Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On DVD: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955)

One of the first television series imported from England featured one of its most beloved folk heroes, Robin Hood.

Nearly 20 years after the feature film with Errol Flynn in the title role, The Adventures of Robin Hood (alternately known as Adventures in Sherwood Forest) introduced the outlaw and his Merry Men to a new generation of fans. The series lasted 4 years, and in those days, a season (or series, as they call them in the UK) entailed anywhere from 30-40 episodes, as opposed to the standard 13-24 of today's television.

The single disc volume I have from Alpha Video has 4 episodes, all standard issue fare. Downside to this disc is the abrupt freeze-frame while a character is still speaking. It only lasts mere seconds, but it is a distraction.

As Robin, Richard Greene is excellent, but I fail to recall if he was able to follow up on his success in this series. I had sampled one episode on an earlier compilation of Christmas shows (much better condition, I might add), and I wished that this disc was of better quality. Robin Hood currently airs daily on Retro (check your local listings), and previously was available on another digital sub-channel, the Variety Channel.

20 years later, Robin returned, but this time, it was played for laughs in Mel Brooks' When Things Were Rotten. Apparently, coming so soon after a pair of animated adaptations cast Robin & the Merry Men as funny animals (Disney's "Robin Hood" and Hanna-Barbera's "Robin Hoodnik" for the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie), fans of Robin preferred the more traditional model, didn't get it, and turned away in droves, despite the excellent ensemble cast, including Dick Gautier as Robin and Misty Rowe (Hee Haw) as Maid Marion.

Rating for The Adventures of Robin Hood: A-.

Edit: 4/11/14: Here's the episode, "The Blackbird":

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