Oh, my. Been a while, hasn't it? While I've largely moved on to different, more animated films, I recently rewatched this movie and had some thoughts about it. So... Hey, let's do this.

Look out! Russell Crowe is going to shoot you!

PLOT - Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1199. We open up at the tail end of the Crusades, and Richard the Lion Ass is wondering what people think of him, so he wanders out among his men to find one that will tell him the truth. He finds an honest man in Robin Longstride, a simple archer. The King asks Robin how people see his war, and Robin, who’s grown weary of fightin’ ’round the world, demonstrates why he’s an archer and not a king-talker-to by telling him the truth, and is pilloried for his trouble. But then the king gets shot in the neck, ah, we all have problems. Robin and his friends make a run for it, and come across a group of knights that were ambushed. Stealing their armor under the sensible assumption that knights have an easier time getting onto boats than soldiers, they make for England, planning on retiring to the country.

Whoopsie! Turns out the guy whose armor Robin stole is Robert Locksley, the king‘s BFF, and he has to return the royal crown to London to avoid suspicion, then go to Locksley’s absurdly named farm, Pepper Harrow, to settle his affairs. There, Locksley’s wife Marian actually manages to work out that her husband was killed. It’s the little things, like how Robert spoke with an English accent instead of an Australian/Irish garble, and how he wasn’t Russell Crowe. But the farm’s in trouble, and she thinks he’ll be useful to have around, so she lets him stay. Her most pressing concern is the grain. See, the Sheriff of Nottingham has seized nearly all of Pepper Harrow’s seed corn, and the church refuses to release any from its stores. With the aid of his men and the local priest, Robin steals the church’s grain, and plants it to hide his crime. And… yeah, that’s pretty much it for the Robin Hood part. I hope you like hearing about King John’s dick, because there’s about 2 hours of that sprinkled in there.


Hey, Pisanos! It's been far too long. I promise that these will be coming more frequently for the next few months, and my other blogs should follow suit. Thanks for checking back daily, as I'm sure you did. I'll get to that non-German one I mentioned last time, but first, something near and dear to me. IT'S THE SUPER MARIO BROTHERS SUPER SHOW! Let's look... under the hood.


(What is that root attached to? And how can that be supporting their weight? I QUESTION THIS SHOW'S SCIENCE.)

BIG PLOT -This show basically consists of Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Toadstool wandering around randomly from place to place. When they arrive someplace, they learn that Koopa arrived before them and has established a criminal empire and a fun nickname, i.e. Count Koopula, Baron von Koopenstein, Al Koopone, Koopzilla, Koopadile Dundee, Dr. Koopiarity, Ernst Stavro Koopfeld, etcetera. And yes, I made some of those up, but not as many as you might think. Anyway, judging by how Koopa was the major criminal power anywhere they went, he’s gotta be at LEAST two months ahead of them. What the hell do they do in the meantime? And why doesn’t Koopa change his route if they keep catching up with him?



(Those trees are obviously just painted flats. And this is a CARTOON.)

LITTLE PLOT - The gang is on their way to Sharewood Village, which is a pun that barely works in text, and not at all in speech. On their way through Sharewood Forest, they are accosted by the Sheriff of Koopingham's (see?) guards, who accuse them of being "Hooded Robin". That the guards think they're cunning enough to see through a disguise yet fail to recognize the people who constantly follow them around and foil their plans is not remarked upon, probably because none of the writers thought of it. They are saved by Hooded Robin, a name so unimaginative it makes "Sharewood Forest" look like a 10-page Feghoot. They go with him to the castle and return the taxed coins to the citizens by melting them, running the molten gold through pipes to the town water pump, which then somehow pumps out gold coins. I could make fun of the plot holes, the animation errors, the general sloppiness, or the fact that one time Koopa talks with Toad's voice, but I'm just impressed at how they solved the problem with plumbing. That's more than the games ever did.



(More like Hooded Albatoss.)

ROBIN - In every episode, there's someone local to the area who helps them out, usually with an extremely lazy name, like Indiana Joe or Herlock Soames or Hooded Robin. H.R. is just a huge pile of wasted ideas. He starts off by perfectly impersonating the Sheriff. This ability never comes up again. He acts cocky once, leading Toad to call him a show-off, and at the end, thanks them. The thanking is treated like some big epiphany of humility, but since he only acted non-humble once, it doesn't register as such. The writers of this show seemed to have a dim idea of what good ideas were like, but no ability to actually have them or develop them. I think that's where the Mad Max episode came from.

(No seriously, they had one. It was called "Toad Warrior", used pasta sauce instead of gasoline, and Koopa was sadly not called "Koopmungus".)



(The castle is on the ground and has a drawbridge and a moat next time we see it. Continuity is for lesser shows.)

LITTLE JOHN - That would be Luigi, since he's tallest. I always had a fondness for Luigi. Maybe it's because he can jump better, or because I had a book as a kid where they identified him as left-handed. Maybe it's because my uncle called him "Loogie". But I've always played better as Luigi than as Mario. My fondness of him extends into the live-action segments on this show, as well. Mario and Luigi are played by the same actors that do the voices, but while Captain Lou Albano is authentically a short, fat, goggle-eyed Italian, Danny Wells is taller, older, and more dignified-looking. He gives it 100%, of course, but I confess I like to imagine that he's a classically trained British actor. He does his lines and mugs with the guest star and sticks carrots in his ears, but when the director says cut, he just sits in his dressing room that he shares with Captain Lou and wonders how his life took this turn. He thinks about calling his old roommate, Anthony Hopkins, but it's been so long, and what would he say? Danny, the call comes, we need you on set for the Inspector Gadget bit. A tear rises, but he fights it down and thrusts the green cap on his head. He's a professional, dammit. And he'll do what he was hired to do. So he goes out and waves a slinky around Maurice LaMarche's head, and he's brilliant. He always is. He's Danny Fucking Wells.




(They both seem to be looking at each other's foreheads. This is either a power negotiating technique or bad animation.)

WILL SCARLET - Will Scarlet is Mario, on account of wearing red. He is played, as mentioned earlier, by pro wrestler, rubber band enthusiast, and inventor of music Captain Lou Albano. I fear I may have given Mario short shrift with my fulsome praise of Luigi and TV's Danny Wells, but you know what? I just can't get it up for this guy. Sure, he's an effective enough hero, I do fine on his solo adventures, and I acquit myself well with him in Smash Bros, but he's so bland. Any time you can choose someone else, Mario's defining trait is that he's okay at everything. Average go-karter, average tennis player, average extreme gardener (that was the plot of Mario 2, right?) I suppose this show made the best possible choices with him. They cast a charismatic pro wrestler and concocted a number of problems that could only be solved with plumbing.


(YES. Now leave him there.)

MUCH - Much is Toad. Ohhhhhh sweet holy fuck Toad is annoying on this show. He's like nails on a chalkboard. And I don't just mean his voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard, though it most assuredly does. I mean his whole being is like nails on a chalkboard. The sound, the feel, the malice behind such an action, and the complete lack of usefulness to the Super Mario brothers.


("This gate! It's rusted! I... Blame it on the Rain! Mario, just... Keep on Running! Girl, You Know it's True!")

MARIAN - I suppose by the nature of her gender, it's Princess Toadstool. I really like Toadstool. This is years before she became "Peach" and developed a personality, so they pretty much had to invent her from scratch for this show. And considering that the personality she got here was resourceful, clever, and just ass willing to fight as the men, she came off better than the personality she developed in the games, which was: "Dear Mario, please come to the castle. I've baked a cake for you." Also, TV Toadstool, and I swear this is in continuity, is a Milli Vanilli fan.


(When standing outside the cart, he's as tall as it. I really can't tell you how many animation errors are in this episode. It's not possible.)

SHERIFF - King Koopa of course, and if you were paying attention above, you’ve already guessed he’s the Sheriff of Koopingham. Incidentally, after writing that sentence, I did some actual research, and it turns out they’ve used all except Koopadile Dundee and Koopfeld. And they did “Kangaroo Koopa” and “Koopfinger”, so basically, either I’m not as clever as I thought, or this show is so insane it creates accidental self parody. I like him. It's easier to buy bad puns when they're coming out of a snarling lizard, and like all good 80s cartoon villains, he has no motivation outside of being evil. Or maybe polluting.


(Is it weird that they bothered to animate blinking? All the other corners they could cut, they did, but this was important enough to focus on?)

SIR GUY - Let’s just say it’s the Koopa Troopa that gets all the lines. Or maybe all Koopa Troopas sound alike, just like they look alike. What? I’m not racist, they're bad animators! Anyway, I assume the one who talks is his own character, since whoever’s talking usually has a sword and the others don‘t, but it’s not like this show is big on continuity.


(Oh thank heavens! I'm back to my old self again. Thank you so much. Here is a rake from the princess.)

THE MAN - Have you ever noticed how often in fiction you have a princess running the country with no one above her? Call me old fashioned, but where I come from, AMERICA, a princess with no parents is called a queen. Anyway, this is an issue that has been addressed twice that I know of. In the poorly-recieved and poorly-made but pleasingly-insane film adaptation, where the king has been turned into an enourmous network of fungus, gives the brothers stuff, and turns into Lance Henriksen at the end. This is appropriately bizarre. In the comics, he was actually a reigning monarch, albeit a childishly stupid and self-involved one. He closed a peanut butter jar on his tie! Hilarious! I love those comics. I really don't think they gave a shit when they were writing them, and they have a really odd style of naturalistic writing that works kind of fantastically.


(I was going to speculate on what's going on in this image, but I disturbed myself.)

OTHER MERRIES - None but the good mush-folk of Sharewood Village. Don't blame me, that's what they call them. They all look a bit... off. Like they're not real people, but rather semi-successful robot creations. Their proportions are all weird, they have these saggy unnatural faces, and two of them talk through vocoders for no reason.



(On the other hand, if I said what's ACTUALLY going on here, you'd assume I was speculating disturbingly.)

OTHER VILLAINS - The only non-Koopa-or-troopa villain we get is Fry Guy, a Mario 2 badnik who I don't think I've ever encountered in the game, due to my tendency to use warp pipes to get the heck to world 4. He gives them a chance to use the fire puns they had lying around when they ran out of pasta puns. And Toad and Hooded Robin have to seduce him. In disguise. I don't know.




PLOT OF THE SEASON – Get your bow, Robin! There's a-doin's a-transpirin'! The Sheriff has solved that little problem of you maybe killing him by making a deal with Prince John. If the Sheriff doesn't send a seal* to John every week, Nottingham is burned to the ground. And how is the Sheriff paying for this magnificent life assurance? In evil schemes, of course! He's helping John get a variety of nobles on his side, so that when King Richard returns to England, they'll kill him and use their freshly loyal armies to solidify John's hold on the country. Only Robin Hood can stop him, but it won't be easy. For one thing, baldy beardy hasn't given up on doing extracurricular evil schemes for the fun of it, Marian's living in the castle after Guy burned down her house, and he's got five sidekicks trying to jump on the character development train.


*A wax seal**, not a live seal.


** Meaning an impression of the sheriff's ring in wax, not a seal made of wax.


APOLOGY - First I need to say something I totally missed in my season one review: The theme tune kicks ass. Bum ba da BUMMM ba da da bum banadadadaDUM! Great stuff. I really should have mentioned it in my last review. They play it at the many suitably heroic moments and it’s just so great that Robin gets his own heroic theme to pull out at inspirational moments, like Indiana Jones or Superman. It’s such a hero thing, and not one of the other things we‘ve seen here have had that kind of strong theme. (DIGRESSION: I like Shirley Walker’s “Superman the Animated Series” theme better than the one from the movies.) So anyway, sorry I missed that.



(Outlaws can't catch you... If you're on FIRE. *tap tap*)


THE GOOD - Thankfully, the writers really figured out what worked from last season and what didn’t. The mood is more lighthearted but the stakes are more dramatic, the dialogue’s wittier but the performances are realer, and most important, the haircuts are a lot saner. The ham-fisted modern parallels are… less so. Look at it this way: Worst line was not something with a lot of competition this season, and the line that I chose is more because it could have been so much better. But for best line, there was serious competition, and I... well, you'll see. There’s none worth complaining about, so that’s something. In fact, they have a line that's very similar to my 'fixed' worst line of the last season. Marian's dad, Sir Someone, says that he believes in the rights of the free man, and the sheriff's response is a concise "Who cares what you believe?" Anyway, good season. I actually ranked it at five stars on Netflix. Truth be told, on a 1-5 scale, I’d give it like a 4.3, but I bumped it up because it was just that enjoyable. Of course, that missing .7 had to come from somewhere.



(When we finally see the mercenary army the Sheriff's been building all season, the results are... underwhelming.)


THE BAD - Let’s be clear, a few episodes are blatant stinkers. But I’m used to that. You can’t be a fan of genre television without learning to bear it. Like on Doctor Who, you can‘t get to “The Girl in the Fireplace“ without first sitting through “Fear Her” . (American Equivalent - You have to sit through “Hide and Q” to see “Tapestry”.) The finale particularly went all over the place, negating the rest of the season in the most convoluted and crazy way possible. (See also: Doctor Who) But as I say, I’m used to that, and it doesn’t bother me so much. What does bother me are the little subtle ways the writers don’t trust themselves. Their lack of faith in their own plotting leads them to fall back on clichéd business like Guy/Marian sexual tension or Robin brooding, and none of that works at all. But for things that really bothered me, most of it fits in with the individual sections, and is thus dealt with below in a presumably humorous manner.



(Little John, looking like an unsubstantiated Bigfoot photo.)

THE OTHERWISE WORTHY OF MENTION - There's a neat bit in the first episode where the gang stops someone in the woods and ask how much money they have, advising them that if they tell the truth, they will lose ten percent to the outlaws, and if they lie, they will lose it all. This is actually a feature of some older tellings of the story, and is rather nifty. That is the "gang", by the by. Robin always refers to them as his "gang", rather than "band" or whatever. The gang also gets a group catchphrase this year, "We are Robin Hood!" This shows that all of them share the outlaw status and the credit and the name, and is quite nice. It also sets up one of them taking over if Robin dies, but... No, no, I'm getting ahead of myself. Wait 'til next season, guys.

You know, I have a weird attitude toward anachronism. There's an episode where someone's poisoning villagers, and they throw around words like "scientist" and "infection" and quarantine the sick, and just generally demonstrate a modern understanding of germ theory and research. That doesn't bug me. The sheriff saying "scallywag" bugs the heck out of me. It's because it's meant to sound historical, but it's from the wrong period. The word dates back to the 1870s. It's the wrong sort of old dammit! There is a historically apt moment I loved, when one of the treasonous villains points out that Richard has been on his crusade for too long, has become out of touch, and is neglecting England. Great points, treasonous asshole!



(I bet that's what William Burroughs looked like right before he... Well, you know. All's I'm saying is Marian better not be off camera with a shot glass on her head.)

ROBIN - Well, as I was making ready to post this, I realized that I had managed to complete this whole review without writing this section. Whoops. Ah, you know what? Just read what I wrote so far, plus the Robin section from the season one review, and take a guess at what I think. You're probably pretty close. Except I'd be funnier. Oh, and he gets a catchphrase this season, too: "Trust me. I have a plan." He usually does.



("Barbers... I do not like." [joke by the author's brother])


LITTLE JOHN - Thank god Gordon Kennedy decided to let his hair grow in the off season. He looks great this season, and his character really clicked… most of the time. Having apparently spent some time on the Klingon homeworld, John has developed a new catchphrase; “It is a good day to die!” And for the most part is all fun and gung-ho, until on incredibly wangsty scene where he admits he has a for realsies death wish, due to his likely-forever separation from his wife and son. In this speech, he refers to his son as “Little Little John”, eliciting a very loud and inappropriate laugh from me. On the wonderfully ridiculous front, John’s considerable strength has been amped up this season to Hulk-like levels. When he stops a giant stone wall from closing by lifting it with his back, or punches down a door that Will can’t lock pick, it’s always fun. He also gets to handle the medicine this year, which makes sense, what with him being a woodsman and knowing all the plants and what have you. If this was last year, Jack would be doing the medicine. But other people are allowed to be special now!




(The decision to make Will more distinctive to the audience by a funny hat was, I feel, a misstep.)


WILL SCARLET - Will Scarlet - SUPERCARPENTER! Okay, so after napping his way through season one, the Scarlet wonder makes a return here, and they seem to have decided that since the only cool stuff he ever did was build something or go after the castle’s architecture, they’d play up his carpentry skill even more this time around. And it’s… well, it’s frankly implausible a lot of the time. Making a camouflaged entrance to the gang’s hideout: Good. Making a wooden slide projector: Bad. On a positive note, Harry Lloyd can widen his eyes now! Hooray! Acting! Actually, I saw him on an episode of Doctor Who, and he was kind of amazingly over the top. Maybe he only has two speeds. Deranged On Account of Alien Posession and Subtle To the Point of Napping. But anyway, the wide and narrow eyes help a lot, and he actually has some nice moments in the last few episodes, when they step up the writing on Will, which helps a lot. Oh, and his mustache thickens up a lot this season, which somehow looks pretty good, rather than being creepy, like you would expect.




(Tuck will be played by the English lovechild of Dennis Hayesbert and the Old Spice guy.)


TUCK - Still not shown up, but the third season has aired, and Tuck finally made the cut, so you‘ll hear about him eventually. He’s a tall, handsome, muscular, black man. Normally, I’d roll my eyes at this, but given what they’ve done with Alan and Much, I say let’s go nuts.




(I forget what was going on here, but based on the rest of the season, I'd have to guess Much noticed they shouldn't be shooting at something, and everyone else ignored him and called him stupid.)


MUCH - Speaking of whom... Sadly, the tradeoff for the far superior season we have here is that my favorite character from season one doesn’t do quite so well. Part of it is just that with the increasing development of the other characters, and Robin’s more solid relationship with Marian, Much’s role as confidante is way less important. So with less importance to the hero and no episodes for himself this year, his role dissolves mostly to complaining and being jealous of Marian. Poo. And what’s more, the writers have decided that it would be the absolute height of comedy to have the other characters constantly make fun of much and not treat him like an actual part of the gang. By the time the season is done, he has fully transitioned from Faithful Sidekick to Butt Monkey. (By the way, when one is making notes on a show into a tape recorder, the phrase "Butt Monkey Much" is hard to say.) To make matters worse, Much keeps on making really good points and prudent observations, yet the show seems determined to make him look like he's just a whiner. No! He's making sense! Jerky show. You ruined my favorite character!


(When I say run, run. RUN.)


By the way, I totally forgot to tell you guys last time, but the guy who plays Much is the grandson of the first-ever TV Robin Hood, who was also the second (and my favorite) Doctor Who. He’s got awesome in his blood.




(It took her a while to get the idea of 'camouflage')

MARIAN - DEAD, BABY. I’m just kidding, again. They actually did the fakeout death at the end of last season, but she’s fine. In this season, the Sheriff grows ever more suspicious of Marian and Sir Someone, and Guy capitalizes on this by burning down their house so they’ll have to live in the castle, and Marian can never refuse to see him. How romantic. Naturally, this makes spying a little hard for her, but she manages to get quite a bit of vital info to the outlaws by clever subterfuge and stepping up her seduction game to like a billion. Guy, of course, buys it hook, line, and anachronistic fishing device, and thinks she really really likes him. So when her father dies attempting to escape the castle’s prison and Marian runs away, he takes it hard. When he finds out she’s been helping the outlaws, he takes it harder. And when she tells him she was in love with Robin all along, he stabs her in the stomach. So yeah, I really wasn’t kidding when I said she was dead. I think we can safely say no one saw that coming. Except all of you now that you’ve read this. And if you looked at the pictures at the end of the last review.



(Man, everyone should get a bad guy costume next year.)


ALAN - Can I say best thing ever? Sure I can. And that’s good, because I’m going to say that Alan’s role in this season is to be given the BEST THING EVER AWARD, taking the title from the previous holder, which was… I don’t know, Patrick Bergin’s mustache or something. See, last season, they played with the idea that Alan might pinch the outlaw’s stash and run off on his own, but he decided not to. This season… Well, he got a better offer. He spent most of the first episode out of commission after getting captured running a shell game in Nottingham, and after a spot of light torture, Guy comes in with a proposition. Spy on the outlaws, and not only do I not kill you, but I’ll slide you some dough on the side. Feeling that this is his best option, Al starts spilling the beans on some of their upcoming plans. He’s careful not to reveal their secret base or rat out Marian, but that doesn’t help when Robin Hood finds him out, and they have a full-blown ass-kicking fest all over the castle. Alan finds his career opportunities limited after this, and saves his life by taking up a full-time henching position with the Gisbourne firm, complete with snazzy new bad-guy outfit. (This includes an implication that leather jackets are part of the villain ranking system.) For the rest of the season, he’s striking a balance between trying to prove to the gang that he can be trusted while still avoiding getting disemboweled by his famously unstable boss. Even better, his clever plans and outside-the-box thinking are more appreciated by Team Evil, so he's got his ego in the mix. He never falters from wanting to do good, but when forced to do evil, he'll do it well. It's great.




(Hello, the Queen of England. I am a Saracen. Let's not make this any more awkward than it has to be.)

JACK - Jack femmes herself up this year, and EVERYONE WINS! Actually, the attractiveness of Jack is kind of annoying. Sometimes up to twice an episode, Jack uses her feminine wiles to aid the gang. Anjali Jay is a very attractive lady, but she’s a brown person at the time of the crusades who has a boy haircut and wears pants. I can’t imagine the average guard would go all Tex Avery goo goo eyes on her. And speaking of her distinctive physical appearance, there’s a few scenes where Guy doesn’t recognize her. Then again, he never recognized the Night Watchman’s gender either. Maybe the revelation that Guy is blind is part of season 3. Thanks to her, the team is minus two at the end, since she decides to stay in the Holy Land, and Will stays with her, them having admitted their love for each other in the previous episode. Sure, just take the guy away as soon as he gets interesting. I’m sure your family will love you bringing home an English guy during the frickin’ Crusade. Guess who’s coming to dinner? INFIDELS.



(Part of me really wishes they did a musical episode. This duet would be fantastic.)

SHERIFF - The Sheriff got off to a shaky start this season, which had me concerned. The first episode dealt with the arrival of his sister, who he truly loved, and who died at the end, causing him to darkly swear vengeance on Hood. Oh crap, thinks I, they’re going to turn the Sheriff angsty! Thankfully, he’s soon back to his sarcastic self, the sister is quite rightly ignored as a bad idea, and he can get on with the evil plans. Such plans include suspending all of his money in a cage in the public square so Robin won’t dare go after it, staging a public behanding wherein the victim, her children, and the ENTIRE crowd watching were working for him, the suit of indestructible armor, the use of mirrors to create decoy treasure in a James Bondian trap room… Frankly, it’s impressive he had time to overthrow the king at all.

(Just visually, I mean. You have to admit, it is striking.)


His all-time crowning moment has to come in the episode “Walkabout”, just after Robin Hood has stolen evidence implicating the Sheriff in treason. Sheriff is so stressed about this that he winds up sleepwalking right into the heart of Sherwood. Coincidentally this is also the day that Prince John needs his seal or else he’ll destroy Nottingham, much to the shock of Guy, who‘s found himself in charge. So Sheriff’s in the middle of the forest, with no time, no shoes, no money, no weapons, not even his false tooth*, and he still manages to form an evil outlaw band, con his way into Robin’s camp, rob the gang blind, screw over his partners, and stroll past the torch-bearing mob into Nottingham, berating Gisbourne without missing a beat. Pure. Class.


*Keith Allen lost a tooth filming the season one finale, and they wrote it into the character by having him keep a variety of jeweled teeth in human skulls around his room. It's all kinds of awesome.



(Apparently, this was supposed to be intimidating, but it really just looks like they made the basic shape, then ran out of armor money before they finished it.)

SIR GUY
- After Alan, I’m in a mood for handing out awards. So I’m giving Richard Armitage the DUDE, I WOULDN’T WANT YOUR JOB AWARD, previously held by the Wallace Beery wranglers. Armitage has to deal with the plot of the season requiring Guy to be more traitorous, murderous, and sleazy than ever, while at the same time, the writers are keenly aware of his thriving female fan base, and want to make him and Marian look like a legitimate option. It starts out by just making him appear to shower more often, but the badass decay starts setting in around episode 4, in weird ways. There's all these awkwardly forced “not such a bad guy after all” moments placed in the context of plots where he, in fact, IS such a bad guy after all. Aww, he doesn’t want to kill those little kids… so he’s sending them to be slaves at a mine! Aww, he gave Marian a pass out of the castle… where she lives because he burned her house down! Aww, he saved her from the outlaws… and he killed her dad! Really, the only totally selfless moment is when he refuses Prince John’s offer to be allowed leave Nottingham alive, deciding instead to stay and fight the soldiers at Marians urging. But that’s slightly mitigated by the fact that he first tried to use the offer to coerce Marian into marrying him. Oh, and that a few episodes later he announces his intention to use his position to “marry” her whether she wants to or not. Oh, and all the stabbing her.



(I should note that despite the show's budget and the relative ease with which mail can be obtained, all chain mail on the show is made of fabric. This is bothersome to me as a viewer and a ren fair actor.)


THE MAN - Prince John is ever a presence in this series, having entrusted the Sheriff with his plan to kill Richard. We don’t get much of a sense of John other than he’s ambitious. Except he agrees to the Sheriff’s suggestion that if the Sheriff is ever killed, all of Nottingham goes up in flames, which sets up John nicely as a ruthless baddie for season 3. King Richard himself actually appears in the finale, played for the first time I know by an age appropriate actor, somewhere in his mid-thirties. The British creative team just can’t bring themselves to play him as the full-blown asshole he was, and he’s depicted more as misguided and war-hardened. It takes a special kind of patriot to attempt to show a guy as decent while he’s crucifying the heroes in the desert. We also get Queen Eleanor again, and yes, she is the sassy. She also flirts extensively with Little John. Extensively, inappropriately, and repulsively.




(DIE.)

OTHER MERRY MEN - The old Alan-a-Dale story gets yet ANOTHER telling here, but it’s such a neat story I can’t really fault them. Since Alan is already a character, they create an original character, Sir John, and have him as the lovelorn poor person. It’s a good episode, but seriously, if they were going to create a new character, why call him John? We’ve already got Little John, Prince John… They could have called him Sir Richard, that’s a legit Robin Hood character. There’s also a Jester, who is like the most irritating character ever. I can’t stand when they put a jester in Robin Hood. There was the hideous nutbar from the ‘91 flick, some mincing little twerp Sir Chunkula stabbed in the silent version (though fair’s fair, they were all mincing twerps in that movie.), and now this one… Whereas the other jesters were pretty accurately tiny, ugly, and possibly retarded, this jester is tall and handsome and wears a sexy costume with elaborate makeup. And instead of capering about whilst farting, does a stand-up comedy routine where he steals the “Richard the Lion-Heart” bit from Eddie Izzard, and then helps the good guys solve a mystery and then disappears forever, thank Primus.




(Queen Sassy and the Bear Patrol.)


Two other guest stars would be fabulous additions to the band to replace Will and Jack… if they weren’t both dead by the end of the season. Dammit! One of them, a fella named Carter, is introduced as a villain, with a serious revenge-on for Robin, which he gives up on pretty quickly upon learning that it’s all based on a lie. (Cutesy episode title: Get Carter.) He shows up again in the season finale, to help out and get killed. I assumed they were killing him for cheap drama, but then they killed Marian, so what the hell. The other is Queen Eleanor’s personal bodyguard, whose name (not joking) is LeGrande. LeGrande is basically Little John cranked up to eleven. Bigger, louder, wilder, and his staff has a big metal chunk on the end. The episode has many hilarious instances of Little John acting like a jealous child and competing to be the best beardy giant. LeGrande doesn’t even make it long enough to get a return appearance, dying near the end of the episode.




(I cannot even try to imagine what that must smell like.)

We also get the return of Dan Scarlet, which is still a funny name. Dan tries to get in on the social justice thing, but doesn’t quite appreciate the secretive nature of it all. After speaking out in public, he gets stabbed, causing will to wreak his bland vengeance. Bland and stupid, since he knows full well about the Sheriff’s deal with Prince John, yet tries to kill him anyway. Will’s dad’s mentor also appears, training the gang to get through the Sheriff’s booby-trapped treasure room. He identifies Will as being angry and passionate, prompting me to wonder if he’s also deaf. And this is before Dan bit it, so it’s not like he’s making an educated guess. Rounding out the good guy season is the kids from the episode “Child Hood”, who help the gang after they see Guy carrying out Secret Plotting in the forest, where they were playing Robin Hood. It’s kind of adorable, except for the prerequisite Much joke. I mean, it’s one thing if nobody wants to play Much, that’s funny. Like when nobody wanted to play Bubbles. But they don’t even know who he is. He’s a major part of the gang, you little assholes! And props to Marian's dad, the famed Sir Someone of Someplace, who spends all season languishing in prison trying to convince everyone to give up on their dreams and quit trying to bone his daughter. He balls up eventually and steals some key evidence for the gang, only to get a knife in the ribs for his trouble. Call that gratitude? 'Cos I don't.




(Robin Hood versus the Dreaded Green Screen.)

OTHER VILLAINS - Not as many guest villains as guest heroes. There’s surprisingly little done with the Black Knights, the treacherous nobles helping the sheriff overthrow Richard. The only one that gets unique attention is an old friend of Marian’s dad who Robin thinks can be trusted. Turns out he never liked Sir Someone after all, and tries to screw over the band and, of course, bone Marian. There’s also some more outside help hired by the Sheriff for his other plans, including The Angel of Death, who sends poisoned bread to the peasants in order to see if he can make a poison look like disease, and the Saracen blacksmith who creates a light yet incredibly strong suit of armor. The smith’s in it for the profit, whereas the other guy… well, look at his name, he’s clearly got issues. Also, he quotes the bible a lot, but nothing appropriate or actually about any angels of death, so he just looks pretentious. Speaking of pretension and religion, there’s also the Canon of Berkley, who takes the corrupt churchman role in the not-Alan A’Dale story, trading off “Sir John‘s“ fiancée to the highest bidder. He also kills Marian's dad. I know I said earlier it was Guy, but here's how it goes: At the time I wrote that, I hadn't seen the episode for a few months. On reviewing them again, I realized that I was mistaken, but also that the episode seems written to end with Guy killing Edward. (That's his name, by the way. If I'm going to get into his death, I might as well give him that.) I'd place good money on that episode originally ending with Guy doing the deed, but it was changed last minute for reasons discussed above.




(Missed you, man.)

Most excitingly, we’ve got a special return this season… it’s Nasir! Yes, the lovable Saracen former assassin from Robin of Sherwood finally gets another appearance, and he’s not so lovable nor not so former this time. He is, in fact, the one who arranges the assassination of the king for the Sheriff. He’s actually been sort of split up as he is quite a bit more talkative and smaller than we’ve seen previously, while his associate, who does the actual killing, is a hulking quiet type. I think being split may have affected his planning skills, though. He follows a three-pronged attack in his attack on the king. One - Make a copy of Saladin’s seal so the king will think you’re a legitimate envoy. So far so good. Two - Tell the king to meet Saladin alone in the desert for peace talks, which the king will agree to because he wants peace more than anything. SERIOUSLY? Is there even point in going on to three? Well, three is to have the big guy pretend to be Saladin and kill the king after delivering the killer one-liner “I am not Saladin!” whilst the Sheriff and Gisbourne watch from a dune, giggling. Maybe Nasir didn’t actually expect to get that far.




(Almost completely in context.)

BEST LINE RUNNERS-UP - Sheriff to Sir Someone and Marian : “Well, well, if it isn't the sanctimonious old fart... And her father.”


Much, realizing Robin suspects him of being the traitor: "What do I have to do to prove my loyalty to you? What? Tell me! What? I'll chop off my own arms! Well, one arm. Because once I chop that off then I wouldn't be able to chop off... the other..."


MUCH: "We're robbing from the rich to give... to the rich?" ROBIN: "That's right. Think of it as a wedding present." MUCH: Can't we just get them a toasting-fork like everyone else?"


"Well, here's to your dearly departed dead dad Dan." Sheriff to Will. He says this not knowing who Will is except that his father Dan is dead. So as far as he knows, he's not putting the emotional screws to an outlaw, just being an ass to a servant.


EVIL PRIEST: "As God is my friend, I swear I don't know!" ROBIN: "If you don't tell us, God won't be your friend. He'll be your next door neighbor."


"No County Park" This is actually not a line from the show, but a bumper sticker I saw while making notes in my recorder. What on earth could it mean.


This long exchange of dialogue, including pictures of Much looking like Tim Minchin.


BEST LINE SUPPLEMENT: SHERIFF AND GISBOURNE GAY WATCH:


Tell me you would rather have a woman, Gisbourne. Tell me you would rather have a woman... Than this.” - The Sheriff's first line of the season (He was referring to a map of the areas they will rule after the coup.)


Stop whining, Gisbourne. If I'd wanted a wife - I would have found one with better legs."


"Guy, why don't you ever kiss my ring?"


BEST LINE: “Oh, Guy, Marian sent you a message. She says 'I'm not coming back, get over it, and for God's sake, change your clothes once in a while.' She ran away the minute her dad died, now what does that tell you? It tells me that the crusty one was the only thing keeping her here. She's not coming back, Guy. Move on. I'll tell you what. I'll give you a kiss. Will that make you feel better? In fact, if Hood is dead, I'll give you two kisses. Come along... Gizzy gets a kissy?”


Seriously, all (unintended by the authors) gay jokes aside, that is brilliant writing.




(Still from the episode where the Sheriff's magic hat turns everyone into children. I wish.)

WORST LINE RUNNER-UP - “Pepper! Ouch!” Jack, after throwing pepper in a guy's face. Apparently the writers thought we not only couldn't figure out what she was doing, but also what effect it had on the guy screaming and clutching his eyes.


WORST LINE - “Come on now, chop chop.” Really, Sheriff? You're going to have someone's hand cut off and that's the best you can do? No, no, I'm not angry. Just... disappointed.


(But at least we have this to look forward to...)


ONE HUGE MISSED OPPORTUNITY - As mentioned, Much got the short end this year, but there was one moment in particular that bugged me, and that if they had decided to go through with it, would have redeemed the whole season as Much’s crowning moment. When the gang has been left tied to posts in the desert and it’s been hours and death is imminent, Robin and Marian begin reciting wedding vows to each other, and Much begins crying. I so desperately wanted Much to butt in at the end and say “Then by the power vested in me as the rightful Earl of Bonchurch, I pronounce you man and wife.” It would have broken the tension, been amazingly heartwarming, called back to season one and the position Much gave up twice out of loyalty to Robin, and had him bless their relationship after a whole season of being jealous. Instead, Carter turns up, apparently having snuck up unseen despite there being nothing but desert for like three miles on any side. Then King Richard marries them officially after she gets stabbed, which makes her death scene overlong and overindulgent. And the last fight would have been so much cooler if they were fighting as a married couple, and instead of taunting Guy with “I love Robin Hood,” which he already knew, she could have been all like “Robin Who? Oh, you mean my HUSBAND? SLAPPAPOW!” and his stabbing of her would have seemed more natural… Dangit, why don’t they ask me before they make these decisions?



(A screencap of the exact moment where Guy tells Marian that the best way to grieve her father is by getting pregnant. What a classy fella.)


COMING UP NEXT - Look, I’d love to give you a sweet teaser of this one, but I know squat about it. I can’t even give you a basic plot idea. It’s a bootleg I bought at the comic shop, and the back is all in German. I don’t think the movie is in German, since it’s by Hammer Films, but we’ll just have to see.

BEYOND SHERWOOD FOREST (2009)


(Sequel to the lesser known "Bed Sherwood Forest" and "Bath Sherwood Forest")

PLOT - Now, pay attention. We begin in a flashback, where spunky tween Robert Something is practicing archery and waiting for his dad, the Vice-Sheriff of Nottingham, to show up and teach him how to shave and play catch with him and tell him about girls. But the Sheriff and his two deputies are busy chasing… a dragon. Yes, it’s one of those. The Sheriff is killed by the beast, making Robin’s dad sheriff. Hooray! In order to gain control of the beast, who turns into a human-looking girl when wounded, the other deputy stabs Robert‘s dad. Booooo! So Robert runs and we flash forward an undetermined number of years where Robert has become Robin and sleeps under what really just looks like a pile of garbage, which is especially odd, since it’s established later that he has an official outlaw base camp. Anyway, the sheriff has finally decided, after (bumbletybum) years, to use the dragon to terrorize the peasantry. So Robin must find a way to kill that which does not die, all the while battling guards, wolves, and a really tedious subplot about Marian. He finally learns (I bet you thought I already got to the weird part) that the dragon, who is named Alina, is actually a fairy from another world, the portal to which lies in Sherwood. Apparently, it just sits there all the time, and no one’s ever noticed. So Robin, Little John, and Will Scarlet go into the fairy world where Robin must climb a mountain to retrieve the magic plant that will cure Alina’s dragonitis, and make her mortal. But the Sheriff… ugh… has cut her heart out of her body, and giving her the plant will kill her, even though she’s not a bad person. And she can't return to her people, because she's been exiled for running away, which seems a silly reason to exile someone. But that’s all resolved somehow, and Marian doesn’t have to get married after all. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yeah, she… you know what? Who cares. Oh, and Friar Tuck dies.


(Ah, the shot that's in every Robin Hood movie.)

THE GOOD - Um… Ah… Let’s see… Well, most of the performances were, if not actually good, sort of winningly enthusiastic. Costumes are okay, if a bit busy. Sets are okay, if a bit small. Photography’s not bad. Basically, it’s a good looking movie. Nothing groundbreaking, but attractive. Which doesn’t make up for…


(Proof that someone directed this.)

THE BAD - The script. Oh, holy crap, the script. The plot is complete nonsense, as if someone had written a standard Robin Hood movie and decided to tack a dragon onto it at the last second. The internal logic is all over the place. Alina turns into a dragon in the sun, except in the first scene, where she turns back into a person for no reason. Alina loses control when she’s a dragon and turns beastly, except the dragon is clearly shown to be intelligent and rational and defy the Sheriff. And I don’t want you thinking the Robin Hood story outside of the dragon stuff is any good, because it’s not. Plot holes abound, and the actual dialogue is constantly cringeworthy. “Worst Line” had some serious contention this time around. I’m trying not to make this a nitpicky post full of specific instances, but there’s really just so much insane in this.


("So... How are you?")

THE OTHERWISE WORTHY OF MENTION - I’m not going to get into the effects. They’re quite good for a SyFy movie, but that’s still pretty bad, so… yeah. I mean, look at that picture. It actually looks good in still shots. That's not nothing.


(Robin Hood, played by Robin Dunn. Like Robin is that common of a name.)

ROBIN - Robin in this version is a fascinating and varied character, or so I am informed. Shortly after Marian joins them, she points out that all the other Merries take joy in helping others, but Robin is so serious about it, more like it’s a job, nay, a DUTY. Well, I’m glad Marian was around to let us know that, because I never would have guessed from, you know, watching the movie or anything. Basically, this guy’s just a retread of the hot young Robin Hood the BBC has given us, only with an even worse haircut and no personality. And a hilariously fake accent. When he gets excited, it either just plain disappears, or turns Scottish.


("No, John. I'm not taller, I'm just in the foreground.")

LITTLE JOHN - And speaking of no personality, here’s Little John! I’m just foolin’. He’s got a personality. Sure, it’s nothing to write home about, just being a boisterous bruiser type, but it’s something. The most interesting part of this Little John is his voice. His accent is pretty inconsistent, but by the time he showed up, I was already used to that. What’s weird is that when he’s speaking calmly, he sounds almost exactly like James Earl Jones. It’s uncanny.


(Judging by the shirt, I'd say he's a brawny man.)

WILL SCARLET - Will (who looks like a cross between the BBC Will and this guy,) isn’t with the Merries at the beginning, taking on the role of “Townsperson Who Is Angry At Robin For Their Woes”, but once the dragon shows, he swiftly segues into “Guy Who Inevitably Joins The Band To No One’s Surprise Since We Noticed His Name”. He’s the town butcher, and fights at first by dual-wielding cleavers, which is neat. Hey, remember in Avatar when you had Zuko, who uses two broadswords, and Jet, who uses two hookswords, and when Jet challenged Zuko, you knew they were going to have an awesome dual-weilding battle, and Zuko couldn’t use his Firebending, since he was in hiding? That was so cool. Sometimes I like to remind myself that there’s better things on TV.


(What an outlaw! Stole the fingers right off his gloves.)

TUCK - DEAD, BABY. At first, he shows up, all scruffy and peacemakery, and lets everyone stay at his abbey and dispenses sage advice to everyone. He seems all sensible, until he gets the bejeepers clawed out of him by the dragon. Then, on his deathbed, he tells them what they need to do to kill her. Oh, wait, no he doesn’t. He gives them some cryptic riddle bullshit. Sure, they work it out, and WAY too easily, mind, but it still doesn’t make sense that he wouldn’t just tell them, and that he’d hold off on this vital info until he was dying. It’s just stupid. Hey, remember when Zuko fought Jet?


(It was so cool.)

MUCH -Not much by way of Much here, just some tagalong kid called Gareth. He never talks, because the Sheriff cut his tongue out. Yes, we really need that kind of gritty drama in a movie where Robin Hood uses fairy dust to fight a dragon. He helps them in the usual urchiny ways, and is generally forgotten about for most of the movie.


(I like her little embroidered dragon. It's like some kind of medieval Lacoste.)

MARIAN - I feel like I should have more to say about her. Not just because she’s Marian, lord knows we’ve had plenty of boring Marians, it’s just that she’s on Smallville, and my powerful nerd hindbrain is telling me that I need to discuss it at length. But I’ve seen exactly one episode of Smalville since she joined the cast, and all this girl did was stay out of the way while the more interesting characters engaged in the main plot. Which is actually about what Marian does here. Hey, I did it! Also, she’s first seen, apart from the introductory flashback, doing some quarterstaff training. Guess how that gets used later? If you guessed “One fight with Robin, followed by a lot of getting captured and rescued by men,” you are sadly correct.


(And with that tiny cut, he looks worse than the Phantom in the 2004 movie.)

SHERIFF - I think I’ve already told you everything interesting about the guy. This isn’t to say he’s boring, he’s probably the funnest character in the movie. (Yeah, I said funnest.) This is because he’s played by B-movie superstar Julian Sands, who gives it the exact sort of hammy performance it deserves. My favorite Julian Sands movie is The Phantom of the Opera, where he plays the Phantom, who is not deformed, wears no mask, and has sex with rats. He gets into a variety of pervy situations with Christine, who is played by the director’s daughter. Then he is killed by a midget on a rocket powered skateboard. And that’s just the bare bones, the movie’s a lot weirder than that. My second favorite Julian Sands movie is Boxing Helena. I’m not even going to try to describe that one, just go read the Wikipedia article or something.


(Sometimes the gay jokes are too easy to make. Just pretend this is a Road warrior joke or something.)

SIR GUY - Oh, there’s a Sir Guy all right. And no one was more surprised to learn this than me. See, the first time around, I heard a reference to Malcolm being desperate to catch Robin, and context made it seem they were talking about the Captain of the Guards. Okay, so that’s Malcolm. And now everyone is talking about how Robin has a vendetta and a personal history with him and they’re the mortalest of mortal foes. And I’m all like “But why? There’s no reason for that.” Boy, I tells ya, if that guy was actually named Malcolm, this entry would be so funny. But it turns out Malcolm is the Sheriff, as I found out reading the IMDb cast list, which also let me know that this guy is a Sir Guy. And as I watched the second time, it was all insanely obvious, and they call him Sir Guy all the time, and I must have reeeeeeally not been paying attention the first time. He’s okay in a generic, scowly sort of way.


(Oh, and he's pimply and scabby, just like a real medieval king. Kudos, movie.)

THE MAN - Prince John is in this, but he really doesn’t need to be. He’s in three scenes, but never does anything but raise taxes and be generally menacing until the very end. Sure, he’s trying to marry off Marian, but that’s nothing a messenger or the Sheriff couldn’t have handled. If you’re going to have royalty in a scene, there has to be something special about it, and nobody even seems really impressed with the guy. He is slightly redeemed in the final scene, where he hands out the customary rewards, rather than Richard doing it as per usual. Granted these rewards are more along the lines of “I’m not selling you to an Austrian,” and “I’m not killing you right now,” but he’s trying.


(Because even when John and Robin start as partners, somebody's fighting on a damn bridge.)

OTHER MERRY MEN - None. The movie takes a very small-scale approach to the Merries, which I like. A lot of the logistical issues are easily solved by having the Merries consist of Robin Hood and Little John walkin’ through the forest, laughin’ back and forth at what the other’un has to say. Oh, and Gareth. Ooh-de-lally.


(I'm going to have a hard time watching this and not imagining Rourke saying all of Ivan Drago's lines.)

OTHER VILLAINS - Sir not-Malcolm of Gisbourne has quite a few recurring thugs, but the only one that stands out is a fella I likes to call Whippy. Whippy uses whips as his only offensive weapons, which is sort of wildly impractical. They’re useful for keeping the dragon under control, or at least they were until the dragon grabbed them, dragged him forward and ate him. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Why didn’t he just drop the whips?” Because they were tied to his arm, silly. My guess is the creators saw the Iron Man 2 trailer and thought Mickey Rourke looked totally cool. That’s my guess even though the Iron Man 2 trailer was released only a month before this came out, because I’d rather believe that this movie had a total of one month production time and contains blatant rip-offs than that they gave a guy such a ridiculous and stupid style just for a death scene.


("I've lived in Sherwood all my life, and never seen this..." Well, John, maybe you should look to your left once in a while.)

WORST LINE - “When Alina was born, she was fine.” - The Lead Sylvan.

Now, you may be wondering what’s so horrible about that. The thing is, every other line the fairies have is comprised of the stupidest, most stereotypical fantacrap you’ve ever heard. The line immediately before this one is “When she returned from her sojourn to the world beyond, her womb was flush with the seed of life.” And then all they can describe the baby as is ‘fine’? Good gravy, man, if you’re going to be crappy, at least be consistently crappy.

WORST LINE RUNNER-UP - “Where I come from, laws are made by men, not trees.” Robin Hood, setting ‘em straight.

WORST DIALOGUE EXCHANGE -

Marian - That’s a one in a million shot!
Robin - Fortunately for you, you happen to be imprisoned with a one in a million sort of fellow.

NO NO NO! Damnit, Robin! If you’re going to make a snappy comeback, it has to be…. Well, snappy! Not long and stilted! Do it like this!

Marian - That’s a one in a million shot!
Robin - Well, I’m a one in a million guy.

I fully expect to see better quipping from you in the sequel, where you and a werewolf fight sea monsters or some shit.


COMING UP NEXT -





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