Saturday, October 11, 2008

"The New Adventures of Robin Hood" (1997)


"The New Adventures of Robin Hood", is frequently referred to as the "Xena" version of the legend. In truth, it was never up to the standards of "Xena, Warrior Princess", but it does employ a similar mindset in its most basic production values: An emphasis on action (heavily overdubbed with martial arts style sound effects), and "camp", tongue in cheek humour.
Matthew Porretta, having already lost his soul by playing Will Scarlett O'Hara in 1993's "Robin Hood men in Tights" (a film which these blogs will always decline to review), took the lead role as Robin Hood for seasons 1 and 2. To his credit, Porretta does have a strong on screen charisma, and one wonders what he might have made of the role in a much more serious, higher budget production. He was replaced in seasons 3 and 4 by John Bradley, who acquitted himself well (though less successfully) in a more rugged interpretation of the role.
Anna Galvin (season 1) and Barbara Griffin as Marion FitzWalter (seasons 2 - 4), were required to do little more than strut their whip cracking stuff in red leather miniskirts, resembling gum chewing cheer leaders rather more than maidens of Sherwood Forest. And mention should be made of Hakim Alston as Kemal, who carried on the contemporary tradition of including a black (or Saracen) outlaw amongst the "merry men". The rest of the regular cast are entirely forgettable, but Robin of Sherwood fans will want to see the late great Robert Addie (not looking too well), in an episode called "the Devil's Bride".
"The New Adventures of Robin Hood" makes no attempt at character development, schedules more noisy swordfights per episode than commercial breaks, and frequently uses costumes which resemble left overs from the Mad Max movie villains. The lack of any sense of continuity throughout the series makes meaningful review impossible. But you know what? The shear ridiculous nature of it all does make it a sort of guilty pleasure. Good fun. If this approach to Robin Hood is to your liking you might also enjoy the cult favourite "Beyond Sherwood Forest".

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