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Robin of Sherwood - Set 1 (Blu-Ray)
The centuries-old legend of Robin Hood was never more vividly brought to life than in this acclaimed British series. Combining history with elements of magic and mysticism, and set against a backdrop of gritty medieval realism, Robin of Sherwood has captivated fans of all ages. Heading up the superb ensemble cast are Michael Praed (Dynasty) as Robin of Loxley, Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast) as seething-mad Will Scarlet, and Nickolas Grace (Brideshead Revisited) as the greedy, conniving Sheriff of Nottingham. Shot entirely on location in English castles and countryside, the authentic atmosphere is enhanced by an award-winning soundtrack of haunting melodies by the Irish band Clannad. Includes all 13 episodes in Series 1 & 2.
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The DVD version was a vast improvement but there was a surprising amount of grain.
The BD edition is a revelation. The packaging looks great in an oversized box - there are smaller boxes for 3 BDs - but size matters when you are pricing such items.
The BD picture quality, considering the age and the 16mm image source, is quite remarkable. I have been watching the series on a 50" plasma with the 4:3 image zoomed to fill the 16:9 screen. The picture is a bit soft, but very watchable even at such a large size. Some digital manipulation was probably used but is it not obvious. Edges are clean if a bit soft. Colors are vibrant. Sherwood never looked so green. The Robin of Sherwood logo is a zingy yellow and red. Skin tones are realistic. Flames are bright yellow-orange as thatched roofs are torched.
I will not comment on the content because there are a lot of descriptions of the content elsewhere. In summary: Gorgeous Maid Marian in Judi Trott, feral Robin in Michael Praed, feisty Will Scarlet in Ray Winstone, etc.
The set is certainly worth the price of admission. Now we need the Jason Connery episodes on BD. Then my life will be complete.
Herne's son is dead, long live Herne's son.
Addition 1/1/12: Network has released on blu-ray the Jason Connery episodes of Robin of Sherwood in an all-region (A-B-C) edition in the U.K. Acorn will release it in the U.S. in April. Connery (the son of Sean) was not as feral as Praed, but stepped into the series seamlessly as Praed headed for Falcon Crest in the U.S. Worth the price of admission.
Well, quality is very good indeed, keeping in mind the original series was aired in the mid eighties. The edition is clean, and it's made a pleasure to watch all these episodes again. English subtitles are pretty lame in some cases, and since my wife is not fully bilingual I've had to play the role of translator. Image and sound quality are good, as I said, as well as the additional materials which include very interesting interviews and funny outtakes.
Television and movies have sure come a long way since the days of Robin of Sherwood, and special effects could probably seem pathetically primitive to someone expecting the full power of digital magic seen on today's shows and movies; back then, this was good enough to make me expect each weekly episode.
I've probably watched every possible movie and TV show about Robin Hood, as well as read almost every book or fragment about this legend, and I must say there's none that can compare to this!
Joseph Campbell spelled out the formula for The Hero's Journey decades ago and it has been used from ancient times to the Star Wars films. It is something which touches us all on a very basic level, and when we see it we resonate to it. The hero is of a mysterious parentage, often not knowing his true identity, or an orphan. He goes forth reluctantly, at first, through a series of adventures with a set of Companions and learns his mission from a magical creature, be it a God or a Wizard. The same story line runs theough Greek mythos and The Wizard of Oz.
Always before, Robin Hood was just someone out for justice, a robber who railed against the oppressors and helped the oppressed. Now, in this version Richard "Kip" Carpenter has brought us the Mage, the Pagan God Herne the Hunter (both as the priest of Herne and, when the horned one posesses him, the God Himself) who tells Robin what he must do, reveals things to him through visions, including the fact that as King of Sherwood he is the Sacred King of the forest, who in the manner of all Sacred Kings must eventually shed his blood for the sake of the Land and its people.
With this connexion, something happens to the story, something larger than life, something which is predicated on more than a class struggle. The Sacred King of Britain is not the man on the throne, an invader who is more interested in his own glory than even that of the Church, but someone who has ties with the land itself, someone who can feel and serve its needs. It is not just the squabbles between a corrupt Abbot Hugo and his brother, the Sheriff of Nottingham and the serfs of the area, it is real Mythology, just as real as that other British mythos of Arthur.
The cast is perfection, the writing exquisite, and suddenly the whole thing is coherent and three dimensional. This will always be, for me, the real Robin Hood.