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'TV Guide Classics: The Adventures of Robin Hood'
(Richard Greene, Alan Wheatley, Bernadette O'Farrell, Patrica Driscoll, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2015 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Richard Greene, stars as the valiant swashbuckler Robin Hood who fought the forces of the greedy Prince John by defending the common people from the tyranny of the vile Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin and his band of Merry Men, living in the shelter of Sherwood Forest, embark on a quest to steal from the rich and give to the poor while fighting their foes and hoping for the return of the their beloved King Richard to rule once again!

DVD Verdict: 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' is one of those TV series that has a truly timeless quality. The fact that I know people of all ages who enjoy it thoroughly, more than 50 years after it was first shown on television speaks for itself. I have to say when I saw the first series on DVD cheap I was half expecting a badly dated, poorly acted show still available purely due to the effects of nostalgia. Now I am heartily glad I took the risk and have all 143 episodes.

The casting is impeccable, with Richard Greene almost certainly the best incarnation of Robin Hood in my view, with his highly charismatic performance as the noble outlaw of yore. It helps that he is English, as the hero is quintessentially of this country. The other actors are close to definitive in their roles, which is impressive since back then there were few versions to base their performances on. Alan Wheatley makes for a witty, and thoroughly immoral Sheriff of Nottingham and by playing the character perfectly straight does so without chewing the scenery like many actors in the role have since.

The part of Maid Marian is shared by Bernadette O'Farrell and Patrica Driscoll and though their styles differ they are both excellent. Archie Duncan definitely has the presence and manner for the role of Little John, while Alexander Gauge seems born to the role of Friar Tuck. Great support is provided by Victor Woolf as Derwent, a character rarely seen in other versions, and special mention must go to Paul Eddington who appears as a different character almost every episode for a couple of series until he landed the permanent role as Will Scarlett. There are a good many guest stars such as Donald Pleasance, Leslie Phillips, Sid James etc. who it is interesting to see at such an early stage of their career and probably among the earliest surviving footage of it.

The writing is very good and manages to maintain its quality throughout, though it loses the structure of the earlier episodes somewhat - as the Merry Men come together for example. The emphasis is always on doing the right thing no matter the cost, and this achieved surprisingly without becoming too peachy, despite coming close to it. The plots are inventive, with obviously a good deal of research being done into the history to find the basis for story lines. This can be educational as well as fun even if it is not all strictly accurate.

The theme song is legendary and sums up the spirit of the show perfectly. It is probably more well known than the series itself, though that it partly thanks to a cereal advert it featured in! It is very well made considering the budget is clearly minimal, with the same building doubling for the church, the Blue Boar Inn and many other locations. However there is a good deal of location work (done on a farm I believe) and the actors get the best out of the limited sets.

It is a shame 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' is not more watched these days, perhaps it is perceived as having less appeal to the younger generation due to the fact that it is in black and white, or that subsequent versions must have superseded it. Definitely worth revisiting though here on this brand new Mill Creek Entertainment 3-Disc DVD re-release. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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