TV Review: BBC’s Robin Hood Episode 1.03 “Who Shot the Sheriff?”

Find my other reviews of this show at my Review List.

Series Title: Robin Hood (IMDb)
Episode: 1.03 “Who Shot the Sheriff?”
Original Air Date: October 21, 2006
Length: 45 minutes
Director: Richard Standeven
Writer: Paul Cornell
Lead Actors: Jonas Armstrong (Robin), Sam Troughton (Much), Richard Armitage (Guy of Gisborne), Keith Allen (Sheriff of Nottingham), Gordon Kennedy (Little John)
Synopsis: “With the people of Nottingham being attacked by a mysterious archer, Robin finds himself blamed.”
Recommendation: At last we have Robin leading a band of outlaws, fighting the Sheriff from the (sometimes elusive) safety of the greenwood and being a pretty decent chap to all the poor oppressed townsfolk even when they turn against him. Exactly what I signed up for. Overall it’s another fun episode with a good bit of roguish action. Much like the others.

Key Thoughts

As usual, the story is fast-paced and entertaining, if not always brilliant, and I’m pleased that Robin’s defining character traits are his dual senses of honor and justice, and his unwillingness to sacrifice either. The show likes to throw tough moral decisions his way, which is as it should be, and while they don’t elicit quite the gravitas that a show like Doctor Who, or even Highlander, does, they still help to give the proceedings a bit of depth and redeeming value. The action remains just this side of cartoony, and is a good deal of fun.

Also, I note with interest the presence of a black British character in a high-ranking position, whose anachronistic presence (like the anachronistic clothing, weapons, and just about everything else) goes uncommented on. This should be a clear indication of the kind of show Robin Hood is.

Also noteworthy: while this is a family show, moreso even than Doctor Who is, by my reckoning, it’s not afraid to kill off side characters. This episode in particular involves a number of innocent people getting shot with arrows, and Robin himself blamed for their deaths. Nothing is bloody or dwelt on, but some parents might consider it too intense for their children.

And now for my…

Obligatory Marian Rant

While this episode does end with Marian being slightly less hateful than previously, it precedes this with a particularly irritating example not only of her hypocrisy, but of her determination to disrespect Robin at every turn. Part of this is the writers’ fault, and part the actress’. The scene involves a night where Robin has snuck into the castle to deal with the Sheriff and hides in Marian’s bedroom to escape from searching guards. While Marian doesn’t hesitate to hide him, she has the gall to castigate him for never showing his feelings and acting as if he can’t be hurt. Apparently, this is how she interprets his righteous anger at the Sheriff’s violent oppression, his anguish at the tragedies that befall his serfs, and his unhesitating self-sacrifice for others. She’s seen it all herself—in fact, I complained about a similar scene in the previous episode where her illogic is even worse. Rather, it is Marian who comes across as arrogantly untouched by Robin’s selfless sacrifices. While it is revealed that she does have her own ways of combating the injustice of the Sheriff and Guy of Gisborne, she doesn’t emote it at all, and lack of emoting is her very accusation against Robin! Marian is presented as cold and immature, whereas Robin—though he’s not my favorite interpretation of the character—does appear to have considerable self-control.

Like we can't tell you're a girl when you pose like that, really.

[SPOILER] The end of the episode reveals that Marian herself is the mysterious Nightwatchman, who is also handy with weapons and was doing some minor fight-the-oppression-and-help-the-poor work before Robin returned from the Crusades. Since I knew this show wanted to make Marian a “tough action girl,” I wasn’t surprised or unduly annoyed by this. I mean, it is annoying because the show doesn’t need it and her character doesn’t deserve it, but to be honest, when she finally had to confess it to Robin, and he was amused but kind of pleased, she actually became less annoying. Who’d have thought?


    1. Don’t go out of your way for it, but it’s a pleasant enough diversion. I’ve heard, though, that Series 2 and on go downhill quite fast, so I’ll probably only stay with this first series.

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