Series Title: Robin Hood (IMDb)
Episode: 1.02 “Sheriff Got Your Tongue?”
Original Air Date: October 14, 2006
Length: 45 minutes
Director: John McKay
Writer: Dominic Minghella
Lead Actors: Jonas Armstrong (Robin), Sam Troughton (Much), Richard Armitage (Guy of Gisborne), Keith Allen (Sheriff of Nottingham), Gordon Kennedy (Little John)
Content Advisory: Light PG-13 violence of the swashbuckling sort, the threat of someone’s tongue being cut.
Synopsis: “While the Sheriff and Guy of Gisborne take control of Locksley, Robin, Much, Allan and Will encounter Little John and his gang of outlaws in the forest.”
Reason for Watching: Had a spare hour and decided to continue on from Episode 1.
Recommendation and Key Thoughts
There’s more fun swashbuckling in this episode, and I quite enjoyed it. You can’t take it seriously, of course – it’s pure camp, winking at the audience the whole way and just generally trying to have a good time. That’s why I’m finding it easy to accept the offenses against history, logic, and physics, so far.
It’s also why I’m getting increasingly annoyed by the character of Marian. All the other characters seem half aware that they are in a swashbuckling comedy (Robin more than half), but Marian takes herself far too seriously. Consider this: near the climax of this episode, Robin has turned himself in to the sheriff in order to save the peasants of Locksley from the Sheriff’s violence. Robin is sentenced to hang the following morning, but naturally Marian visits him in prison with the intention of helping him escape. Before she does this, however, she tries to chew Robin out for being a selfish “fool.” Her reasoning is this: Robin gave himself in, which means he’ll die, which means he won’t be around to protect the people of Locksley, which means he did the wrong thing. Robin laughs at this nonsense, but likes her too much to point out just how illogical she is. Because, following her reasoning, Robin should be protecting his people by doing something which leads directly to their gruesome mutilation. She won’t even admit to his honor and integrity in doing this. Now, to be fair, much of her frustration with Robin comes from her own hurt feelings regarding him leaving for the Crusades while they were still engaged—but then who is being selfish? At any rate, Marian is the only character who is a complete bore when onscreen. She doesn’t seem to realize that in a Robin Hood show, you’re supposed to have fun!
Fortunately, the other actors get this very well indeed. Special mentions here go to Keith Allen as the entertainingly despicable Sheriff and Gordon Kennedy as Little John. The former is quite a cunning fellow, as he quickly deduces that Robin values the lives and freedom of others far above his own life, and will not kill unless it is the last resort to save lives. And the latter gives this episode its emotional weight, as we learn he has a son in Locksley that he’s never seen, on account of his being an outlaw for so long. Kennedy is older and appears far more mature than the other young men onscreen, and that works greatly in his favor. This isn’t a buffoonish Little John, or a simple one—he may express himself forthrightly, but there’s lots of thought behind his eyes. I like this portrayal—he’s easily my favorite of the band so far.
And it’s nice to see Robin effectively at the head of the outlaws by the end of this episode. Every Robin Hood movie or show wants to start with an origin story, so it takes an episode or two for him to make friends with the outlaws and become their leader. It makes sense to do this, but the part I really came for is all the robbing from the rich, giving to the poor. Hopefully, that may now commence with gusto!