ORBzine - TV Review - August 2005

[Season 1 !Season 2 !Season 3 ]

Robin of Sherwood

  • Michael Praed as Robin of Loxley [Season 1-2]
  • Nickolas Grace as Robert de Rainault, the Sheriff of Nottingham
  • Judi Trott as Lady Marion
  • Clive Mantle as Little John
  • Peter Llewellyn-Williams as Much
  • Robert Addie [ Excalibur ] as Guy of Gisburne
  • Ray Winstone as Will Scarlet
  • Phil Rose as Friar Tuck
  • John Abineri as Herne the Hunter
  • Mark Ryan [ Alias: S4 ] as Nasir
  • Philip Jackson as Abbot Hugo de Rainault
  • Jeremy Bulloch [ Empire Strikes Back, Spy Who Loved Me ] as Edward of Wickham
  • Claire Toeman as Meg of Wickham
  • Robbie Bulloch as Matthew of Wickham
  • Stuart Linden as the Old Prisoner
  • Martin West as Martin [ 1 ]

    1st Series 1984

  • Robin of Sherwood [Season 1, Episode 1] Robin Hood and the Sorcerer (1)
    Shown 4th June 2005 [Saturday]

    Robin of Loxley [Michael Praed] is chosen by Herne the Hunter, mad hermit and/or Pagan god of Sherwood Forest, to do good deeds and so forth.

    The first deed involves saving a damsel in distress [Marion] from the wicked Guy of Gisborne, sidekick of the Sheriff of Nottingham.

    The sorceror of the title is the Baron de Beleme [Anthony Valentine], who looks like Frank Langella in an arabic headdress.

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 1, Episode 2] Robin Hood and the Sorcerer (2)
    Shown 4th June 2005 [Saturday]

    The Sheriff offers Herne's silver arrow as prize in an archey contest. Robin attends, though it's a trap. The Sorceror wants the arrow too - his champion, Nasir the Saracen, competes for it.

    The Sorceror wants Marian for human sacrifice. Friar Tuck tries to protect her.

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 1, Episode 3] The Witch of Elsdon
    Shown 11th June 2005 [Saturday]

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 1, Episode 4] Seven Poor Knights from Acre
    Shown 18th June 2005 [Saturday]

    The Merry Men are at archery practise. The only on better than Marion is Robin himself! Will Scarlett [Ray Winstone] has other talents, though. He can spot a man on foot hiding in a bush, while 7 fully-armoured Templars on horseback go unnoticed!

    The Templars capture Much, the Miller's son, and threaten to execute him unless Robin retrieves a holy relic for them. It's nice to see a variety of antagonists - the leader is French, his bodyguard German. And Gisborne and the Sheriff pop up briefly as well, of course.

    Dialogue triumphs: someone tells Friar Tuck Fighting monks? I thought you were the only one!

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 1, Episode 5] Alan A Dale
    Shown 25th June 2005 [Saturday]

    The Sheriff is a reluctant bridegroom. Tuck says he Hates women, and he has 2 bathtub scenes with Guy Gisborne! Nickolas Grace steals the show - not OTT camp, but like Tim Curry.

    Gisborne and Robin have a mud-fight. Hmm. What were the writers thinking?

    The Sheriff must marry to get the dowry - Alan-A-Dale [visiting for 1 episode] just wants the girl. This leads up to a very nice ending.

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 1, Episode 6] The King's Fool (aka Richard the Lionhearted)
    Shown 2nd July 2005 [Saturday]

    The Chevalier De Guise [John Rhys Davies - Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lord of the Rings ] is the outlaws' guest this week. In an unforgettable appearance he bests the lot of them!

    The outlaws are pardoned by order of Richard the Lionheart. As a result the band begins to split up. Will Scarlett refuses to leave Sherwood. Little John is very cynical about the King's motives - He'll only be in England a few months, until he's drained the country of money. He calls Robin the King's Fool.

    Herne appears to Will Scarlett, and gives him a message for Robin. Is the King duplicitous?

    The ending is a bit apocalyptic - after all, it was the Season finale and there was no guaranee the show would be continued next year. Luckily for the Merry Men, Gisborne is an incompetent moron. Also, thanks to a Henge circle of Standing Stones, Herne can turn back time!

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 2, Episode 1] The Prophecy
    Shown 9th July 2005 [Saturday]

    Prince John comes to Sherwood. His sidekick, De Leon [John Nettles - Bergerac] is a bit of a Ponce. They imprison Marian's dad [George Baker].

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 2, Episode 2] The Children of Israel
    Shown 16th July 2005 [Saturday]

    The Sheriff owes money to the Jews, so he plots to start a riot against them. Gisborne falls for the Jewish babe [a frigid man-hater, who fancies Nazir].

    Will Scarlett falls out with Robin. They aren't part of the main plotline until the final Act!

    The Jews' holy book has magic powers. This is a clumsy plot device, shoehorned in to make a point. How it fits into the Pagan magic system is never explained.

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 2, Episode 3] Lord of the Trees
    Shown 23rd July 2005 [Saturday]

    The Sheriff's out of town, in London for business. Gisborne is in charge, which makes Abbot Hugo the voice of sanity and reason! Guy hires Breton mercenaries [led by Oliver Tobias - The Stud] to stop the local villagers [led by Jeremy Bulloch - Empire Strikes Back ] from poaching deer and worshipping Herne. Abbot Hugo doesn't mind a bit of paganism, while Nazir and Friar Tuck go along with it!

    Herne manisfests himself physically to the outlaws and villagers [Gisborne tries to kill him]! Robin and Will Scarlet debate about executing Gisborne. This is the third time you spared him Will comments.

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 2, Episode 4] The Enchantment
    Shown 30th July 2005 [Saturday]

    Robin is enchanted by a witch [ Gemma Craven ], one of the floozies of the sorcerous Baron de Beleme [Anthony Valentine], killed in the pilot episode.

    The witch makes Robin steal the silver arrow. Can the Merry Men stop him in time?

    The Sheriff sends Gisborne to retrieve the Baron's gems, the ransoms of Saracen nobles he captured while on Crusade.

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 2, Episode 5] The Swords of Wayland (1)
    Shown 6th August 2005 [Saturday]

    An old man wanders into the middle of Sherwood. He used to work for Marion's dad - now he lives in a peaceful village attacked by Demons. The villagers want the Merry men to help. Like in Seven Samurai.

    The so-called demons are devil-worshipping outlaws. They serve the Mother Superior of the local convent - Rula Lenska !

    Rula calls in the local Sheriff. He's as greedy as the Nottingham one, but nowhere near as smart. However, by luck he manages to catch one of the Sherwood band ...

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 2, Episode 6] The Swords of Wayland (2)
    Shown 13th August 2005 [Saturday]

    Robin must sort out his difficulties with the local Normans.

    The Merry Men are captured by the villains. They are put in an iron cage, to be lowered into a fiery pit - like in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom .

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 2, Episode 7] The Greatest Enemy
    Shown 20th August 2005 [Saturday]

    King John demands that Robin be hunted down and executed. Is this the end of Michael Praed's incarnation of Robin of Loxley? Will he find employment elsewhere, in Hollywood?

    The Sheriff pulls out all the stops. He surrounds the forest, then sets a trap in the village. One by one, the Merry men are rounded up. Finally, Robin stands alone ...

    Nazir busies himself with two passing Arabs. It seems he used to be a Hashishim, and they have a debt to collect ...

    3rd Series 1986

  • Jason Connery as Robin of Huntingdon [Season 3]
  • Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 1] Herne's Son (1)
    Shown 27th August 2005 [Saturday]

    Robert of Huntingdon [Jason Connery - Smallville ] falls foul of a robber-baron. More robber than baron, actually. Marion is captured by this Welsh-looking bandit fellow, So Bert [the newly-chosen son of Herne, apparently] must reunite the scattered Merry Men. Unfortunately they're all retired, and don't trust the newcomer.

    Marian's father [George Baker] goes to the Sheriff for help. However, the Sheriff is a typically doublecrossing rat. Luckily, Nazir is around [what a coincidence, eh?] to help him out.

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 2] Herne's Son (2)
    Shown 3rd September 2005 [Saturday]

    Bert gets the gang together - all except Will Scarlett. Convincing him means getting involved in a barroom brawl, while Gisbourne vainly tries to get the City Watch organised to arrest them.

    This scene is the give-away as to why the show was so great. The script and characters are good, but the presence of the likes of Ray Winstone ... He's a serious dramatic actor, he's as convincing a medieval gangster as he is a modern-day one. But despite this, he never steals the show. The rest of the cast hold their own!

    Finally, the team get together and execute their plan. We get a wonderful, action-packed climax worthy of the series.

    This story must have influenced the far-inferior Hollywood film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves . The good guys have Nasir [and a spat between Robin and Will Scarlet]. The Sheriff and the Abbot are greedy land-grabbing swine. And there are villainous Kelts [painted like Mel Gibson in Braveheart ] and witchcraft [here by Richard O'Brien - Flash Gordon, Rocky Horror Picture Show ].

    There's also a hint of genuine magick here. When O'Brien predicts Owain's future, he casts a shadow across Owain's face that resembles a portcullis! Which, come to think about, may have influenced Joss Whedon in a certain Buffy ep.

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 3] The Power of Albion
    Shown 10th September 2005 [Saturday]

    The Albion of the title is Robin Hood's magic sword, still in the hands of the wicked Sheriff. While it provides a good twist at the end, it's not really the core of the plot.

    Robert is wounded, and Marion is summoned to help. Unfortunately she, Edmund and all the men of Wickham are arrested for helping the Outlaws. Robert must resume his role as the son of the Earl of Huntingdon, so he can run with the wolfsheads and hunt with the hounds.

    All in all, a good plot. Also, a good opportunity to give further characterisation for the Sheriff and Gibson. They treat Robert, their peer, with the respect he deserves. Admittedly Marion's father [George Baker] gets it much worse, but it's still nice to see their good sides.

    Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 4] The Inheritance
    Shown 17th September 2005 [Saturday]

    A beautiful woman [dressed as a man] arrives in Sherwood. After tussling with a couple of Oirish outlaws, she finds the Merry Men and begs Robin to help her defend Caerleon Castle. Apparently it has housed the most precious treasure in England, for 700 years ...

    Thanks to Robert's father and Herne the Hunter, she secretly convinces Robin to help her. And the others secretly follow. On Foot. All the way from Sherwood to Caerleon!

    Meanwhile, a greedy nobleman has enlisted a group of chainmail-clad brigands [disenchanted war veterans from Vietnam - err, the Crusades!] led by Derrick O'Connor [ Stark ] and David Rappaport [ Time Bandits ] ... Luckily they are on horses, so they take longer to arrive than people on foot!

    Robin of Sherwood Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 5] The Sheriff of Nottingham
    9th July 2006 - Sunday

    De Rainault is publicly outsmarted by the Merry Men once more, so the King's envoy has him replaced. After all, it's been 2 years and he still hasn't caught Robin Hood.

    The new Sheriff is the Butcher of Lincoln [Lewis Collins - The Professionals]. He has a Saracen bodyguard, who is Nazir's evil brother! They take hostages from Wickham, to be executed unless Robin and the others are handed over.

    Lewis takes a fancy to Guy of Gisbourne. De Rainault calls him a catamite [after Season 1, Episode 5 Alan A Dale that's a bit bloody rich!!!], so Lewis has him exiled into Sherwood at night!

    The new Robin isn't as merciful as the original, and is willing to let his fellow Norman get knifed by Will Scarlet. Poor De Rainault has no choice but to reveal his secret tunnel into the castle. Apparently the builders were sealed up inside the walls - but who would have bricked them in?

    Robin of Sherwood Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 6] The Cross of St. Ciricus

    Robin of Sherwood Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 7] Crom Cruach
    Shown 1st October 2005

    Much the Miller's son is injured by a forester's trap. The Merry Men must carry him to safety. They are lost in Sherwood, too far from Wickham ... the nearest village is called Crom Cruach!

    Friar Tuck doesn't trust the name of this strange village, so he heads off back to civilisation with Marion. They get to the priory, and do some research - like in Buffy.

    In the village, Will Scarlet meets his dead wife and decides to settle down with her. Much is healed, and becomes the smart-arse assistant of the local blacksmith.

    As is revealed in the teaser before the start credits, this is all an eeevil plot by Richard O'Brien [ Rocky Horror Picture Show, Flash Gordon ]. He was humiliated by the Merry men in the 2-part season opener, so he uses his magical powers as a Crom Druid to ensnare them!

    All in all, quite a good episode. Reminiscent of The Wicker Man . Spooky, well-shot, yet the ending seems too ... Christian. The reliance on Tuck's religion [rather than summoning Herne the Hunter] seems out of place in a Pagan TV show. This is the only real let-down in an excellent story by Anthony Horowitz.

    Robin of Sherwood Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 8] The Betrayal
    Shown 8th October 2005

    A bunch of murderous cutthroats are in Sherwood, robbing and killing people. Have Robin and the Merry men turned eeevil?

    King John turns up, looking for taxes. He's not such a bad chap - he gives money to the poor - and food, too. What a nice guy!

    There's a cunning plan at work, though. The King's henchman, De Carnac [Matt Frewer - Max Headroom, Psi Factor, Taken ] has a mid-atlantic accent and is almost threatening. It's nice to see the Merry Men get taken on by opponents who should equal their skills!

    Of course, Marion must be rescued as well. A pity, the old damsel-in-distress cliche seems out of place here.

    Robin of Sherwood Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 9] Adam Bell
    Shown 15th October 2005

    A bunch of murderous cutthroats are in Sherwood, robbing and killing people. Just like last week. This time, it's an infamous local outlaw named Adam Bell, returned from wanderings in the north of England.

    Adam Bell kidnaps the Sheriff's nephew. Yes, apparently the wee lad and his mother were lodging in Nottingham castle for the last few years. He's grown cruel under the Sheriff's influence. And since the Sheriff has Much the Miller's son in his jail, he offers Robin a trade of hostages.

    Robin must outsmart an older, more experienced version of himself. Bell doesn't have Herne on his side, but magic isn't mentioned in this episode for some reason. The other questions raised are:

  • will Robin become hardbitten cynical cutthroat?
  • Can one afternoon hanging out with the Merry Men make the nephew turn against his favourite uncle?.
  • Robin of Sherwood Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 10] The Pretender
    Shown 22nd October 2005

    King John's new French wife is unpopular, so he sends her on a pilgrimage to Nottingham.

    The Sheriff is in his sickbed, so Gisbourne is in charge. Gisbourne's old boss, the Duke of Gloucester, is in town. Strange coincidence, since Gloucester's daughter is King John's ex-wife.

    A young man named Arthur is in Sherwood. On the run from Gloucester's guards, he is rescued by Robin. But who is he really working for?

    There are a couple of ironic twists in the story. The ending is a bit of a shocker.

    Robin of Sherwood Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 11] Rutterkin
    Shown 29nd October 2005

    Last week the Sheriff was on his sickbed, this week he is on pilgrimage to the shrine of Beckett in Canterbury. Maybe due to sickness, but the fact that King John is in town probably had something to do with it as well.

    Robin's uncle [Ian Oglivy] is trying to win King John's favour. To do this he frames an old hermit-woman of witchcraft, and his own brother [Robin's father] of hiring her to curse the King.

    Witchcraft? Herne the Hunter isn't mentioned, but we all know that magick exists in this show. The villain should take better care than to start a witch-hunt in Sherwood!

    As in previous eps, we get talk of making a charter to curb the King's power. This is dangerously close to undermining the show's chronology.

    Robin of Sherwood Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 12] The Time of the Wolf (1)
    Shown 5th November 2005

    Richard O'Brien [ Rocky Horror Picture Show, Flash Gordon ] is back from the dead, with a gang of murderous savages. No mention of Crom Cruach - now the evil deity they worship is the Norse wolf-god, Fenris.

    The Sheriff and Gisburne collect grain as tax from the peasants. Robin leads the peasants to steal it back. The King's henchman [de Carnac's replacement] wants blood, and the Sheriff blames Gisburne!

    O'Brien's savages kidnap the peasant women and kids, steal the grain and burn it, and do whatever they can to lure Robin into their trap.

    Gisburne, meanwhile, is on the run. And when he seeks sanctuary in an abbey, he gets more involved in Robin's battle than he wanted to.

    Robin of Sherwood Robin of Sherwood [Season 3, Episode 13] The Time of the Wolf (2)
    Shown 12th November 2005

    Gulnar creates a golem, in Robert's image, and sends it off to kill Herne. Robin and the others have 3 challenges - escape, defeat the Fenris-worshippers and kill the Golem. It's not called a Golem, of course - but a sacred [Fenris-language, not Hebrew] scroll is placed in its mouth.

    The Sheriff is captured, and given the same choice as Gisbourne. His choice is surprising, but his show of backbone is in character.

    The final battle is in Herne's ring of standing stones. Presumably the ones from the end of Season One, which begs more questions.

    The ending has a finality to it. Not a cliffhanger, more a tie-up of all plot ends. The Sheriff and Gisborne story is presumably concluded, and the Robert/Marion romance is also settled.