Friday 22 May 2009

TV: Robin Hood season 3

For those of us lucky enough to have TiVo or a PVR, I'm sure we've all encountered the following scenario in our homes: you set up a couple of shows on series link, safe and secure in the knowledge that come rain or shine, your trusty PVR will record the show for you to watch at a later, more convenient time (am I the only one that hardly ever watches live TV?). Anyway, you later go onto the hard drive of your trusty machine to discover that some random sports event (like the FA cup final) has conflicted with your programme and it hasn't recorded! Panic stations and loud arguments ensue and it is a definite grounds for divorce.

So you can imagine my reaction when Stephen told me that season 3 of the BBC’s Robin Hood had not recorded while we were on holiday and that we had missed four episodes. "Oh, that's nice", I said whilst stifling a yawn and continuing to read my trashy chick-lit novel. [Insert sound of brakes screeching and squealing tyres here]. Yup, you read right. I simply couldn't care less and given my initial reaction to this show a mere 15 months ago, no one is more surprised than me, believe me! So what is behind the decline from a five-star review to my current feelings of not even being bothered to find a one-star gif to post on my blog?

*** Warning: spoilers below – do not read if you’ve not at least completed season 2.  Contains season 3 spoilers too.

Harry Lloyd is stunning as Will Scarlett

  • Harry Lloyd leaving: I won't try to hide it. I was devastated when Harry Lloyd left the cast at the end of season 2. Seeing him in Doctor Who and Robin Hood is what made me such a huge fan of his to begin with and my inner fan-girl is in mourning.  He really made Robin Hood worth watching.
  • Actor loyalty: But it is not just that. There seems to be little actor loyalty in this production and it is ruining the show. Come on, Will Scarlet and Maid Marian have left the show and it was even announced at the end of production last year that Robin Hood himself is leaving. How exactly do you have a Robin Hood show without Robin Hood or the other characters that make up the legend? I do not dispute that actors have a right to leave and move on but I do think the producers are handling it incorrectly.
  • Bad PR: it is bad enough that the actors are walking out and they are not replacing the major characters with other actors perhaps but surely they should get a grip on leaking this news to the press. Knowing that Robin Hood is going to be killed or leave the show at the end of episode 13 doesn't exactly make me want to bother watching the show at all. I am very particular about what I watch and how my time is spent and I tend to give up easily on dying shows. In fact, we also knew long before the end of season 2 that Will Scarlet was going to remain in the holy land with Djaq, so I guess I have been feeling this way for some time.

Harry Lloyd is Will Scarlett

  • Lack of fan liaison (or treating fans like they are annoying idiots): one day I will dedicate an entire post to how I think celebrities, production companies, authors and bands need to spend a lot more time getting to know their fans and rewarding loyal supporters.  Being a member of both and harrylloydfans on Livejournal, I know of a couple of people who contacted Harry’s agent, Tiger Aspect Productions and even Harry himself for confirmation of the rumours that he was leaving.  More importantly, given how lame TV shows can be (especially this one), they wanted to know if he was definitely gone once the season finale had aired.  Given that Anjali Jay and Harry Lloyd had definitely left the show, would it have been so hard for Tiger Aspect Productions to answer the numerous emails sent to them asking for confirmation of that departure? The characters said they were staying in the holy land and if they weren't going to “change their minds” and be back in action by the second episode of the third season, surely it wouldn't hurt or spoil the story to just give the heartbroken fans [who are taking the time to email you and are your clients after all] the confirmation they were looking for. (No, I didn't email them personally so this is not sour grapes). Instead, people got short, cryptic emails in response regarding how the story could not be spoiled.

    Harry Lloyd is Will Scarlett

  • Suspension of disbelief: in my own personal experience, drawing viewers’ attention away from the fantasy world of Robin Hood and into the real world of actors walking out really messes with the ability to suspend disbelief.  I went along with the storylines being thinly disguised commentaries on the situation in the Middle East; I even accepted that Will Scarlett built a counter-balanced wooden fortress using technologies that would only become popular eight centuries later.  But having to constantly quieten my thoughts about Jonas Armstrong leaving at the end of the season makes it hard to go along with the shaky plot and improbable scenarios.  
  • Telling your audience what to think: I’m getting really irritated with not being allowed to make up my own mind.  Maybe my love affair with Robin Hood is over and it is making me more sensitive, who knows.  All I know is that I hate the new female lead, Kate, despite the directors being oh-so-determined that we fall in love with her.  And instead of developing the personality and character of Tuck, they have a cardboard Ghandi who is obviously being groomed to take over the helm when Jonas Armstrong leaves at the end of the season.  Oh, please… give me a break.  I can make up my own mind and I have decided that I don’t like this show any more.
All images are my own screencaps from season 2, episode 9.

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