He's a novice, novice ...

TV The smallest of irritations can sink your appreciation of a television drama, pull you from the world that is being created, little niggles that eventually become big niggles that ultimately nullify the brilliance of whatever the programme makers were trying to achieve. BBC's new version of Robin Hood potentially had many, many of these.

The appearance of the time and place caption from the edge of the screen to the sound an arrow leaving a bow in the opening moments of the first episode beautifully set the pitch for what was to follow. Or it would have done had it not been repeated throughout the rest of the episode no matter the tone of the scene beforehand. And oh those camera movements -- some of the lateral tracking shots were marvelous but really who decided upon all those demented cranked close ups which look like the shot was moving forward and backwards and why did they have to happen over and over and over again?

Which is a shame because there were some very good elements, particularly in the cast. Jonas Armstrong is a perfectly charismatic presence in the lead role, yes he's young but there's a definite twinkle in his eye and he can certainly do comedy. Sam (grandson of Patrick) Troughton was good and seemed to be channeling Alan Tudyk from A Knight's Tale. Lucy Griffiths's Marion in her few moments had spark and I think will possibly be one of the series secret weapons as the weeks go by. Richard Armitage too as Guy will no doubt be a strength too if only out of curiosity -- expect column inches to be written trying to work out were his accent has come from.

Keith Allen's Sheriff could be open to criticism, but it wasn't completely his fault -- he was just a casualty of a script that had a lot of issues to juggle. Legends like Robin Hood have a folklore that is replete with icons, elements that are simply expected by the audience. Robin. Marion. Merry Men. Sheriff. Sherwood Forest. And it's up to the adaptors to move that furniture around. So Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves includes Morgan Freeman's Moor. Robin of Sherwood dropped in a large dose of the supernatural.

The problem with Dominic Minghella's pilot script is that it attempted to introduce as many of these elements as possible to the extent that it sagged rather badly in the middle as the issues related to the politics of Robin turning from nobleman to outlaw and Marion's role in the story played out. In the midst of it all, Allen's Sheriff appeared less important than Gisbourne and upon his eventual appearance seemed like a bit of a joke, especially since the part has possibly been written with Allen in mind and so is essentially playing to the perception of who the actor is rather than developing a new character. Even as he was putting men to death, he simply lacked the important element of menace that Alan Rickman's interpretation (the obvious inspiration here) had in spades -- that he could still kill you with a look.

It lacked a through dramatic line too, with an early bit of business over a ditch, a meal and comely wench, no doubt included to demonstrate that this Robin can be a bit of a lad and the friendship with Much, not adding anything in particular to the main story (not helped by said wench being caked in make-up and looking like she'd just finished a shift in Boots). It seemed repetitious too, since the teaser, in which Robin saved Alan A Dale from Guy and his men had already been fit for this purpose. Perhaps the real strength was instead the dialogue, a pleasing overabundance of cod-Elizabethanisms that often sizzled -- particularly Robin and Marion's flirting, something which has notoriously been difficult to pull off.

The main criticism is that overall it risked letting its style overwhelm its storytelling. The brief was no doubt to make it look, thrilling and hip and twenty-first century -- the films of Jerry Bruckheimer might even have been another touchstones with their fast editing and interesting choices of camera angle. Except here action beats were needlessly repeated from a number of angles or even the same angle that looked extremely dated and digital lighting effects that might have worked in a trailer but simply ruin what atmosphere had been created.

Perhaps, the quieter moments, and subtler effects were most appealing. In a key scene the camera swooped slowly into a close up of Much, lying in a bath, heretofore the comic relief, sobbing, the background the sound of battle resonating as he presumably remembered the war. Similar as Will Scarlett's Dad welcomes Robin back to Loxley we notices that he has lost a hand, demonstrating perfectly the tyranny that has been in place whilst the titular character was away. There were also odd hints that the crusade being fought abroad may not be considered a completely just one, injecting a contemporary resonance.

Most of the reviews of this opening episode so far have generally been of a chorus: 'it is early days' and 'the merry men haven't arrived yet' or 'it was ok'. Whilst his review has been generally mixed, there was certainly enough good elements to the episode, in the comedy and the exciting conclusion, to make it worth watching in future. Later episodes have been written by some great writers including Paul Cornell (Doctor Who) and Julian Mitchell (Inspector Morse) which also bodes well. Let's just hope that an equilibrium can be found between story, pacing and style.

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