Tenfold Hate

Robin of Sherwood
November 8, 2007, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Fantasy, Robin of Sherwood

Last month, the second season of Robin of Sherwood was released on DVD. Most cinematic interpretations of Robin Hood over the last 30 years–from the Kevin Costner debacle of the early nineties to the BBC’s current Robin Hood 90210–have filtered the character through the misguided pop culture sensibilities of the day. Robin of Sherwood, on the other hand, remains true to the character we’ve grown familiar with through folklore and Errol Flynn’s classic portrayal while adding a raw, beautiful modern edge, resulting in one of the finest pieces of fantasy ever produced–in literature or on film–during the twentieth century.

The series paints a gritty picture of Crusade-era England, adding a healthy dose of paganism and sorcery in with it’s historical fiction. As the first Robin Hood to introduce a Moorish swordsman from the Holy Lands into the fold of Merry Men (Nasir, played wonderfully by Mark Ryan), Robin of Sherwood dared add some unconventional new twists to the Robin Hood mythos that since have become canon. This series’ no-frills portrayal of England during the Middle Ages is tempered by the playful swashbuckling antics of Robin and his cohorts a la 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood minus the bright tights and dated dialogue. Creator Richard Carpenter’s Robin is equal parts archetypal trixter and real-world bandit, mentored by the sometimes ominous, sometimes fatherly wood spirit Herne the Hunter–another visionary addition this series brought to the table.

The actors and storylines in this series are second to none. Ray Winstone, who you might know from Sexy Beast and The Departed, plays the often rabid, fiercely loyal Will Scarlet. Judi Trott is Maid Marian, looking as if she just stepped out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting. Clannad’s soundtrack, blending Celtic melodies with eighties synthesizers, never sounds dated, surviving the test of time surprisingly well. Like Ennio Morricone for new wave hippies.

Season two introduces Jason Connery as Robert of Huntingdon, who takes up Robin’s mantle after the catastrophic events of season one (no spoilers here, thank you). This often-missed gem which ran briefly in the U.S. on Showtime in the mid-eighties is a must-see for any fan of fantasy or sword-and-sorcery. Both seasons are now available in boxed sets with lots of bonus interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

Rent it. Buy it. Love it.

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