Monday, June 01, 2015

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Robin Hood

The hero who robs from the rich and gives to the poor -- all while living in Sherwood Forest -- has had quite the illustrious history on television.  

In fact, the great and heroic Robin Hood has appeared on TV in virtually every decade from the 1950s to the present.

Before playing the second incarnation of the Time Lord, for example, Patrick Troughton played Robin Hood on a BBC series in 1953.

In the 1970s, an all-animal cast represented Robin, his Merry Men, and Marian in Hanna Barbera's The Adventures of Robin Hoodnik (1972).  

A second comical variation on the tale came from Mel Brooks in the same decade.  He created When Things Were Rotten (1975), a series starring Richard Gautier as Robin.

From 1984 to 1986, TV history saw one of its most popular incarnations of the Robin Hood myth. Robin of Sherwood starred Michael Praed, and later Jason Connery, and was honored by fans as a more realistic and gritty version of the tale.

Robin Hood and his Merry Men have frequently appeared as "guest" characters on other TV series as well.  He was the subject of the Voyagers! episode "An Arrow Points East" in 1982, and in an episode of the animated ALF Tales.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 - 1994), similarly, featured a fourth season tale called "Q-Pid" in which the command crew of the Enterprise D took on the characters of the myth.  Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) was Robin Hood, and his would-be lover, Vash (Jennifer Hetrick) was Maid Marian.

In 2013, Robin Hood was added as a recurring character on the fairy tale fantasy Once Upon a Time, and in 2014, the 12th incarnation of the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) attempted to prove that Robin was just a myth in "Robot of Sherwood" on the eighth season of the new Doctor Who.


  1. What, no Rocket Robin Hood? It wasn't until the internet came along that I was able to confirm that that was indeed a real show and not something I hallucinated in a fever while a child.

  2. Just catching up on some of the blog here, John, and I was especially pleased to see "Robin of Sherwood" take a prominent place in this article. For me it remains my absolute favourite version of the myth—or rather versions, given the skilful way it incorporated the changeover of its leads. I recently picked it up on Blu-ray, and it still stands up in terms of its writing and production values in particular, not to mention its wonderful score by Clannad. Not only could it be "realistic and gritty" but it was also very spiritual, and its mystical elements also make it stand out from the field for me. It remains a personal favourite amongst favourites in terms of television series.

  3. He also was in another 1950s TV series (with Richard Greene in the title role), which employed some screenwriters who had been affected by the Blacklist. There was one in the 2000s, too.

    Also, let us not forget the "Ren and Stimpy" treatment!

    But the Michael Praed series remains one of my favorites, as does the TV movie with Patrick Bergin (which I preferred to the Costner version, to be honest).