Review of "Robin of Sherwood: Set 1 [Blu-ray]" From The TV MegaSite
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Robin of Sherwood: Set 1 [Blu-ray] DVD cover

 Robin of Sherwood: Set 1 [Blu-ray]


 

  Review by Barb 8/24/11

I had never seen this 1980's version of Robin Hood with Michael Praed.I am a lifetime fan of the tale since the first time I saw Errol Flynn in green tights. Like all ancient myths, there is a constant updating and re-writing of the legend to fit the times.This version's creator Richard Carpenter, who wrote all the episodes on this DVD, brings a mystical view of the legend that did nothing for me. I was not interested in Robin representing paganism as well as a fighter of oppression.I do not think the show succeeded in adding that element to the mythology. However, this DVD isn't aimed at a new viewer like me.It is clearly for longtime fans of the show that would be willing to pay the additional cost for a Blu-Ray version of a show that has held onto fans for almost 40 years.

The DVD includes all 13 episodes of the first two seasons (or series in British TV jargon) of what was a popular version of the Robin Hood legend that must have a very strong following.The 4 disc collection includes a booklet that provides an in-depth look at the series and the legend written by Simon Wells.The special features on the 4^th disc (that is not Blu-Ray) include two documentaries with interviews from 2002 with the actors, producer, director of the first season and the series creator.Many of the quotes in the booklet can be heard in this two-part "Making of" feature.Given that the booklet was written in 2010, the author clearly used these features to enhance his text.The most interesting special feature was on the first disc.It is a "behind-the-scenes" program made during the filming of the first season.It was interesting to see what the actors and the creator thought of the work while it was in production. The 4^th disc special features includes outtakes, three featurettes by the director of "The Swords of Wayland" and "The Prophesy," and pdf material including the creator's "original story treatment and several scripts."

As for the show itself, the fans understand that this mystical Robin of Loxley is a yeoman whose home town was destroyed and his father killed by Norman soldiers. As a young man he is called by the pagan god "Heren" to become Robin of Sherwood and battle the forces of evil.These are not just the Sheriff of Nottingham and his intellectually challenged enforcer Sir Guy de Gisburne.Robin and his band must also face forces of mystical evil including Satan worshiping nuns in a two-part episode entitled "The Swords of Wayland."The Abbess who leads the Satanists is Rula Lenska.This is the first actual acting job I had seen of the woman once famous for being the celebrity endorser of VO5 hairspray in the late 1970s.Her hair looks much better here than it ever did in those commercials.

Beyond the mysticism, this version of Robin Hood is known for having Marion be an active part of the band in Sherwood and actually marrying Robin.The show doesn't offer much romance, but the two are clearly much more equal than the versions of Robin and Marion seen before the 1980s.The show is also the first to introduce a Saracen to Robin's band.This feature was included in Kevin Costner's Robin Hood movie and the latest BBC version of Robin Hood.This character doesn't say much, but he does have the cool Saracen swords.

My own view of the show is not favorable. I enjoyed the effort to use castles and scenic locations in Endgland and Wales, but I found most of the episodes I watched to be slow and the acting to often be stiff.This is particularly true in the first season episodes.I listened to the commentary by the director and producer of "The Swords of Wayland" and they were quite fond of elements that I found overdone and which added little to the show.The show also suffers from the early 1980s action TV show devotion to the use of slow motion.It is used abundant and it never helps to add either excitement or tension.The show did improve in the second season.The final episode of the second season is the best.Perhaps this is because there was finally a clear connection between the mystical "Heren" and Robin's actions.[Spoiler alert]It is too bad that it took needing to kill off Robin of Loxley to bring the show some coherence and tension.

However, if you are a fan of this show and have been disappointed in the picture quality of previous versions then this Blu-Ray may appeal to you.A quick look at the 10 disc previous "complete" DVD set indicates that there is not much new here.If you have already invested in that DVD set and find the picture quality good, don't bother to add this to your collection.

More information:

Definitive retelling of the Robin Hood legend; Blu-ray debut of the acclaimed series, loaded with more than eight hours of extras

ROBIN OF SHERWOOD: Set 1 debuts on Blu-ray June 7, 2011

Starring Michael Praed and Ray Winstone

Combining elements of history, myth and magic with a healthy dose of action, Robin of Sherwood Set 1 debuts on Blu-ray from Acorn Media on June 7, 2011, with all 13 episodes from series 1 and 2. Marking the series first Blu-ray release, this lavishly produced 1980's British series comes digitally remastered and presented in stunning high-definition with over eight hours of bonus materials. Shot entirely on location in England's castles and countryside, the set brings the centuries-old legend to vivid life. Broadcast on PBS and Showtime as Robin Hood, the superb ensemble cast are Michael Praed (Dynasty) as Robin of Loxley, Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast, Indiana Jones And the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Departed) as seething–mad Will Scarlet, and Nicholas Grace (Bridehead Revisited) as the greedy, conniving Sheriff of Nottingham. The 3-disc Blu-ray and DVD bonus disc set includes a wealth of extras including 5 episode commentaries, behind-the-scenes documentary, outtakes, photo galleries, and much more ($79.99, www.acornonline.com)

Rich with gritty medieval realism and cunning plot twists, Robin of Sherwood adds a bit of sorcery and mysticism to the swordplay and social justice that have made the heroic outlaw so endearing and enduring for fans of all ages. The series boasts an authentic atmosphere enhanced by award-winning soundtrack of haunting melodies by the Irish band Clannad.

Acorn Media previously released Robin of Sherwood: The Complete Collection in July 2008 as a 10-volume DVD boxed set, and separate sets for Robin of Sherwood Set 1 and Set 2 on DVD in 2007.

Over eight hours of Special Features: 5 episode commentaries by series creator Richard Carpenter, director Ian Sharp, and producer Paul Knight; behind-the-scenes documentary, The Electric Theater Show, upgraded and expanded from the original series; Nothing's Forgotten: The Making of Robin of Sherwood (remastered), two documentaries about the making of Series 1 and 2 (102 min.); new featurettes for three episodes; 40-page booklet with extensive production notes; photo galleries with nearly 500 images in HD; outtakes; PDF material including PR, Richard Carpenter's original story treatment, and several scripts (access via the bonus DVD via your computer); and more!

Street: choose seven, 2001 SRP: $79.99 Blu-ray 3-disc/DVD bonus disc set – 13 episodes – approximately 700 min., plus bonus – English and Polish subtitles (main program)

Headquartered in suburban Washington DC, Acorn Media distributes distinctive home video releases to the North American market with a special focus on the best of British television. Acorn's DVD sets are available from select retailers, catalog companies, and direct from Acorn Media at 888-870-8047 or www.acornonline.com


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Updated 8/24/11  

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