Monday, November 20, 2006

Part 3 - "It made me happy."

And so to the weekend's television. Gorbless digital replay - it's like rediscovering VCR.

1. Robin Hood. This is an increasingly frustrating show. On the one hand, you get occasional flashes of something edgy, of the show this could (should?) have been - like when it turns out Marian's already helping the peasants, or when Roy gives himself up to the Sheriff's guards, or this week when the outlaws ride up to Nottingham yet again to save yet another (in this case thoroughly undeserving) villager in yet another daring raid, only to find the Sheriff's anticipated them and hanged the buggers an hour earlier. Little flashes of brilliance, but they're so, so rare.

On the other hand, all pretence at credibility has long since flown out of the window. The bulk of the series has sunk into formula, and features such absurdities as this week's merchant in a trilby and a bloody sheepskin coat! What, has Robin Hood been invaded by Only Fools and Horses? Are we to be treated, in a moment of astonishing daring, to a metafictional crisis that might actually explain the sheer laxity of detail? Never mind Robin's machine-made vest - a trilby! And I hate to say it, but - a black Christian Abbess in 13th century England in last week's episode? Will we see the Sheriff eating potatoes and smoking a pipe next week, perhaps?

And how disappointing that another rare flash, potentially a very bright one, should have been snuffed with such a god-awful cop-out. Robin's ridiculous plan to race back to Marian's house and slip that incriminating necklace into her hand just in the nick of time is doomed - he's too late, Gisburne's rumbled her, she's surely now going to have to admit everything to him! The whole show is about to change! And yet at the last possible second Robin does indeed turn up outside the window and slip the necklace into her hand, after the event but not too late to reset the situation. Bah, humbug.

So Robin Hood is now firmly relegated to the position of amusing guff. We'd still sooner watch it than most other TV programmes, but not that avidly.

2. Torchwood. Flippin' 'eck. A great episode for character work, but horrible. The doors are now open for jokes about the Countryside Alliance.

Following this episode, my opinion of Owen has taken a pronounced about-turn. I think on reflection the "Lynx effect" business in the first episode could be taken either as a sign that he's a rapist waiting to happen, or that he's just thoroughly irresponsible. His misuse of the time viewer in the third episode (significantly, to deliver vigilante punishment to a rapist), as well as his general behaviour since the season opener, led me to conclusion B. Now, however, I can't help but revert to conclusion A. Amazingly Gwen seems prepared to go along with it all, but I suppose such things and stranger do happen. Presumably the plan now is to attempt to make us care about Owen before he meets a painful and much anticipated death. You've left yourself a challenge there, Mr Chibnall.

I have but two questions, two disturbing thoughts that occurred to me:
  • What was in those burgers the team were eating at the start of the episode?
  • What if that last scene right at the end wasn't all in Gwen's imagination?

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