Once upon a time - in the mid-1990s, television was invaded by a group of Greek heroes and gods led by Sam Raimi. The first invasion came in the form of a demigod (Hercules, played by Kevin Sorbo) and his friend (Iolaus, played by Michael Hurst) who would right wrongs, save people in distress, and kill monsters or foil devious godly plots. The second invasion was led by a tall woman with amazing warrior skills (Xena, played by Lucy Lawless) and her friend (Gabrielle, played by Renee O'Connor) who basically followed in the same adventure paths as their male predecessors.
These were of course the two TV series - Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess - that aired in syndication from 1995 to 1999 (for Hercules) and 1995 to 2001 (for Xena). Both series used tongue-in-cheek humor, occasional sight gags, exaggerated action, and the hero's journey to explore various story lines roughly based in myths and legends. Both series were very successful and enjoyed long lives in syndication around the world.
And though I knew that other production companies were probably trying to come up with ways to ride their coat tails, I can't say I remember any that ever gained much traction on our local television stations in Colorado. So The New Adventures of Robin Hood managed to slip under my radar when it aired for four seasons from 1997 to 1999, airing on TNT from 1997-1998.
The basic idea was to take the stories of Robin Hood and update them in the mold of Hercules and Xena. Add a bit of magic, adventure, witty dialogue, and humor and voila you have a series! So how did I miss it?
Well, Warner Brothers is now releasing the first season of the series for the first time on DVD and it will only be available through the Warner Brothers online store. This is the first of several WB TV series never before released on DVD that they will make available in this fashion.
The first season of The New Adventures of Robin Hood stars Matthew Porretta as Robin, Anna Galvin as Lady Marion Fitzwalter, Richard Ashton as Little John, Martyn Ellis as Friar Tuck, Christopher Lee as Olwyn the Druid/Wizard, and Andrew Bicknell as Prince John. The interplay between Porretta, Galvin, Ashton, and Ellis is quite good I felt an obvious camaraderie there that worked well for both the comedic and serious elements of the storyline.
And where Xena and Hercules fight creatures from mythology, this series has Robin and his band dealing with other historical groups - Mongols, Vikings, witches, druids, dragons, and even an Arabian knight. Quite the mix of people from a wide variety of times and places in history and tales.