Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Adventures of Robin Hood

For those of you who would like to know, I am still in Texas. My trip has been a mixed bag so far. On the one hand, I am still very disappointed that I didn't get to see the young lady in Abilene. I also did not much care for arriving late into Dallas. And I developed some sort of stomach bug while here. On the other hand, we had a nice family dinner Saturday and I have gotten to play a good deal with my nephews.

Anyhow, today I'd like to talk about The Adventures of Robin Hood. No, I am not talking about the classic Errol Flynn movie, but rather the British TV series that ran from 1955 to 1960. When I was in grade school, KOMU showed it every weekday afternoon. My brother and I couldn't wait to get home from school to watch it. A few years ago Encore's Action Channel showed it for a while. My brother and sister in law got me 12 of the episodes on DVD. I am still surprised at how good the show was.

Compared to today's standards, the production values of The Adventures of Robin Hood are not always up to par. But what it might lack at times in set design, it more than makes up for with great performances, good scripts and fairly solid direction. Given the individuals who made The Adventures of Robin Hood, it would probably be surprising if it wasn't good. The series was produced by Sidney Cole, who would go onto produce such shows as Danger Man (known here in the United States as Secret Agent) and Man in a Suitcase. Among the people who directed various episodes were Ralph Smart, who would go on to create Danger Man and Terence Fischer, who would go onto direct such Hammer movies as The Curse of Frankenstein and The Mummy. Some very talented writers also worked on the series. Ring Lardner Jr. and Ian McLellan Hunter wrote many, many episodes under pseudonyms, having been blacklisted in Hollywood (this was done to keep the folks responsible for American syndication from wanting to meet the writers). Ralph Smart also wrote quite a few episodes.

The Adventures of Robin Hood was successful in both Britain and the United States. In fact, it may well have been the first British show to become a hit here. The series ran for five years over all and even inspired a feature film (Sword of Sherwood Forest) released in 1960. It ran from 1955 to 1958 on CBS here in the United States and continued another two years with new episodes in syndication. Reruns continue in syndication to this day. To this day The Adventures of Robin Hood has maintained a cult following, primarily men like me who saw it as a child. While we may remember it from childhood, however, it is clearly a series that adults can enjoy as well.

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