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This retelling weaves myth and magic with the Robin Hood legend and,
Robin becomes associated with the forest god, Herne the Hunter reinforcing
the idea that Robin is a medieval incarnation of The Green Man (the
head' of the old religion which is often found carved on many churches).
The scripts were were well written, the plotting well thought out and the characters - and ensemble cast - excellent. In particular, congratulations to Mark Ryan - who became Nasir the Saracen. Due to be killed off at the end of the the first episode, he was so good, that he remained as a permanent cast member.
Ultimately, though, the series' immediate appeal was due to the amazing on-screen chemistry between its two leads, Michael Praed and the beautiful Judi Trott as (the first) Robin and his Marion. Praed's youthful, dark, good looks had an almost 'fey' quality which made the magical element entirely believable. (And by 'fey' I don't mean to imply any loss of masculinity.) The first two seasons - with Praed - were by far the best.
In the third season, Jason Connery had a hell of a task following an actor so perfect for the Robin role, but he did reasonably well and the strong ensemble cast carried the change of lead well. Richard Carpeneter's wise decision to make the new 'Robin Hood' a completely different character with a completely different background was a very wise move.
I suppose any review should mention the immense debt Costner's Robin Hood Prince of Thieves owes to Robin of Sherwood. Some might say that 'debt' was putting it mildly! Costner not only retained the Saracen (who until Nasir had never been a Robin Hood character at all) but he filmed in many of the same locations; used the same horsemaster (Stevie Dent) and clung to the magical elements - though being a good old American boy stuck to the idea of Christianity good - old religion bad, whereas Robin of Sherwood often showed the political corruption of the Church (historically accurate)and the simple spirituality of the old religion (unrelated to 'black' magic). Alan Rickman's OTT sheriff was a wilder version of Nickolas Grace's sly characterisation.
What more can I say? If you've never seen Robin of Sherwood, rush out and buy the complete thing on DVD - I guarantee you'll watch it again and again for the lovely filmic quality of the camera work, the leisurely but never dull pacing (which invests in the attention span and intelligence of its audience), the acting, the ideas, the very real emotional kick and (much praised) the delightful music by Clannad.
And did I mention Michael Pread...?
There is nothing more I can add to what has already been said about the
entire series. As well as taking me back to a time in my life when the
words "mortgage" and "bills" meant anything to me - and when Saturday
night prime-time entertainment didn't involve reality TV, people
wanting to be pop stars and hour-long programmes to pick lottery
numbers when I could do it myself in ten minutes at the most) - there
is no other TV show or movie about Robin Hood that even comes close to
being on a par with "Robin Of Sherwood."
Every member of this young cast brings their character to life, and the Merry Men are perfectly written and acted. The Sheriff Of Nottingham breaks away from the usual mustache-twirling, scenery-eating bad guy, and has more in common with a corrupt politician than his previous incarnations.
Michael Praed's Robin Of Loxley was certainly a better Robin than Jason Connery's, but that isn't to take anything away from Connery. Praed's swansong in "The Greatest Enemy" is one of the best episodes of any TV show I have seen in such a long time.
Richard Carpenter's knowledge of both the legend of Robin Hood and beliefs in England at that time clearly show here - and it goes without saying that if the people behind "Prince Of Thieves" had this much insight and knowledge of the source material, their "Raw-bin Hood" would not have been so dismal. Blatantly stealing elements from RoS, and yet ignoring others make this film merely a pale imitation of RoS.
Without wanting to sound harsh, Connery seems to have been chosen to garner a little publicity for this often under-rated show; the son of a former incarnation of Robin Hood playing a modern-day Robin Hood. Connery handles the part extremely well, but isn't the actor Praed was. That said, I do prefer the third season episodes and stories to the first two series'. No one would envy having to follow in the footsteps of a role made famous by someone else for two series, and there is - as in all the series' - an excellent camaraderie and relationships - between Robin, his Merry Men and his Merry Woman.
The addition of the "old religion" trying to continue, while the new religion of Christianty tries its hardest to stamp it out. It's ironic that this reminds me of "Prince Of Thieves" in relation to RoS: borrowing a lot of elements from the original, and tweaking them a little. Still, though, the old version prevails over time.
Clannad's soundtrack works excellently alongside the programme - and I doubt RoS would have been the success it was without it. If you don't already have Clannad's "Legend", go out this weekend and treat yourself.
All of the stars appear on the DVD boxsets and everybody has good memories and making this show. Now a huge star, Ray Winstone seems genuinely pleased to take time out to talk about his experiences and love of the show.
Whoever suggested in this discussion that Carpenter should bring all of the Merry Men back together as older, wiser outlaws is 100% right. Do it now.
"Nothing's Forgotten. Nothing Is Ever Forgotten."
Unfortunately, only four episodes of this series are commercially
available, and it is not often re-run on television. Although the few
available episodes can often be found in the children's or family sections
of video stores, they deserves much more respect than this; this show is
of those rare incidences of really good television.
The show mixes magic and paganism into the familiar Sherwood tale, and music by Clannad adds to the mystical atmosphere. But the characters are anything but the swashbuckling cardboard heroes that the Robin Hood stereotype embodies, and we have come to expect.
Michael Praed (in my mind, the perfect Robin Hood), plays a fallible, conflicted Robin, who is nonetheless idealistic and strong. All of the Merry Men are fleshed out as full characters, with their own motivations and ideas, and Marion (Judi Trott) is represented particularly well. She avoids many female stereotypes: she is beautiful but not plastic, a fighter but still definitely feminine. The Sheriff of Nottingham (Nicholas Grace) and Guy of Gisburne (Robert Addie) are present as the classic villains, but they both go far beyond the usual limited parameters of these roles.
The characters are all comfortable and unselfconscious, as though they don't realize that they are legends. To me, this is their most appealing trait of all.
The creators of the show also deserve kudos for their brave move in replacing Michael Praed when he opted out after two seasons: instead of recasting another actor in the same role, a different Robin Hood was introduced -- a man of noble background (played by Jason Connery-- yes, the son of *that* Connery)as opposed to the peasant upbringing of Michael's Robin. The show thereby manages to address both accounts of Robin Hood's origin. (Many people prefer Jason's Robin. I personally still gravitate toward Michael. It is an ongoing debate among fans.)
Even after all this time, the show still has a devoted cult following, who gather for yearly conventions with the stars. Their devotion is understandable; "Robin of Sherwood" is the best representation of the Robin Hood legend that has ever been created for the screen.
My dad taped a bunch of these off TV when they were imported here to the
States and he recently re-purchased them off the net in two gift packs
dividing the two seasons and two Robin Hoods as "The Praed Collection" and
"The Connery Collection". Since I grew up watching this by many fires on
misty and snow bound nights, it is probably my favorite telling of the
What I liked best about this show growing up and still like best (although I do have more appreciation for Judi Trott) was the mysticism of the show. All the other tellings told of Robin Hood's rise to heroism and then his ultimate triumph and then that was it and while it was certainly fun, this series seemed to have more meat to its bones because of its introducing all those mythical elements. The music was also pretty cool, haunting and beautiful.
After watching this and "Excalibur" one misty day, I noticed that some of the myths here were similar to Arthurian legend. Herne is to both Robin Hoods (Praed, Connery) what Merlin was to King Arthur. And the two Robins are later given a magic sword, Albion (which later became the name of our family dog).
The show ran for about 4 seasons I think, the first two featured Michael Praed as Robin of Loxley, and the last two featured his successor, Robert of Huntington, played by Jason Connery (Sean's son; Sean also played Robin Hood in case you didn't know, in "Robin & Marion" opposite Audrey Hepburn's Maid Marion). But both Michael and Jason's characters become known as Robin Hood and/or the Hooded Man. I was surprised to read in the archives of reviews that many people prefer Jason over Michael, since people often get more attached to the first guy (maybe it's name recognition). I think they're both capable actors and they both brought something different to the show, but while Michael and Jason's Robin Hoods were both likable characters, I think I like Michael better as he had that dark, brooding intensity about him. This is not to say that Jason, while more of a pretty boy, did not have his moments (the best part of Jason's reign was watching him struggle to prove he was a worthy successor). What I find ironic is that Jason's character, Robert/Robin 2, has the noble man who rejects his heritage origin that is often attributed to Michael's character, Robin of Loxley.
The rest of the cast was great too. Judi Trott was a beautiful and believable Marion who had to stand up to have a place for herself in Sherwood. Ray Winstone was an intense and dangerous Will Scarlet. Clive Mantle was a lovable Little John, as was Phil Rose as Friar Tuck, Peter L. Williams as Much, and Mark Ryan as the strong silent type, Nasir. Nikolas Grace was a great Sheriff, Robert Addie an over the top Gisbon.
A great show with great stories and a great cast. To this day I wish they could have gotten Michael Praed or Jason Connery to reprise the Robin Hood role for "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves". I'll take them over Kevin Costner any day.
Ok, some facts to get a few potential misunderstandings out of the
This is an early 80's British production. So, everybody expecting the
highest US production standards and a gloss factor 10 should back off
Everybody else will have an HONEST ball of a time rediscovering one of the
most underrated, and at the same time most precious gems in Fantasy TV as
well as movies.
This isn't only the definitive blueprint of the 'modern' conception of the
Robin Hood tale, as well as 'modern' fantasy, it's also a 25-part journey
through high quality Fantasy story-telling as we've ever encountered it
before or after.
I don't think so.
Re-watch the excellent DVD collection (the last part will appear in
November) and marvel at the originality laying foundations to almost every
similar project going.
Be aware! It's old-fashioned and VERY simple! It's demanding and VERY clever! Contradiction? Not really. It's a child of its time as well as a prototype of what's to come. But everyone who's still kept a sense for the simple, as well as most precious prospects in story-telling, will be delighted. This is a unique gem that can only be surpassed by a greater budget coupled with at least a similarly good script. Let me tell you: That hasn't happened yet.
Re-educate yourself in the unique virtues of early 80's UK television. You won't be disappointed.
As listed and stated in many previous comments, this unique series has
many excellent elements and ingredients to its credit. Indeed, more
than 20 years after it was originally transmitted, it is still watched,
and watched again, and has a huge global fan-following, something which
must indicate that the makers of this series undeniably got something
The root of the series' brilliance and remarkable appeal has however got to be that it rests on wonderfully written dialogue and timeless characters all of which are brought to life by marvellous actors. The characters are wonderful in particular because of their complexity. In contrast to many other Robin Hood adaptations, and indeed many other film and TV-productions in general, the good guys in this series often make mistakes and can be seen to have apparent flaws, while the baddies, although put forward as evil and ruthless, frequently can be understood and even on occasion seem quite sympathetic. This very much makes Robin of Sherwood into a story about multifaceted, REAL people rather than of good and bad people something which very much adds to its uniqueness and remarkable appeal. Also, although very much being an action-packed series featuring numerous amazing stunts (which are remarkable in themselves seeing as this was made long before today's computer animation, green screens, and so forth. Thus, behind every one of those endless guys falling off castle walls, horses, and catching fire, there actually is a real person who at some point DID fall off a castle wall or a horse or catch fire), there is always amazing dialogue going on between the different characters in each episode. In the final analysis, however, it is generally the series' baddies Nickolas Grace as The Sheriff of Nottingham, Robert Addie as Sir Guy of Gisburne, and Philip Jackson as The Abbot Hugo de Rainault who get the very best lines and who more than often steal the show with their arguments full of wit and cant. "It's a wedding, not a celebration!" is just one of their many timeless "pearls of wisdom" which seems to follow one through life :-).
20 years after the fact, it is indeed hard to believe that Robin of Sherwood was originally something made for television and apparently not with a great deal of money in order to provide fleeting Saturday afternoon amusement for small children in Great Britain. Filmed in beautiful locations, with clever, amazing scripts and featuring remarkable stunts and fantastic actors many of whom give the performance of their lives in this show this in numerous ways seems to be more professionally made and have more production value than many a Hollywood film.
I have some great memories watching "Robin of Sherwood" on TV as a kid (but I think I only saw Michael Praed´s episodes, by some reason). And recently my brother bought the new released DVD-boxes of the complete series. It was great to see it again, and it is the best of all the Robin Hood movies and TV-series. The cast is great, and the locations mixed with Clannad´s music adds this very special feeling. I personally think that Praed is the best of the two Robins, but Jason Connery was a great choice to continue the series with. Ray Winstone, Nicolas Grace and Robert Addie is terrific in their roles as Will Scarlet, The Sheriff of Nottingham and Guy of Gisburne. It´s a pity that a fourth season never got made, and I´ve also heard that the writer Richard Carpenter actually had plans to make a feature film following the events of the series. Robert of Huntingdon (Connery) could finally have married Marion (Judi Trott), or maybe Herne the Hunter could resurrect Robin of Loxley (Praed), and he could take his revenge against the sheriff. As have been mentioned before; if the producers of "Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves" would have been smart, they would have got the cast from "Robin of Sherwood", and made the movie to a sort of sequel to the series. As Ray Winstone puts it in the DVD bonusmaterial, it would have been great to see them as old men, just like in Sean Connery´s "Robin and Marian". Who knows, maybe we will se more of this perfect interpretation of the legend in the future. In any case, we can now watch our favorite series over and over again!
This version of the Robin Hood myth added so much to the original, it must be the definitive adaptation. Full of nature, earth and greenery, and steeped in the spirit of the forest, this Robin is a real hero. A mystical edge and a sinister atmosphere give a uniquely original feel, the cast is superb and Clannad's soundtrack adds the perfect final touch. Unsurpassed.
Robin of Sherwood was part of my whole teen years and in a way after all these years and seeing it again on DVD now, it has not lost anything in all these years. My fascination is still there. I have never seen another Robin Hood story that had all these great color effects, the castles in the mist with red filter, the atmosphere it created. And for sure it is a series that tried to show how it could have been at that time, no beautiful styled castles, but you see the dirt and the fog in it. It has its own charm, and for me will always have. The mystical elements and also the two stories of Robin Hood that are shown here (Robin of Loxley and Robert of Huntingdon)have never been shown that way again. I love both Robins but personally I prefer Jason Connery as actor in this role.
I agree with all the previous comments concerning the quality of this
excellent series. I enjoyed it when I saw it for the first time more
than 20 years ago and I have enjoyed it just as much on seeing it again
now. However, I can not offer equal praise for the NTSC DVD set from
Network. The audio is fine though limited to a Dolby Surround
presentation. 5.1 audio would have been nice. Still the audio shines
compared to the video quality. I understand (from the commentary track)
that the series was originally shot on 16mm. That does mean it will
never look as good as a movie shot on 35mm, but there is no excuse for
the extremely poor digital transfer that Network has made. The picture
is full of grossly obvious digital artifacts (primarily "blocking").
This is due to poor compression encoding, not the source material. I
have a better quality transfer that was made from the 1950's Richard
Greene Robin Hood series, purchased on a DVD that cost one dollar. The
source material for Robin of Sherwood couldn't have been worse than
that but the DVD looks worse. I don't even see how this can be blamed
on trying to squeeze too much on to each disc. Three episodes plus
another hour of bonus materials is not much more than the four episodes
on each disc in a Star Trek set and the quality of those is excellent.
The DVD set does provide an eclectic and engrossing set of bonus materials. That and the high quality of the series are enough for me to recommend the DVD set, but be warned that the video quality is not up to current standards (especially for a set that will cost about $200).
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