Saturday, 12 January 2008

Djaq and Will went down the hill?

Will Scarlet quietly makes his mark.
By the end of Robin Hood series 1, Harry Lloyd's dark good looks had certainly established him as probably the most popular male cast member with the teenage viewing audience. However, his Will Scarlet character was still lacking in definition. The direction he received from the producers often seeming to amount to little more than "strike a pose". So, along with the Harry fans, I awaited Series 2 with interest; wondering how Will Scarlet would develop.
I had wanted an "angry" Scarlet, of the kind Ray Winstone instigated with "Robin of Sherwood". After all, the producers of Robin Hood had made several disparaging remarks about that earlier series, and so surely they were going to show us how it should be done? Well, not exactly. Poor or inconsistent character development would be a running criticism of the programme.
Between Robin Hood Series 1 and 2, Harry Lloyd appeared in two episodes of Doctor Who as the "possessed" school prefect Jeremy Baines, and he was really good. Given a well defined, well directed role, I actually think that performance was his best to date. Therefore, when Robin Hood returned to our screens, we anticipated that both Harry's popularity and proven ability would merit a higher profile. We were wrong.
Will Scarlet's big moment came in episode 4, "Angel of Death", when he witnessed the murder of his father. For that one episode, I at least got the "angry Scarlet" I had wanted. But you know what? Good performance though it was, it just wasn't quite right for Harry Lloyd.

Then, for the next eight episodes Will Scarlet became a figure in the background, as plot lines increasingly revolved around Robin Hood (Jonas Armstrong), Allan, A Dale (Joe Armstrong), and Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage). This lack of attention to Will's character is precisely why "that love scene" between him and Djaq in episode thirteen was so painful; neither the viewers nor the actors had been given the opportunity to find it at all convincing. A little prior development would have been all it needed to make it work; a walk in the forest, or a few exchanged "looks". But all we got was Djaq's response to Will seeing her in a dress. Fans were otherwise left guessing as to whether or not he seemed to be sitting rather close to her in any given ambush scene, and as soon as the script relies on the wishful thinking of the viewer, rather than the written page, trouble looms. (Witness the Gisborne / Armitage divide for example).
To end on a positive note, now the series has ended, I find myself more aware of Harry Lloyd's version of Will Scarlet than I had been during its transmission. And maybe (like Gordon Kennedy), this is where Harry Lloyd's strengths lie; making a lasting impression through a succession of small opportunities. I find myself really liking this new angle on Scarlet; an inventor, the person who designed and constructed the hide out in Sherwood Forest; the person who turned musical instruments into deadly weapons; the outlaw Robin Hood most confided in (above Much and John), when it became apparent a traitor was in their midst. I may not have got my "angry Scarlet" (and thank goodness I didn't get a 1930s / 50s style minstrel in a red coat!), but I did get a new interpretation of the outlaw that has proven more interesting in retrospect than was perhaps apparent at the time.

Question: Harry Lloyd is in the upcoming Richard the Lionheart mini-series, playing "Lucas". Does anyone know if this is a totally new character, or is it meant to be Will in disguise? Also, If Lucas is indeed Will, where does Djaq fit in?Djaq, missing in action.
What happened to Djaq? After Robin Hood series 1, she and Much were probably my favourite characters. Anjali Jay in particular had proven most impressive in taking on the role of the Saracen outlaw that began with Mark Ryan in the 1980s, and which in 2006 (given the world situation as it is), had become an even more important role.
When I visit Sherwood Forest I see children from all manner of cultural and religious backgrounds buying their souvenir Robin Hood bows, arrows and hats. That's precisely the way it should be. Robin Hood is a hero of the people. All the people. The early legends about Robin Hood were never linked to King Richard's Crusades and, especially after Michael Praed's Robin of Sherwood dropped all that baggage long ago, I think it bordered on crass stupidity in 2006 to drag such links up again.
So for me, the Saracen outlaw tradition is not only an important one, but one that carries a certain responsibility. More so when that character is also an intelligent, independent, woman of action. At the outset, Anjali Jay absolutely shone in the role. The contrast between her scientific mind, and the superstitions of the Saxon outlaws, was good humoured and well written. One might say "It's only entertainment", but entertainment is where we get a lot of our ideas from, and can be a powerful tool in breaking down barriers.

After Robin Hood Series 1 Anjali Jay had a lead role in "Blind Dating", in which her ability to balance comedy with drama came across well. And certainly when Robin Hood returned to our screens for a second series we all expected to see more of Djaq, the woman who had "saved" Marian's life. We were wrong.
I hate what the writers and producers did to Djaq in series 2. Suddenly this strong female "warrior" was wearing a fitted waistcoat to enhance her curves, before making her only real subsequent contribution to series 2 in episode 2 (The Beauty and the Booby), when she was required to use her cleavage to distract the guards. And as if that wasn't enough, to add insult to injury, the very woman who had been able to perform surgery on Marian in Series 1, was now totally unable to help deliver a baby in Series 2.
Anjali Jay was wasted in Robin Hood Series 2, whilst the character of Djaq was systematically destroyed.
Okay Hoodies, over to YOUR opinons. The comment box beckons!

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37 Comments:

Blogger robin hood said...

Robin Hood, series 2, BBC review.

Anjali Jay, Djaq, Harry Lolyd, Will Scarlet.

12 January 2008 at 13:46:00 GMT  
Anonymous Coralina said...

I totally agree with you!

Will was such a waste,this last season!Actually,I forgot he was actually in the show. "Angel of death" felt weird,perhaps because we've never seen Will furious or perhaps it was a tad forced. He's very sweet,and though it's natural he would like to avenge his father,I'm not exactly imagining him doing it that way.

In season 1,I've never felt there was something chauvinist about RH,but in two...( and I'm not discussing now the way the scene of Guy killing Marian was directed ).

Djaq spent most of season 1 pretending to be a boy, without great suffering or difficulty. She was a "scientist", an erudite and intelligent woman.

In season 2,the more we got to see from her cleavage,the least we watched from her brain.
It would be quite acceptable Djaq gradually feeling comfortable with her feminine side,but why should she loose qualities?!Besides,she was quite austere in season 1, and,in 2,she was too funny.

Little John isn't exactly renown for his intelligence,yet he discovered how to create the antidote for a complex poison and managed to be an obstetrician!And when Djaq is looking at Marian in ep.13,looking like she had never treated a person with a similar wound( ok,the all episode was stupid,but nonetheless...)!

12 January 2008 at 17:44:00 GMT  
Anonymous firefly said...

I agree with all of your points robin hood. The writers didn't use the actors ability's at all. The script had no real 'close' interaction between will and djaq before the 'i love you scene', some people may not have even noticed there was something between them. I would have liked their characters to have been developed alot more. Personally i think that they should have got together in about the middle of series 2 and had some kind of secret liasions. This way Much's honey scene would have been really apropriate as there would have been something going on. I think that the new costume that Djaq wore in series 2 was some sort of attempt to make her look more feminine, but thwhole point is that she's 'one of the lads'. Djaq's cleverness and skills to help the gang now seem to be almost non-existent, the script has stripped her of her abilities! So in all ways (i think) i agree with what you say robin hood

12 January 2008 at 17:51:00 GMT  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Coralina & Firefly,

The person I really missed was Djaq. I know someone's already made the point in previous comments, but we now have no women in the main cast, let alone a strong woman.

I also always thought Will Scarlet too young for Djaq. It never seemed like a convincing match, just a quick fix for the script writers.

12 January 2008 at 18:52:00 GMT  
Blogger kej said...

I'm one of those who rather enjoyed looking for little clues of the Will/Djaq relationship in the background of scenes. But I'm also one of those who thought the series would end with Djaq bending, if not breaking, Will's heart by saying, in effect, she just wasn't that into him.

Like you, I thought Will was too young for Djaq. I'm terrible at estimating ages (did they every actually say out loud on the show that Will was 18 when it started, or is that an estimate somebody came up with elsewhere) but if Djaq wasn't older, she certainly was more worldly than Will. What made Will so appealing to me as a character was that he was smart, and creative, and a good fighter, and brave, and all that good adult stuff that made him a valuable member of the gang, but still inexperienced and a kid in other ways. At the same time, Djaq was kind of wise beyond her years because she had had such a great education and such varied experience. Now the writers have turned Djaq into a romantic wuss and shot Will up in age by at least ten years, and it just doesn't work. (Though it would be kind of fun to see them back in camp when the bloom is off the romantic rose, sniping at each other in Arabic.)

However, for some reason I was okay with Djaq in the childbirth scene, inasmuch as I'm okay with yet another TV show having yet another childbirth scene. I don't think she had any real trouble actually delivering the baby. Her trouble was in turning the baby the right way around before delivery, something that would be more arcane than just catching a baby on its way out. And I bought her reasoning, that she was trained to treat wounded soldiers, not pregnant women. On the other hand, John was hardly trained to treat pregnant women, either, so I don't know where they got off with him knowing what to do when Djaq didn't.

12 January 2008 at 22:44:00 GMT  
Blogger kej said...

ETA to ask...how do I edit posts? I wanted to add to my previous that I was adapting something I had already put on TWoP, using the name D.C., but couldn't figure out how to do so.

12 January 2008 at 23:08:00 GMT  
Blogger robin hood said...

To edit a post in blogger:

Sign in to your bog / View blog / posting / edit posts / then click on "edit" for the post you want to work on.

To edit a comment in blogger is not possible. What you have to do is copy and paste youir comment into notepad (or similar) / edit it on your pc / delete your first comment / then send the corrected version in a new box.

13 January 2008 at 00:12:00 GMT  
Blogger robin hood said...

kej,

Following on from your comment about ages, I tried to find Anjali Jay's birth date on the 'net. Everywhere just says "unknown"...

13 January 2008 at 00:17:00 GMT  
Blogger robin hood said...

kej, P.S.

"Sign in to your bog" should of course read sign in to your blog!

What a typo!!!!!

13 January 2008 at 00:19:00 GMT  
Blogger kej said...

Now you see the problem! :)

And while I'm at it...Djaq's "look" didn't bother me too much, either, because it was so functional. If she had feminized by wearing sweeping gowns in the forest, I would have given up, but the jeans-and-shirt combo made sense. Not so sure about the little vest thingy, but it seemed in keeping with what they had other women wearing, and you see vaguely similar vests in women's outfits in Turkey and other parts of the Middle East, so I grudgingly went along.

13 January 2008 at 00:41:00 GMT  
Anonymous Coralina said...

I remember Anjali having a small participation on The Inspector Linley's mysteries,and the episode I'm referring to was older than the first season of Robin Hood...her character was at least 25,so I'd say she's close to her thirties.

Quite frankly,taking Allan, I think those outlaws all look quite a bit like vegetables ( including Robin),therefore all sexual relationships between them seem somehow weird and not convincing. Will is perhaps the least convincing of them all,so I cannot really say I felt touched by such a couple.

13 January 2008 at 01:53:00 GMT  
Anonymous Rosie said...

Apparently Radio Times said in a article that Will and Djaq would be returning in episode 5 in series 3. Now i haven't seen this article but a fanc site mentioned, it. Im open minded until i see the article, but i really hope its true as i loved Will and Djaq.

I was disappointed how the series never really showed much of them. Like you mentioned it was quite hard to believe the decralation of love in episode 12 when we had seen much to lead up to this. However i did love watching out for there little moments.

13 January 2008 at 15:18:00 GMT  
Blogger robin hood said...

Coralina

Vegetables?

Rosie

I was a "little moment" watcher to.

15 January 2008 at 00:54:00 GMT  
Blogger robin hood said...

QUESTION:

Dear Hoodies,

How come Anjali's date of birth is not on the 'net? Most unusual for an established actress / actor not to have that amongst the biog details.

15 January 2008 at 01:00:00 GMT  
Blogger kej said...

It IS unusual, especially since it seems most agents post at least an older resume for their actors on their company websites--Joe Armstrong's is up, for instance, and he apparently doesn't even give interviews. I suppose it could be a simple desire for privacy, or even vanity. It could also be a tactical move: I've always assumed actors lie a bit about their ages, heights, and weights, but know they can only get away with small lies in those departments--if you say you're six feet tall and show up for an audition at five feet six, the shots of you with other actors won't look the way the director envisioned, and you'll lose the part. It may be that Anjali Jay believes she can get a wider range of parts if directors have to estimate her age themselves and don't get hung up on a particular number she gives them. I know in the interview with her on the BBC website, she definitely comes across as older than several of the boys.

15 January 2008 at 06:29:00 GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi RH, I agree with you about Will and Djag. I liked Ray Winston too. In the second serie both female characters weirdly lost their skills.
I wonder what will be the third series about. I hope that King will send least half of his army with Robin back to England, because Robin, Allan, John and Much cannot stop all Black Knights single-handed. But then this story will be about legendary Robin Hood no more.
To your point why is Robin a Crusader, I think that this idea is coming from Walter Scott´s IVANHOE. Wilfrid of Ivanhoe was a Crusared loyal to King Richard and a character very similar to this BBC Robin Hood.
Anyway, this show is now going on Czech TV CT1. And I hope that BBC will finish the third series soon :-).

15 January 2008 at 15:46:00 GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hiya thanx again Robin Hood for yet another great article.

I love Harry Lloyd he's so fit and i really like djaq coz she's so cool. They're also great actors so it's a real shame that they haven't had much to do once again in this series but at least Will got more to say than last year. Thats one of the main reasons why i watch robin hood as i love to see harry Lloyd. I hope thay don't come in episode 5 in the next series. i hope they come in episode 1. how can we go 5 episodes without Will and Djaq they're my favourite characters.

luv amy xxx

PS i love harry lloyd

16 January 2008 at 19:50:00 GMT  
Anonymous Annie said...

Hi, Robin,
I'm in almost total agreement with your and others' assessment of these characters, especially Djaq. Your point that the writers should have felt a special responsibility to her character is spot on. I didn't have a problem with her being portrayed in a more feminine way, and in fact I kept waiting for that maneuver to be the first step in the writers' writing a romance for Djaq into the plot. But I have a big problem with a brilliant, strong Saracen woman being underwritten and ignored for most of the series.

My one quibble, and I'm not even sure it's a disagreement so much as a reframing, is with your noting that we didn't get an angry Will until "Angel of Death." I've been rewatching episodes and scenes from series 1 (in random order, which I have to say isn't the best strategy for researching character development), and I've been struck by Will's intensity, which often is revealed in a quiet anger. Even if he only has a sentence or two, he almost always responds intensely in situations where injustice and cruelty are revealed. Sometimes he's almost trembling. I think he's also the character (with the possible exception of Djaq) who has the strongest sense of who he is--the one time we see him waiver is when Allan nearly persuades him to go to Scarborough. I think I mostly agree that "Angel of Death" did not seem quite right for Will, except that it is interesting that, like Marian, he behaves irrationally after losing his only remaining parent.

I can see why many people don't think Will is quite right for Djaq--he does seem younger, less worldly, etc. Maybe I'm just happy to see an "older" woman with a younger guy for a change, but I always thought they made a natural couple. Djaq's more obviously intellectual, but I think she and Will are portrayed as two of the more thoughtful and talented characters in the series. Both are brilliant and ingenious, both are highly ethical, neither is easily fooled (though Djaq does cut Allan way too much slack--an interesting parallel to Marian and Gisborne), and both have witnessed horrible oppression and want to do something about it. It makes me angry all over again that the writers created fascinating characters, signed up terrific actors, and then didn't know what to do with them!

17 January 2008 at 22:52:00 GMT  
Anonymous firefly said...

I think that maybe one of the reasons that djaq cut allan some slack is that she also knew that he fancied her.

19 January 2008 at 18:56:00 GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Th writers were put into an impossible position . Robin Hood was essentially a situation led drama overlaid with individual aspects of characterization.But the reverse gradually became true at times when the plot either weakened or became nonsensical . The difficulties around contracts ,commission and contractual obligations drove the plot at specific times .
The relationship that developed between Djaq and Will was that of integrity and honesty and served as a stark contrast between all the other relationships . But again we find it was forced to develop at a breathtaking sped towards the end of season two ,this forced development stood out against the fundamental nature of these characters . They bowed out due to contract related issues -uncertainity around series three commission.
The writers don`t sign up terrific actors -that is the production company . Tiger aspect or should i say the Fox Network might surprise us all-

Wil and Djaq back of course -I would not discount Marian either

20 January 2008 at 13:42:00 GMT  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi anon,

Overall I'm in agreement. With one or two exceptions:

"overlaid with individual aspects of characterization": I think a weakness of the show was that it didn't take enough account of developing individual characters. For example (and I know I'm in a small minority here), I think Gisborne's role was a mess.

"The difficulties around contracts ,commission and contractual obligations drove the plot at specific times": This is something it's easy to forget. the BBC were only looking for a "stop gap" beteen seasons of Doctor Who; something to retain the 7 0'clock viewers until the Time Lord returned.

Unlike the Time Lord, the actors can't change with any sense of conviction. (It didn't really work in Robin of Sherwood, even though their logic was fairly sound).

20 January 2008 at 16:04:00 GMT  
Anonymous Mojo said...

okay this is my opinion,
i liked Djaq in the first season, but in the second, it was if she hardly existed. Ive never been that fond of Will, i know hes supposed to be every teens favourite and yes, he is good looking, but i personally think hes a bit dull. He doesn't have a unique personality like Robin, Marian, the Sheriff, Much, and even Guy. This is also my problem with Djaq, she did have a personality and it disappeared in the second season!!

i could hardly bear watching the scene when Djaq and Will admitted they loved each other, actually im pretty sure i didn't hear half of it because i was too busy trying not to her it, it was soo awful!

Djaq and Wills characters were not well developed in season 2, actually they went backwards. theres not much point saying i hope the writers give them both more spotlight in the third season because they're probably not coming back and even if they did i wouldn't be watching anyway because they've killed Marian

22 January 2008 at 04:23:00 GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello everybody, look at this:
http://www.richardarmitageonline.com/articles/reveal-20-26oct2007.jpg

I really wonder if the second end was even more stupid or if it is the real one and we will see it in the first episode of season 3. All the Holy Land story could be a nightmare, maybe.
What do you think?
:-)

22 January 2008 at 09:52:00 GMT  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi mojo,

I agree with every one of your points, apart from the one about harry being "dull". I think there's potential there although, as I've already stated, i think he's not ready yet for certain extremes of emotion on the screen.

Your comment about trying not to hear "that scene" made me laugh. i think a few of us were practically eating the sofa. Surely "that scene" is destined for "TV Nightmares" type compilation shows.

Hi anon,

Yes we knew about the second ending, but not the precise details of what happens.

22 January 2008 at 11:53:00 GMT  
Blogger kej said...

I was on Harry Lloyd's Wikipedia entry, looking for a link to something else, and I saw this had been added. FWIW:

"Fans have e-mailed Tiger Aspect, the production company who makes Robin hood, to see if he will be appearing in Series 3, they responded by saying "storylines change daily and we therefore cannot confirm Will or Djaq's return or otherwise."

The Wikipedia editors had also added "[citation needed]" at that point, so I suppose you should take even its existence with a grain of salt, let alone any bigger meaning.

22 January 2008 at 13:20:00 GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Money talks -they want them back -they know they need them back -but do they want to go back?
does Marian want to come back -i am afraid here in australia the talk is Marian`s death will be a nightmare for Robin . She is taken off by Gisbourne ,in a stabbed state =hence the nightmare and returns halfway through-he thinks she is dead-hence the new relationship.She is married to Gisbourne

23 January 2008 at 05:55:00 GMT  
Anonymous Annie said...

On dear, that scenario does sound like a nightmare!

23 January 2008 at 14:13:00 GMT  
Anonymous Annie said...

By the way, I found a bit of information on the Richard the Lionheart movie. It's evidently based on a book (Heroes and Villains) by Frank McLynn--a greatest hits of military men. Others featured include Spartacus, Attila the Hun, and Cortes. No connection to our Will, alas.

23 January 2008 at 22:25:00 GMT  
Blogger robin hood said...

annie,

thanks for the info.

It will be a bit weird watching a film about Richard the Lionheart, with Harry Lloyd in it, when we all know Will Scarlet is just down the road living with Djaq!

6 February 2008 at 11:25:00 GMT  
Blogger kej said...

It's...it's...his EVIL TWIN! The one he never knew he had! And many madcap hijinks ensue.

6 February 2008 at 11:32:00 GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a problem with Snapped Will (episode 4) never being referred to again in the series.
If you knew someone who cracked like that in your personal lives, you'd remember it.
If you were Robin, each new person that fell across your camp would be taken aside and told;
"See that kid over there? He may seem alright, but he's definitely steer clear material.
"One wrong move from you towards him, and you'll wake up with your head glued into a book vise, and him turning the wheel."
As Will sits yonder, blithely eating an apple and staring into the middle distance, unaware he is the subject of dire warning.

17 February 2008 at 06:53:00 GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just to let people know richard the lionheart one off drama starts on saturday at 10pm just to let people know just in case they didnt
i for one will be recording it harry is so sweet!!!

21 March 2008 at 13:43:00 GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just to let people know richard the lionheart is on tonight and am i the only one who is gonna watch it

22 March 2008 at 18:15:00 GMT  
Blogger robin hood said...

Well I'm going to watch it.

I'm quite looking forward to it 'cos I always thought Richard was a bit of a villian neglecting (and hating) England the way he did.

I often wonder if King John was better after all. Maybe the programme will tell me.

If I get time (and my equipment doesn't keep playing up!) I might do a little bonus post on it during the week, seeing as it's Harry and all.

22 March 2008 at 19:23:00 GMT  
Blogger Filly said...

I know we all love Robin Hood series but i have to disagree with the text about will and djaq i believe they all have a reason to be on the show we just have to find out what the reason is!!!!

23 October 2008 at 10:18:00 BST  
Blogger Ëarwen said...

I love Will and Djaq in the series, and had no problem with the love scene, although Will's lines needed to be... better.
Djaq's were great though.
Angel of Death was a great episode, and I loved Will's angry side, but he's such a sweet, quiet character it was nice to return him to that. THey really did a gerat job with him when Robin punches him, trying to find the traitor.

24 November 2009 at 19:58:00 GMT  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Earwen,

I really missed both these great characters in Series 3. It wasn't the same without them.

24 November 2009 at 20:47:00 GMT  

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