In which we meet our heroes and villains, and the adventures begin.
Well, well! Robin Hood's first episode definitely landed on its feet and immediately started running! Within the first 10' we've established Robin's skill with the bow and a sword, his intolerance for abuse of power, and that he's a ladies' man. :p
We also get our new Marian, who is feisty and speaks her mind (to her father's regret), and who has no time for Robin's flirting (we sense a past there!). Their fun banter gives us a taste of the romance to come.
"Robin: Marian, wait. This is not the time, I know. But I must say, you are, more than ever... your eyes, even when you look at me in anger... I feel you. And I still believe, even after all this time, you can see into my soul.
Marian: Five years and you're still peddling the same old drivel? Does it ever work?"
Next up, a quick introduction to several people we're pretty sure will be members of Robin's gang: Much, his manservant who was with him in the Holy Land and has been freed from serfdom as a reward (and pretty much his best friend), Allan A Dale who has the honor of being Robin's opening save in the first few minutes of the episode (he was about to have his hand chopped off for poaching), and Will Scarlet, a Locksley villager whose father Robin respects.
And of course, we get to meet our villains! Guy of Gisbourne (played by the fabulous Richard Armitage, at the time I had no idea who he was and why ladies in England were swooning over him, having since seen the BBC's North and South I get now why they were in such a frenzy. 😉) and Vaisey, the Sheriff of Nottingham. As is the case in so many of these straight-up hero stories, the villains are usually the most interesting and/or fun characters, and this is no exception! (for further proof I give you Alan Rickman's Sheriff in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves).
This first episode just sets the foundation for the series, everything is there to get things rolling: Robin returns from the Crusades, is angry at the abuse his people are suffering from the Sherif and Gisbourne, rebels against injustice and gets himself outlawed, finds himself with a few men in Sherwood, oh and is reunited with former "something" Marian". Basically it's a blast that promises good fun for the rest of the series!
Straight out of Sherwood (or not!)
- First and foremost: Robin's legendary accuracy with a bow! (although why is using a recurve bow instead of an English bow is a mystery! If it's supposed to be a reference to his time in the Holy Land, it's still the wrong style of bow!)
- The Sherif's tax obsession! In pretty much all the stories the Sheriff's shenanigans are so he can increase the taxes collected. These are ostentatiously by order of Prince John to pay for King Richard's ransom, but in reality end up lining the Sheriff's and John's pockets. The change here is that "officially" the taxes are to pay for the cost of the war in the Holy Land.
"Would you want to be the King in Antioch - a clue: no - trying to feed a starving army on £300, when you promised £500?"
- We also have a clear sign of Prince John running the country differently than his brother (and not in a good way), when the old Sheriff tells Robin he lost the job to the new one "because his offer wasn't good enough" (they bought their offices from the crown at the time)