Well, hello there Torchwood
fans. Are you all feeling a little lonely now that Captain Jack is on holiday until next year? How will you fill your normally BBC America filled Saturday evenings? You could find old episodes of Absolutely Fabulous
and giggle knowingly whenever Toshiko actress Naoko Mori shows up as Saffy's constantly abused friend. Or maybe you can check out "Torchwood's" timeslot replacement, the second season of Robin Hood
. I chose this route instead and am happy to report that BBC America has another hit on its hands. Off to Sherwood Forest we go.
Before I take a look at the season premiere allow me to fill any newbies in on what has gone on so far. Robin of Locksley returned home after fighting alongside the King to discover The Sheriff of Nottingham in power, his people living in poverty, and Guy of Gisborne taking up residence in Robin's old abode. Marian may be a maid, but she can hold her own in a fight and ventures out at after dusk as the Night Watchman, another Robin Hood-type figure. Robin gathers together a group of men to do the classic Robin Hood scheme of robbing from the rich, giving to the poor and making a fool of the Sherriff. The season finale saw Marian almost die, almost marry Guy, and Robin and his men continuing to make a name for themselves. This brings us to the new season.
We begin with Robin pretending to have an arrow through his eye, all part of a heist, which reminded me a bit of Firefly
in the way our rapscallions harass the well off. Robin makes a mistake though when he decides to rob a rather bitchy blonde woman who turns out to have a connection to the Sherriff. Can you guess what it is? Say hello to Davina, the sister.
The gang spies several other arrivals to the castle and are keen to investigate, all except for Allan who chooses to con some local folk with a cup trick we've seen a million and a half times before. His trick doesn't work out so well for him as he is recognized by Guy as one of Robin's men and captured.
Robin takes some time off from investigating to visit Marian and tries to convince her to settle down in the forest with him. Just what every girl wants to hear: "Camp in the forest with me, forever." Swoon! Marian is a stubborn gal and refuses, just in time because Guy arrives. He is still royally ticked off from getting left at the altar and has Marian and her father escorted to the castle for constant supervision. Clearly more keen on having Marian settle with him, Guy orders her house to be burned to the ground. Life was not easy for women of the era.
The next day Robin is hanging around the market and sees a woman tied to a post, taking the punishment for her children's theft of food. She's a good mother. I would have turned the kids over to the Sheriff, less mouths to feed and all. In his attempts to rescue the woman, he is captured and our fair prisoner is revealed to be Davina in a rather convincing disguise. Never help someone tied to a pole in a market, that's the least we should all learn from this show.
So Robin is hanging with his hands tied in the middle of the room of shadowy figures who are revealed to be conspiring to usurp power from the King and divide England amongst themselves all with the Sheriff as their ring leader. With Robin captured, all seems to be going well for our evil friends. Then things go old school James Bond. Davina apparently suggested that they hand Robin over a pit filled with her pet snakes and slowly lower him into it. At least they were going to watch him die until the Night Watchman shows up and lures everyone out of the room. This brings me to my one caveat with the show: Marian as the Night Watchman. I love that she is a butt-kicking hero, but everyone thinks the Watchman is a man. When you even glance at the him, the body sort of gives away that it is clearly a woman. A small beef, so the show is already ahead of the curve, pardon the pun.
Robin is able to break free of his trap through the use of his swinging ability and bow and arrow prowess. I can't even begin to explain it here, but it was quite a site to watch. Exhausted, he collapses to the side of the pit, which might not be a good idea since Davina comes back in and is clearly not happy with him. They have a brief scuffle, which ends with Davina in the snake pit, where she is bitten by one of the poisonous creatures. I have to give the actress major props because there is no sum of money in this world that would get me in a pit of snakes, no matter how many of them were fake. The Sheriff makes his entrance to the party late and begs Robin to get her out of the pit. They manage to pull her out and as she lays in brother arms, she reveals that she looked up to him and wanted to be just like him. As she dies Robin has an arrow fixed on the Sheriff asking him to provide a reason why he should live. The Sheriff reveals that Prince John has promised that should the Sheriff die an unnatural death, Nottingham will be burned to the ground with all its inhabitants killed. As Robin leaves The Sheriff demands from Guy that his rival be killed once and for all.
A nice marketplace fight ensues with Robin getting back up from his crew, including Little John, Will, Much, and Djaq. Robin says goodbye to Marian who once again chooses to work as an inside woman taking down the corruption from within. Back at their camp Alan returns from being captured and has a bit of a secret he isn't telling the rest of the gang. His release was contingent upon one condition, he spy on Robin and report back to Guy. Looks like we have a Judas in our midst.
Strong season opener, and for those curious about the show, the first season is available on DVD. Anyone in the mood for more British adventure should check the show out, it's lighter than Torchwood and entertaining from start to finish.
Next Week On Robin Hood:
Traps, more traps, and Marian makes a new friend.
Story by Dan Chruscinski
Starpulse contributing writer