TV Show Review: BBC’s Robin Hood Episode 1.06 “The Tax Man Cometh”

Series Title: Robin Hood (IMDb)
Episode: 1.06 “The Tax Man Cometh”
Original Air Date: November 11, 2006
Length: 45 minutes
Director: Dwight O’Dwyer
Writer: Dominic Minghella
Lead Actors: Jonas Armstrong (Robin), Richard Armitage (Guy of Gisborne), Keith Allen (Sheriff of Nottingham), Lucy Griffiths (Marian), Anjali Jay (Djaq)
Synopsis: “Robin captures a tax inspector and plots to heist the year’s taxes, but a surprise is in store for both him and the sheriff; Marian makes her own preparations after a row with her father, and Gisborne makes his intentions clear.”
Recommendation: Another fun episode with lots of tricking going on. Probably a good entry point for someone new to the show, I think.

Key Thoughts

Allan A Dale

Aside from the entertaining villains, I really am liking Robin himself and the outlaws. They’re all appealing personalities, especially Allan A Dale. In fact, Much is the one who is becoming increasingly annoying. Not horribly so, but so far he has been stuck in the mode of “wimpy complainer.” He’s the butt of jokes, eternally frightened and over-earnest either about silly things, or about serious things in a silly way, and lacks any discernable toughness or sense of humor. I feel that any serious outlaw group would long ago have left him behind or found a way to keep him out of their important outlaw endeavors. In the first episode, he somewhat functioned as an extra conscience for Robin (despite Robin himself being generally the most upright character), but since then that role has been usurped by Allan. This may account partially for Allan being my favorite outlaw, but much also has to be said for his good sense, good humor, warm-hearted honesty, and considerable competence. On the whole, they are a proper band of capable young men out to fight injustice and have some fun along the way.

The outlaw with the least development thus far is the new girl Djaq, the “Saracen” with an anti-Christian anti-English chip on her shoulder (courtesy of the nasty Crusades). Considering she was just introduced last episode, it’s surprising that she should get no more than two or three lines this time. She’s not given any personality traits beyond “feisty” and “angry,” and so appears to be a pointless novelty.

Sir Guy of Gisborne is quite sympathetic in this episode. His concern for the (apparently wounded near death) “Abbess of Rufford” is genuine, even earning him scorn from the Sheriff. And he is consistently nice towards Marian, and almost romantic as he declares that he will continue to be kind to her and pursue her affections in spite of her rejections. He does not force himself on her; in fact, he almost seems a tad bit tongue-tied in her presence. In his wooing there is a certain gentleness and vulnerability. It’s no wonder he’s popular with fangirls. Of course he would make a terrible husband for Marian, being hard and intolerant of her outspokenness, and he has earned his villain-hood already (you’ll pardon the pun). Yet he is a character with layers and believability, and I like that.

Obligatory Marian rant

Of Marian herself, she continues to be selfish and arrogant while inexplicably retaining the show’s support. I suppose we are expected to cheer for her as some sort of feminist paradigm, and yet all I see is a spoiled brat who disrespects her father and her friends and gets away with it because of her pretty face. She manipulates everyone around her into thinking she is a brave little victim, when truthfully most of her troubles are her own fault. She is perfectly placed to be Robin’s help inside Nottingham and its castle, but she performs that role reluctantly, and almost with disgust. One thinks she would not be satisfied unless she were the leader of a band of outlaws herself, gaining her own fame by rubbing in the mud the faces of all those who annoy her.

Oh alright, she has her nice moments. Her concern for the oppressed peasants feels genuine, and the revelation of how deep is her father’s love for her brings out a nice tearful hug. But these moments almost feel like exceptions to the rule. At the very least, they do not excuse her poor behavior elsewhere.

8 thoughts on “TV Show Review: BBC’s Robin Hood Episode 1.06 “The Tax Man Cometh”

  1. In such a campy show, it would have been easy to have very stale characters, but I think throughout the series both Gisbourne and Allan are given the chance to develop, which I always thought was interesting given that in other adaptations I’ve seen Gisbourne is usually portrayed as just the sheriff’s minion and Allan just a member of Robin’s gang.
    I like your obligatory Marian rants.

    1. Thanks! +) I’m glad to hear Allan will get more development; I wish they’d give more to Much, though, since I still think he’s one-dimensional.

  2. What you mention above, about Marian, is very much in keeping with my own feelings about her.
    I consider myself a feminist in the sense that I am against the opression of women and I feel that we should be regarded as people equally with men. I hate stereotyping and objectivication across the board. A lot of the current assumptions regarding femenism, however, set my teeth on edge.

    Mairan is a symptom of the false-femenism that irks me so much. She is not a strong woman, she has very few femenine strengths, and instead goes about trying to be a man rather than relying on the inherant strengths of her own sex. Marian! There are plenty of men in this show. Let them worry about being strong men, or better yet, encourage them to be stronger and better men! And for mercy’s sake, try to figure out what it means to be a strong woman!

    1. Aye, good points. She fails to be a good woman, and never really encourages Robin to be a good man. I couldn’t believe how poor a character she is — she’s even shallower and more hypocritical than I’d initially expected! She’s not a tenth the woman that Olivia de Havilland was.

  3. Yeah… and why either Robin or Guy are interested in her is beyond me. People can be funny like that, though, so it isn’t necessarily a fault in the show. I much prefer the show when it focuses on the merry men (I adore Little John) or the Sheriff and Gisborne, not Marian. Like you, I didn’t stray beyond the first season, but I did hear about what happens in subsequent seasons. It doesn’t sound like Robin Hood to me.

    I have never seen Flynn’s Robin Hood. I take it you recommend it? I am woefully under-exposed to films and television that originated before my birth.

  4. I believe Djaq was very much a token character added for no other reason than the BBC wanting to be politically correct, and make Westerners feel bad about their distant forbears involvement with the Crusades- whilst arrogantly reminding them of the supposed ‘superiority’ of Islamic civilization.

    The ironic thing about all her character’s ranting about the evil ‘English’ crusaders was that if the filmmakers had actually bothered to do any research (or employ the services of a historical adviser) they would have realized that King Richard I and most of his crusading fellows were about as ‘English’ as Jean Claude van-Damme or Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    I agree about the comments on Marian. She was sadly representative of the all-too frequent embodiment of extreme, militant feminist ideals.
    Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with strong female leads- but characters like Marion don’t get my sympathy or admiration.
    Its usually because of the perpetual chip on their shoulder and incessant need to prove they are ‘just as good’ as men- they end up being arrogant, pig-headed, obnoxiously annoying, often devoid of any real personality, and almost impossible to relate to because they have to be utterly perfect and good at everything all the time

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