Fantasy Film Review: The New Adventures of Robin Hood
This TV series made an appearance during the 90s’ heyday of Hercules and Xena. It attempted (along with Conan the Adventurer, The Adventures of Sinbad, Roar, and even The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog) to cash in on the interest in fantasy television—and the relatively low budget necessary to produce it—that Hercules and Xena showed was out there.
What the producers of these follow-on shows missed was that Hercules and Xena each developed their own unique chemistries between the two main actors. The plot, special effects, and swordfights were secondary to watching the buddy comedy, budding romance, or drama between the titular character and the sidekick. None of the follow-on shows opted for that recipe. Instead, like The New Adventures of Robin Hood, they all opt for an ensemble cast. (And like all but Roar, they each include a Token Black Guy. Come on people! Nothing says fantasy settings have to be populated by whites!)
To add to it’s list of flaws, The New Adventures of Robin Hood seems clearly aimed at an age group younger than Hercules or Xena, but older than The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog, which was basically Power Rangers in medieval fantasy. That puts it solidly in the age range of kids who want to watch Xena and Hercules but whose parents won’t let them. That’s not a place you want to be. For one thing, the kids will age out of that group (or convince their parents) long before you build a strong following.
The ensemble cast for the first season consists of a smarmy Robin Hood, a badass Maid Marian,a fat Friar Tuck with kung-fu skills who talks far more about food than god, and an immensely stupid Little John. The acting ability goes in that order, although I’m sure the scripts and directing share the blame.
Nothing escapes blame here, and that’s a real problem. I enjoy the character of Robin Hood, but that has more to do with his resemblance to a friend of mine than any intrinsic value in his portrayal. Everything from effects to stunts to lighting to scripts is B-movie quality at best. Hercules and Xena could evoke a lot of emotion, tear jerkers and gut busters, but in The New Adventures of Robin Hood, it all fizzles. Of the shows I mentioned above, only The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog falls below it in quality.
Then, to really twist the knife in the wound, Matthew Porretta, the actor who plays Robin Hood and who played Will Scarlet in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, leaves the show after the second season. The actress who plays Marion is the bath water that goes out with the baby. They replace both actors, and the show inexplicably continues for a staggering two seasons!
The Dukes of Hazzard barely escaped destruction after replacing its leads, and then it had a story reason for doing so. Here the characters suddenly don new faces and bodies for no apparent reason and the show continues merrily on! Perhaps the French can explain it, as the show apparently worked well with subtitles: At least half the fansites for this show are written in French.
Of special note: Christopher Lee appears is a number of episodes as a thoroughly unhelpful wizard/druid/mentor.
DO NOT WATCH