This Robin Hood fell into the trap of working too hard to introduce characters we kind of know anyway, rather than give them a chance to fill out on screen over a couple of episodes. And it’s so cartoonish as a result. Something not helped by mediocre casting: Robin himself was more charismatic as a hoodie. ‘Keith Allen can do the sheriff in his sleep,’ thought someone. Indeed he can and indeed he does. His performance at the kids’ hanging was identical to the one he gave at the Manchester Passion, but he can turn in stunning performances when pushed in stuff like Bodies. How very, very safe.
Meanwhile, last week’s one-off Cracker on ITV was a work that, to borrow a nice phrase from elsewhere, proceeded to ‘stomp around on top of – rather than capture – the zeitgeist’. We were invited to spend half the time comparing and contrasting ever so clumsily inserted footage from the war in Iraq and troubles in Northern Ireland. And the references to Manchester having reinvented itself were slotted in just as sloppily. And those kids may have being playing video games in the bedroom, but I reckon they’d still have noticed the army of police officers surrounding the house heard all that gunfire and done more than smile sweetly when stranger Robbie Coltrane barged in the room to check on the little darlings. It served as a reminder that there was a time when ITV produced stuff over than soap; a time we will probably never see again.
Compare and contrast how the unbeatable Sopranos deals with a mob leader who wishes his contemporaries could accept a gay captain, while coping with his daughter’s growing social awareness and his elderly uncle’s dementia. That’s a zeitgeist capturing drama.
Update: As predicted above: Viewers desert Robin Hood