All six episodes from the first series based on the legendary outlaw. In 'Robin Hood and the Sorcerer (Parts 1 and 2)', Robin (Michael Praed) meets the men who will form his rebel band after being unjustly imprisoned by Guy of Gisburne. After making his escape, he rescues Lady Marion from sorcerer the Baron De Belleme. 'The Witch of Elsdon' sees the Sheriff of Nottingham (Nickolas Grace) attempting to use alleged witch Jennet of Elsdon to render Robin and his men powerless. In 'Seven Poor Knights from Acre', Robin has to take on the Knights Templar when their leader accuses him of stealing a sacred emblem. 'Alan A Dale' sees Robin and his men helping out a newly arrived minstrel with a broken heart, and finally in 'The King's Fool' Robin is invited to fight at the side of King Richard.
The 1984 incarnation of Robin of Sherwood
had a crucial ingredient that the traditional tale previously lacked: magic. Creator Richard Carpenter combined his knowledge of Medieval England with a rich store of Arthurian-style folklore to create a world where wizards and witches rub shoulders with Norman knights and Anglo-Saxon peasants. Michael Praed's enthusiastic performance in the lead is matched by the sheer energy of all involved. There may be pauses for a spiritual tête á tête
with forest demi-god Herne the Hunter, but swordplay and archery are never far behind. Wrapped in the forest's gorgeous greens and pools of shadow the show maintained a perfectly believable look, supported by what should have been (but wasn't) glaringly anachronistic music from Clannad. Best of all, however, is the crackling dialogue that still makes for compelling (and magical) viewing, especially when it comes from guest actors such as John Rhys-Davies as King Richard.
On the DVD: Contained here are all six episodes of Season One. The two-part pilot is a terrific introduction to the familiar characters such as Ray Winstone's roughhouse Will Scarlet and unexpected new ones such as Mark Ryan as Nasir, "the Boba Fett of Sherwood". Camaraderie on-screen and off was legendary. It's rare to see a cast having so much fun.
This exceptional three-disc box set features one of the best extras packages any TV show has been given. The original 4:3 picture is enhanced for 16:9, but the new Dolby Surround track is the real delight (the show was broadcast in mono). Quickie fare includes key cast biographies, Clannad's promo video, 175 photos and eight minutes of genuinely hilarious outtakes. The real meat comes from the misty-eyed yet fact-filled commentaries from creator Richard Carpenter and director Ian Sharp on four of the episodes. They're only just eclipsed by a brand-new hour-long documentary interviewing everyone involved. Finally, the 1983 Electric Theatre Show 25-minute documentary on the making of the show explores the character's origins and previous screen incarnations. The third disc includes everything shot for that documentary, adding up to several hours of raw footage.--Paul Tonks