Mid-80s, Saturday Nights, ITV, Robin of Sherwood
- happy days!
As a young(ish!) lad, it was the peak of the summer Saturday night telly schedules, sandwiched as it was between the football results ("sssshhhh, stay stony silent while your dad checks the pools results...") and the baffling variety-show-cum-quiz combo that was 3-2-1 - a programme which, to this day, I still don't understand.
The A-Team reels were locked firmly in the ITV cupboard awaiting the autumn schedules so it was left up to Michael Praed, and later Jason Connery when Praed went off to get gunned down in a Moldavian wedding chapel
, to keep the junior action-adventure fans happy on a Saturday night. Having not seen any repeats of the show for a decade or more, it's hard to remember now whether it was actually really any good or if it was one of those cases, like so many other 80s shows, where it just seemed great at the time.
Whatever the reason for the fond memories of Saturday nights in Sherwood Forest, it was with that fondness that I looked forward to the BBC's Robin Hood revival
. And, like so many others it seems, I've been left hugely disappointed.
Don't get me wrong, as far as I'm concerned it's watchable. I've made the effort to keep watching each episode and have made it through each 45 minutes relatively unscathed. It's not quite the brain-stewing, soul-draining affair that some would have you believe. However, it does fall firmly into the "could do much better" pile.
Our latest tellytunes
poll results would seemed to agree, with 39% of voters feeling that it's "OK and watchable". 35% say they are left cold by the show, leaving a smaller 26% singing its praises.
So why has it failed to set the world alight in the same way that Russell T Davies' fantastic Doctor Who
revival has done? Before we over-analyse, let's look at the positives first...
1) It has a great theme tune
. Definitely one for the growing "best thing about the show is the theme" list. And we've been inundated with requests for it following its addition to the tellytunes theme finder
collection earlier this week.
OK, forget that plan. Let's get down to the nitty gritty of why it's just not working as it should. In a nutshell....
- If you cast an unknown in the lead role, you're relying heavily on having a good script. It doesn't.
- Keith Allen is meaner as a tooth fairy in the toothpaste adverts than as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
- I can't look at Little John without expecting him to burst into a spontaneous high-pitched screech of "Stooooneybridge".
- Robin never actually seems to hurt or kill anyone. (Perhaps he's been to the same School of Defence as the A-Team?)
- No-one seems to have noticed yet (or care) that Friar Tuck has gone AWOL.
- They only seem to have three sets - castle, village, woods.
- There's no spark between Robin and Marion. Plus she's got a face like a smacked ar$e.
The show's also been compared unfavourably, but understandably I guess, to Doctor Who. Classic revival, Saturday night prime-time slot, aimed at family audience. But you just wonder if, with the pressure of the DW success in mind, it's perhaps tried (and failed) to clone the winning formula that Russell T Davies has hit upon just a bit too closely. Still, at least they haven't decided yet that Robin Hood actually roamed the 12th Century woodlands of Cardiff. (Especially as everyone knows he's from Doncaster
Which brings me to my final point. I found myself laughing out loud at an advert which appeared in a TV mag last week for Nottingham Tourism
. Featuring THAT promo shot of Jonas Armstrong (aobve, right), it proudly cries "Visit Nottingham - the home of Robin Hood". Let's hope no-one remembers that the whole show is actually filmed in Hungary