Friday, August 10, 2007

Where they're going wrong with Sir Guy

Anybody who's been following my blog for any length of time knows I'm a big fan of Richard Armitage, and that I've been enjoying the new BBC version of Robin Hood. However, I have some problems with the way they're portraying the character RA plays, Sir Guy, and I think I've got a clue as to why.

As reported on the Armitage Army website, a news release from the BBC about Season Two calls Sir Guy "sadistic but redeemable."

Here's the thing. For an evil character to be redeemable, I think a few things have to be in place. First, there has to be an understandable reason for his badness, something so people can say, "Yeah, I get why he'd be angry and not sympathetic to others, so he could be vicious and even cruel."

He can even be self-centered in his resentment and cruelty.

However, there must be more than that. There has to be the seed of goodness still buried there. He has to have something that makes it believable that he could change -- and it has be within him.

What? Can't "the love of a good woman" change him?

I say no. For that redemption to be believable, there must be something already there - some sympathy for his victims and remorse and the idea that the character himself, deep down, secretly yearns to change. In other words, he knows he's being evil, but hates himself for it and really wants to be good. The love he feels for a woman can be the catalyst for the change, but the desire and need to change must already be there -- buried really, really deep, perhaps, but there -- for it work for me.

However, if a man is sadistic, he takes pleasure in inflicting pain. There is no sympathy for his victims, no remorse, no wanting to change.

I'd be tempted to say they don't really mean sadistic as much as vicious, cruel and (deep down) frustrated -- except for that episode where Sir Guy abandoned his son, a helpless infant, in the woods.

If they'd had the sheriff do it and Guy simply taking the (obviously loony) sheriff's word that his son had been sent elsewhere? Or have him not particularly care what happened to the mother and child, or (even better, from my point of view) desperately trying to get them out of Nottingham before Marion finds out, he'd be a lousy father and a cad, but there'd still be the possibility of redemption. But abandoning a helpless infant in the woods? That's really a bridge too far.

If they truly want Sir Guy to be redeemable, he can't be as evil as they sometimes make him. They go too far, and that makes it too hard to believe he could be redeemed by his love for Marion, or anything else.

I recently read another article about the show, quoting the executive producer, Foz Allen, who is well aware of the appeal of Richard Armitage: "Richard Armitage is fantastically charismatic and sexy...” However, he also said, "Anybody under 30 is absolutely in love with Robin Hood, anybody over 30 is in love with Guy of Gisborne.”

This would be news to my definitely under-thirty daughter. She was the one who "found" Richard Armitage, not me, and I'm pretty sure she's not the only under-thirty woman who finds him appealing.

If she was, I'd despair of the younger generation.


Karen In Toronto said...

I looked up on imdb that there is over 10 years difference between Robin and Guy. No wonder the different age group appeal. Just a note that the actress that plays Marion is only 21.

My other issue with Sir Guy is that he's not smart enough to ever win against Robin...not many near misses either. So instead of the great villian he could be, he's only the extra of the Sheriff.

Is it here I thank you for getting me adicted to another series?? At least now I have PVR and don't have to buy the DVD set.


Michelle Styles said...

UMMM, my teenage daughter and her friends are not interested in Robin Hood. They like Richard Armitage, (and David tennant in Dr Who but that is another tv show)
The problem the Beeb have is that Robin lacks a certain something that RA has. they tried to compensate for that by showing how awful Sir Guy truly is, BUT it didn't work, so his character ends up confused and women still love RA...but he was better in North and South...

Margaret Moore said...

Sorry, Karen. I should point out that the DVDs come with extras, though. I had no idea the guy who plays Little John was so funny!

Michelle, I think RA had a more focused role in North and South and it probably helped that it was based on a novel, a book by one writer. I suspect part of the problem with Robin Hood is that they use more than one writer, and each one comes to the task with a slightly different take. Makes for some inconsistency with the characterization and too many "dropped" subplots.

I was more impressed with the Robin character than I thought I'd be -- I was expecting some real silliness there.

Far and away my biggest problem with the show is the sheriff. He's much more of a cartoon than a character to me.

Christine d'Abo said...

Michelle, don't even get me started on David Tennent. I LOVE him!! I saw Robin Hood on DVD at Future Shop the other day and almost bought it. If it had been a pay week, it would have been mine.

Let's hope they change things up for Sir Guy with the next season. Maybe give him some more depth.

Maggie said...

Speaking for the younger generation here (20yrsold), RA is waaaay hotter than Robin. His charismatic sexiness makes up for all the evil; though Robin certainly has the hero appeal, I am not on the "I *heart* Robin" side of the spectrum like Allen says. A friend of mine would pick RA any day of the week and twice on sunday!

MaryF said...

I think you're dead on. They absolutely need to give him motivation.

But they messed up with Robin, too. They don't have him with Marian enough for us to see there is really something there when you can SEE the sparks fly between Marian and Guy.

And yes, you got me hooked on this one as well.

Margaret Moore said...

I'm delighted so many others are on the RA bandwagon. I think a lot of TV types underestimate the appeal of that sort of man to younger women.

Anonymous said...

Every time I have seen Foz Allen interviewed, he has pedaled the age difference line when in actual fact there are fans for Guy and Robin in both age groups. I think they are promoting that idea because the Guy character has so many possibilities which they have not developed satisfactorily and because they want the focus of the show, intended for a younger demographic, to be on Robin.