Home Television Comedy When Things Were Rotten

When Things Were Rotten

1 9 7 4 (USA)
13 x 30 minute episodes

This period sitcom was produced by Mel Brooks for Paramount and told the story of the misadventures of Robin Hood (Dick Gautier) and his very merry men. Each episode was blended with corny puns, quick-fire gags and incongruous cultural juxtapositions.

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The show was set – nominally – in the 12th century, a time when characters were (oy vey) characters. Robin Hood? Nothing but a birdbrain meddlesome nincompoop. Alan-A-Dale? Nothing but a Las Vegas lounge comedian (Bernie Kopell). Prince John? Nothing but a mincing homosexual (Ron Rifkin) . . .

Maid Marian (Misty Rowe) was Robin’s sexy but empty-headed love interest.

The humour drew upon the anachronistic blending of historical myth and modern-day sensibilities and the action demanded maximum attention: blink and you would miss at least a couple of gags, though you could also be sure that another half-dozen were only seconds away.

Every episode featured a guest star, with Sid Caesar appearing in one as a French diplomat and Dudley Moore in another as an oil sheikh.

Moore’s episode was directed by Marty Feldman, who had recently moved to Hollywood from London and starred in Brooks’ movie Young Frankenstein (1974).

Critics applauded this series as one of the most inventive of the season, but viewers paid no attention to it and it was soon cancelled. Brooks returned to the subject with his 1993 movie Robin Hood: Men In Tights.

Robin Hood
Dick Gautier
Maid Marian

Misty Rowe
Alan-A-Dale

Bernie Kopell
Friar Tuck

Dick Van Patten
Little John

David Sabin
Bertram/Renaldo

Richard Dimitri
Hubert, Sheriff of Nottingham

Henry Polic II
Prince John

Ron Rifkin
Princess Isabelle
Jane A. Johnston