Living as I do near Nottingham, it’s curious to me that I never watched “Robin of Sherwood” as a teenager and yet ended up living right on the cusp of his territory some 40 years later. It was, of course, the repressive TV regime of my father that prevented me from digesting very much during those formative years, so when I saw the Blu-Ray of the series available – and knowing the love my wife has for the show – I made it a present to her this Christmas.
We’ve begun to watch the first series and I was immediately struck by the flavour of fantasy that was invoked. I enjoyed the invocation of a pseudo-historical Robin Hood blended with a sort of half-remembered folk magic. The tension between the Church and the worshippers of Herne, the magic of both the demon-pact Sorcerer and the local hedge witch’s herbalism all touch just the right tones.
This series inspires just the right feeling of fantasy that I would enjoy running in a medieval pseudo-historical campaign. The magic is low-powered, with the most flashy spell being when the evil Baron sets fire to Robin’s bow in the second episode. The mix of spiritual visions and memories of Animism hit the notes that I would choose when I talk about primal magic. Of course, the turning of the 12th-13th century is much later than my usual game periods.
Overall, I suppose Robin of Sherwood is very much a 1980s secular interpretation of legend but it’s entertaining and well-presented. The gentle pace and humanised characters make it rich and the symbolism is notably effective. I look forward to watching through the whole piece and letting it inspire my fantasy for a future campaign.