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DVD Review: More Mature, Darker ‘Robin Hood’ Returns to Sherwood Forest

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CHICAGO – It’s an old-fashioned phrase for an old-fashioned show but the one I keep thinking of regarding BBC’s incredibly enjoyable “Robin Hood,” the third season of which is now on DVD, is “rollicking entertainment”. Whatever that means to you, “Robin Hood” is it. This show is an entertaining blast, made even more so by a dark streak in the excellent third season.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 4.0/5.0
DVD Rating: 4.0/5.0

Continuing to find new ways to update the legend of “Robin Hood” for a new generation, the writers of this BBC America manage to keep the spirit of what we all know and love about the legend of Sherwood Forest intact while also making it feel fresh and new at the same time. It’s one of those pieces of entertainment that’s harder to pull off than it looks. They make it look easy. It’s not.

The third season of “Robin Hood” opened on a much darker note than the first two, following up on the devastating ending of the second season. At the end of that year, Robin’s (Jonas Armstrong) wife and ultimate love Marian was murdered by Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage). In the first episode, Robin returns from the Holy Land set on revenge at any cost. His sense of righteousness that made him a hero to the people has been replaced by a fueling vengeance.

Robin Hood: Season Three was released on DVD on January 12th, 2010.
Robin Hood: Season Three was released on DVD on January 12th, 2010.
Photo credit: BBC Home Video

Coming into the life of Robin Hood to help show him how to still be a hero is a legendary-but-reimagined character, a traveling monk named Tuck (David Harewood). The good Friar shows Robin how to survive in a world without his one true love and helps him become more than just a hero, but a leader. As Tuck says in episode two, “He’s more than just a person now. He’s an idea - something people can believe in.”

This year’s Robin is much darker and mature, as is the overall show. Armstrong is significantly better with more emotional depth to chew on and Armitage continues to rock but the show often still belongs to Keith Allen as the Sheriff of Nottingham, truly one of the best villain performances on TV right now.

I loved the escapism of “Robin Hood” but the political and dark undertones of season three turned the show into something more consequential. Having said that, it still can feel a bit goofy with awkward dialogue given to Hood’s merry men and a sometimes-disappointing look. Some of the castle sets and costumes still look a bit too much like actors playing dress-up at a theme park. The performances and the writing often seem on a level higher than the production values.

Having said that, this is still one of the most entertaining current programs that you could buy on DVD. It’s the best season of “Robin Hood” yet and with “Hood” fever about to pick up with the upcoming Russell Crowe film, it’s a great way to get back into one of our most timeless legends.

The third season DVD set of “Robin Hood” includes three featurettes - “A Legend Reborn,” “A New Look,” and “Trebuchet: Creating Chaos” - along with Character Profiles and Video Diaries. The episodes are presented in 16:9 enhanced widescreen and accompanied by a 5.1 Surround Sound track. Spread out over five discs, the episodes themselves look remarkably good for standard-def.

‘Robin Hood: Season Three’ is released by BBC Video and stars Jonas Armstrong, Richard Armitage, David Harewood, Keith Allen, Joanne Froggatt, Toby Stephens, Gordon Kennedy, Sam Troughton, Joe Armstrong, and Lara Pulver. The show was released on DVD on January 12th, 2010. It is not rated. It runs roughly 571 minutes.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Anonymous's picture

robin hood series 3

I cannot agree with the general positive review above. The ending of this 3rd series was what brought about it’s cancellation as (to use the BBCs own words), viewing figures “plumetted”.

The writers completely re-wrote and re-invented everything they had established in the show so far. Train wreck TV.

HannahGrace's picture

I’ve been a big fan of

I’ve been a big fan of Robin Hood right from the beginning and I agree wholeheartedly with the positive review of Series 3 above. Although I have a number of small critisisms (for example: definitely not enough screentime featuring Richard Armitage’s chest), overall, Series 3 was a wonderful end to what will always be a wonderful piece of television.

The dark undertones following Marian’s death, and the depth of emotion shown by the actors as a result of this, was truely gripping.

Although many have ctritisised the end of the series, I, for one, loved it. I believe they ended on a high, and the tying up of loose ends made me feel completely satisfied. I’m glad the BBC did decide to end it where they did as I’m sure, if they’d tried to carry it on, it would have lost some of its charm. After all, it cannot be 1192 forever, despite what some of us may wish.

demelzabunny's picture

Robin Hood Series/Season 3

And I, for one, would have liked more screen time of Jonas Armstrong’s chest! But seriously, I agree w/Commenter #1: Series/Season 3 sure was a train wreck, not making any sense in light of what went before in Seasons 1 and 2. What were the writers thinking, killing off Marian? We should’ve had a Happy Ever After with Robin and Marian, instead of the mish-mash they fed us. The only redeeming feature of S3 for me was Jonas Armstrong’s acting and amazing ability to become more and more handsome with each succeeding season! I’m hoping to see more of him in the future.

Flowerpot's picture

I much preferred Series 3 to

I much preferred Series 3 to the earlier series. For a start, it looked so much better. The costumes (although still anachronistic) at least looked like something historical (17th century perhaps, rather than 12th) instead of the awful cardigans and culottes from the earlier series. And in this series the guards wore real chain mail instead of knitted wool sprayed with silver paint!!!

There was really nowhere to take Robin after Marian’s death, and Jonas Armstrong appears to lack the depth to portray a man in utter despair. So instead they introduced the truly awful Kate for him to fall in love with - and I don’t know anyone who was at all impressed with THAT story. But Guy was a different matter and his tale was terrific - in despair and self-loathing he hit the bottle and spiralled downhill into outlawdom, a prison cell and immanent execution. And then came Meg and his ultimate redemption. Great stuff, and Richard Armitage was superb in the role.

demelzabunny's picture

The show was called 'Robin Hood', not 'Guy of Gisbourne!!!'

How could you say, flowerpot, that Jonas Armstrong lacked the depth to play a man in despair? He showed all ranges of emotions throughout the series, including despair (remember Episodes 12 and 13 from the first season?). It was obviously the writers and directors who, in an incredible wave of stupidity, decided that Robin would get over Marian’s death 1-2-3 and get on with saving 12th century England from the hands of the despots in charge. You are obviously a Richard Armitage fan, since you approve of the turn the plotline took in both the second and third seasons, basically turning the show into the story of Sir Guy, at the expense of the main character’s story. I personally couldn’t care less what happened to Sir Guy, as his character ruined the potential for the Happy Ever After all we Robin/Marian fans pined for.

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