Saturday, 27 June 2009

Torchwood Season Four - The Honest Truth

Twitter was awash yesterday with one of the hottest trending topics to hit it since its launch. No, not that story - Torchwood. Yes, Torchwood season three begins on Monday 6th July at 9:00pm and continues throughout the week until Friday 10th. In honour of the return of the BBC's flagship awful programme, and the series that began my whole snarky recap adventure, Rob Buckley, Rev/Views and I speculated what would appear in the potential fourth season of the show (providing season three doesn't get the whole thing cancelled.) What follows below is a more or less direct transcription of our intense brain storming session from our Twitter accounts. It has been slightly edited to be a little more coherent.

Rob: Oh God no. Not only Torchwood Children of Earth plaguing TV for a week, but three plays on Radio 4 the week before. Have mercy BBC!

Rev: You never know, Torchwood might turn out to be good. Stranger things have happened.

Rob: Gwen with two guns in the trailer says 'No'. Lack of Chris Chibnall, writing of Rusty says, 'Maybe'.

Aaron: Oh man, I go to the pub and I miss out on ripping on Torchwood. Damn.

Rev: Hmm, well how about we carry on ragging on them now?

Rob: Certainly there's plenty of mileage to be had with the idea of Radio 4's version of "Torchwood India", surely?

Rev: Torchwood India? With Bollywood style singing sequences? Sign me up!

Aaron: Bollywood musical sequences would probably make the action more convincing.

Rob: It's true. I'm not making it up. "Jack is shocked to find that Torchwood India is still going strong"

Aaron: This outsourcing is getting ridiculous!

Rob: "Can I ask what the nature of your alien invasion is?"

Aaron: If the alien looks human but with an animal's head, press 1.

Rob: "Hi, you're through to Captain Jack's 'I'd shag that' line. Human with a horse's head you say...?"

Aaron: If the alien is a spooky clown or some other cheap make-up & costume effect, press 2.

Aaron: If the alien is a kinky, sex obsessed lesbian press 3.

Aaron: If the alien is actually a traveller from the future with an ulterior motive, press 4.

Aaron: If the alien is a Dalek, please hold whilst we scream for the Doctor.

Rob: "For all other enquiries, press 0 to hear a Welsh former WPC scream and then start running because it's all too frightening"

Aaron: I think we've just written an episode for the next series.

Rob: The series 4 Torchwood reboot: evolutionary not revolutionary. "More of what you already know, just more honestly described"

Aaron: Torchwood S4e1 - Gwen Cooper Buys A Skirt. But It's Cursed.

Rob: Ep 2. Jack's on holiday in Malia so Ianto and Gwen have to stop some aliens intent on taking over Mermaid Quay as far as Tesco.

Rev: Why only as far as Tesco? Does the chain have some alien repellent technology it's hiding? Oooo Conspiracy.

Rob: As has been demonstrated before, aliens on Torchwood often have very limited ambitions.

Rob: "We've got the restaurants, we've got the bars, we've even got Harry Ramsden's. Do we need more than the supermarket and an ATM?"

Aaron: Yesssss. The Tessssscossss. It issssss the key to victory!

Rev: Is it just me, is acting in Torchwood like Joey's "techniques" in Friends? Something's wrong, quick use "smell the fart" faces.

Aaron: That's what's known in the business as ACTING! You have to say it in a bold baritone. Barrowman is king of smellthefart technique.

Aaron: Ep 3. Jack Installs Windows 7.

Rob: Coupled with intense typing, which always indicates clever computer work? Rather than lots of pointing and clicking.

Rob: Product placement on the Beeb? He may install "Generic OS 6.5" but that's all.

Rev: And which episode of Torchwood will have Owen return as the Radioactive Zombie Hulk?

Rob: Has there been an ep of Who with a radioactive zombie Hulk that the Mill can nick the FX shots from because the budget's blown?

Rev: Couldn't they just get Burn Gorman to wear a muscle suit, green make up and refer to himself in the third person? "Owen Smash!"


Rev: Sections of the internet explode with Captain Jack & Radioactive Owen Hulk slash fiction.

Aaron: I fear a radioactive Owen with a cannister of alien rohypnol.

Aaron: Ep 4 Torchwood Staff Party! Owen's melted head guest stars!

Aaron: Ep 5. Ianto Goes to Night School. The Teachers are Aliens!

Rob: Ep 6. Torchwood investigate a haunted mine and discover it's really just an old man with a sheet over his head. And an alien.

Aaron: Ep 7. Torchwood visit an old fair ground; they think it's haunted but it's just their imagination. Then they all laugh together.

Rob: Ep 8. Jack takes his coat to the cleaners and discovers it's really black, just a bit moldy: alien mold that makes you horny.

Aaron: Ep 9. Gwen eats a curry that allows her to see through time. Ianto does the dishes.

Rob: Ep 10. Jack discovers the Eisteddfod has been infiltrated by shapeshifters disguised as bards so shoots the lot of them. And misses.

Rev: So I guess at Ep 10 it's time to reveal the BIG BAD who's (not) been hinted at all season.

Aaron: Ep 11. Ianto & Jack go on holiday and bump into homophobe Jim Davidson. It's awkward.

Rob: Ep 12. Secretly, some time and motion efficiency experts have been watching Torchwood - and now want to eliminate the waste.

Aaron: EP13 Season Finale. Ianto takes a Duvet Day. Gwen makes the tea instead. Jack downloads some porn but feels hollow & guilty.

I think the BBC will be very interested in this because:

1. We knocked this together and plotted an entire season in about an hour. Meaning that we'd save time on plotting and could spend more time on thinking of rude words to include in the dialogue.

2. We present a bold new vision of Torchwood; yes, we've seen them order pizza but have we really seen them do the dishes afterward? You won't believe what cleaning products they use!

3. We will probably have one of the aliens be a sentient fart so that it'll look plausible when John Barrowman makes his 'sniff the fart' expression.

If you'd like to follow us on Twitter to read more of this kind of nonsense then Rob is RobBuckley, Rev is RevViews and mine is SnarkandFury.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

TV Snark - Robin Hood: Something Worth Fighting For (Part One) OR The Return Of... The Death Of...

After what's felt like years, the third series of Robin Hood is rumbling toward its conclusion. In an effort to go out with a bang, this episode throws a lot of ideas into forty-five minutes and, as usual, comes up short. Still, it's nice to see them try.

The episode begins with Robin and the Merry Men (plus Guy) ambushing Isabella's messenger and discovering that she intends to provide Prince John with three hundred men to fight against a returning King Richard. Little John and Much report that two villages have already been visited by the Sheriff's men and the menfolk taken away, along with crops and livestock. Now I can understand someone with a modern viewpoint being disgusted with this but this is what's called a peasant levy. Lords had the right to recruit their peasants into their army in times of war, so really Isabella isn't doing anything wrong here (providing she doesn't keep them in her army for more than a couple of months.) Still, Robin and co are modern outlaws with modern outlooks and decide to save the remaining village from conscription. There's some heroic fighting as Hungarian guards are quickly killed and Little John gets to show off his strength while shouting "Raaarrrggghhh!" The Sheriff's men quickly retreat back to Nottingham.

Poochie the Rapping Hound (or Archer as the show calls him) arrives in Nottingham and heads to the castle. Isabella meanwhile continues her descent into cartoon villainy by constantly sneering and berating her staff. She has a new second in command, a man who really needs to have a drink or a throat lozenge or take up a career as a cinema trailer voiceover man, Blamire. He reports that Robin prevented the latest levy and then introduces Archer to Isabella. Blamire recognises Archer and recaps the last episode for the audience. Isabella tries to have Archer carted off to the dungeons but Archer tells her that he is her brother. Isabella doesn't believe it though because her mum was Big Suze from Peep Show and therefore perfect. Archer offers his exotic killing skills but Isabella wisely sees through his bluster and orders him taken away. Archer then immediately kills the two guards transporting him to the dungeon and legs it.

Back in the forest Tuck is fed up of looking after the spookily silent peasant men. He wants them to stand up for themselves and fight the Sheriff alongside the Merry Men. Robin doesn't believe they can do it because he's been helping them for three series and none of them have got off their ass and helped in that time.

Isabella has formulated a cunning plan and summons Kate's mum. Isabella gives Kate's mum orders to plant a necklace on Robin so she can split up Robin and Kate. The reward for doing this is a free trip to Doncaster. I'd prefer money. Kate's mum resists at first but Isabella acts a bit crazy ("Hell is coming Rebbecca! Hahahahaha!") so she agrees.

Kate visits her mum and mum presents one half of the necklace to Kate and tells her that Robin still loves Isabella. She encourages Kate to check Robin's possessions to discover the truth. She then really suspiciously hugs Robin (despite spending all of her previous appearances moaning at him) and plants the other half on him.

So the tedious necklace plot continues as one half falls out of Robin's bags and is recognised by Guy as belonging to his sister. Tuck and Robin accuse Guy of being up to something but he sensibly points out that he wouldn't have told them what the necklace was if he was planning something, dumbasses.

Archer visits The Trip Inn where he meets with a seedy man who deals in information. The seedy man tells Archer about an escape tunnel dug deep beneath the castle by Guy and some unfortunate (and deceased) labourers. At the same time as this, Guy informs Robin and the gang about the tunnel. Robin has decided to take the castle by force and hold it until King Richard arrives. I can see a slight flaw in trying to hold a castle with a gang of seven but I'm sure they will think of something.

Kate doesn't like the plan because it includes Guy who she still hasn't forgiven for killing her brother. Get over it Kate; Guy killed Robin's wife and you don't see him moaning about it. Well apart from that one time he tried to kill Guy but Guy went all nihilistic on him, which freaked him out enough to let Guy live. Apart from that Robin has barely moaned at all, in fact he's had two women this series and is probably trying to remember the previous girl's name, Mavis, Molly, Miranda...? Anyway, Robin puts his foot down and divides everyone up into tasks including asking the men to melt down money to make arrowheads. That's an unusual task considering that the Merry Men shouldn't really have that kind of money just lying around, and also because they could use the money to buy arrowheads. The men run off to enact the plan while Kate discovers the necklace and sobs. Boo hoo, the man you've forced into a relationship may still like the girl he was actually interested in.

Isabella tells Blamire to inform everyone that Allan A Dale has been pardoned. Then she laughs evilly, just to really ram home that she enjoys her new villainous outlook on life. Archer uses the secret tunnel to break into the castle and meet up with Isabella, he tells her all about the tunnel and guesses that Robin will probably use it to break into the castle (it's convenient that they haven't done it yet, isn't it?) Archer then offers to build a deathtrap to kill Robin and Guy in the tunnels. Wow, Archer is really coming across well here seeing as he's offering to murder the men who saved his life last episode.

The Merry Men hear the about the pardoning of Allan and leap to the conclusion that he's betrayed them again (last series he was Guy's informant). Little John does his usual stomping and shouting, forgetting that Allan single handedly saved him from capture last episode. No one will back Allan up so they decide to tie him up and leave him behind in the camp. This would be a more convincing scene if Allan had had to earn acceptance back into the gang or remained under suspicion for a few episodes this series. Once again we have an unconvincing character moment because the plot demands it.

Meanwhile Robin, Tuck, Guy and Little John split up to enact their plan. There's some hugging and firm handshaking as the men go their separate ways, believing that they may not see each other again. No hugging for Guy though, look at his little face:

Tuck attempts to rouse the peasants into helping him and Little John stop the supply train but the silent peasants merely stare impassively. Little John reminds Tuck that dying horribly in a stupid fashion is the Merry Men's job and leads Tuck away.

Archer completes his work on the deathtrap (conveniently just in time to stop Robin and Guy even though it showed a scene of Archer forging metal parts for the trap, which I assume had plenty of time to cool) and takes his payment from Isabella. She then tells Archer that she'll kill him if she sees him again. There's gratitude, she's also just banished the fastest blacksmith in the world!

Kate meets up with her mum to start a new life in Doncaster but her mum admits that it was a joke all along and Robin doesn't love Isabella. Hahahaha! Kate is glad because now she can continue her forced romance.

Robin, Much and Guy walk into Archer's speedily constructed trap. It's a pit that fills with limestone pebbles and as it was constructed by Archer, is probably the most deadly trap the show has ever seen. Much accuses Guy of leading them into a trap but Guy points out that he wouldn't be stupid enough to be caught in his own trap. I guess Much is dumb this week then.

Allan escapes his bonds and runs off into the forest moaning about his mistreatment (he has a point), he then encounters some guards and swiftly kills them. "It can't be" he says looking off screen. Hmmm... do you think he's seen someone he recognises. Someone dead? Either that or he's seen a good script.

Tuck and Little John reach the gates of the castle and prepare to stop the supply train heading for Prince John's troops. As they stand there, with no plan, the silent peasants arrive holding flaming torches and pitchforks. Tuck's shouting worked! Tuck encourages the peasants to sit down in front of the wagons as he watched Gandhi last week and wants to give passive resistance a try.

Meanwhile, someone has recently watched Fellowship of the Ring and thought it was cool when Boromir was shot by arrows and killed (I have to admit that it was actually) and decide to have Allan suffer the same fate. You can tell he's going to die because there's sad music, slow motion, and Allan's cries are dragged out and distorted, "Arrrrgggghhhhhhhhh!" Allan crawls away but is cut off by someone, he looks up and says, "You!" If you don't know who this is by now then you really haven't been paying attention.

Robin and co continue to drown in "limestone" (which doesn't look likely considering they're happily standing under the deluge without going, "Ow! Shit! Ow! That really hurts!").

Tuck's passive resistance seems to work until Isabella gets bored and shoots Tuck with a crossbow. Kate appears in angry mode as she doesn't like being tricked into thinking the object of her affection loves someone else. She offers herself up to be killed by a nameless guard as Isabella orders him to kill her but Archer intervenes by throwing a SHURIKEN into the guard's back. A SHURIKEN. A SHURIKEN. A shuriken. A shuriken... I think I just travelled back in time to the late 80s/early 90s. I also notice that Archer has a katana sheathed on his back - WOW HE IS JUST LIKE A NINJA. Like Michael Dudikoff. So Archer has completely reversed his opinion and decided not to let everyone die after seeing Tuck get shot. Wow, Archer's characterisation is really consistent.

The passive resistance goes out of the window as Archer kills a few guards and a brawl ensues. During the melee Archer remembers that he's probably killed Robin and has Kate help him deactivate his deathtrap. Robin and co fall out of the trap; Robin is seemingly dead but brought back to life by Kate's advanced knowledge of CPR FROM THE FUTURE. Really show? Really? Much is dead too but Archer has a potion of Cure Critical Wounds and brings him back from the brink. Guy is fine. Yep really, Guy's just okay, drowning in limestone is no problem for the Amritage. Kate tells Robin all about Isabella's evil mind games and Robin realises that he tied up Allan by mistake. Bit late for that Robin.

Isabella commands Blamire to protect her from the peasants but he serves a new master now and leaves her to die. Then Kate confronts Isabella alone and IT IS ON.

There's some scrapping and Kate eventually wins when the rest of the gang turn up to corner Isabella and clap her in irons. Robin then declares that Isabella is a traitor and that the castle now belongs to the people of Nottingham. Communist. Much interrupts the cheering to show Robin and co a rolled up old carpet on the drawbridge. Oh, wait a minute, it's Allan inside. He's probably going to say something cheeky in a minute and make everyone laugh. Allan?



Hey, who removed the arrows from his back?

The gang looked sad because well, basically they got him killed by acting like douches. Plus Allan's death wasn't even a noble or dignified one as he died in vain, alone and unable to help anyone with the information he had. The gang then run back into the castle because a small army starts to form outside the walls.

The leader of this army?

Well none other than Sheriff Vasey.

NEXT EPISODE: The castle siege that I thought was going to be in this episode but wasn't. Who will live? Who will die? Who will escape the show?

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

TV Snark - Robin Hood: The Enemy of My Enemy OR Time To Rescue Poochie

Who's behind the times now huh? Not me, I've caught up now so this is a recap of an episode you may actually remember watching.

Robin and Guy are riding through the forest straight from the end of the last episode. Their alliance doesn't last long though as Guy moans about his dead mother and Robin makes a nasty comment. They start scrapping and rolling around in the dirt where Alan discovers them. Alan summons the other Merry Men and they eventually break up the fight when they try to kill Guy. Robin stops Kate from plunging a sword into Guy despite her reminding him that Guy murdered her brother (the second episode of the current series, fact fans.) Robin announces that Guy is one of the Merry Men now. There's a collective gasp from the Merry Men as we roll into the opening titles.

Back at the outlaw camp Robin and Guy explain the events of the previous episode and their current mission to York to rescue their missing half brother Archer. Little John and Kate aren't happy that Guy the murderer has joined the gang but Robin convinces Kate to accept it. Guy and Robin set off for York alone, leaving the Merry Men behind to care for the villagers and to continue harassing the newly evil Isabella.

Back at Nottingham castle Isabella pays a toll keeper to look out for the outlaws. She's rocking the full on evil look now as she's wearing all black with her hair tied back to make her look more severe. She also seems to hiss and curse with each line, she's one step away from uttering, "Mwah-ha-ha."

Conveniently Guy and Robin decide to rob the same toll keeper on their way through. It was all Guy's idea as he seems to have very quickly adapted to the outlaw life. Anyway, this scene is only here for Robin and Guy to give their destination away to Isabella.

Archer is in York dungeon where he's currently entertaining the sheriff's wife, Gweneth (played by Tracy-Ann Oberman she was in that Eastenders, Big Train and that Doctor Who off the telly.) He's a roguish charmer who (after making love to her while she was fully clothed) manages to convince Gweneth to petition her husband to pardon Archer. In return Archer promises to deliver secrets from the east. He probably learned them on one of those day trips to the Middle East that this show specialises in. Archer shows that he's a good guy by bringing some food back for the other prisoners and makes a game of "selling" the food to them (via the most evil of art forms - mime.)

Isabella learns of Robin and Guy's robbery and deduces that they must be heading for York. She decides to put up a 100 crown reward to bring them back alive. She then strokes her pet cat (you thought I was going to say "little pussy" there didn't you? Well, hah! I didn't) and lowers a minion into a pool full of sharks while aiming her doomsday laser at the moon.

Meanwhile, Little John runs away from home because he doesn't want to be in the same gang as that nasty Guy. No one but Alan really seems to care about this so Alan runs off to try and bring the big oaf back.

Archer meets up with the Sheriff of York and demonstrates his powers of alchemy. Archer uses some flash powder and sleight of hand to convince the Sheriff that he's turned a nail into a golden nugget. The Sheriff is an idiot so he falls for this trick.

Archer then tries to escape but is stopped by the wife (Gweneth) who wants to run away with him. Gweneth leads Archer into a bedroom for some inappropriately timed fun but the Sheriff happens to wander in on them. Gweneth is in big trouble until Archer steps in and basically claims that he took Gweneth into the room so he could force himself on her. He's then surprised when the Sheriff pardons Gweneth but orders Archer to be executed and dismembered. Dude, you just claimed that you tried to rape his wife, what did you expect his reaction to be?

Little John blunders through the forest where Alan catches up with him and tries to convince him to come home. Little John is having a temper tantrum though and won't go back to his smelly home and finish his stupid vegetables, so there. Alan leaves him alone and then Little John gets captured by Isabella a few seconds later because she happened to be travelling through the same bit of forest at the time. How convenient.

Guy and Robin hang out in a pub so they can figure out how they're going to break into the dungeons to free Archer. A bar brawl breaks out for no reason and Robin and Guy argue about the plan. Robin proposes that Guy get arrested and find Archer and then he'll go in and rescue them. Guy doesn't like that plan because he doesn't trust Robin to come in and rescue him. Robin won't trust Guy to enact the plan if the positions were reversed so they're at a stalemate. That is, until Robin throws a loaf at a guard's head and Guy gets arrested for it.

That scene was quite silly but I did enjoy the interplay between the two, especially as Richard Armitage seemed to be having fun with it rather than scowling through his lines. It was a faint glimmer of entertainment in an otherwise murky show of lazy plotting and inept dialogue.

Alan decides to rescue Little John single handed despite only being armed with a stick. For once in the show's history a guard doesn't automatically fall unconscious after being struck on the head and is instead impaled on a banner by Little John. Nasty. Alan reminds Little John that he's "family" and that he had to try to rescue him even though he was unarmed. It probably helps that the guards are as capable as a sandcastle holding back the tide.

Guy is thrown into the dungeon where he starts to ask about Archer and there's a "I'm Spartacus/Brian/Archer" moment as everyone claims to be him. Guy finally locates the real Archer and his magic arrow birthmark. Guy introduces himself and Archer remarks that his name sounds rich. Oh, the money grabbing fool.

Speaking of money grabbing fools, Robin totally mugs a horse trader and robs him of his earnings. We can only assume that he dealt in evil horses otherwise Robin just robbed an innocent merchant for his own gain. I mean, the money he steals doesn't even go to peasants, it goes to the Sheriff because Robin uses it as a bribe to buy the release of Guy. Robin goes down to the dungeons and tries to bribe the guard there to release Archer. The guard indulges in some haggling over the bribe, takes the money and then says that he can't release him anyway so Robin punches him out. Heh. Archer insists that his friends in the dungeon are released too including the comical old man who I've said nothing about so far, believe me, he's mildly amusing.

Back in the forest the Merry Men ambush Isabella and her guards who were on their way to York. There's a brief fight that ends when Kate tries to shoot Isabella with an arrow and SHE PARRIES THE ARROW OUT OF THE AIR LIKE SNAKE EYES IN GI JOE/ACTION FORCE. After this amazing display (where do they teach these ladies such fantastic sword skills?) Isabella falls off her horse and runs off, which kind of undermines the moment. Still, here's a picture of her in full charge looking very evil.

Archer and co attempt to break out of the castle and Archer unleashes some unconvincing kung-fu on a hapless guard. At this point I notice that Archer has a rat tail hair cut. Urgh. Naff kung-fu and rat tails undermine the whole 'cool new character' dynamic they want to achieve here. The boys stop to bicker as they argue over who has had the poorest upbringing but the discussion is ended when the amusing old man is shot by the guards. Nooooooooooo!

The brothers enter the courtroom and there's a stand off. Isabella's representative from Nottingham tries to have the brothers taken alive and Archer decides to try and make a deal so he can escape at the expense of his new brothers. The deal doesn't work though because it's stupid. A small child wouldn't fall for it but Archer does. "If I give Robin to you will you let me go free?" "Oh, um yes. Yes of course." Archer lets Robin go and is then immediately arrested. Dumbass.

The next morning the brothers are lined up for execution but fortunately for them the Merry Men have just arrived in town. The Merry Men cause a distraction and rescue the brothers. During the escape Robin and Archer pull off the exact same trick shot, gasp, Archer is as good as Robin. Wow, I'm glad they're not trying too hard to make Archer seem cool.

Archer tries to escape on his own but is cornered by Isabella's representative. Fortunately Robin forgets that he doesn't kill people and shoots the man dead. Archer shows his gratitude by stealing Guy's horse and riding off.

A few hours later, back in Sherwood Forest, Robin and Kate compromise over Guy's inclusion in the gang. Guy then has to pick out a bed in the camp. Ho, ho. By the way, it does not take a few minutes to walk from Nottingham to York, it's freaking miles. I'm sure everyone in this show has a private jet.

NEXT EPISODE - A castle siege! It could be great but it'll probably be rubbish!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

TV Snark - Robin Hood: Bad Blood OR Everything You Know is WRONG

The Robin Hood recap train continues unabated. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

Sorry, that's the Terminator.

Guy is wandering through the forest, presumably still moping about MegRuby's death from last episode. Robin appears and starts to talk to Guy but Guy is only interested in REVENGE. Guy draws his sword and advances on Robin but is shot by a dart, before Robin can do anything over than gawp he is also shot with a dart and loses consciousness as a robed and hooded figure approaches...

Robin and Guy wake up at a campfire but they're trussed up like hogs and can't escape. A mysterious figure with the voice of Tony Harrison from The Mighty Boosh appears. Unfortunately it's blatantly the voice of guest star Dean Lennox Kelly who has quite a distinctive northern twang. Anyway, let's play along and pretend that we don't know it's Robin's dad as is about to be revealed in the first of our flashbacks. Not-Robin's-Dad promises to free Robin and Guy from the bad blood between them by discussing their parents' death. Yes, suddenly Guy and Robin have known each other since childhood. What? This has never been suggested until now. What we have here people is a piece of retroactive continuity. A comics term that means the writers have altered character history and background to fit the current storyline. Retroactive continuity, or retcon, is usually unsubtle and hamfisted and Robin and Guy are about to get clobbered with the retcon hammer as the flashback begins.

"20 Years Earlier" Robin's dad (Dean Lennox Kelly) meets up with Big Suze (Sophie Winkleman) from Peep Show. Great, now all I can think of is how much better this episode would be if Robert Webb played Robin's dad and David Mitchell took on the role of Guy's dad. That's this episode ruined. Anyway, Big Suze is Guy's mother (Ghislaine) and she's having an affair with Robin's dad (Malcolm). Ghislaine also has an outrrrrrrrrageous French accent. It also wanders across Europe a few times along the way.

Back in the present day Guy claims he knew about it because he saw them kissing in a barn when he was a kid. Robin protests that his dad wouldn't do that but Guy claims that Robin's dad always shielded him from reality.

Back in flashback land there's a festival during which the local bailiff harasses Ghislaine and basically asks when she's going to sod off back to France. Seems that the Gisbornes own Locksley at the moment due to Roger Gisborne's efforts during the Crusades. Malcolm isn't worried about claiming his lands back and calms the scheming bailiff down. Ghislaine then announces that a giant Catherine Wheel will be lit to kick off the celebrations. She decides to light it in the most dangerous fashion possible by having two kids shoot flaming arrows at it whilst it's suspended in the air. I'm sure this won't go wrong.

Young Robin is basically a little tit. He taunts Guy about his skills with a bow and boasts that he can make a trick shot which he then proceeds to cock up and cause the wheel to light whilst the local priest is holding it. The wheel sets alight and drops on the priest, crushing his chest. The peasants are angry and the bailiff sees this as a great opportunity to string someone up. The bailiff accuses Guy after Robin lies and claims that he didn't shoot an arrow (wow, way to make the hero of the show look like a little shit). Guy is now going to be summarily executed unless Ghislaine can save the priest's life.

Wow, that is one harsh law, and a lot of power for a bailiff to wield around like a madman. Fortunately Ghislaine knows advanced surgical techniques from the 20th century and diagnoses that the priest has a collapsed lung. She then uses her amazing surgery skills to stab him in the chest to help him breathe. This isn't fast enough for the bailiff who assumes that the priest will die and marches Guy quickly up to the gallows. He's prevented from killing Guy by the return of Roger Gisborne from the Crusades, who intercedes and gets stabbed in the hand for his efforts. Roger shrugs off the blow and removes his son from the gallows. It's at this point that I realise that Roger the Frenchman has no french accent at all. So why does his wife have a french accent when he doesn't? Can Ghislaine speak in an english accent but refuses to in order to keep up her french image? Stupid, stupid, show.

The next day in flashback land, Robin (worried that his ghostly mother is watching him at all times) admits to his father that he shot the wheel last night. Malcolm offers him the "with great power comes great responsibility" speech but this doesn't stop little Robin from acting like a tit for the rest of the episode.

Malcolm and Ghislaine continue their affair and it's revealed that Roger has leprosy (this is why he could take a stabbing to the hand without flinching). Malcolm convinces Ghislaine to declare her husband dead and have him banished from the land. Then Malcolm and Ghislaine can live happily ever after and Malcolm will get his land back. Hmmm, I can see why little Robin is a dick.

Adult Guy doesn't like this part of the story and accuses the hooded figure of lying and of being the bailiff. Ooo, way to throw us off the scent!

Ghislaine reveals she is pregnant so Malcolm convinces her to have the baby in secret so people won't know of their affair. The baby will then be introduced as a foundling. Wow, Malcolm is a scheming bastard isn't he?

Roger later reveals that he knows about the affair to Ghislaine, which is met with the priest and his men arriving and dragging Roger off to be banished. The priest has made an amazing recovery considering he had a collapsed lung a few weeks ago. The wonders of medieval medicine. Roger is dragged off and made to stand in a grave whilst the priest formally declares him dead and banishes him.

Just as I think that the priest is going to pull a gun and shoot Roger while he stands in a ready made grave, Malcolm helps Roger climb out so he can wander off to live in the forest. So, what's with the grave thing, is this an attempt at historical accuracy? It'd be nice if there was a little exposition to explain the grave thing, that's all.

Later on the bailiff tries to blackmail Ghislaine and Malcolm with his knowledge of the unborn child (he'd been eavesdropping earlier). The bailiff wants Ghislaine's lands and Malcolm agrees. Ghislaine is shocked but Malcolm explains that when he marries her he'll have the lands back and the bailiff's deal will be off. Malcolm arranges the wedding for the next Saturday.

Young Guy stalks his mum as she wanders into the forest to visit the leper colony that seemingly set up there overnight. Ghislaine still cares for Roger and brings him food. Guy isn't happy with this turn of events and wants Ghislaine to get her father and leave England for France. Unfortunately the baby dramatically arrives during this conversation which causes Guy to run off and get help. Guy was young and naive and so didn't know his mother was giving birth. The baby is born in secret and Ghislaine spots an arrowhead birthmark on the baby boy's chest. She decides to call him Archer. Yes, Archer. Like he's a freakin' Avenger or something. Malcolm has a peasant man carry his newborn son away into hiding.

Young Guy visits Roger and tries to convince him to run away to France with the family but Roger is content to die in the forest. Guy calls him a leper and leaves in disgust. So Roger decides to sneak back into the village to visit his wife. Unfortunately for Roger the annoying little Robin sees him and decides to run into the village shouting about the leper. Nice one kid.

In Locksley Manor Young Guy attacks Malcolm with a torch but only succeeds in setting fire to the living room. Malcolm tells Guy and the young, but silent, Isabella to leave while he fetches Ghislaine. Malcolm finds Roger and Ghislaine together and they decide to have a sword fight while the manor burns around them. The evil bailiff sees that the manor is on fire and assumes that Malcolm is burning the building to remove the taint of leprosy so he encourages the villages to add more fire to the building. Evil man.

Adult Guy says that he should've braved the flames to rescue his mother but Mysterious-Robed-Figure-Who-Is-Definitely-Not-Robin's-Dad claims that she was already dead. Guy is quite relieved; he'd been feeling guilty about that for years!

The sword fight continues and Ghislaine tries to intervene but she falls over dead. Yep, just like that. She gets pushed by Malcolm and bangs her head on the wooden floor and dies instantly. Her skull must have been a meringue.

Adult Guy doesn't react well to the news and starts strangling Robin. The mysterious stranger continues his story and reveals that Roger stayed in the building to die with his wife whereas Malcolm tried to leave and got a face full of flames. It's at this point that the robed man reveals his identity to Robin.

Gasp! It's Malcolm! He was disfigured by the flames and left Locksley forever, for... some... reason. Robin is angry, Guy is angry. Guy moreso because he fled to France on that very day which caused him to live in poverty and eventually sell his sister to Lord Evilton from the previous episode. Malcolm explains that he brought them all together to reveal the existence of their brother Archer.

We have a final flashback where Guy flees back to France and the bailiff tries to steal the land from the newly orphaned Robin. I have no sympathy for Robin as he's quite clearly a tit but the priest decides to encourage Robin to resist. Robin responds to this by running away to a grave where he hears his father's voice ("with great power...") and finds a conveniently placed bow. Robin returns to scare off the bailiff and his men with his awesome archery skillz and so begins the legend of mediocrity.

Adult Robin and Guy continue to bicker until Guy reveals that he killed the sheriff and intends to kill Isabella too. Malcolm reminds them that they have a half-brother that they need to find. Archer is in York and is due to executed and the only way to rescue him is for Guy and Robin to team up. Robin hugs his dad and his dad responds by drugging Robin and shooting Guy (who amusingly doesn't care about seeing Malcolm again and begins to protest before he's shot) with a dart. Malcolm disappears back to guest star land...

Robin and Guy wake up and head off together to find Archer. It's going to be like a buddy cop film with none of the chemistry or wit.

NEXT EPISODE - York castle! It's like Nottingham castle but with extra CGI bits!

Monday, 15 June 2009

TV Snark - Robin Hood: A Dangerous Deal OR Guy's Five Minute Romance

Another recap and so soon? What is wrong with me? Well, it's a belated attempt to be relevant to this series as I frantically try to catch up before the final episode is broadcast. That would be nice wouldn't it? That way I can start recapping Torchwood and not have the dead weight of Robin Hood hanging over me. Anyway, here's a very special episode with an irritating special guest.

It's night time and Isabella is sleeping in her newly won bed as Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin pays her a visit and offers an alliance and some light flirting, but all Isabella responds with is a call for the guards. Robin tries to make his escape via rope but Isabella cuts the rope causing Robin to fall a short distance and land on his arse. At this point Robin should really take the hint that Isabella doesn't want to work with him anymore.

The next morning Isabella is holding court as she tries to become "...the best Sheriff Nottingham has ever had." This demonstration of amazing judicial authority is displayed in a trial involving Meg (it's Ruby from Demons, urgh) who stands accused of not marrying someone. Hmm, not much of a crime that. All MegRuby has done is not marry one of four suitors, why is Isabella even wasting her time with this crap? Anyway, MegRuby uses her whiny, irritating voice to convince Isabella to indulge in some Girl Power and let her go free. Just as Isabella is about to find two other ladies and form a medieval Spice Girl group, Evil Lord Thornton Evilton appears to reclaim his wife. Mwah-ha-ha! He threatens to inform Prince John that Isabella ran away from home and her wfiely duties so Isabella lets him stay and bully her around. If I were Isabella I'd take the chance that the prince would be too busy attempting to find his lost crown and generally acting mad to care about her marital disharmony. In an effort to spare Isabella a beating, MegRuby informs Lord Evilton that there's a stash of gold in the forest so he sets off with Isabella in tow to dig it up. MegRuby is thrown in the dungeon.

The Merry Men have seen the return of Lord Evilton (in their cunning hoods up disguises, guaranteed to fool guards as it has in every bloody episode) and Robin vows to remove Lord Evilton from his newly stolen position of Sheriff. Whilst Robin and Kate are alone, Kate decides to kiss Robin. Hmmm, that's an unexpected development. There's been no build up to that other than some vague jealousy toward Isabella in previous episodes. Anyway, Robin doesn't really appreciate the kiss as he's worried about Much's feelings. It's all very Hollyoaks.

MegRuby is thrown into a cell next to Guy who is busy brooding and writing some new angsty poems for his journal. MegRuby whines at Guy and wishes that he'd go to Hell. Guy says he's already there (presumably because MegRuby just moved into the dungeon.)

Isabella is menaced some more by her evil husband. I have to say that he's more chilling as a villain than the usual cartoon characters in this show. Maybe it's the implied domestic abuse angle that makes things edgier and more uncomfortable? It certainly adds a sense of palpable menace to the scenes between Isabella and Lord Evilton. Kate and Robin have followed Lord Evilton and Robin decides to put a stop to Evilton's evil scheme of evil.

Guy and MegRuby bond some more in their cell. MegRuby complains that's she thirsty so Guy tells her to suck a stone. That's one way of getting her to shut up I suppose.

Lord Evilton manages to dig his way into a Norse burial chamber (well, small burial mound) and there's tons of gold inside. Lord Evilton kills one of his minions for looking at a gold necklace a bit funny (hey writers, we already know he's evil there's no need for the random killing of a henchman.) The Merry Men decide to ambush the cart heading toward the burial chamber so they can steal the gold from Evilton. Just as things get slightly interesting we cut back to...

...the dungeon where MegRuby and Guy are still bonding. MegRuby asks Guy if he's scared to die and Guy is all noble and stoic, thus melting her heart a bit. MegRuby then tries to eat some bread but throws it away because there's maggots in it but Guy is a gentleman so he dusts off the bread and picks the maggots out for her - that's love.

Whilst waiting in ambush, Kate talks to Much and asks him to have a word with Robin and tell him it's okay to go out with Kate. Much is understandably distraught at this. That tiny shattering sound? It's Much's poor little heart breaking. Ahhhh.

The Merry Men ambush the guards and Evilton but Much has an unrequited love flashback and gets knocked down during the fight, which allows the guards and Evilton to escape into the forest. Robin finds Isabella in the forest and she's ever so grateful for being rescued from Lord Evilton. She agrees to ally with Robin and hand over the Norse gold to him so he can hand it out to the peasants. Robin has Little John escort Isabella back to the castle. Unfortunately a chance remark from Little John about Robin and Kate sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G causes Isabella to instantly become evil.

Later that night the Merry Men decide to use the plan from last episode where they dress up in a dark robe and pretend to be Death. Tuck also puts on his best DRAMATIC SHOUTING voice.

The guards flee in terror leaving Evilton alone to be captured by Robin who immediately has him sectioned and sent to an asylum. What? What asylum? Where? Who is this strange old man that they conveniently found in the forest and why does he drive a cage around a forest at night? Lord Evilton is sent off to be incarcerated for seeing Norse ghosts. Uh, yeahhhhhh. Anyway, that's the bad guy dealt with so I guess it's the end of the episode. Thanks everyone, see you next time.

Oh, wait, there's more.

The next morning Much is still heartbroken so he decides to sneak off and leave the Merry Men. The theme from the Bill Bixby era Incredible Hulk should play at this point.

MegRuby is now freed from jail due to the return to power of Isabella. MegRuby talks to Guy as she totally loves him after her evening in the cell. Guy says that MegRuby made him think; yeah think of suicide! Zing! Ahem. Guy relates the sad tale of how he destroyed the last woman he loved. That's one way of saying it, some would say Guy totally stabbed her in the chest. Anyway MegRuby steals the keys to his cell so she can free him, but Isabella catches them in the act. Isabella decides to execute them both as she descends into villainy.

Isabella changes into more evil attire and meets up with the Merry Men in the forest in order to hand over the gold but she betrays them. Isabella is now wearing tied back hair to make her look more severe and she's wearing black. Look out Robin, evil costume change! Seems Isabella is fed up of men threatening her and trying to coerce her (which is a pretty decent motivation after her treatment at the hands of Lord Evilton, but it is very sudden) so she commands her guards to capture them. Luckily Much was passing by in his depressed haze and rescues the Merry Men with some stolen horses. Kate later asks Much where he'd been but he doesn't admit that he was trying to leave.

Isabella returns to the castle so she can oversee the execution of Guy and MegRuby as Isabella becomes more and more evil. She sits on the Sheriff throne(?) in a carefree villainous manner (in fact, quite a bit like Keith Allen usually does - gasp - do you think Isabella is possessed by the ghost of the Panto Sheriff?) Just as MegRuby is about to lose her head Robin interferes and shoots the executioner. Lord Evilton also miraculously reappears as he seems to have escaped the convenient asylum after a couple of hours of imprisonment; he chases Isabella into the castle while yodelling her name. Guy and MegRuby try to escape but MegRuby is stabbed with a halberd as they flee. Yes! I mean, nooooooooooooo!

The Merry Men steal the gold during the confusion while Robin resolves to save Isabella from Lord Evilton. Robin isn't needed though as Isabella fatally stabs Lord Evilton while begging for mercy. Robin is appalled - he only kills when he has no choice. What?! Robin, you totally murdered two guards last episode when you callously shot them in the back! Isabella has gone comploetely mad and tries to stab Robin too but he easily disarms her and takes his leave.

Guy carries MegRuby into the forest and finds a very picturesque leafy glade next to a pond and props her against a tree. She's dying. Sob. She always QUITE liked him. Sob. She's dead. Sob. Guy cries. Waaaaaahhhhhh.

Back at the Merry Camp, Robin kisses Kate. Two romances in one series? Robin, you dog.

NEXT EPISODE: Flashback episode! Starring Big Suze from Peep Show!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

TV Snark - Robin Hood: The King Is Dead, Long Live The King OR Bye Bye Prince John

Long time no blog. I've moved into my new home and now have an internet connection so I can get back to writing my own special brand of drivel. Read on...

In a workshop somewhere in London, a craftsman completes his work and is immediately rewarded for his efforts with a fatal stab in the back. The stabber grins evilly as he examines the mysterious object.

Robin and Much are practicing their sword skills with big twigs whilst Alan is sitting on the sidelines and shining the sun into people's faces. I guess because he's a bit of a dick. Alan eventually causes Much to run into a tree when he blinds him during a charge. He's a good friend that Alan, what with being a traitor last series and an annoying git in this one.

The Merry Men run off to Nottingham to see the newly arrived king's carriage. Lord Sheridan is on board, former mentor of Robin and formerly loyal servant of King Richard, and also the murderer from the opening scene. Prince John appears and shows his melodramatic grief as Sheridan announces that King Richard is dead, killed by infidels in the Holy Land. Toby Stephens is great here as he clearly enjoys hamming it up for the show, a pity no one else other than Keith Allen is prepared to treat the material with the hammy performance it deserves.

The prince announces that he shall be coronated as soon as possible in the interest of national security. The prince summons the Archbishop of Canterbury to perform the ceremony. The archbishop seems to arrive on the same day, which means he was already in the area or he has access to some never before seen bishop mobile capable of traversing medieval roads in an instant. The prince and Sheridan manage to convince the archbishop that the 'corpse' before him is the king. The archbishop reluctantly agrees to perform the coronation after seeing the body, this makes me wonder if the archbishop needs glasses. The prince also announces that the capital of England will be conveniently moved to Nottingham so he can maintain control over the north and south of the country.

Later that night, the Merry Men break into the abbey to take a look at the body as Robin is convinced that the king isn't dead (due to his outlaw intuition). During the break in, Tuck disposes of a guard with a dart, which I presume contained a paralytic or a sleeping drug. Robin however, just flat out murders a guard by shooting him in the back at close range. I love Robin's moral code in this show, he won't kill an important character but nameless guards and extras are fair game. Much, Kate and Robin sneak into the crypt and take a look at the king's unconvincing 'corpse'.

The lighting isn't great in the above image but that's because the show is keeping things dark so you can't see that the corpse is obviously some hideous rubber/latex likeness of Richard actor Steven Waddington (he appeared at the end of series two, fact fans!). Kate figures out that the 'corpse' is made of wax when she holds a candle too close to an ear and it begins to melt.

After a brief boozy party to celebrate his impending kingship, Prince John sets off for, and arrives, at the crypt. This causes Robin, Much and Kate to hide in a couple of sarcophagi to avoid detection. The prince can't bear the sight of his brother's face and punches the crap out of the wax replica, totally ruining it as a convincing simulacrum. The prince doesn't care because he's already convinced the archbishop to coronate him. Best hope the archbishop doesn't request to see the corpse again or ask for an open casket funeral then.

Meanwhile, Guy (who's now an outlaw thanks to last episode's shenanigans) ambushes Isabella in her own home. Isabella pulls the trick that everyone pulls in this show when they're about to die, she asks Guy to kill her. Reverse psychology works every time in this show so Guy relents and agrees to work with Isabella so he can regain the prince's good graces.

The prince orders a couple of nameless guards to burn the wax corpse to hide the evidence. Again, let's hope no one else asks to see the 'dead' king. The Merry Men dress up as Death and scare off the guards (who amusingly let out a girlish scream and run away) and recover the now melted corpse.

The Merry Men decide that they can't tell the archbishop about the fake king because he's already seen the corpse, so they decide to steal the crown instead to stop the coronation. What? Why not mention it to the archbishop and ask him to request Prince John for a visit to the corpse again if he doesn't believe them? Because then we wouldn't have a convoluted heist plot then.

Isabella and Guy fallout again as Guy once again refuses to apologise for marrying Isabella off to the evil lord Thornton. Guy's right though, it's the middle ages, girls are for marrying off and gaining land. Isabella needs to forget those fanciful anachroni ideas she's picked up. Still, at least she knows how to act like a noble lady and doesn't buy her clothes from Top Shop like Marian did. Isabella then drugs Guy so she can hand him over to the prince.

The Merry Men set up a ruse in the local pub to steal the keys to the crown from Sheridan. Alan poses as a barman (in the same pub where he used to conspire with Guy against Robin Hood), Kate poses as a drunken wench and Robin poses as himself as he knows Sheridan. Sheridan proposes that Robin stop all his outlaw nonsense because he will become the sheriff soon and doesn't want to hunt down his old pupil. Kate distracts Sheridan and Robin and Alan steal Sheridan's keys. The Merry Men manage to competently steal something for once, I'm shocked.

Robin and Tuck go to the dungeons to find the crown (Robin murders the jailer by shooting him in the back - hero!) where they discover a chest protected by a ton of string. The strings are connected to concealed crossbows that shoot bolts once triggered. Robin then spends a minute contorting and jumping through the unconvincing string trap and reaches the chest, where he's attacked by concealed CGI scorpions. Luckily for Robin they don't immediately sting him so he easily avoids a poisonous death. Prince John arrives back at the dungeons causing Robin to hurriedly run through the traps after retrieving the crown. The bolts fire and none of them hit him despite his spastic flailing through the string. What was the point in that deathtrap then? Scorpions that don't sting and crossbows that don't shoot straight, that's a recipe for failure.

Robin reaches the gang's hideout and announces his successful theft of the crown. Unfortunately Sheridan is right behind him with some ferocious dogs:

The Merry Men split up, each carrying a sack said to contain a crown, in an effort to confuse Sheridan.

Meanwhile, here's a shot of Richard Armitage tied up in bed for all the ladies (and some of the guys):

Isabella's sering girl wants herself a piece of the Armitage but Guy is playing possum and suddenly wakes up and holds her by the throat. Later on, Isabella returns home with the prince to show off her captive. But lo and behold Guy has been replaced with the serving girl and Guy appears from the shadows to menace the prince a bit and then run off. Prince John is not amused by this and orders Isabella to be clapped in irons and hauled off to the dungeons.

Back in the forest there's some running around and some comedy violence is inflicted on a hapless guard as he opens one of the fake bags and gets hit with a mousetrap. He then opens a second bag and gets stinging nettles in his hand. The guards in this episode remind me of Gary and Graeme from Maid Marian and her Merry Men. They were a great hapless duo. Eventually the crown is recaptured after a brief fight between student and mentor which ends when Robin is surrounded by guards and Sheridan banishes Robin to Hull.

Sheridan triumphantly returns to Nottingham and presents Prince John with the crown and claims Isabella as his reward. The Merry Men bicker and argue without Robin so Tuck takes charge by SHOUTING. Tuck formulates a suicidal plan to steal the crown during the coronation and then run off. It's not a work of genius.

Fortunately for the outlaw gang, Robin easily escapes the guards whilst being transported to Hull and rejoins them. Robin has an equally stupid plan that is more complicated with an equal chance of death. It's also not a work of genius.

Robin and co interrupt the coronation by using really, really shiny shields to dazzle everyone while Tuck puts on his best King Richard voice. This confuses everyone for a few seconds, which is enough for Sheridan to turn cowardly and admit to the archbishop the whole waxwork corpse plan. Then everyone realises that the king isn't really there and it's just Robin Hood wearing his hood. I bet Sheridan wishes he'd waited more than two seconds before blurting out a confession.

Guy appears with a crossbow to assassinate the prince but Robin adds some sanity to proceedings by claiming that the country will slide into civil war without a clear royal leader. Guy doesn't care and tries to shoot Prince John anyway but Isabella jumps in front and takes the bolt in the arm. Robin then shoots Guy in the back (hero!) but this doesn't kill him, allowing him to be captured by the guards. The archbishop tries to stop the violence by claiming that anyone who sheds blood in the abbey will be damned. Well, Guy and Robin are already damned then aren't they? Still, rather than stop fighting both groups indulge in light, unconvincing fisticuffs instead. The archbishop eventually commands everyone to let the Merry Men go and so they flee with the crown in hand.

Later on, Prince John confirms that Isabella is the new sheriff and decides to pack up and leave Nottingham for no real reason. Robin ambushes the archbishop to return the crown to him. Hurrah for King Richard and all that.

NEXT EPISODE: That annoying girl from Demons. Yeah, her. Ruby. Gah.