The tales of Robin Hood and his merry band of outlaws have had popular appeal for centuries. Books, movies and TV series about them have turned up pretty regularly for decades. This was the TV series that I watched as a small child, and now we have the 1980s iteration, with Robin and Marian, Little John and Will Scarlet and all.

This set comprises the final 13 episodes of a series which originally ran for three seasons. The first two starred Michael Praed as Robin of Loxey, a commoner who obeyed the summons of the forest-spirit Herne the Hunter. He gathered the original band of outlaws and defended the interests of the poor and dispossessed against the greed of the nobility, represented by the Sheriff of Nottingham, until he was cornered and killed. This series picks up with the summoning of Robert of Huntingdon, the son of a powerful noble, to take up the mantle… or hood, as it were. Initially reluctant, Robert (played by Jason Connery) obeys Herne and reassembles the far-scattered band, rescues Marian from the clutches of a semi-barbaric Lord Owen of Clun and embarks on a series of adventures as exciting as they are historically improbable. I am sure that any medieval scholars watching this series are probably gibbering incoherently over some of the plot devices, but then it’s not a show for them; it’s a show for the rest of us, all fantastical derring-do, lots of fighting, what passes for social justice, lashings of mysticism and magic; all that and music by the group Clannad. There was originally a lot of money spent on this series and it shows. Much of it was shot on location in Northern England, and there are lots of nice details, like the paucity of tableware, and the Sheriffs’ collection of hunting birds. The castle interiors look dim and cramped; comfort and privacy are very authentically in short supply, and almost everyone appears to be grimy, rumpled and somewhat shaggy of hair. On the whole, the series has aged very well, as have the actors. But the final episode ends very abruptly and on a bittersweet note, with Marian taking refuge in holy vows. A downturn in the fortunes of the film company which produced the series made it impossible to continue, after setting up such a cliff-hanger!

As suited to such a popular show, the bonus features are generous. Nearly half of the episodes have a commentary track. Two hours worth of other extras are on a separate disc, and to a fan would be worth purchasing as a stand-alone. Two documentaries feature interviews with the actors (nearly all of whom have aged as well as the series has) there is another short feature about Clannad’s music, a short morning news feature done about the show, some nice behind-the-scenes footage and the usual bloopers and outtakes. There is also a short filmography for the featured actors, which should solve the puzzle of “where the heck have I seen that face before” for many a consumer of British imports.

“Robin of Sherwood – Set 2” is available after October 9th from Acorn Media, and from Amazon.

Sgt Mom is a freelance writer who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her latest book, “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here; more about her other writing is at her literary website, www.celiahayes.com.
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