A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to have a go at writing a version of Robin Hood for television. The angle I was going to take with it was that Robin Hood was not a noble folk hero acting as the original working-class-hero, but that he was just a very consistant thief who stole everything that wasn't nailed down. The story was going to start with him being blackmailed into acting as the noble character that has survived through legend by a rather manipulative Friar Tuck who saw Robin as a way to lift the spirits of the downtrodden masses. There were other elements such as the fact that Robin owed Little John, the local loan shark and general medieval-mobster, an inordinate amount of money, the Sheriff was just a local nobleman trying to do his job and make all the numbers add up, and in general there were a few half decent ideas floating around there that could have produced something that wasn't too bad.
Then the BBC made a version of Robin Hood. I'm not a fan.
I thought that it looked pretty good at first. Promotional posters looked like it was taking a slightly more interesting approach to the character than normal, and I was optimistic about this. Ok, so I probably had to shelve my little project for a while, but perhaps the show would have been ok and much better than I could have done.
I think I survived the whole of the first episode, but I didn't come back to it again. I'm not even too sure what it was about it that repulsed me so much. Maybe it was the plastic-looking axes, the annoying text affects when the scene changed, maybe it was retooling Maid Marrion to be a cross between Lara Croft and Batman (or maybe I'm remembering that wrong) or maybe it was just that there was something everso slightly off about the whole thing. As a quick disclaimer, I acknowledge that there is every possibility that the show found its feet and that the first episode was a glitch and that it's grown into a fully fledged multiple award winning juggernaught of a show, although I doubt it.
I'm not really saying that I could have done better. I don't know whether I could or not. I haven't done anything like that yet all the way through so I can't criticise just yet, but I was annoyed that my ideas were now somewhat invalid by what I can't help feeling is a missed oppurtunity.
A brain wave recently hit me that I could keep my project after all, if I just twisted it slightly, resulting in starting work on a script that is at present titled "Guild of Thieves". I'm using the same scenario, but changing the setting to be set in a city as opposed to Sherwood forest, altering the characters slightly and putting new ones in and essentially changing all but the bare premise. It's turning into a much more interesting beast that I'm ten times more excited about each time I sit down to write something for it, and it also makes me look a little bit more creative than I actually am. Depending on how much further I get with it, I might share some less vague details about it, but for now, think Robin Hood, but Not Robin Hood.
Apparently, BBC Robin Hood has been filmed in Hungary. Although that's possibly why it just didn't feel quite right, I do however find it unlikely that my subconscious would have been that eagle eyed to spot subtle differences between the English and Hunarian countryside.
I'm also told that there'll be a new Robin Hood film coming out soon starring, wait for it, Russel Crowe, as Robin Hood. Now, I don't mind Mr. Crowe. I think he's pretty good at what he does and I don't think Gladiator would have been quite as iconic without him, but I just can't quite see him as the prince of thieves...maybe I'm just missing the point and have got too used to my idea of scrawny, scruffy and morally questionable Hood.