In the days of the Lion spawned of the Devil's Brood, the Hooded Man shall come to the forest. There he will meet Herne the Hunter, Lord of the Trees, and be his son and do his bidding. The Powers of Light and Darkness shall be strong within him. And the guilty shall tremble.
A 1980s television retelling of the Robin Hood legend, with a large dose of Celtic mysticism. In this version, Robin is The Chosen One, the spiritual son of pagan forest-god Herne the Hunter. Notable for being the first version to get away from the green-tights-and-hat-with-a-feather image in favour of something a band of 12th century outlaws might actually wear, for introducing the idea of a Saracen outlaw which was copied by later adaptations, and for portraying King Richard as just as bad as Prince John, although that didn't catch on as much.Besides these, perhaps it is most notable for having two different Robins — one a woodsman, the other a nobleman — allowing it to cover the two different versions of Robin found in the various (contradictory) tales. The original, played by Michael Praed, appeared in the first two series; Jason Connery played his replacement in the third and final series.There were plans for a fourth series, but the production company ran out of money; there were several attempts up until 2010 to revive it, including plans for a movie and several attempts to pitch a new series to ITV, none of which came to anything (and the recent death of writer Richard Carpenter has likely put an end to such plans for good).Also known for putting Irish music group CLANNAD on the map (apart from their theme from Harry's Game).
Robin Of Sherwood provides examples of:
'80s Hair: Marion's hair is ginormous. Both Robins sport typical '80s-style mullets.
Ambiguously Gay: Definitely Philip Mark, the replacement Sheriff of Nottingham, who seems deliberately touchy-feely with the men that surround him, responds to Gisburne's introduction by eyeing Guy head to toe and making the sultry declaration that he'll surely "find a use for" him, and pats Guy's hand while declaring, "you're mine now." Later he tells Guy, "you must show me this tunnel of yours", which results in a startled look from Guy, even though Philip is ostensibly referring to a secret passage in the castle.
Anti-Hero: Will Scarlet. It's strange to see any member of the Merry Men as a borderline sociopath.
"Which is your favorite ear? Is it your LEFT...or is it your RIGHT?!" with accompanying indications via dagger. This to a church abbot.
Arbitrary Scepticism: In the episode "The Swords of Wayland", the outlaws scoff at the idea of demons terrorizing a village, even though they had come up against evil spells and diabolical rituals in the past.
Arc Words: "Nothing's forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten."
Ascended Extra: The series did not plan on introducing a Saracen member of Robin's team. They introduced a Saracen slave who was scripted to die fighting Robin in defence of his master. The actor was such a great guy, however, that they rewrote the scene so that he disarmed Robin, held a blade to his throat, then grinned and let him go and became a mostly non-speaking extra. As the series progressed his story was fleshed out, and he owned a couple of episodes by the end. Almost all versions of the story in film and TV since have featured a Middle Eastern Merry Man, including Azeem in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Djaq in the late-2000s BBC Robin Hood.
Attempted Rape: King John and Marion. It veers into Black Comedy Rape as Marion stalls for time by suggesting a game of "conquest", in which she gets to verbally and physically abuse him as he tries to seduce her.
While Richard Carpenter deserves credit for giving Marion back her street-cred (she was quite the Badass in the old ballads, before Hollywood got hold of her and turned her into a Distressed Damsel) by making her a useful and skilled member of the outlaws, she also goes through an awful lot of bondage and brainwashing in his scripts.
Most evil villains usually had a sultry concubine in tow.
Book Ends: The first and last episodes of the first season, and the final episode of the show, all involve an important scene among a circle of standing stones. Also, the first episode of season 1 and the last episode of season 2, when Ailric and Robin of Loxley are killed in the same way, by the same man.
Brainwashed: Richard Carpenter seemed to love this trope. It happened to one or all of the outlaws at least once a season.
Breaking the Fellowship: This is what happens after Robin's death. The first two episodes of season three deal with Robert of Huntingdon's attempts to reunite the outlaws.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done very, very briefly in "The Swords of Wayland" in which some nuns take off their wimples to reveal their long hair, and one stares defiantly at the camera.
Contrived Coincidence: The Sheriff's nephew Martin is kidnapped at the exact same time as Much is captured, resulting in Robin and the Sheriff agreeing to an exchange of prisoners: "your half-wit for my brat."
The Dung Ages: Nearly every peasant character is filthy, with Robin of Loxley a notable exception. The nobility isn't that much better off; Sir Guy of Gisburne is shocked when he learns that Prince John takes two baths a week. (The Sheriff, on the other hand, takes a few baths on screen - and on one occasion shares the tub with Gisburne.)
Enemy Mine: The Sheriff temporarily teams up with Robin in "The Sheriff of Nottingham" and again in "Adam Bell."
Fake Defector: Robert of Huntingdon in "The Power of Albion", Marion in "The Betrayal".
Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The show was a rather eclectic mix of characters that ascribed to Christianity, mysticism, Paganism, Satanism, atheism, or Judaism, all of which had elements of their differing belief systems manifest in the show: golems, spirits, demons, witches, sorcerers, and Pagan gods.
First Name Basis: All of the outlaws with each other. The Sheriff to almost no-one, except his brother - and, oddly, Ralph of Huntingdon, whom the Sheriff pointedly calls "Ralph" (while still addressing Guy as "Gisburne").
Forceful Kiss: Sir Guy of Gisburne to Sarah de Talmont. Owen of Clun to Marion (she punches him immediately afterwards).
Ironically, also a Historical Hero Upgrade, as Prince John is still played as nasty, but arguably has more dignity and intelligence than he had in real life.
In double irony, Richard was a pompous warrior, who couldn't speak a word of English, despised England itself (but appreciated the income from its taxes), and was the reason for John having to tax the place dry, in order to pay for his wars and his ransom when he got captured on return from Crusade. John was an awful warrior, but an excellent administrator, and it was probably largely due to his skill with money that England didn't go bankrupt thanks to his brother. Alas for history, romantic thugs were, and are, far more popular than competent administrators.
The Sheriff ropes in Robin and the outlaws to rescue his kidnapped nephew Martin (in whom he's only interested because of his lands and fortune), only to find that a few days with the outlaws is enough to destroy Martin's adulation of his Evil Uncle and decide that he's never going to see him again.
Inadequate Inheritor: Isadora is considered this by her father on account of her being a girl. Though he calls in Robin to be his Spiritual Successor as the guardian of Caerleon, Robin declines and points out Isadora as a much better option.
Ironic Name: The elderly protector of Caerleon and the Round Table is a man called Lord Agrivaine, said to be the latest in a long line of Agrivaines dating back to the time of Camelot. Anyone who knows their Arthurian mythology will know that the original Agrivaine would have been the last person willing to guard the Round Table.
In "The Enchantment", one of Baron de Belleme's concubines is successful in resurrecting his dead body. The Baron is last seen in his castle, planning his next scheme, and that's the last we ever see or hear of him.
In the finale of the entire series, Marion opts to reject Robin's marriage proposal and become a nun. Richard Carpenter was relying on a fourth series in order to resolve these issues, but he never got the chance.
In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, our final shot of the Sheriff and Gisburne is them merrily taking Robin's dead body to Newark in a cart, unaware that the corpse is actually just a golem that is already crumbling away. King John's inevitable reaction to this is tantalizingly left up to the imagination.
Richard Carpenter got into trouble with this lot in his use of Herne, who was misinterpreted as a Satanic figure.
Mary Whitehouse and her organisation also complained bitterly about Carpenter conducting Satanic masses in a real abbey ("The Swords of Wayland"). When, at an archery meet, this was mentioned to him, Carpenter wryly concluded, "These people don't know how TV is made. They just don't realise that just because we walk through the front door of a location, it doesn't mean in the next scene we're in its actual crypt and not a studio set."
Naked People Are Funny: After Will and Much think they've been infected by leprosy, they tear their clothes off and jump in the river. The other outlaws find it amusing until they learn what happened.
Used positively. Marion wasn't much use in a fist-fight, though good with a longbow, and sometimes helped simply by staying out of the way.
Deconstructed with Queen Isabella. During an assassination attempt she flees in terror, and watches as Robin and her attacker fight, actively following them through the church just so she can watch them go at it. Finally Robin has the assassin unarmed and at his mercy, at which point Isabella shoots him in the back with a crossbow.
Sarak's woman, shown in the Flash Back during which Nasir and Sarak fight.
Really Dead Montage: Plays during the flaming arrows fired for Tom and Dickon at the end of the first episode. The first Robin also gets one of these, as the remaining outlaws shoot fiery arrows into the sky and recall their first moments with him.
That final episode is particularly noteworthy, as Guy gets the opportunity to kill the Sheriff. In the end Gisburne refuses to do it and commits another betrayal, turning on his former companions and telling the Sheriff, "I need you" as he flees with him. Then he pulls a sword on the Sheriff, revealing that what he really needed was a target for the King's anger, in order to save his own neck.
Remember the New Guy: In one of the third season episodes, we are introduced to the Sheriff's nephew Martin. Though he's never been seen or mentioned before, he's apparently been living in Nottingham Castle for the past two years.
Rightful King Returns: Deconstructed mercilessly when King Richard comes back from the Crusades - and all Richard Carpenter had to do was accurately depict the historical events surrounding his return.
The writers not only knew the name of the late 12th c. Earl of Huntingdon but that he was a member of the Scottish royal family. David of Huntingdon's eldest son WAS named Robert, though he is supposed to have died young - or been disinherited?
According to the DVD Commentary, one left-handed extra whose scene required her to write in a ledger was asked to write with her right hand, considering the stigma against left-handed people in those days.
They also demonstrated a surprisingly accurate view of England in the Middle Ages (save for the obviously fantastic bits), up to and including the incorporation of historical ephemera (like the fact that King Richard once forced his noblemen to bid on their titles at an auction in Nottingham). Most of their take upon the Robin Hood legend is also well-rooted in oft-times obscure earlier versions.
Phil Rose, who played Friar Tuck, also expressed his admiration for the attention to detail, noting that one particular director would refuse to film a forest scene if the location included any species of tree that wasn't around in the Middle Ages.
When The Knights Templar showed up, one of them spoke only German (although he clearly understood his leader's French). He addressed the leader not with any of the ordinary German words for leader or commander, but as "Komtur" — a word that refers only to a commander in a knightly order such as the Templars.
Most writers who failed to do their research would have had Marion riding sidesaddle, as the 1938 film does; it's "common knowledge" that 'proper' women didn't ride astride until less than a century ago. In fact, a sidesaddle that allows a woman to control her own horse at a gallop (as seen in the film) wasn't invented until the time of Queen Victoria. Marion riding astride is not only historically accurate, but impressively researched.
Taking the Veil: Marion at the beginning of series one and again at the end of series three.
Tarot Troubles: "The Inheritance" begins with Agrivaine instructing his daughter Isadora in a Tarot reading which predicts the entire episode. Bonus points for three of the four cards being Death, The Hanged Man, and The Tower.
Technical Pacifist: Robin of Loxley is very bad at this, happily slaughtering Red Shirts who are only fighting him because they need to feed their families and refusing to kill anyone with a name. Will Scarlet actually calls him on this.
Throw It In: De Rainault's assessment of Philip Mark as a "posturing catamite" was an ad lib.
Too Happy to Live: A non-fatal variation, though it's played straight in almost every other respect: Robin and Marion confess their love and prepare to marry, the outlaws and the villagers steal back the grain that was taken from them by the Sheriff, everyone is getting ready for the celebrations that night... and then, on returning to Wickham, they discover that all the women and children have been taken, the rescued grain has been burnt, and the wedding has to be postponed and eventually cancelled, after Marion is led to believe that Robin has died.
Trust Password: In a sense. The new Robin is trying to muster the group again, but Will Scarlet says gloomily that they've lost the fire that they had with the old:
Robert of Huntingdon: No, Scarlet. Nothing is forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten. (Scarlet looks thoroughly spooked) Scarlet: What did you say? Robert: You heard me. Scarlet: No ... it wasn't you I heard.
Marion's dress flies up as she jumps from the loft in "The King's Fool."
Will Scarlet in a short, wet robe, climbing up a sheer rock face with no underwear. It perhaps wouldn't have been so bad if the camera hadn't been positioned low, pointing directly up. In the same episode, Guy of Gisburne wears wet beige clothing with black underwear beneath.
We Can Rule Together: Adam Bell tries this on Robin and is rejected. In the very next episode, Arthur of Brittany tells Robin that he'll give him wealth and security, only for Queen Isabella to shoot him in the back midway through his speech.
We Want Our Jerk Back: Happens in the third season, after King John appoints a new, even worse, Sheriff of Nottingham.
Wouldn't Hurt a Child: In "Adam Bell" the Sheriff nearly strikes Martin after the latter's Surprise Checkmate, but stops and ruffles the boy's hair instead; later in the same episode, Adam Bell harshly scolds his band of ruffians for mistreating Martin.
Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Marion plays one of these on the other outlaws after she's fed up with being left out. She jumps on Robin's back and begins to pummel him, only for the others to gather around and cheer her on. Robin throws her off, she fakes an injury, and when the others help her to her feet, all gentleness and concern, she begins to beat them with a switch.
Written-In Absence: Nickolas Grace's scheduling conflicts in the second and third seasons are briefly explained as the Sheriff undertaking "a journey to Westminster" (during which Gisburne, as deputy, becomes acting Sheriff and gets Drunk with Power) and "a pilgrimage to Canterbury" (an interesting choice for the Hollywood Atheist Sheriff), respectively.