"Robin Hood," at 8 tonight on WBFF-TV (Channel 45), is a real movie-movie.
It has real stunts, real staging, great period detail, clever casting and lots of mud. In this telling of the adults' and children's classic, you need galoshes to survive Sherwood Forest. Being an outlaw in 12th century England required lots of mucking about.
The film had been scheduled for release in movie theaters this summer. But because Kevin Costner is Robin Hood in another movie-movie scheduled to be released in real theaters this summer, this movie was sold to TV. Patrick Bergin plays this Robin Hood, and he's splendid.
The film takes its time telling the legend. We start with how Robin Hood came to be -- a nobleman stripped of his lands and title, a Saxon living in an England ruled by Normans, who seemed to do nothing quite so well as raise and collect taxes.
We are shown a Robin Hood forced to band together with a bunch of thieves who live in caves, not trees. We see him make them into a fighting unit -- a sort of guerrilla army -- at war in their occupied country, planning clever skirmishes with the enemy, relying on their intelligence network and their abilities with bow and arrow.
This is a 1991 telling of the legend that, in its sensibility, brings to mind such recent and ongoing realities as Vietnam and the West Bank.
That kind of contemporary sensibility, plus authentic castles and genuine English accents, is a pretty good deal for a Monday night in Television Land. Watch, enjoy, but don't make a big deal about it. If we don't let on, we may get more of this kind of thing.