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Series: Maid Marian and Her Merry Men

"They've got the power, they've got the weapons. All we've got is a Rasta, a wally, and a bearded avocado."
Marian

Format(s):HalfHourComedy
Genre(s):BritCom

Maid Marian And Her Merry Men was a children's Sitcom made by The BBC, based on Robin Hood and written by Tony Robinson, who also played the Sheriff. Calling it a kids' version of Blackadder is trite and obvious but also, to a certain extent, true. Only much more surreal.

The concept was that Robin wasn't a noble outlaw hero at all, but a clueless yuppie who had inadvertently got involved with the revolutionary schemes of Maid Marian, presented here as the real brains behind the operation. Joining them were Little Ron (a violent dwarf), Rabies (a large and very stupid peasant) and Barrington (a Rasta, despite Rastafarianism not existing yet). Much to Marian's exasperation, none of them were particularly reliable, least of all Robin, who spent most of his time designing their outfits (except when he started believing the hype and thinking he was the leader).

Prince John, technically the leader of the forces of oppression (or "Ye Baddies", as the credits had it), was usually portrayed as an unstable raving lunatic, leaving the actual scheming to his Dragon, the Sheriff of Nottingham. The Sheriff's two Mooks, Gary and Grahame, were almost as stupid as Rabies.

Since Marian and the Sheriff were the only intelligent people within walking distance (the villagers were just as bad), they were usually the only ones the other felt they could talk sensibly with, even though they were on opposing sides. Somehow, this never made the Sheriff look like a Punch Clock Villain; he was just biding his time until he could catch the whole gang.

Later series added two new Baddies: Rotten Rose Scargill, Marian's Rival Turned Evil with a crush on Robin, and Guy of Gisbourne, John's childlike, and borderline deranged, nephew.


Tropes:

  • Action Girl
  • Anachronism Stew: Virtually everything that happens. Despite being set in The Dung Ages, it still manages to have a Rastafarian (identified as such), a telethon, belief in space aliens and sell-by date laws. Amongst many other examples.
    • One episode contains numerous references to Paul McCartney and his then-wife Linda.
  • Anticlimactic Parent: Marian never admitted to her mother that she was an outlaw. This leads the main characters to keep up the charade of being The Merry Dentists. However, when Marian is captured her mum leads the rescue effort and ultimately reveals she has her own geriatric gang of outlaws.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: The show a very good example of the second kind. The show featured a considerable amount of slapstick (mostly mess), though almost no actual violence, but Maid Marian herself is practically never a victim, even when all of the rest of her band are. The worst that happened to her was a bucket of water, once. Admittedly Rose once got paint poured over her, but then Rose is a villain (the trope seems to apply slightly less strongly to female villains).
    • Except in the first episode of series 4 where she was pelted with mud while her and Rose were tied up together thanks to Guy. Of course, that was nothing compared to what happened to two of the bad guys that episode as the Merry Men had set up a maze specifically designed to get them Covered in Gunge. However, Marian also received the maze's final big gungeing, it happened off-screen but we did get to see the aftermath IIRC.
  • Big Bad: King John
  • Britain Is Only London: Averted, with the series being possibly the only example of Britain is Only Nottinghamshire. Throughout the course of Maid Marian there is a grand total of three locations: Nottingham Castle (apparently the most important place in England, as the king lives there), Worksop and Sherwood Forest. Justified, as sitcoms generally work better over limited spaces.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Sheriff (whose hobbies include lying, cheating and poking small children with sticks) and Prince John.
  • Catch Phrase "UNDERSTAAAND?". (King John as coda to his latest threat to do something nasty if the Sheriff fails in carrying out his orders.)
  • Celebrity Impersonator: Parodied in an episode where they discover there is a celebrity impersonator of Robin Hood, whom the Sheriff hires to frame Robin. That's right, professional celebrity impersonators in The Dung Ages.
  • Cool Old Lady: Gladys
  • Covered in Gunge: This tended to happen to people a lot
  • Crowd Song: At least Once an Episode, often with Lampshade Hanging.
  • Did You Get a New Haircut?: Marian did get a new haircut, but when she asked the boys if they noticed anything different about her, Barrington replied "Yeah, your bum's getting a bit big. You ought to diet." (Rabies: "What colour?") At the end of episode, when Marian is Covered in Gunge, Rabies asks if she's had her hair done again.
  • The Ditz: Guy of Gisbourne.
  • Dreadlock Rasta: Barrington. Specifically described as a Rasta on several occasions, despite living centuries before Rastafarianism existed. He sometimes acts as a sort of narrator for the ongoing events.
  • The Dung Ages: Mud is seen as both a currency and a dietary staple.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first season is the only one with a complete story arc (beginning with the band forming and ending with the return of Richard). It also has more references to familiar stories of Robin Hood; later on, as the characters developed, the series became less of a Robin Hood parody and more of a sitcom with a Robin Hood theme.
    • In the first episode, the Sheriff displays a childish sadism that would be more typical of King John in later episodes — the later Sheriff typically acts villainous out of fear (for what the King might do to him), greed (for what he personally can get out of a situation) or sheer annoyance from being Surrounded by Idiots rather than gleeful For the Evulz.
    • Episode 1 also depicts Nottingham Castle as being more heavily populated than usual: we see a doorman and there is a mention of torturers in the prison; later in the series, it appears that all of the castle's duties are handled by Gary, Graeme and the Sheriff. In the same episode, the Sheriff also makes references to a "Mrs. Nottingham," but there's no indication anywhere else in the series that he's married or has any sort of family.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Sometimes even the Sheriff was disgusted by some of King John's characteristics.
    King John: I will do such disgusting things to you that even the torturers will say "UUUUGH!" and ask to leave the room!
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: The first episode is even called "How The Gang Got Together".
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Robin Hood was mistaken for being the leader of the merry men, even though it was Marian.
  • Five-Man Band
  • The Fool: Robin. Actually, most of the cast...
  • Fourth Wall Psych: During the 'telethon' in the episode "Little Brown Noses".
  • Gentle Giant: Rabies
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Barrington the Rasta is the Cat, and the Sheriff is Baldrick (but acts more like Blackadder).
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: King John gets this treatment, as per usual for Robin Hood adaptations, but in this case it also happens to Richard I. The two monarchs are portrayed as being as bad as each other, the only difference that Richard is more popular - and so goes about his evil in a smug, swaggering manner, as opposed to John's shady bullying.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: The show features one in each camp, the titular heroine to Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Both double as the Only Sane (Wo)man of their respective sides.
  • Important Haircut: Marian cuts her hair at the beginning of series four, in an attempt to look tougher. The DVD commentary states that the actress had cut her hair for a play in between seasons, and didn't have time to grow it again.
  • Jive Turkey: Barrington. Gladys, on occasion.
  • Kangaroo Court: King John's idea of justice involves having the charges read out to him and then immediately shouting "Guilty!" Lampshaded by Barrington, who winks at the fourth wall while giving ironic praise for the English judicial system.
  • Keep Away: Used as a spoof of Rugby. Just to add to the spoof, they're using an actual egg.
  • Large Ham: John, who is something of a BRIAN BLESSED expy, sans beard.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Most of the characters, though Marian and the Merry Men get two wardrobe upgrades — after the third episode of the first series they begin dressing mainly in green to "coordinate with the trees," and from the second season on their outfits have become more detailed, distinct and idividual. The one exception to the trope is Robin, who has lots of outfits, and from the second season onwards seldom wears the same one two episodes in a row.
  • Margaret Thatcher: Had a house repairer character called 'Margaret The Thatcher'.
  • Medieval Morons: Similarly present here, where Marian and the Sheriff are the only characters with two brain cells to rub together.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Garry and Grahame. They're inept to the point Marian and co quite like them when they're not pursuing them on Nottingham's orders.
  • Namesake Gag: The episode "A Game Called John" revolves around the invention of a game that involves moving balls around on a cloth-covered table, which is named in honour of Prince John until he decides he doesn't want it and gives it away, with all naming rights, to a random peasant — whose name turns out to be Snooker.
  • Non-Singing Voice: While certain actors, such as Danny John-Jules, provide their own singing voices, several characters are dubbed over in the song numbers by professional singers. The show doesn't even try to hide this fact — most of the singing voices sound nothing like the characters' speaking voices and Marian notably gets a distinct American accent when singing. This is mostly ignored but occasionally played for laughs and on occasion Lampshaded, such as when Marian interrupts a song number by telling the peasants to "stop miming!"
  • Not So Different: Both the Sheriff and Marian are far more intelligent than the idiots surrounding them and easily frustrated and exasperated by their stupidity.
  • Only Sane Man: Marian for Ye Goodies and the Sheriff for Ye Baddies.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: For all Marian's preaching about being freedom fighters the merry men mainly spend their time doing school activities and dysfunctional flat sharing. Lampshaded by Little Ron.
  • Playing Against Type: Tony Robinson's most famous role is the imbecilic Bumbling Sidekick Baldrick in Blackadder, a complete 180 from the savvy, intelligent Sheriff. In fact, one gets the feeling that Robinson fancied playing Blackadder for a change (ith Gary and Grahame as his Baldricks).
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Subverted, everyone expects Richard the Lionheart to reclaim his kingdom and sort everything out but he turns out to be John's Just As Evil Twin.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Rotten Rose.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty. Not least of which- Hang on! We're playing Chronic The Hedgehog! It's the first time we've ever got up to level four! And he hasn't been zapped by the crabs once!
  • Stalker with a Crush. Rose again.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: King John's torture victims are horrified by the idea of leaving the torture chamber and going to live in the world with all its stress and fast carts and modern technology (like pointy sticks)
  • Terrible Trio: The Sheriff, Gary and Graham.
  • Tickle Torture: Happens in the first episode
  • Upper-Class Twit: Robin.
  • Visual Pun: In one episode, the Sheriff is collecting taxes. This includes a large carpet (the carpet tax) and a small mint (the Tic Tax).
  • You Mean X Mas: Invoked and parodied. The Sheriff of Nottingham and his henchmen, Gary and Grahame, invent a public holiday called "Bloopy" in order to get out of trouble with King John, and every single cynical thing ever said about Christmas applies to Bloopy as well. Also, Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) becomes "P-p-p-p-p-p-p-pancake Day!"
    • Shrove Tuesday is known as Pancake Day/Pancake Tuesday in the UK, and doesn't share many similarities with Mardi Gras despite it being celebrated for the same reasons.

LeonardoCreator/CBBCMI High
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alternative title(s): Maid Marian And Her Merry Men
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