Despite the technological limits of ’80s television, the ITV series “Robin of Sherwood” may be the best telling of the Robin Hood story that’s ever been put on film. In this version, a pagan prophecy foretells Robin’s destiny to become a legendary hero, inspiring him to resist the oppressive King of England and Sheriff of Nottingham.
The show’s sets transport you to 12th century England with realistic costumes and locations. Even the few that appear to be lifted from London’s West End don’t feel out of place because the actors fill the space. Much of the series is shot like a stage play, but it works because the highly-trained actors understand how to present themselves to the lens, which is extra impressive given how long the directors sustain some shots.
Here, the magic of Sherwood Forest comes in many forms: prophecies, possessions, ritual sacrifices, and droll banter. Talk while watching, and you may miss the little bits of wit peppered throughout the script — the first known proof that the British enjoy seasoning. There are few to no special effects, but the handheld camera keeps the action moving during dramatic moments. The music is fantastic, too. Irish group Clannad released the soundtrack it recorded as its own album, “Legend,” which reached number 15 on Britain’s Official Charts. Stream this series, and one week later Spotify will be recommending you bands that also feature harps, mandolins, and tin whistles.