BBC Video // 2009 // 571 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Steve Power (Retired) // April 30th, 2010
Robin Hood is back for the third and final season of high action and adventure, darker and bolder than ever before.
After three seasons of swashbuckling adventure, BBC's re-imagined Robin Hood comes to an end. Does this end come with a bang or a whimper?
Robin of Locksley (Jonas Armstrong, Clive Barker's Book of Blood) is back from the Holyland, where treachery has stolen from him his most beloved wife, the Lady Marion. With revenge on his mind, he storms through Sherwood on the hunt for Guy of Gisbourne (Richard Armitage, Spooks). Left for dead, Robin encounters Friar Tuck (David Harewood, Blood Diamond) and returns, refocused on his mission. The final battle for Nottingham is about to begin, and not everyone will be left standing.
Spread across 5 discs are all 13 episodes of Robin Hood: Season Three:
* "Total Eclipse"
* "Cause and Effect"
* "Lost in Translation"
* "Sins of the Father"
* "Let the Games Commence"
* "Do you Love Me? "
* "Too Hot to Handle"
* "The King is Dead, Long Live the King..."
* "A Dangerous Deal"
* "Bad Blood"
* "The Enemy of My Enemy"
* "Something Worth Fighting For, Part 1"
* "Something Worth Fighting For, Part 2"
Much ado has been made about how the BBC's modern take on Robin Hood would be a fresh approach to the legendary outlaw. Fresh is definitely not how I would have described it, but it certainly is different. Unfortunately, the first season was woefully weak, feeling more like something you'd find on the WB network sandwiched between Supernatural and Angel re-runs. Things improved in Season Two, and now, with Season Three, it's reached a point where the show finally comes into its own, just in time for the final curtain call.
The episodic nature of the show still stands, though some stronger threads do connect the whole affair this time around. Episodes are also dedicated to exposing revelations about several of the main characters that have remained hidden up to now. These truths are half-assed revelations at best, making little logical sense, and played mainly for shock value. There are some side tracks that feel like wasted efforts as well, most notable an episode where Little John winds up in a Gladiatorial arena. In all the show feels haphazardly planned, even this late in the game, and so many of the ideas fall flat, in spite of the relatively strong core. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the final episode, which will certainly satisfy those who've followed the series since day one, but will turn off anyone who's seen a historical epic since 1995. It blatantly copies the likes of Gladiator and Braveheart, and comes off as amateurish and laughable in doing so.
The biggest frustration continues to be the anachronistic nature of the characters. Robin Hood still feels like some sort of alternate reality where 21st century sensibilities inhabit 12th century England. It's not only in speech and behaviour, but in fashion and style as well. Robin still sports a snazzy hoody, Little John still has some kind of sleeveless trench coat, and the central character still acts like an angst ridden punk. I'm not saying I wanted Shakespearean stage drama, which would hardly be fresh or exciting, but in looking at what Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe are doing with their take on the character, I can't help but think that opportunities were missed.
The show's less than stellar production values don't exactly do it any favours; the final episode, which is supposed to feature an epic showdown between the Sherriff of Nottingham's army and Robin feels more like ten guys in a field of wheat surrounding a CG village that isn't actually there. The action just doesn't sell, and things always wind up being a swordfight between two or three of the regulars. There's also some passable CG on display, particularly when the village of Nottingham is shown, that falls flat more often than it works.
If nothing else, the discs are all technically sound, with a clean, if a tad soft picture that handles the warm tones of the show quite well. The 5.1 soundtrack is passable, though the grating score does sometimes overpower everything else in the mix. There's also a smattering of extra features that cover a few of the aspects of creating the show. They aren't much more than puff pieces, but it's nice to have them.
Robin Hood: Season Three manages to pick up its game enough to give the series a proper send off. It overcomes many of the crippling flaws of the first two seasons while simultaneously keeping hold of the annoying quirks that kept those same seasons from really becoming something special or memorable. Fans will likely be pleased, while everyone else can continue to ignore this particular iteration of Robin Hood without missing a whole lot.
This one doesn't exactly live up to the legend.
Review content copyright © 2010 Steve Power; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 571 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated