ROBIN OF SHERWOOD: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION
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(Jul 29, 2008)
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All 26 episodes of the acclaimed action-adventure series
This acclaimed British series adds a bit of sorcery and mysticism to the swordplay and social justice that make the Robin Hood legend so enduring. Heading up the superb ensemble cast are Michael Praed (Dynasty) as Robin of Loxley, Ray Winstone (Beowulf) as seething-mad Scarlet, and Nickolas Grace (Brideshead Revisited) as the greedy, conniving Sheriff of Nottingham. In the final 13 episodes, Robert of Huntingdon (Jason Connery, Shanghai Noon) assumes Robin’s mantle. Shot entirely on location in England, the series also features an award-winning score by the Irish band Clannad.
The depth of the show is really exciting and we seldom get shows like this today.
Stills from Robin of Sherwood: The Complete Collection (click for larger image)
• 14 commentary tracks
• 4 retrospective documentaries
• Behind-the-scenes footage
• Behind-the-scenes documentary The Electric Theatre Show, with bonus footage
• Making-of documentary Clannad: Scoring Robin of Sherwood
• Textless, U.S., and French credit sequences
• And more!
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One of the fun parts involves the games. Robin and his men train themselves with archery contests and mock fights, and several episodes feature these games in various forms, all in fun.
It was the first version to have a Saracen character. Since then the movies and shows have all included one, none of them ever as good as Mark Ryan playing Nasir.
In my opinion it is also the only series or movie that gets King Richard right. The stories either center around the ransom collected when Richard was captured on his way home from the crusades or around the hope that all will be well when Richard finally returns. The only problem is that Richard was only back in England for a few months before he took off again to make war on France, where he was killed. If Richard saves the day for Robin in the fight against evil Prince John then what happens to Robin a year later when Richard dies and John becomes king? Robin of Sherwood gets around that by having Richard be portrayed (by the wonderful John Rhys-Davies) as the hard-bitten tyrant he was. He pardons Robin and his band on the promise that they will join him in his new fight against the French. When they agree he forces his nobles, including the sheriff, to accept the outlaws as equals. When Robin later challenges the king to devote his resources to helping the poor rather than waste them on another war, Richard secretly orders Robin's assassination. The point is that Robin and his gang are going to be outlaws for as long as those in authority are self-serving, and are safe from no one.
Toward the end of the second series Michael Praed, who played Robin of Loxley, decided to leave the series. Rather than find a lookalike actor they hit on a novel idea. There is one late legend, almost certainly false, which identifies Robin Hood with Robert, the Earl of Huntingdon. Since they had already had their Robin be chosen as 'The Hooded Man' by the Celtic forest god Herne the Hunter, they decided to kill off Loxley and have him replaced by Robert of Huntingdon, played by Jason Connery. It was a good move and the series went for another 13 episodes in that form, and had some of their best shows.
The final selling point for me was the amazing music by Clannad. At the time I described it as being "as green as the forest itself." I became a fan for life and now own all their albums. A remarkable group created remarkable music for a remarkable show.
Overall Robin Of Sherwood still gets my vote as the most historical and most fun version of Robin Hood.
Herne protect us.
By today's standards the show is probably too tame for some. The violence is mostly implied and there is no nudity, but for shear story-telling it's still top notch television. The set is put together nicely and the video quality is probably as good as it gets from early eighties British TV. We're enjoying it again (At our age something 30 years old may as well be new) and recommend it highly.
Acorn did a reasonably good job digitizing and adding subtitles to the original film. Colour was on the dark side, but nothing that can't be adjusted.
The poor packaging of the 'complete' set prevents me from giving it a perfect score. I like the look and the folding-book concept of it, but the casing is made of hard plastic, making it prone to chipping and difficult to remove the DVDs carefully without breaking or cracking them. I had a similar problem with the "I Spy - Four-Pack Collection" cases. So, take care to remove the DVDs lest you damage them permanently. You might consider alternative storage like a plastic CD envelope case, considering this DVD set is not cheap.
Aside from this, I highly recommend the complete Robin Hood set.