Thursday, July 29, 2010
Robin Hood 4.0: I can dream...
Well, one of the most awesome TV series has come to an end on ABC2, leaving me as ever bitterly disappointed that just because of some falling ratings (which even the harshest critic would admit was down to the shitty way the BBC hyped the show) and the fact the lead actor had left the show (despite having been foreshadowed for two whole series). Mind you, it seems the BBC can only afford to make Doctor Who and only Doctor Who nowadays, stupid global financial crisis...
But just what would have happened in this mythical fourth series? Oddly enough, no fan fics have stepped in to fill the breach (and, seriously, some of them are particularly dire - the revelation that Marion survived her gutwound and being buried alive in the middle of the desert is almost as bad as the depressingly numerous stories where Will and Djaq pop by and twig Robin's still alive cause Djaq's good with poisons and shit...). And so, in the ultimate refuge in audacity, I am forced to turn to my own diseased brain for inspiration.
Note: everyone who died in Something Worth Fighting For stays dead. Even Keith Allan.
4.1 Dramatis Personae
The somewhat reduced Merry Men are in hiding in Bonchurch, since Much finally gets his lodge - not that it particularly cheers him up. The demolition of Nottingham Castle has had Prince John put Sherwood into Martial Law, and peasants across the land are wondering where the hell's Robin got to? Archer realizes he's going to have to change his name to keep the legend alive, and he's not really into that - in fact, he's not fitting into the team very well at all, ignoring Tuck, trying to shag Kate and repeatedly getting into fights with Much. Little John's got his work cut out trying to stop them killing each other.
Lord Jasper returns, intending to sort out the outlaws and boost his favor with Caligula, er, Prince John. Turns out he's got a bigger plan now Richard's out of the picture, and it doesn't involve Prince John as anything other than a puppet ruler of England. The trouble is, everyone knows about Richard being captured and they want their king back. PJ ain't happy, and the pressure's on for Jasper to keep the psycho off his back.
After a base-under-seige, the internal conflicts in the gang completely screw them over. The soldiers storm Bonchurch and just when it looks like our heroes are dead meat, Jasper arrives and saves them. See, he'd like to make a deal with them...
In return for their lives (and telling everyone Archer is Robin Hood, who isn't dead), Jasper wants the gang to be a guerilla pest to keep PJ angry and annoyed, so his eyes aren't on his own "supporters". Archer, Kate and Little John are up for it - especially the not-dying part - but Much refuses, thinking this is crossing the line. Tuck also knows Jasper has a cunning plan, but agrees.
By the end of the episode, Tuck's worked out that Jasper intends a massive scam: all the ransom money will be collected properly, and then sent to Austria... only to be "stolen" en route. Tuck assumes that this is to ensure Richard never gets released, but Jasper just wants PJ to think that. In fact, the money will get there, just a few weeks later. But if anyone wants the whole process sped up, then maybe the Merry Men can help 'collect' some cold hard cash for the ransom...?
4.2 "Booby & The Beast" Rewrite!
The gang is not really happy. Tuck's keeping them in the dark, and Archer and Kate are not repeat not happy about changing the business mission statement from "rob from rich, give to poor" to "rob from rich and rob from poor". Little John refuses outright but... what's this?
Much's first love, that girl called Eve is back (since Sheriff Vasey's now dead, she's no longer got a price on her head). Unfortunately, she's brought her new husband, some greasy foreign bastard with more money than sense. The gang invite them to the lodge at Bonchurch, intending to scam him in every way shape and form until the sod's penniless. With this morally acceptable plan agreed, the gang work together well for once.
Archer tricks Eve's husband into Hustle-style cons, Kate arranges a rigged beauty contest (it's just her and several hairy blokes in drag), Little John smashes up the guy's carriage and then pretends to be a dodgy mechanic (ooh, it'll cost ya) while Much is only interested in trying to split up the happy couple and get Eve back. But is he the man she fell in love with?
Happy ending - Eve is free, her husband's almost but not quite on their side (though he buggers off quick smart leaving his cash for them), and the gang are united. The money is quickly sent to Jasper, who - true to his word - puts it in a vault for all the ransom money. Except, there's already a fortune in there. Us the audience know that Jasper's already got enough for the ransom, but hasn't told anyone. I wonder why not?
4.3 Royal Command Performance
PJ is back like Russell Brand on cheap amphetamines! He's stuck on a tour of the provinces trying to drum up cash for his brother. It's basically an outlaw-lite episode, focussing on the madness of Prince John, and how he's starting to cotton onto how Jasper and his other supporters are up to something.
Along the way he's the usual PR nightmare, leaving more corpses and prisoners in his wake than delighted fans. The main just of the story is some kind of public event, a jousting competition or somesuch. PJ is convinced the outlaws will try and assassinate him there, even though they wouldn't be that stupid. With his neck on the line, Jasper seemingly betrays the gang and sets them up for a trap - which they only just get out of, but fail to disrupt the tour in any way at all.
PJ is delighted and goes to bed... when suddenly Robin Hood appears in his bedroom, a freaky ghost threatening to kill PJ for his crimes. PJ is scared shitless and ends the tour, convinced that demonic forces are at work and if he delays getting Richard back then he is supremely screwed.
But it turns out this phantasmagoria was all a cunning trick with smoke, mirrors and Jasper working with the outlaws (who knew all along about "the trap" and were only pretending to be caught in it). By now, Jasper's almost a trusted ally of the gang, and Tuck is the one firmly behind him.
One problem: PJ finds out about the fake ghost thing, and also that Jasper was behind it...
4.4 Generic Witch Hunt Episode
Things have gotten totally out of control. Pretending to still be gripped with fear, PJ begins a campaign against the Merry Men - he finds solid proof that Robin died the day Nottingham fell, so if the Hooded Man really is out and about robbing from the rich... and not quite giving as much to the poor... than how the hell did he manage it? Robin is either a liar or some kind of vampiric monster!
Jasper can't help out the gang this time - PJ's watching his every move and is not in a good move.
The gang aren't having good times either. Little John is refusing to withhold any more booty from the poor. Archer dare not leave the house... which means he's putting the moves on Eve, which pisses Much off on so many new and interesting levels it's frightening. Kate and Tuck attempt to carry on the fight, and convince the natives that they're not actually supernatural badass warriors.
But their pleas fall on deaf ears. With PJ's fear campaign at full pelt, people are more and more convinced that Robin is some kind of demon - did he not, after all, come to life after the sun disappeared? (Ooh, Tuck's facepalming something chronic over that). And even the few they convince realize that "Robin" is actually Archer and the heroes are lying to them. Tuck's insistance about legendary media spin doesn't impress anyone - just how dumb does he think the peasants are?
The flaming torches brigade reaches Bonchurch Lodge and find not only the AntiRobin in Archer... but a huge freaking store of stolen goods! When, prey tell, were the merry men going to share this with the poor and downtrodden? The mob soon believes that our heroes have lost their way with Robin dead and are keeping all the cash for themselves. Having completely lost the trust of the locals, soldiers are called for.
Things look bleak...
Thunk! Arrow strikes somewhere important - fired by a man in a hood.
"I am Robin Hood," declares the man who bloody well isn't...
4.5 Robin Who?
The new Robin sweetalks the mob. He's able to bluff very well indeed, claiming the stuff is being sent to Loxley et all to help rebuild after all the chaos of the season finale. The gang have no choice but to go along with this guy, who gets the locals off their backs and even manages to keep them most of the booty. But he's made himself public now, and everyone in Bonchurch thinks he's the real deal. Archer in a hoodie won't work any more and if they get rid of the new guy, well... they'll never be trusted again.
PJ and company head for Bonchurch, still whipping people up into a frenzy of Robin-Hood-is-evil. The new Robin's reputation doesn't dent PJ's determination to kill the bastard, and he turns all his soldiers onto the town. With the gang caught by surprise (arguing about what the hell to do with this new conman who's trying to blackmail them and get a cut of the cash... which sort of makes Archer wish he'd thought of doing that first), they are forced to scatter. Bonchurch is burnt to the ground. Much ends up with Eve and Kate, Little John and Archer are solo, and everyone thinks everyone else is dead.
Tuck and the conman are captured and brought before PJ. The conman blubs and begs for mercy. He doesn't get any and is taken to be hung, drawn and quartered, while Tuck is beheaded... or is he? Anyway, Robin Hood dies publically, leading the title of the episode being namedropped by PJ himself. The legend of Hood dies as a blubbering loser screaming for mercy and insisting he was in it for the money. It all seems over.
As the disparate elements of the gang scatter, dispirited, we discover... Tuck's alive! He was saved by Jasper, who decides it's time to take things up a notch...
4.6 The Last Temptation of Bruvva Tuck
Tuck and Jasper are plotting against PJ, but their plans are brutally pragmatic - to give the best chance of getting the ransom money to King Richard, it requires letting PJ do whatever the hell he likes to keep him distracted. Jasper explains his plans to leave PJ a figurehead while the ex-Black Knights form a council that will keep England in something approaching order - it was only their work that's stopped the country from going bankrupt with the royal family's exorbitant costs.
Tuck heads off to try and get the gang back together and this unsurprisingly takes most of the episode. But his "big picture" attitude rubs everyone up the wrong way, in particular his new strategy of letting the peasants fend for themselves rather than rely on Robin Hood to save them. Little John refuses to rejoin the gang, Much and the girls try to reason with him, and Arche is determined to start his own merry men and screw the lot of them. Tuck is confronted with the fact he has no personal stake in the resistance - he's never lost anyone important to him, he's just an idealist with nothing to lose. The others abandon him and continue to scatter, since it's too dangerous to keep together where they are more likely to be recognized...
Defeated, Tuck returns to Jasper and rapidly discovers the rather nasty truth: Jasper intends for the money to reach Leopole of Austria, all right. But he's going to get twice what he's asking for, as payment to execute Richard and tell everyone he just died of natural causes, allowing the blameless John to be crowned King. Tuck realizes he's been played for a fool. Jasper laughs at him: you don't need to go round knifing people and cutting out tongues to get people to help you. He's always fancied a more easy-going approach to coersion.
Tuck attacks Jasper, but after a huge fight gets thrown out of the castle. Jasper decides to adapt PJ's plan. Since Tuck's been publically executed, he'll have to keep his head down or get dubbed a demon and burnt at the stake. With the merry men gone their separate ways, his noble aims completely screwed over, and unable to openly defy PJ, Tuck is completely screwed... and his stiff upper lip finally fails...
...to be continued...