Making the world a better place, one show at a time.

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Washington, DC, United States
I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Random Thought

I would like to take a moment to talk about something of absolutely no consequence. It is that fact that I could not be happier that I am getting older. This is not to say that I do not indulge in shows which concentrate on a time in life I have long passed; though high school is years behind me, I still thoroughly enjoy Gossip Girl. What I mean is that there are certain things that saturate our "culture" that I do not understand, do not want to understand, and know will be over with soon enough.

Specifically, I am talking about the Jonas Brothers, and I am doing so because their TV Movie Camp Rock premiers tonight, which I am sure you know if you have turned on your tv, opened a web page, or basically not been in a coma for the now weeks long media blitz Disney has subjected the American public to. I have never heard any of their music, never seen anything but still photos and commercials of them, so maybe my opinion is unfounded, but I do not get it at all. And I am not thirteen, so there is no way that I could.

I have seen, and in a sense liked, both High School Musical movies, and I have no moral outrage regarding Hannah Montana (hell, I am old enough to remember when ol' Billy Ray was popular in his own right), but people are acting like these little twats are the reincarnation of Motzart. I have one word for that: Hanson.

And that one word is why I am happy to be getting on. I am able to see the path this will take. Right now three badly coifed "rockers" (okay I did not get that out with a straight face) are the most exciting thing for those on the shy side of a training bra, but as their fan base moves into "angsty" phase, their "much anticipated follow-up" album will tank, and all those glossy posters and notebooks will follow in the discarded merchandise footsteps of all the previously overhyped and limitedly talented/appealing bands before them.

Then, years from now, there will be some other girl sitting at her laptop wondering vaguely on a boring Friday morning why thirteen year olds are unable to see the pattern they are a part of, and smiling (just a bit smugly) about how wonderful it is to be way beyond thirteen.

The TV Girl

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Greek (5): My Semesters Ended With Finals, Not Spring Break.

But to some extent, we don’t watch TV to see the life we already know and have experienced. So, I forgive this little show for skipping most of the school parts of college.

The finale episode aired almost a week and a half ago, and I didn’t really feel like writing about it for a couple of reasons. Actually, I didn’t even see the episode until last Thursday, so it has been less than a week of my internal debating. Mostly, I didn’t want to say anything, because I didn’t really like it.

I know that since Rebecca’s father has been implicated in a prostitution scandal (nice use of semi-current events by the way) I am supposed to have some level of sympathy for her, but I really just do not. She is a spoiled, selfish, manipulative tramp who hen-pecks her boyfriend and treats everyone around her as if they are her property. Cappie is a fool if he thinks her drunken tirade was only about her father; she meant what she said, she just wouldn’t have said it under other circumstances.

Even so, Casey has got to stop making snide comments about Rebecca being overweight. It is petty, ugly, and unpleasant. Furthermore it discloses and perpetuates society’s unbelievable misconceptions about body image.

Okay, enough complaining, because there were good things about this episode.

Casey and Cappie kissed, and it was natural and sweet. And Casey, in a round about way, called him her soul mate. So freaking adorable! I like the less-prone-to-stressing-out Casey. It was good to see her realize that enjoying time with her best friend was more important than recounting boy problems; inside she knows everything will be okay.

Evan and Frannie’s hook-up conversation was probably the most honest either has ever been. Nice that the appropriately matched people have found one another.

There is a potential love interest for Ashleigh next season. It is about time this girl got a romantic plot of her own.

The best event was, of course, the reunion of Rusty and Calvin. I hated them not being friends, and it was about time that they had the sense (or maybe no other choice than) to listen to Dale (who has to be one of the most underrated characters on TV, because he is hilarious). Their house affiliation shouldn’t be the most important thing and if they don’t want others to judge them for being greek, they shouldn’t judge each other for being in rival houses. Dale has my undying gratitude for settling their differences, and for reminding us that it was the 80’s when ambition became a bad thing.

The TV Girl

Monday, June 16, 2008

Battlestar Galactica (9): I Am Still Giddy.

So, please forgive me if I am kind of incoherent. And I need to hang on to this feeling since there will be no new episodes until early 2009.

But first, a Short Recap: D’Anna held Roslin and the human crew aboard the Baseship hostage in order to flush out the Final Five. While hostages, Baltar thanks Roslin for not killing him. When only Tory “joined her people” D’Anna started executing hostages, so Tigh told Adama the truth. Adama (understandably) lost it, and Lee took charge, putting Tigh in an airlock, forcing him to give up Anders and Tyrol, and telling D’Anna that he would execute them. Before being outed, Anders and Tyrol told Kara that the Viper she returned on was important and when she turned it on, she found a Colonial signal from Earth, so she ran to tell Lee and stopped him from throwing Tigh out the airlock. Lee offered D’Anna a truce, a chance to find Earth together, and full amnesty for the Tory, Tigh, Anders, and Tyrol. Adama, slightly recovered from his shock and reunited with Roslin (who praised Lee’s performance as president), decided that the whole fleet, including the rebel Cylons, would jump to the signal. There was much celebration when the fleet first saw Earth, but it was short lived. Landing on the surface, the remnants of humanity and the rebel Cylons found a barren and abandoned wasteland.

I will say it: Lee is a kick-ass president. And a really good human being. Finding out the rival for the love of his life just happens to be not so human, he didn’t use it as an opportunity to pursue a personal vendetta under the cover of authority. The look Anders gave him when he was first taken into the airlock absolutely confirmed that Anders was questioning if Lee would do just that.

Maybe not to the same extent as Adama’s, but Tigh’s confession broke my heart. Probably because it broke Adama’s. I cried when he cried, and thinking that he was so wounded as to allow his son to take care of him makes me want to cry again. Tigh made a great sacrifice by revealing his secret and he did so with as much dignity as possible. And really, that made it worse. He displayed the best part of him self by revealing the worst. Granted, I applauded for a second when Lee decked him. It was one hit as a (former) soldier betrayed by his (former) commanding officer, and also as a son avenging the betrayal and devastation of his father. It was both utterly personal, and representative of the entire Fleet, therefore singularly cathartic and necessary.

Without that hit, Lee probably wouldn’t have been able to offer the rebel Cylons the chance to forego the pattern of mutually assured destruction that has defined Human/Cylon relations thus far. Interestingly, early in the episode, on the Baseship, the rebel Cylons talk about how the Humans will never forgive the Cylons for the destruction of the Colonies (personally, don’t think that they should), and that remains true still. Baltar tries to encourage D’Anna not to execute the hostages because force did not work with the Humans in the past, but he doesn’t claim that a more peaceful future erases the past. Lee asks the rebel Cylons to join the Humans in making new choices, to disavow their fatalistic attitude (just because it happened before does not mean it has to happen again), but tellingly, he doesn’t reference the past, doesn’t say that all is forgiven. Moving on is not equivalent with forgiveness.

But, it all might be meaningless because the great promise of Earth has been totally destroyed. Or they just landed in Outer Bumble Fart and need to head towards the equator to find habitable land. Okay, that doesn’t seem likely. Earth looked to be uninhabited and uninhabitable, possibly the victim of global warming and international conflict, or ravaged by a geological anomaly. Or could it be that the other Cylons got there first?

As an aside, I would like to take a second to praise the artistic design of BSG. The final scene of the episode moved so fluidly, looked so unlike anything that has come before it, demarcating the ending of certain aspects of the show and the beginning of new ones that has nothing to do with the convenience of mid-season-finales. The fact that each place, and even each genus/species has its own particular color palate (Earth’s slate gray and bone tones told you it was empty before the sweeping final shot confirmed it) is one of the details of this show that makes it so whole and enjoyable.

My one gripe is the lack of Lee/Kara personal interaction. A conversation, a handhold, a hug, a kiss, anything! I mean, they found out her husband is a Cylon, so there really should have been some sort of Apollo/Starbuck business. I will just have to wait for the last ten episodes for this mistake to be rectified.

And for the last Cylon to be revealed.

The next couple of months is starting to look sort of like the Earth the Fleet found.

The TV Girl

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Boys (6): Bobby?

In the Season One finale there were seven possibilities of whom PJ could have invited to Italy, and in the Season Two premiere on Thursday the audience, and Stephanie, finally found out the identity of the lucky guy. (In all honesty, “finally” for me was about a 16-hour wait.) I am usually hesitant to believe that cliffhangers and guest stars are a likely combination, so I discounted Thorn the long lost love, Evan the botanist, or Matt the cute former Cub, as realistic possibilities for her traveling partner. Neither Mike nor Kenny as her Italy buddy would have provided any forward momentum for the show. So in my thinking, Brendan and Bobby were they only viable options, and I have to say, I kind of wish it had been Brendan.

Especially because Brendan probably would have figured out that PJ intended for Italy to be a romantic vacation, which entirely escaped Bobby. Not that PJ and anyone would have had much time to themselves considering that Stephanie broke up with Lance within 24 hours of the plane landing. Still Bobby seems determined not to reopen the him/PJ door.

And if Bobby had still been in Chicago, Kenny would not have been worried about his whereabouts, who could have concentrated all his efforts on keeping Mike from sleeping with Terry they waitress, and then they wouldn’t have been banned from the bar. I laughed immensely to see how (shall I say) disorderly this little group is without PJ there to guide them towards better choices. She would have shut down “The McConaughey” immediately, and no one would have ended up drinking beer in Andy’s SUV.

There was no metaphor in this episode. Either the show is tweaking the format in order to encourage more viewers, which I think would be a mistake, or they are running out of baseball scenarios appropriate to relationships. I missed the metaphor.

The TV Girl

Friday, June 13, 2008

Battlestar Galactica (9): I Knew It!

I knew it, I knew it, I knew it.

Through the mist of my tears I checked the clock when they arrived at Earth.

I knew it, I knew it.

More to follow.

I knew it.

The TV Girl

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Weekday Fling: My Boys, Season One (6)

If you are not a baseball fan, or have a low tolerance for sports metaphor, skip this one.

If you like sports, metaphor, and sports metaphor (or at least you can deal with some combination thereof), then you get to meet PJ (Jordana Spiro), the Cubs correspondent for the Chicago Sun Times, and her boys: Andy (Jim Gaffigan), her married brother; Mike (Jamie Kaler), her one-step-away-from-being-creepy friend; Kenny (Michael Bunin), her mostly-lovable yet loveless friend; Brendan (Reid Scott), her radio host best friend/sometimes roommate/should be or could be love interest; and Bobby (Kyle Howard), her fellow reporter for a different paper, possible but didn’t work out love interest. Preventing testosterone overload is her other best friend Stephanie (Kellee Stewart), a magazine editor. PJ’s great love is baseball and views her life (or at least talks about her life in the voice-over) as a corollary of the game; this is her team. PJ narrates during each episode, providing the baseball correspondence to the life situation facing her and her friends.

It is the everyday ups and downs that the characters face: dates, minor misunderstandings, lost jobs, lost games. None of the scenarios are overly intense or overly exaggerated; so expect neither melodrama nor farce. Essentially, this is a show about basically descent people who enjoy each other’s company. Doesn’t mean that they don’t rag on each other, but there is no snide tone underlying everything or any self-righteous proselytizing.

In a sense there is something wholesome (without being completely cheesy) about My Boys: the storylines are recognizable and relatable, the characters are easy to like, and it is easy to see that they like each other.

The actors work well together, and the writing (banter and burns) improves as the season progresses. The lighting design is very soft, making the whole appearance of the show more approachable. The various guest stars are notable without being obnoxious.

I couldn’t be more thankful both for my recent trip to Chicago and for my awesome friend KP’s walking tour of the city, because I actually have a general sense of the geography and places the characters talk about. It can be difficult when you are totally unfamiliar with a show’s setting.

I do have to point out one thing that got under my skin. The literary allusion “albatross” is misused. I understand that not everyone has been required to read "The Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner” as I was (repeatedly), but I beg that people would just sit down and watch Serenity in which the common mistake is addressed and corrected.

It is the summer, so if you want to take a break and have a beer, My Boys would be fine company.

The TV Girl

Random Thought

I like to know when shows are coming out on DVD, because then I know exactly how long I have to wait before I can watch the latest season of a particular show in one sitting and how to budget my paychecks. Yesterday I happened to be perusing Target online and found, much to my joy, the release date for Supernatural Season Three. (I added it to the list to the right.)

The cover is kind of, odd. Not bad, just odd. I showed it to my friend Calah, and she too noticed that there was something odd about it. For two seasons Dean has been pictured in front of Sam (height issues and all), but this one is the opposite (and uses near shots, so height is irrelevant). There is nothing wrong with the cover (someone would have to try really hard to make it bad), it is just slightly surprising.

Calah wondered allowed the rational behind the choice. In a sense, speculating on this topic verges a bit too close to Da Vinci Code territory for me, so I won't. But I will let myself be puzzled.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Battlestar Galactica (7): Just Because She Looks Like Her...

I tuned in Friday night knowing that I would be a bit confused, since I missed the episode from the previous week. But like a cosmic pat on the back telling me my minor indiscretion was forgiven, this episode picked up where “Guess What Is Coming For Dinner” (two episodes ago) ended, and with the “Previously On” to fill in some gaps (which is not to say that I will not watch the missing episode as soon as I am able), I happily settled back in.

I am not going to claim that it was the “most amazing episode ever,” (sorry little bro, cannot agree with you here) but it defiantly qualified as good stuff. All centered on death, but still good.

Anyone else predict that what it would take for Roslin to realize that she is cold and distant would be visions she participates in during jumps on a Cylon Baseship? Me neither, but I really liked it. It had to be something special that changed her, because she has never really respected the emotional reality of other people. There was no way she was just going to look at Adama one day and realize that she loves him. I think this approach was a way to open new psychological possibilities for her while remaining consistent with her character. There is less hypocrisy in her now; the great savior of humanity is not as incapable of loving or being loved as an individual.

Visions didn’t do all the work. Roslin had to actively choose to privilege particular life. When Baltar was brought to her wounded she bandaged him up, tried to save his life. Her initial instinct was towards his dignity as a person, helping the viewer to accept her acceptance of her own better nature. It would have been difficult for the viewer to hear her confess to Adama that she loves him if she had let Baltar die by not reattaching the bandage she took off. My question is whether he will maintain his religious ferocity now that she almost killed him? In other words will he give her the forgiveness he demands others give him?

I would agree that mortality is a fundamental part of the human experience, even a defining characteristic, but I will not agree that simply without the ability to resurrect that the Cylons are “just like everyone else now.” Immortality is only one element that distinguishes the Cylons from the humans, and taking that away does not eliminate the distinction entirely. The fact that little miss Eight (the one with Helo that isn’t Boomer or Sharon/Athena, so I don’t know what to call her) didn’t seem to see why it is totally creepy that she accessed someone’s memories and experiences and then proceeded to behave as if they were her own evidences that (at least at this point) Cylons do not have a proper grasp of what it means to be human. I am hoping that since she believes Helo agrees with Roslin’s deception regarding who would talk to D’Anna first that she will cut out flirting with him.

And I cannot express how happy I am for the return of the (now not so) late, great Ms Lucy Lawless. Can any other character compete with that sick sense of humor or that manipulative determination? Telling Roslin she is a Cylon was priceless.

This Friday, the midseason finale, is a big old coming out party and not in the gay way. Should be exciting.

The TV Girl

Monday, June 9, 2008

My Weekend Fling: Weeds, Season Three (0)


I don’t actually want to be any more articulate than that.

I will try. Truncated and incoherent storylines. Repetitive and stagnate characterization. The actor who plays Shane is too old for his pudding bowl haircut. Too much Celia (she is one banshee that can only be taken in small doses).

The most glaring and fundamental problem with this season is that the “other Mrs. Scottson“ plot had the unfortunate consequence of forcing the viewer to ask the question that the viewer has to knowingly and actively avoid asking, because if the viewer does so, the entire premise falls apart. I am not being any more explicit because Season One of this show is worth watching, and I don't want to ruin it but being more clear. It would have been nice if they had not done themselves in, but so be it.

I have no more inclination to expend any more energy on such a pointless and unfunny collection of episodes. I am going to go back to my first reaction.


The TV Girl

Thursday, June 5, 2008

In Plain Sight (3): Did It Hurt When You Fell Out of the Boring Tree?

Pilot episodes are tricky. You do not want to judge a book by its cover, but with a new series that is all you can do, and it is difficult to know if you are more right than wrong. Sometimes a wonderful pilot is the highlight of a disappointing series. Sometimes a weak pilot is the shaky foundation upon which wonderfulness is built. Sometimes the viewer is blessed with the perfect pilot; an episode through which the viewer is introduced to a fully realized cosmos and taught how to participate in that cosmos. Arrested Development, Friday Night Lights, and Supernatural are three series I think have prefect pilots (the BSG miniseries is technically the pilot for the series, but doesn’t really count for what I am talking about, despite its perfection). In Plain Sight will not join last ranks, nor will it be part of the first. Most likely this episode was a dull introduction to what will be a dull series.

The basic premise is that Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) is a U.S. Marshall working in the Albuquerque NM branch of the Witness Protection Program, and she may be a rock-star at her job, but she doesn’t (or possibly therefore doesn’t) have time for her alcoholic mother, druggie sister, and “fun” buddy who may want more. She has a friend/coworker with a desk next to hers who may or may not be her partner (their professional relationship was immensely unclear), but whom she treats like a lackey.

I think you can see where I am going with this: none of these characters are particularly engaging or sympathetic. As I have mentioned before, the high-powered-career-woman-with-messed-up-personal-life is a common character on TV (I think this is what I will write about next week), and Mary as yet has failed to demonstrate any individuality to distinguish her from her character type. The other characters are just too vague at this point to be evaluated in any way. All of the actors read like relative strangers, portraying very little ease with their own persons or relationships.

The bigger problem is that so far character is the focus of the show, in particular Mary, because regarding plot I don’t really see what they are striving for. Those in witness protection are not the primary narrative concern, despite the fact that in the pilot a young man in Mary’s charge is murdered and she forgets to take groceries to a young woman just placed in her custody. If Mary fails to be an interesting heroine, then her job needs to be interesting, but it seems that this facet of the legal system is not readily fruitful, at least from the enforcement side.

Furthermore, Mary’s voice over is more Grey’s Anatomy than Veronica Mars, meaning she spells out the metaphor for the viewer, rather than providing the viewer information and insight we otherwise would not have had. And someone decided that she should be constantly taking her jacket on and off. I have no idea why this was decided upon to be her personal quirk that discloses something of her personality, because it is unbelievably annoying and distracting, as if someone in the wardrobe department gave her a piece that doesn’t fit.

Judging by the pilot, In Plain Sight is its setting: dry. But what else am I going to do on Sunday evenings in the summer? Go to church?

The TV Girl

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Greek (5): Is It Really A Lie If...

Can you see my dance of joy that Evan has been exposed as a jerk? Okay, you can’t, but that doesn’t mean that I am not. I kind of feel sorry for Casey that she seems to end up in relationships with guys who don’t feel they can be honest with her about what they want (but Evan’s transgression is way more serious than Cappie’s).

Honesty was the connective theme for the episode: being honest about what you want, honest about why you want it, honest about the difference between what you want and what you need, and most importantly being honest about who you are. We got to see a whole new level of honest about Evan. Knowing he was wrong, he quickly lashed out at Casey, behaving childishly and giving her cause to be angry with him when she had been rather understanding. I have to wonder why Frannie wants him.

Frannie’s action, convincing Ashleigh to confront Shane knowing full well why he backed off Casey and knowing that Ashleigh would tell Casey the truth, poses one of those little metaphysical questions. Have you really done the right thing if you do it for the wrong reason? Inexplicably, she wants Evan, so she needed Casey to find out what he did, but she couldn’t be the one to tell her because Evan would be angry with her. Evan acted badly and should not have been allowed to continue to manipulate Casey, Casey needed to see Evan for what he really is so that she can decide what is best for her, and Frannie and Evan are kind of perfect for each other, therefore Frannie’s choice will have positive results for all. Does the end justify the means? I propose that if Evan and Frannie find long-term happiness together then the show is affirming that the end is paramount in matters of ethical concern.

But the long term is a bit much to ask of college students, which is why credit companies are able to make a killing. Ashleigh’s foray into the wonderful land of unstoppable charging is far too common a story, much to the chagrin of many parents and the low credit scores of many 20-somethings. One of those mistakes you just have to make, no matter how forewarned the lure is too great. I think that we should all take a moment and give at least a golf-clap for Amber Stevens. How this young woman manages to perform with a straight face while cover head-to-toe in plastic, flowers, cherries, hearts, and other various shinny fabrics/accessories is a mystery to me. Kudos to her.

Rusty got the reality check Ashleigh has to look forward to. After inciting an argument that looked to prevent a marriage, Rusty realized that you can only borrow (in his case someone’s identity) for so long. Will this stop Rusty from using Chad Stewart’s ID during Spring Break next week? Probably not. Or maybe he will use someone non-song-writery.

A Rebecca-less episode, how refreshing.

The TV Girl

Monday, June 2, 2008

In Case You Haven't Noticed...

Summer has begun.

Season finales have come and gone, this (irregular) regular season is over. I have some things to catch up on, a few shows that fell by the wayside due to other commitments. Sadly, Greek and Battlestar Galactica, two shows still airing new episodes, are soon to go on hiatus as well. There are a few summer series worth looking into, and I look forward to July when Season Three of Psych starts, but the fact is that the TV landscape is sparsely populated at the moment.

So what is The TV Girl to write about?

Well, my project for this week is to post on the BSG episodes I have missed. My more long term plan relies a great deal on my Netflix subscription; My Weekend Fling (s) may become My Weekday Fling (s). Also, in keeping with the lazy spirit of the season, I think it is time to wax poetic on topics that arise in my thinking but that remain unaddressed because of more pressing issues.

The pace is slow, but the creativity is not at a (total) standstill.

The TV Girl

My Weekend Fling: Robin Hood, Series One (4)

There are stories (historical, semi-fictional, and entirely fictional) we are attracted to, that we return to, time and again: Odysseus and his travels; Caesar, Brutus, Antony, Octavian, and the fall of the Republic; King Arthur and his Knights; Henry VIII and his wives; Romeo and Juliet; Hamlet; Othello; Napoleon (okay, I might be overemphasizing the general interest in this particular figure); WWII, Wolverine. Robin Hood is one of these stories: we all know the basic plot, have a general notion of the characters and our attitude towards them (a good rendering will broaden our attitudes of course), and we approach it with a sense of security since there is little chance of our being “surprised” by what we will get. The downside of being drawn to something in this way (with a greater interest in the how since the what is somewhat known) is that one experiences a great variety in the quality of expression.

This is not English Lit 101, so I am not going to go into the why of this phenomenon. For the tale of Robin Hood, personally, there is just a great deal of fun in it: running around the woods, smiting injustice, and (here I am basing my understanding on the Disney 2-demensional interpretation) singing. Let’s be honest, Robin Hood is the Batman of the time before indoor plumbing, and just kind of cool. So, even though in many respects BBC’s Robin Hood misses the mark, I don’t regret watching. The problem seems to be that it falls victim to its own cleverness: the elements that evidence a desire to be more substantive that a simple adventure narrative do not blend well with some of the over-the-top theatrics and simplistic characters.

I think I am about to fly in the face of popular opinion and say that one of the huge drawbacks of this show is the Sheriff of Nottingham (Keith Allen). As a character, rather caricature, he is utterly preposterous and Mr. Allen’s scenery chewing would make Al Pacino proud. I think he is supposed to inspire fear, and he does some really awful things like cutting out tongues and almost burning a child alive and such, but he is too ridiculous to take seriously. He starts out menacingly enough, crushing a bird in his bare hand, but with no attributes beyond love of money and love of inflicting physical pain, he remains completely undeveloped. Early on there is the possibility that they might be going for a Deadwood’s Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) type, but instead of increasing in personality he simply increases in vocal volume. The (unintentional) hilarity of the Sheriff makes him a decent foe, but not much of a foil for Robin.

But, there are some drawbacks with Robin (Jonas Armstrong) too, which indicate the problems with the show as a whole. Robin of Locksley has returned from Crusading with King Richard, due to a life threatening injury, as a changed man. He has read, and quotes, the Koran. (Which is problematic because at one point it is unclear if he understands Arabic and I just cannot believe there was an English translation by 1192. And that is not quibbling, because it is a significant dimension of his character, so there should be plausibility and continuity.) He no longer believes in any justification for a holy war and eschews killing (granted, in favor of injuring). His commitment to evaluate others based on their character and not on their class, creed, or gender is admirable, and leads him to allowing Djaq (Anjali Jay), a female Muslim, into the gang. The complication arises in the lack of complication. There is no counter-balanced viewpoint. Any mention or display of Christianity is either immediately mocked as ignorant superstition, or is so negligent that it is easily dismissed. Without two voices the potential for an intellectually and dramatically rewarding exploration of religious differences and human similarities is squandered, and reduced to somewhat heavy-handed didacticism.

The treatment of gender is similar. Djaq and Marian (Lucy Griffiths) are action-oriented, mind-speaking, free-choice-making women, but since they are really the only two regular female characters it is not apparent that there is anything special about them. The viewer can be relied upon to understand that women in the Middle Ages rarely played with swords (I suppose). But because all the elements of the show are weighted one side of any given argument the show is deprived of nuance and subtly.

On the other hand, there is evidence that I am asking for something Robin Hood never intended to give me, and is really trying to give me what I wanted in the first place; bright excitement, vicarious daring-do, and witty banter.

I almost stopped watching after the third episode, entitled “Who Shot the Sheriff?” If you are hoping that this episode didn’t end with the Sheriff’s potential assassin being caught by using a double and that they refrained from making the horrifyingly obvious joke about the whole situation, let me tell you right now that you are wrong. There is a deputy, he is shot instead of the Sheriff, and yes, they say it. This is an example of a failed attempt at levity (no laughing, just groaning), but this is the low-point.

In general, the more whimsical elements entrance the viewer. Every episode ends with a still shot in black and white, and it is always horrendously cheesy (longing /knowing looks, toasts to comrades, etc.) but it sends the viewer off with a bit of silly, good-triumphed-euphoria. It suspends disbelief that Robin and his men get tricked as many times as they do, but it is immensely entertaining to see how little effort it takes for them to slip past the Sheriff’s guards and spoils his plans. The fight scenes boarder on Jack-Bauer-invincibility, but they are quite well choreographed and filmed, and dispersed appropriately throughout the episodes so as not to appear redundant or boring. Furthermore, the score is properly vivacious and heroic, tonally complementing the action.

Essentially, the experience of Robin Hood, Series One is disorienting, and not in a successful way. The individual pieces have merit enough, but there seems to be no cohesive vision, which tends to make those pieces feel at extremes and disjointed. The comedy feels too light, the seriousness seems too truncated (even shallow), and characters seem at turns too smart and too dumb.

I said earlier that I do not regret watching this show, and despite my criticism I stand by that. While not perfect, there is plenty of room for this show to improve, and even if it doesn't, it is plenty enjoyable as it is. My friend Asian KP told me that Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage), who I didn’t mention here despite the fact that he is a major character, was voted the “most interesting current TV character.” After Series One I am not in a position to agree, but this tells me that maybe Series Two stabilizes what was shaky and dispenses with what was unnecessary. Or I have grossly underestimated the moron levels in the population.

And finally, a casting tangent. How to put this delicately, and not sound like a completely shallow bitch? Jonas Armstrong is not a handsome man, but very charming (even though Robin and Marian are a tad cold). I point this out not as a flaw, but as a strong (if maybe surprising) choice. It allows for a clearer sense that Robin persuasive ability is based upon his integrity rather than physicality, and corresponds to the show's thematic concern with who a person is rather that what a person is. Not the most important thing for me to leave you with, but I thought it was worth noting.

We will see what Series Two brings.

The TV Girl