Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summer Escape to Sherwood Forest

(How are we spending the lazy hazy days of summer? That's Janis' question over at Life According to Jan and Jer , our host for this week's Fun Monday. She asks us to share favorite outdoor activities and ways we keep cool in the summer heat and humidity. Frankly, I despise and complain about summer weather from May to September. But, never fear, thanks to Netflix I can regularly escape to Sherwood Forest where it's always cool and exciting.)

Okay, to be totally honest I would never have thought about watching this BBC series which puts a modern spin on the legend of Robin Hood if it
were not for him. Yes, the lovely and brilliant English actor Richard Armitage plays Sir Guy of Gisborne, a major villain in the series. RA totally won me over playing John Thornton, the smouldering northern cotton manufacturer in the 2004 BBC 1850s costume drama North and South. So, I was happy to follow him to Sherwood Forest(actually filmed in old growth forest near Budapest, Hungary)to see him play the chief thug and enforcer for the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.

First a little stage and character setting: Series 1 opens with a boyish Robin of Locksley just returning to his estate from five years fighting the Crusades in the East with King Richard I for the rights of Christian pilgrims to journey to Jerusalem. When he arrives home accompanied by his freed manservant Much, Robin finds that his estate has been usurped by Guy of Gisborne under the new Sheriff of Nottingham's authority. Even worse, the old sheriff, Sir Edward, and his daughter Lady Marian have been driven out of Nottingham by this new sheriff. Villagers around Nottinghamshire were being systematically plundered, terrorized, starved, and taxed by the Sheriff to build his treasure chest and finance a rebellion against King Richard while he is away from England fighting in the Holy Land.

Robin's Hood: Robin returns from the Crusades weary of bloodshed and suffering from what we now call post traumatic stress disorder. He sees how his people are suffering under the new sheriff and immediately begins to challenge his authority. Since Guy of Gisborne has claimed his estate, he and Much retreat to Sherwood Forest, emerging to help the villagers and rattle the sheriff and Guy. In the forest he and Much are attacked by another band of outlaws and end up banding together to fight for the villagers. In this photo you have, as they called themselves Robin Hood, from the left: Robin Hood (Jonas Armstrong), Much, Little John, Will Scarlett and Allan A Dale.

Notice the costumes. No green leotards, tunics and feathered caps here. The Hood's look is kind of an Old Navy meets grunge, don't you think? Guy is into black leather at all times except that one time when we see him bare chested in the fire light trying on new armour. :-) The sheriff is kind of Versace meets drag queen. And then there's Marian with her modern hair cuts--one at the hands of the sheriff in the public square as a punishment for defying him--, braided bodices, riding pants, and Night Watchman's cape and mask. Very cool.

The Love Triangle-- the most interesting twist to this telling of the Robin Hood legend. Robin and Marian were sweethearts before Robin went Crusading. He was interested and pleased to see that Marian was still unmarried when he returned. However, Marian was not so impressed with him. She had been doing much of what Robin wanted to do on his return--feeding the poor, running interference for the villagers, masquerading as the Night Watchman delivering food and medicine to the poor. She thinks Robin is immature and a showoff. But she is attracted to him and wants to use her position as a lady to wrangle information out of the sheriff's camp--to be the spy for the people and help him.

And then there's Guy. What Robin has, he wants, especially a woman with the status of Sir Edward's daughter. At first Guy's efforts to win Marian repulses her ("Guy is sniffing around me like a spaniel" she tells Robin). Then she realizes that she can use Guy in a variety of ways, so she launches her charm offensive. As the story develops, Marian becomes much more to Guy than a status symbol. His love for her and jealousy of Robin Hood begin to unravel him, especially when he wants to protect her from the sheriff and she resists. In some of the publicity for the series, it was written that women under 30 were in love with Robin Hood and the over 30s were wild for Guy of Gisborne. You'll understand if you watch the series! This was funny also: apparently a young male fan wrote a review where he complained of too much "snogging" going on for his 13 year old tastes. . .

In order for you to fully appreciate exactly how much pure escapism and fun to be had from watching Robin Hood, here's a very short video trailer for Season 1:



BBC just showed the last of Season 3 in June. So far we can get the first two seasons on DVD or Netflix rental. Although the last two seasons get much darker, Robin Hood is truly entertainment for the whole family. There's plenty of archery, riding, sword fights and other high jinks. Very little bloodshed is shown, even when villagers are getting their tongues cut out for not ratting on Robin! There's really subtle humor that adults would appreciate. And there's surprising parallel to modern events--crooked politicians, excessive taxation, war in the Middle East and damaged soldiers trying to fit in back home, greed, lust for power and suspicion of other cultures. And then there's Marian, Robin and Guy--who will win the lady in the end? So, if you're still looking for a summer's escape I highly recommend heading to Sherwood Forest with the Hood!

Be sure to check out Janis' place for some other summer past times--perhaps a little closer to home.
(Photo Credits: RichardArmitageOnLine.com)

16 comments:

Mariposa said...

Ha ha ha...this is such a nice escape! ;)

Thanks for visiting me...and well the new job is great! I love my new office and the people there are awesome.

karisma said...

LOL! Now why did this just remind me of the series "Merlin" that my lot have been watching lately? I am not much of a tv watcher, but do enjoy the occasional movie or two. I must admit you have made me a little curious but I probably won't watch it. (Psst I would rather read a book).

Your recount so reminds me of my daughter TBF she can always tell you the whole story even if she watched it 10 years ago!

Big hugs and smoochies xxxoooxox

Lane said...

we watched the final episode on Saturday. Pure escapism and very well done.
I love your descriptions of the costumes. Excellent!

Janis said...

I used to love Robin Hood Faye, you just took me down memory lane. Your right it is very entertaining family fun. My oldest GD is so into movies like that. I will have to turn her onto this new version of Robin Hood. I see what you mean about Guy...he is a hunk!!!Thanks for playing FM

Gattina said...

Summer or not, as soon as it is warm enough to sit outside I am blogging on the terrace ! No TV until evenings !
BTW we have all fruits and vegetables here over the whole year. If it doesn't grow here it's imported. So tomatoes all year !

The Church Lady said...

Well, Faye, this certainly looks like a series that I would enjoy given the good looking actors! What a great way to escape the summer heat and today's world!

m (the misanthrope) said...

Fabulous post! Heehee, Old Navy meets grunge - looks right! I love BBC dramas and comedies.

I tried to watch the YouTube thingy but my computer wasn't in the mood to play it, so - do you know by chance if this is the same Robin Hood series that the Irish group Clannad did the music for?

I ask because Clannad is tied with Queen for my #1 favorite band of all time, and I know that they did a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack for a BBC Robin Hood series...but that was a number of years ago, and I'm not sure which one it was.

Thanks for visiting my post! It's true that summer isn't for everyone. I know lots of folks who prefer cooler seasons. To each her own, I say, and let your inner Joe Cool reign free. Glad you get it...I swear we were separated at birth.

And now, to your question: Hee! When I am President, I will make 3-day weekends mandatory ;-) And further more, people will become eligible for retirement at oh, um, their 34th birthday (not that that number has ANY significance, and neither does this month of July for that matter).

Faye said...

mariposa--escape indeed :-) glad new job is a winner and see you next week for FM.

karisma--have been noticing the Merlin series on TV but thought it might be to Harry Potterish for my "adult" tastes. Good for you to take reading over boy heroes swing from trees via their archery bows!

lane--the costumes were great fun. I remember in one Marian wore this little gold shrug--not unlike what The Teenager may wear today.

janis--this Robin Hood is for everyone. Your grand daughter will love this version. Predict she'll think Robin is very cute!

gattina--no TV until evening? Predict you get a lot more done than I do in a day. but that's okay, we're retired and can do as we please, right?

church lady--I highly recommend North and South with Richard A.--great plot, principled characters, very romantic. You can rent the DVD.

misanthrope--Clannad did the musical score for the 1980 version "Robin of Sherwood". I listened to a bit on YouTube and it's hauntingly beautiful. Not as high energy as this Robin Hood--written by Andy Price with the Danubi Symphony Orchestra.

P.S. I also noticed that Bryan Adams did "Everything I Do, I Do for You" for the Kevin Costner RH film a few years back. However, in comparison to this adaptation, Costner looked like he was sleepwalking and Marian was wearing what looked like a dried herbal wreath on her head for hers and Robin's wedding!

P.S. July 22nd? Have a happy!

Debs said...

Sigh... Thanks so much for that brilliant post..yet another sigh...

I loved Robin Hood, and can't wait for Spooks to come back now, as I'm getting RA withdrawal symptoms.

Faye said...

debs--do you mean Spooks 8? What a lesson in patience for U.S. fans of Spooks and Richard Armitage. Have managed to see bits and pieces of Spooks 7 that introduces RA as Lucas North. Maybe the DVD for 7 will be available in the fall.

However, some kind soul posted Season 3 of Robin Hood on YouTube. Had to watch in 9-10 minuted segments, but not complaining!

Cruise Mom said...

I used to love the old, old Robin Hood series as a kid. It played in black and white on our local TV station. I'll have to check this one out!

m (the misanthrope) said...

Hello my friend! I didn't get to reply to your comment until today, sorry. Anyway - yay for the Clannad soundtrack! J'adore Clannad and their lead singer, Moya Brennan (sister of Enya, incidentally). All the more reason for me to check out the series. And thanks for the Monarch of the Glen recommendation - I will check that out too!

ChrisB said...

I agree with you that was a really great series. A previous Robin Hood series made in the 80's was partially filmed near where I live. My teenage daughter and her friends used to try and watch them film (they fancied Michael Praed who played Robin) but I don't think they ever succeeded.

Faye said...

chrisB--thanks for this inside scoop. The '80s Robin filmed in your neighborhood? M the misanthrope had asked about Clannad's doing music for Robin Hood and I saw that it was this "Robin of Sherwood" version. I can see why your teenager would fancy Michael Praed. :-)

Can't get over all the great things we learn from blog friends.

misanthrope -- see ChrisB's comment--small world. "Monarch of the Glen" is full of quirky characters and magnificent scenery of the Scots Highlands. Only criticism--the writers should have closed up shop after Season 5.

cruiseMom--the great thing about this Robin Hood is that you could watch with your kids without having to worry. Something for young and old.

Shelby said...

ooooooo this sounds spectacular.. I'll have to investigate .. hadn't heard of the show.. but I love it.

Faye said...

Shelby--thanks for stopping by. You won't believe this. I checked out your blog just now--very original approach--and found you are a subscriber to Pandora, the Music Genome Project. I had just learned about it from my pilates teacher this afternoon. Now, thanks to your web link, I'm listening to some lovely Celtic tunes. Small world!

For others who may not be familiar: http:pandora.com