Robin of Sherwood (Michael Praed Years) Blu-ray Review
Distributor: Network Video, UK
Although over the years there have been many tales of the hooded man, Robin of Sherwood for many, remains the ultimate take on the legend. Robin Hood of the 1980's imposed a twist on the legend by adding mysticism and a Celtic soundtrack which fit the series like a glove. Perfectly written by Richard Carpenter and starring many generation actors of the time including Ray Winstone, Clive Mantle, and Michael Praed as Robin, the series instantly became a cult classic which still holds a strong following 26 years after the first episode aired. Marking the latest release, this Blu-ray disc was certainly an unexpected treat for the series many fans and was always going to make for an interesting review. Thankfully Network Video have released this set as region A, B and C so fans worldwide should have no issues of playback.
Robin of Sherwood has seen a variety of releases, dating back to original video cassettes featuring one or two episodes, to DVD releases of the complete individual series (of which there were 3) to a complete DVD box set. This new Blu-ray release contains all of the Michael Praed episodes which made up the entire first two series of the show, with each episode having been extensively remastered in high definition from the original 16mm prints. Certain collectors these days have stated that releasing a product which was filmed in 16mm onto Blu-ray is not a worthwhile exercise, however having experienced watching this series on DVD, I was actually awestruck in the difference of the 1080p print quality. The episodes are presented as transmitted in their original 4x3 aspect ratio and the enhanced detail available really shines through. A noticeably major improvement with this new transfer are the colours on display which are stunningly rich and vibrant and their quality really draws you into the episode like never before. Black levels are also excellent and the print appears clean and crisp throughout with the slightest amount of grain detail showing in certain scenes and with a very minimal amount of print damage on display. Part of the charm of this series was the fantastic location shooting which is complemented all the more in high definition.
One issue worth noting, is that for some reason, two of the later series 2 episodes, appear out of transmission order and are placed on the second disc after the final episodes of the first series. Quite why they have been arranged in this way is a mystery, however the inside of the Blu-ray cover contains all of the episodes synopsis as well as the original transmission date information, so it is relatively easy to research and view in the original episode order if desired.
Audio quality is also a great improvement over the DVD release. Dialogue is clear and distortion free but the real treat is the music soundtrack by Irish folk group Clannad which sounds better than ever with the now classic tracks filling the room for the ultimate experience. The music sounds bassy and powerful throughout and helps to create the ultimate viewing atmosphere.
Extra features in this set are numerous, beginning with an extended Electric Theatre Show documentary presented in in high definition, which was filmed for television at the time of the original series and features interviews and footage on the making of the first two episodes of the series. This was previously released on the DVD sets, although the version here has been specially extended to produce a longer version. The previous DVD episode commentary tracks are also included in this set and are a real treat for fans of the series and there is also a music only option on the soundtrack. There is also a stills gallery of over 500 images presented in HD. Also included in this set is a DVD disc which contains even more extras including two exclusive documentaries on the making of Robin of Sherwood (the Michael Praed years), series one and two out takes, featurettes on three episodes, and PDF materials including the original story treatment and some scripts. Rounding this set of, there is also an extensive booklet covering the story of Robin of Sherwood which covers pre-production, the making of the series and post production issues including Mary Whitehouses' public dislike for the series.
There is also information available relating to original filming locations used for the series.
All things considered this set is an essential purchase for fans of the original series and should be considered as the last word on a classic piece of 1980's television. Hopefully the care and attention placed in this release will be appreciated and sales figures will warrant a Blu-ray release of the final series with Jason Connery taking over as Robin. This Blu-ray is advertised as a limited edition and although not a numbered edition, is well worth investing in as the ultimate release.
A very worthy Blu-ray release for a TV classic.... Robin of Sherwood is still as popular as ever...
NOTHINGS FORGOTTEN... NOTHINGS EVER FORGOTTEN.
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