The BBC series Robin Hood started with a bang. The introduction to the story was solidly put together, the characters were infinitely likable, and the general feel of syndicated adventure was delivered with more style than most were accustomed to from such an effort. Jonas Armstrong‘s Robin was just about everything you could hope for in the suave bandit, and as time went on, Richard Armitage‘s Gisborne was a major henchman you could sink your teeth into.
However, as we approached the end of the first season, and made our way into the second, things started to fizzle. The episodic plots were sometimes rather trivial, the overall drama took center stage, and week after week found us trying to invest in an A-Team-esque display of perpetual fighting with zero result, and the Sheriff nonsensically living to fight another day. The eventual Gisborne/Robin/Marian triangle was overplayed, and as the end of season two approached, things were boring at best.
Perhaps seeing the downward spiral, season three is practically a reboot of sorts. Marian is dead, and the show returns with a darker feel, a darker Robin, and episodic and seasonal arcs that are miles more interesting. Focusing much more on intrigue and serious plotting, the days of fairly silly fighting and escape are over.
While still a fairly light, adventure showcase, the show has never been better than season three. Now with Prince John himself showing up, and the inclusion of Tuck, we have a more engaging play of characters. As the story rolls along toward more serious conflict, the writers have found a surer foothold on holding interest. The Sheriff very nearly killing Robin, but soon shaking his fist in the air doesn’t work as long was originally believed.
The DVD release of season three comes with nearly an hour of bonus features, and while there might have been a bit more meat to them, they are a nice group of extras. A Legend Reborn is more or less your straight Behind-the-Scenes sort of featurette, but with an emphasis on turning things around for the third season. It’s biggest selling point is probably the look at the new characters, and the discussion on reinventing things with a really pissed off Robin. A New Look is a featurette on the costume design, and while that may be about all you can say about it, it’s more interesting than you think. Another featurette, Trebuchet: Creating Chaos, is pretty self-explanatory, and there are Character Profiles and Video Diaries thrown into the mix as well. Special features are always difficult, because people have their own leanings, but video diaries always strike me as a great bonus, and these are a welcome addition here. Fans are going to enjoy seeing the cast, and as video diaries go, these are a bit more than the slapped-together efforts you sometimes get.
Overall, this is a release that I’d give about four out of five stars. If you’ve caught the show at all, this is the season to own, and frankly, you could start here as well.