Robin of Sherwood: Set 2 on Blu-ray
by Jef Burnham
Now available from Acorn Media.
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This 3 Blu-ray plus bonus DVD set collects all 13 episodes of the third and final series of this classic adaptation of the legend of Robin Hood, with over 9 hours of special features. Many consider Robin of Sherwood to be the definitive retelling of the tale, due in no small part to its incorporation of the two primary variations of the Robin Hood character throughout its run. But more than that, you’ll find that this impressively well-crafted and action-packed series brings a rich cinematic flair to the tale little seen on the small screen prior to Robin of Sherwood.
In my review of Set 1, I detailed the more mystical and supernatural elements of the series that creator Richard Carpenter brought to the tale of Robin Hood, how Robin and his band of followers here are in facts servants of Herne the Hunter, the spirit of Sherwood Forest. Here the torch of Herne’s Son is passed from Series One and Two’s peasant Robin Hood, Robin of Loxley (played by Michael Praed), to wealthy upstart Robert of Huntington (played by Jason Connery (Doctor Who)). The transition occurs at the ideal point in the narrative, which is to say, just as the loosely episodic nature of the series begins to wear thin. Although I prefer Praed’s performance overall, which exudes benevolence and a perseverance of spirit that instantly endears us to him, Connery’s initial brashness spices up the series when it is honestly most needed. Ultimately, this transition, combined with a greater emphasis on mysticism and sorcery than that found in the previous 13 episodes, accounts for the strength of the third series.
As I wrote in my previous review, if any classic television program has ever been worthy of a Blu-ray transfer, Robin of Sherwood most certainly is it. And Acorn’s HD transfer of the 16mm source stock proves that 35mm isn’t the only format worthy of transfer to HD. The only noticeable difference between the two formats as they’re transferred to HD arises from the consistently more prominent grain structure of 16mm when blown up. Set 2 on Blu-ray looks every bit as gorgeous as the previous set, and my appraisal of this potential purchase still stands; even if you own one of Acorn’s previous standard definition releases of Robin of Sherwood, upgrading to the Blu-ray is frankly a must.
Special features on the three Blu-ray discs include nine episode commentaries, photo galleries including over 400 images, and music-only tracks for three episodes. The bonus DVD features over two hours of additional bonus content including:
-Nothing’s Forgotten: The Making of Robin of Sherwood, a feature-length documentary about the making of series three;
-an interview with Clannad about the scoring of the series;
-Producer Esta Charkham’ photographic retrospective;
-“Robin Hood 1-2-3 Screen Swordplay”;
-It’s Showtime promotional piece;
-a TV-am location report;
-and additional DVD-ROM-based PDF materials.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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