“Centuries ago in England, it was the era of chivalry and magic. The evil Prince John unleashed an iron fist of tyranny on the people. They called out for a champion. One man answered that call. His name was Robin Hood…”
Speak the name Robin Hood and one immediately conjures images of the swashbuckling hero of medieval England. The character’s origins go back as far as 15th century ballads that herald the daring deeds of an outlaw who fought against tyranny and injustice. In some texts the man is given a dual identity as one of the very noblemen that he had most of his fame defending the people against. The most popular modern notions have the figure in tights with a bow and arrow, equally talented with his sword. He robs from the rich to give to the poor. Such populist notions have been a part of the legends in whatever forms they have taken over the centuries. In the wake of the popular Hercules series with Kevin Sorbo, it was decided that the world of television land needed another of history’s mythical champions. So Robin Hood got the television treatment once again in The New Adventures Of Robin Hood.
“Fearless in his quest for justice, Robin Hood challenged the power of the high-bred lords while protecting the helpless and the poor, willing to face death for what he believed. Together with the beautiful warrior, Lady Marion, the mighty Little John, and the wise Friar Tuck, Robin Hood forged a legend that lives on today.”
No thanks to The New Adventures Of Robin Hood. I hope that the intention here was camp, in the style of the Adam West Batman series. If not, this series misses the mark completely. First of all, they take a ton of liberties with the legend. This version is more an extension of the stories of Arthur and Merlin. Here magic is a fact of life, complete with spells, enchantments, and magical creatures. The battle is not confined to the greedy nobles and Prince John. The band of Merry Men encounter Amazons, Vikings, Mongols, and even an alien from space. Robin is occasionally helped along the way by Olwyn, a wizard played shamelessly by Christopher Lee. The actors are all over the top. The fight scenes are so terrible that I have to believe they were never intended to be taken at all seriously. Blows miss by miles, and reactions often occur long before the blow. There are exaggerated sounds as punches and kicks are intended to connect. The only thing missing here are those colorful comic balloons that read “Thwack” and “Bam”. And don’t get me started on the lame CG effects. I could do better on an old 8-bit system.
The acting is horrendous. Matthew Porretta plays the title character. He should know a Robin Hood spoof when he sees one, because he played Will Scarlet O’Hara in the Mel Brooks send-up Robin Hood: Men In Tights. He only stuck with this show for the first two of its four-season run. Faring even worse is Anna Galvin as Marion. The lady’s main assets are not her acting ability, which the show runners were very certain to highlight. She left the series after this 13-episode run. She must not have even been memorable to the Warner folks who cut these DVDs. You see, it’s the second-season cast pictured on the menu screen, not the one which included Galvin. To be fair to the actress, she was likely placed in an impossible situation, and it’s brutally unfair to judge her talents by this performance. One can only be as good as the material written for them. I’d like to believe it was her decision to scram once she realized what she’d gotten into. She’s been in several Stargate episodes since. I don’t remember the performances, but I’m likely to go back and check them out. Staying with the show the full four years is Martyn Ellis as the bumbling Tuck and Richard Ashton as Little John.
I’m actually eager to see later episodes to see if the show’s look and attitude changed with the cast. The show appeared for two years on TNT and then two years in syndication. I’ll certainly be watching to see if Warner adds them, and I hope to report back to you if they do.
While I found this series a disappointment, I am a huge supporter of these Warner Archive collections and releases. There are a lot of shows out there that did not do so well. Under the current market conditions, those shows just won’t see the light of day again. This amazing program allows for fans of short-lived or low-ratings shows to get their hands on the goods. I’m sure this series still has fans who are just tickled pink that the episodes are starting to be made available, even if we’re talking DVD-R production and limited audio and video quality. There are several shows I’d be happy to have even this much of. Don’t avoid buying this one waiting for an official release. You might just find yourself with nothing when “You could have had everything!”
If you’re a fan, support this program and visit the Warner Archives at Warner Brothers Shop