Reviewer: Charity Bishop
I admit it. I was wrong about Robin Hood. When I watched the first season, I found it an enjoyable but utterly forgettable romp through a fantastical adventure. I recently sat down to re-watch it in correlation to the release of the second season, however, and discovered how funny, unique, and creative the show can be when it puts its mind to it. Fans of the first season will love the second as well.
There is nothing the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Keith Allen) wants more than to get his hands on the notorious outlaw Robin Hood. The penchant this outlaw has for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor is just about to get on the sheriff's last nerve, which means he is being even nastier to his henchman, Sir Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage), a black clad baddie who did not take too kindly to the beautiful Maid Marion (Lucy Griffiths) jilting him at the altar and making a fool out of him in front of ... well, everyone. It seems he is taking a little more pleasure in his job than he should, when on orders from the sheriff, for harboring and assorting with outlaws, he burns down Marian's house and imprisons her father. With Marian forced to remain close to the castle at all times, Robin Hood (Jonas Armstrong) cannot get many messages to her. But he makes one almost fatal mistake and winds up in the clutches not only of the sheriff, but the sheriff's vicious, snake-loving sister as well.
With the Merry Men, consisting of the gentle giant Little John, the ambitious Allan A Dale, the intuitive Will Scarlett, the beautiful tomboy Djag, and the hilarious Munch, eager to rescue Robin Hood in the nick of time, Marian must discern a means of helping them before it is too late for her green-wearing hero to save the day... even if it means appealing to Sir Guy's romantic interest in her. The result is a very fun season that ends on a surprisingly tragic note. About midway through, one of the Merry Men turns into a traitor, something purists of the original story might find offensive, but even more disconcerting is the brutal murder of a main character that no one saw coming. There are plans for a third season but without this key character I am not certain how the show hopes to survive, unless it has a few illusions up its sleeve in order to reverse what happened in the finale.
Even so, I did enjoy the second season tremendously and particularly loved the romantic dynamic between Robin, Marian, and Sir Guy, who is ruthless and dangerous but somehow also emotional. Marian often appeals to his better nature and steadily works him toward becoming a more honorable man before everything backfires horribly. One of my favorite episodes is "For England!" in which Denis Lawson (of Bleak House fame) makes a guest appearance as a rather ruthless lord, but there are a number of creative installments that build not only an overall story arc of betrayal and treachery toward King Richard, but also have individual events that are memorable. Sir Guy discovers the identity of the Night Watchman, for one thing... and let's just say he was not pleased. The level of content in the series is on par with the first season. There are many instances of soldiers being shot down with arrows or beaten in hand to hand combat. One characters is lethally bitten by a snake; another is run through the chest with a sword. There are various explosions and examples of common cruelty (a woman is nearly drowned because it is believed that she is a witch, and townspeople are often punished for hiding outlaws). We lose some valued faces this season in tragic ways, but nevertheless it remains a saucy, entertaining, and creative program that is family friendly enough to be acceptable for youngsters as well as teens.