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Customer Review

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The classic and possibly definitive Robin Hood, 7 May 2007
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This review is from: Robin Of Sherwood - Complete [DVD] (DVD)
I took a bit of a risk with this boxset, as I'd only heard of Robin of Sherwood in relation to the new Robin Hood series. For the record, in regards to the current series - I liked the theme music but wasn't completely impressed with the execution. Even the heroes are a little too brattish, selfish and self-absorbed for my taste. So I started watching this old series with a sense of trepidation.

About five minutes into the premiere episode (Robin and the Sorceror) my doubts were completely blown away. The direction and camerawork in those opening scenes are big-budget film-quality, and it continues in that vein for the rest of the series. The casting is just perfect. Michael Sheard was a major surprise as Robin Hood. Despite his pretty-boy matinee-idol looks, he portrays a remarkably strong and charsimatic leader. Jason Connery's new Robin was a major wrench. He has none of the gravitas of Sheard, but compensates for that with great physicality. Clive Mantle adds a surpisingly gentle and sensitive side to Little John. Ray Winstone portrays the roughest toughest character ever to hit a Television screen - Will Scarlett. And Phil Pope is perfectly cast (literally) as Friar Tuck - I'm pretty sure he's not wearing a fat suit! Judi Trott's Marian can be a delicate filower, but there's also a hint of steel and strength in her portrayal. Nikolas Grace is right up there with Basil Rathbone as the best Sheriff ever. A simultaneously likeable and charsimatic, but also downright evil character that you really don't want to cross. And Addie as Guy of Gisbourne is a simultaneously sympathetic and reviled character.

'Kip' Carpenter also made some risky and controversial changes to the legend. The biggest was the addition of mysticism, which took quite a bit of getting used to. But it also allows more diverse stories to be told, and adds a mythological element to Robin Hood's origins that was never there before. The other change was making Maid Marian a full-blooded member of the Merry Men. This change is cleverly explored in 'The Witch of Eilsdon', wherein Kip convinces the audience that Marian is a worth member of the team. The other big change is choosing Clannad to write and perform the soundtrack. It's a daring creative choice which pays off in spades. To my contemporary ears, the theme sounds dated, but the rest of the themes are timeless.

The Boxsets have plenty of goodies on offer. Such as a 5-part documentary, with interviews from all the surviving cast members. There's also a great cast commentary from Mark Ayres (Nasir), Jason Connery (Robin) and Clive Mantle (Little John). The cast commentary is a revelation, as I had no idea that the cast had remained good friends long after the show had ended. That is extremely rare in the entertainment industry - a perfect example of art imitating life.

Ironically enough, both Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes series (my favourite of all Holmes rendition) and Robin of Sherwood started at the same time. Amazingly enough, the show still stands the test of time. The casting is perfect and the performances are strong, and the storylines are thoughtful and intelligent, but also entertaining and fun to watch. I strongly recommend this Complete Collection to all discerning TV viewers.

--

David Lim

"A person who lives only in the present and has not a full consciousness of what lies behind his back is not fully human."

--Tulia Zevi, President of the Italian Jewish Community
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Dec 2008 23:24:04 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Dec 2008 23:43:59 GMT
Albanac says:
I enjoyed your review, but it's a shame you managed to make several important mistakes. The star of the show was Michael Praed, not Michael Sheard. Nasir the saracen was played by Mark Ryan, not Ayres! I'm glad you found this series off the back of the awful BBC series. I agree with your comments made here.
Robin of Sherwood is the best, most authentic and thought provoking rendition of the Robin Hood legend ever made. Forget Flynn, Fairbanks and Greene. This is the rugged hero for the British underclasses. The magical elements represented in the show merely emphasised the folklore and superstition in England at that time.Whilst peasants were nominally christian, they still practised the old ways.The forests were still the domains of spirits and monsters.Herne can be seen in one respect as a personification of nature, another as a shaman, representing the god of the forest who protected the good folk of the woods.
The magic in the show was, for the most part, underplayed until it got to Series Three where things went a little wrong. The first thing that went wrong was when Michael Praed decided to leave and they hired Jason Connery largely, I believe, because he was the son of James Bond.They needed a good hook in order to get US backing.Praed leaving was a huge thorn in the side of the production and it was a stroke of genius how they managed to pull it back.Unfortunately, at that time few actors were available that were good enough to be anywhere as definitive as Praed was in the role.Of course, the two Robins were different people, but Connery proved how young and out of his depth he could get.In his favour, he had a physicality and knack for playing 'mean & moody' but if you see him in anything else, you soon realise that this is how he acts all the time.I've often been creased up in hysterics watching him screwing up his face and barking out his lines.He clearly was unable to support the show on his own, so guest stars were brought in and more emphasis was given to the other merry men.There is a distinct lack of continuity in Series Three caused by the change in writing, made worse when the episodes were, consistantly, screened out of order.

Yes, RoS had as many holes as a golf course, but it was still one of the best produced, skillfully written tv series ever produced.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Dec 2009 12:55:54 GMT
Ticked Off says:
Not to mention that Tuck was played by Phil Rose, not Phil Pope! But good review otherwise. No clue how you managed to go so astray with the cast though!
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