Ah...to view things through the eyes of a child again. With that said, I saw this adaption of the Robin Hood legend almost 30 years ago in school. My 5th grade teacher showed the class several of the "Once Upon a Classic" series like this one. I also remember Lorna Doone and A Secret Garden. Just snippets of scenes still played in my mind, but I had completely forgotten about this version. Anyway, I very much enjoyed this time in class and not just as a break from the dreaded multiplication tables. I came across it by accident online. It didn't strike a note of familiarity until the first scene with Prince John and then it started to come back quickly. The actor who plays John is somewhat unusual looking.
One will immediately be struck with the low production value which is prevalent in the 70s with British TV. However, this is quickly forgotten due to a fine story and very good acting - something the Brits seem to always accomplish. What's interesting about Robin Hood, who is arguably one of the most popular fictional characters in Western literature is that there's really not much Hood literature. If I'm correct, he first appeared as a side character in "Ivanhoe" and really never had is own book - at least until modern times. Much of his story is just legend and folklore with snippets and different versions. This adaptation remains very true to the classical version of what we know as Robin Hood and not some of the glorified films we've seen of late. Therefore, don't expect everything to be all merry.
In fact, what surprised me most in watching it so many years later was that it was actually rather dark. Although tame by today's standards, there are actually a couple of rather gritty scenes.
LORH is not perfect by any means. It actually starts rather shaky. The early combat scenes were actually laughable.However, it grows stronger with each episode even the combat. It almost seemed to me that the later episodes may had different directors. Definitely stick through the first episode or two and you will be rewarded. The drama and action is really revved up in the second half. Several things sorely missing early on like music or used more later on and the last couple of episodes will keep you glued.
Production value may be a flaw but it is what it is and in a way adds a certain charm. I really think the one major flaw is in the editing. There are several scenes that appear truncated or that do not flow well into the next. The ending is certainly an example. I would even go so far to say that there are some "huh" moments. Surely there was some footage left out in places. There are a couple of actors that are a bit questionable like King Richard, who actually has a larger role than normal. However, the overall cast is very strong and main actor at least looks the part.
Most of the cast is not well known, at least in the US, with some having their peak careers, if that, behind them. Surprisingly, the promising young Martin Potter (Robin Hood) virtually disappeared after this - even his career was primarily behind him at this point. I think the actor who played Will Scarlet had a fairly strong career and looks familiar.
I'm sure many of you who come here have experienced this series years ago. If you haven't seen this though it definitely worth it. I'd love to get my hands on all the "Once Upon A Classic" series. Maybe one day...
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