Sunday, March 29, 2009

RH3 is coming... I better sure as hell finally do my predictions for where the series is going to go.

Considering how bowled over I was that the second series noticed the whopping great plot hole at the end of A Clue: No - and Robin Hood was already high in my affections and respect - I think I can safely say I'll be shit at predicting where this show is going. The twists and turns of its second year meant it felt like a whole series composed of season finales from the sheer lack of reset buttons, increased stakes and other such amazement - Marion, for example, has her entire situation and personality backflipped a dozen times as she goes from Batgirl like sidekick to rebellious tart to psycho grief-fueled avenger to lone vigilante to dead saint. You don't get that kind of development in many shows, and INSIDE a YEAR?

The news that the BBC want to tinker with Robin Hood and effectively reboot it come as a disappointment, remembering how She-Spies went from the kind of genius that Shaun McCallef would applaud (an Inspektor Herring style spoof of Charlie's Angels, with such brilliant moments as a "budget" cut episode where all the sets were replaced with lego and the Bill Murray character regularly phoning his analyst to complain he has a paranoid fantasy he's actually just an expositional device with no personality) to a straightforward action show where the wit consisted of an occasional one liner. We were supposed to take it seriously, even though if it HAD been serious, no one would have watched it, even for the three hot chicks within.

But it appears this is less of a "make it nice and safe and dull" move that I feared (yet an amazing amount of DWF desire - mind you, they seem to think Doctor Who being in the same universe as Day One or Ronnie Corbett Act Like A Retard For Five Minutes On The Set Of TSJAs is a good thing...) and more a Steven Moffat takeover. For this series is the beginning and the end, and the last one with Mr. Armstrong as Robin Hood himself. Now, this isn't so big a deal in my opinion. For an up and coming actor like him, nailing his colours to one of the most famous cultural icons is a ballsy enough move, especially when it involves moving to Hungary for half a year. The writers clearly saw that coming which is why they introduced that, at times, bewildering chant of "We Are Robin Hood". Robin, in Sisterhood, goes as far as to convince the others to keep fighting should he be killed. The idea that one of them might start calling themselves Robin Hood for propaganda reasons is an obvious development... and makes a lot more sense than the 'regeneration' in Robin of Sherwood, which I still don't quite understand.

This of course means that the high octane take-no-prisoners-no-more-nice-guy vibe from season two can not only be continued but positively built upon. Will the season finale feature the first episode with the gang trapped, a guest appearance by a monarch and the Sherrif doing some rather rare personal slaughter as Guy stabs a woman he loves? Hell, these guys killed off Marion! I wouldn't put it past them for Vasey to blow up Nottingham with an atom bomb!

Season 2 left England run by thousands of deranged warriors lead by Des Taviner (who I hope will make a return - this show sorely needs a gormless and stupid villain, if only to make things more interesting) and Robin vanishing without a word. So assuming the people even know Robin is still alive, they won't exactly be pleased he ran off and left them. Will the Black Knights be able to control the mercenaries, especially when its found out that their wage packets aren't technically in existence? And since Vasey's deal to level Nottingham was waived while on holiday, will Robin take this gift-wrapped assassination opportunity?

But as for the characters - well, trying to judge them on where the last episode left off is rather hard, as they were all shown to be badly dehydrated and sunstruck (check out Much trying to get Richard to make him an Earl - while Robin is fighting for his life - and tell me the guy's working on all cylinders... check out Marion's suicidal insanity while you're at it).

It's his last year, but does he have a death wish. He went absolutely frigging insane the first time Marion died but, after all, this time he got some closure and, let's be fair, it wasn't his fault she got herself impaled. Will his amazing gift of denial help him out this time? Or is he going to crash and burn? Much has always worried about his death wish. One thing's for sure - Guisborne is a dead man.

Having got over his (valid) issues with Robin, Much is probably the best-adjusted we've seen him. But we also get to see him as a merciless warrior, decapitating people without flinching, a side of Much we just don't think of, but has had plenty of foreshadowing, including his pathological hatred of being betrayed - be it by Alan, Nettlestone or the Black Knights. But we've seen lots of evidence that Much is not only a competent guerilla fighter, but a socialite animal. About the only thing he needs improving is his relationship with Robin - unless Much toughens up, I think his fear that "if he dies, I die" might come true.

Not sure where he's going. He effectively grows up in the season finale, admitting he was an idiot instead of downplaying his treachery (a big step for him). The season also showed he's terrified of loneliness and needs to be surrounded by people - he's simply too resourceful to turn to Guisborne because he's out of a job, since he could easily steal/win/talk his way into luxury. Ultimately, Alan overcomes his desire for the status quo and chooses his friends. In character terms, he might as well have died as I can't think of anywhere for him to go - unless, if Much becomes the Next Robin (for which he is obviously qualified), Alan will most likely become the Next Much. This is, after all, a guy who steals a fortune and his only plan for it is to hang around Will's family until something else turns up.

His suicidal issues confronted, John has the choice of pursuing a new life or dying in his old one. He's much happier as a healer than a hurter, and is without doubt the best replacement for Djaq as the new medic of the gang. He can either resolve things with Alice and his son (unlikely) or he can try and start again. Of course, there's always Queen Elenour of Aquitane who'd be willing to let him stay for the night.

No freaking idea. Which is, of course, the genius. Redefined from "generic bad guy who fancies Marion" to a kind of leather-clad Kamelion, Guy has repeatedly found himself turning from pure evil to disillusioned cynic depending on how close he is to Marion, his self-confessed passport to a fresh start. But now he's succumbed to the dark side long enough to kill her. Is he gone for good? Will he reboot as nice guy? Suicidal? Determined to live? Blinded? No doubt that Richard Armitage could carry this show by himself, and Guy becoming the Next Robin is the kind of bare-faced bravery I've come to expect.

He wants England, huh? That's a nifty bit of blackmail Robin's in a position to use. In the first series Vasey was just a more-cunning-than-average tool of the establishment. In the second series he's part of a conspiracy but, he hastens to point out, merely a part. But it seems he's joined up with the Black Knights to first make sure they win, and then do a second Shah Mat on John himself. Who knows where the hell this could lead?!

Coming soon, my review of Robin Hood 3.o1: TOTAL ECLIPSE...

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