So we know that winter is coming, because the new series of Strictly Come Dancing has kicked off on BBC1, so once again we’ll be watching every week until Christmas, passing comment on the skills of a bunch of celebrities – all of whom dance a lot better than we ever could! I’ll get onto that in a moment, but first we also had the launch of the new Robin Hood, something that prior to the success of Doctor Who on a Saturday night I doubt would have been produced.
In terms of TV versions, this new Robin Hood has a lot to live up to. The last major British TV adaptation was twenty years ago, the much loved Robin of Sherwood, and I suspect that largely because of the influence of that Richard Carpenter version nobody has tried again. In terms of the new version, we are very much back with the more swashbuckling character of other versions, without any of the mystical and pagan aspects that can be found in Robin of Sherwood, and even in subsequent movie adaptations such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. In this version, the BBC have opted for the nobleman version of the legend, with Robin of Locksley, Earl of Huntingdon, and his manservant Much returning from the crusades to discover that things are not what they left behind. The old Sheriff of Nottingham has been ousted, and the new Sheriff and his men are ruling with an iron fist. Robin initially tries to use his position to change things, but is soon forced into a corner by the new Sheriff where he has to decide whether to allow things to continue, or intervene and become an outlaw.
As an episode it was a pretty enjoyable romp through the legend. As has become customary the Sheriff is suitably larger than life, in the form of Keith Allen, with Robin being played by relative unknown Jonas Armstrong. The character of Robin is definitely more of the cheeky lad mould than some previous interpretations, however the feisty Marian played by Lucy Griffiths is more than his match, indeed saving Robin’s life at the climax of the first episode. The main annoyances during the programme were the presentation. Many of the scene changes during the episode were captioned with the name of the location – fine, but do we really need the cheesy arrow noise as they appear? Also the number of times they used slow motion running was truly annoying, and again, pretty cheesy. Hopefully as the series goes on we’ll loose some of those gimmicks, as to some extent it would make it a much more watch-able programme.
Strictly Come Dancing was entertaining as ever, and amazingly we managed to successfully predict the first exit. The format has changed somewhat this year, with another increase in the number of celebrities resulting in only half the field being up for the chop every week – also perhaps a response to the majority of the female celebrities being knocked out early on last year. As before there are a few surprises amongst the celebrities, and definitely some with untapped dance potential, and again the general standard has increased. We’ll wait and see who starts to shine as the weeks progress.