Rose’s post about Robin of Sherwood made me all weepy and nostalgic for my own all-time favorite version of Robin Hood: Maid Marian and Her Merry Men. It’s a British kid’s show made way back in 1989-1993 that spoofs Robin of Sherwood.
Maid Marian and Her Merry Men is a heaping helping of ridiculous idiocy created by Tony Robinson (Balderick on Blackadder). He also plays the Sherrif of Nottingham, and brings a very Blackadder-ish sensibility to the show.
ROBIN: Hang on, hang on, he’s not white!…He’s a sort of creamy-beigy colour.
This opener for the episode “The White(ish) Knight” gives an hint of just how silly things get, with a spoof of Robin of Sherwood‘s Clannad soundtrack and serious intent. Maid Marian and Her Merry Men takes to task every single one of the Robin clichés, and then rolls it all around in the mud with Monty Python-eque riffs and Blackadder-style idiocy.
MARIAN: No one ever said fighting injustice would be easy. They’ve got the power, they’ve got the weapons, and all we’ve got is a Rasta, a wally, and a bearded avocado.
Like Robin of Sherwood, our Robin has glorious brunette hair, but he’s Robin of Kensington — a brainless twit of a tailor who gets all the credit and glory that rightly belongs to scruffy hardworking Marian.
Our Marian is an earnest little blonde with Communist-Leninist leanings. She’s the brains and heart of the operation, trying to bring truth, justice and the occasional morsel of food to the peasants. Marian also has the thankless task of being the perpetual straight woman.
The Merry Men also include Danny John-Jules (Cat from White Dwarf) as Barrington, the Rasta Merry Man who is lead singer on most of their musical numbers; Rabies, who is large, gormless and nose-picking; and Little Ron, a very angry dwarf.
KING JOHN: I will do such disgusting things to you that even the torturers will go “urrrgh”, and ask to leave the room.
King John is a gluttonous scene chewer, of course, and Tony Robinson’s Sheriff is a weaselly little creep. They are incompetently aided by the friendly guards Gary and Graeme. And in the middle are the starving peasants of Worksop. These are the most historically accurate medieval peasants ever portrayed: superstitious, mud-encrusted, flea-ridden and filthy.
Did I mention the show is a musical? Check this video of Robin bringing happiness to the peasants of Worksop by impersonating Elvis:
SHERIFF: Wait an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny yellow-polka-dotted minute!
Many of the show’s classic bits are available on You Tube, and the four season DVD set is available as in import (Warning though: It’s Region 2 format).
Silly, oh, it’s silly. At times it gets to be just a leetle too silly and the faux rap songs can be grating. Danny John-Jules sells his songs, though, with all his heart, and we still sing some of them in our house, years after watching the show on first run. (Pancake Day! It must be Pancake Day!)
Maid Marian and Her Merry Men is a staggering Everest-sized avalanche of jokes, japes, visual gags, physical comedy, political comment, satire, spoof and stupidity. It’s probably the most intentionally ridiculous show ever made. I think that Tony Robinson took a look at the Blackadder oeuvre and said to himself, “I can top that!” He went for it no-holds-barred and used the smokescreen of “kids show” to commit utter ridiculousness. Don’t miss it.