitor is. To this end she follows Guy into “The Trip”, and hears him deliver a message (plus a purse of coins), to the serving maid. But Gisborne catches her, and it is only his vanity which has him believe she is following because she desires him and for no ulterior motive. (Gullible Guy!)
Back at the outlaw camp Much cannot keep secret the knowledge he has learned earlier from Robin himself that there must be a spy in the camp, and heated arguments ensue before Robin arrives with Matilda’s pregnant daughter, now in labour. Robin gives the traitor one chance to step forward and confess, but no-one does.
Then follows what I think is the most brilliantly edited sequence of the series so far. Whilst the Sheriff of Nottingham puts Matilda on trial in Loxley for being a witch, her daughter undergoes a painful childbirth assisted only by Djaq and John. The scenes involving Gordon Kennedy (John) are especially poignant as his huge inexperienced hands first “turn” and then deliver the baby, as the mother asks him about his own wife. John explains he could not be present when his own son was born, because he had to be “in the forest”. It is a scene of few words, but much is conveyed. And all the time the camera is cutting back and forth to Matilda, strapped to a ducking stool, and being repeatedly submerged under the river, screaming curses at her gloating accuser the Sheriff.
In what will be their final act as one united group, the outlaws rescue Matilda by having Robin swim under water with an air pipe, whilst Henry of Lewis is also captured. More excitement ensues when, on the way back to camp, Henry manages to free himself and put a blade to Much’s throat. Henry believes Robin will not shoot to kill, but tonight this was the Robin Hood of legend, and one deadly arrow finds its mark in his chest.
Robin still has to deal with the problem of a traitor in his camp. Who can it be? He devises a plan involving Will Scarlet. Perhaps because of what happened to Will last week, he trusts him most. Robin takes Will to one side and, without explaining too much, thumps him severely in front of the others and sends him away, telling them Will was the traitor. But Robin knows from what Marian heard whilst spying on Guy, that the real traitor will go to The Trip that night for his / her money.
Night falls, and an anxious Allan A ‘ Dale goes to the Inn for his blood money. But a well aimed arrow pins it to the table, and a blade is placed against his neck. “You’re always in the sun, Robin. I’m always in the shade”, pleads Allan. But there can be no forgiveness and Allan knows that to cross Robin Hood’s path again is to forfeit his life.

Comment: Outstanding episode. In fact this was my personal favourite of this series so far. Brilliant acting in that final scene between Joe Armstrong (Allan) and Jonas Armstrong (Robin). In fact both these two actors really shone throughout the story. Superb work also from Gordon Kennedy (John) who can do so much with so few lines. (I really liked the bit about the naming of the new baby.) Also, as we guessed, Djaq did indeed have her suspicions about Allan. The scene where Allan approaches her, knowing she must have guessed his secret, is another high light of the show. Joe might not command the teenage fan base Harry and Jonas enjoy, but for my money he's the best actor among the younger cast.
It was interesting that the one thing Djaq couldn’t do, having demonstrated so many advanced medical skills in the past, was to “turn” a breached baby and deliver it. The final scene was also well placed, seeing Robin Hood and “his merry men” reduced in number now, but still heading towards the main road to rob from the rich and give to the poor. Fantastic episode!
Oh, and yes there really IS a place called The Trip (to Jerusalem) in Nottingham. It is the oldes inn in England, and has strong links with Robin Hood. You can see it HERE.
More pictures in the week, Hoodies!

Labels: , , , , , , , ,