OK, people who’ve been paying attention to what, for want of a term that indicates the extreme silliness involved, I’ll have to call the storyline of this series, will be aware that the Sheriff and some other dodgy characters, collectively known as the Black Knights, have signed a pact committing them to murdering King Richard and putting his brother John on the throne. Robin, the outlaw formerly known for not killing people, is so incensed by this treasonous stuff that he’s quite prepared to kill whoever gets in the way of his attempts to stop it. In the now traditional fun bit before the titles, the gang sneak into the castle in an attempt to steal the pact from the strongroom so they can show it to King Richard, should he ever turn up. Naturally, the room is empty. So off they go back to the forest.
Back at camp, Will’s latest inspired Mouse Trap meets Heath Robinson contraption, a combined alarm and trap, catches a young man who claims not to have very much money at all – just ten shillings. He proves this by emptying his bag, which indeed contains just ten silver coins, which is a bit odd, as at the time, the only coins in use were pennies – the shilling was purely an accounting denomination. Actual shilling coins (at first called testoons) didn’t appear until the fifteenth century, which is a wee bit later than the time we’re looking at here. But no matter. To complain about minor historical inaccuracies like that is to miss the point of what this show is all about: fun.
The young man turns out to be John of York, and he’s taking the money to Nottingham as part payment of a debt. One of the Sheriff’s dubious associates, the Canon of Birkley, is holding John’s girlfriend as security on the debt. It seems that the total amount owing is the slightly unbelievable amount of two thousand pounds. Robin offers to help. It just so happens that the gang have collected a sum conveniently coming to that amount, and offer it to John. When Much protests, Robin tells him it’s a wedding gift, to which Much replies in one of the finest gags of the series so far:
Can’t you just give him a toasting fork like everyone else?
Back at the castle, Guy’s new henchman and Robin’s former friend Allan is telling Guy where all Robin’s secret entrances are. Marian, on seeing this, pulls Allan to one side and suggests that he really should stop doing that sort of thing, as otherwise, she might feel obliged to kill him.
Then the gang arrive at the castle, cunningly and impenetrably disguised in, err, floppy hats. John of York pays the Canon, who runs off to tell the Sheriff that they have a problem. They obviously weren’t expecting the money, as they have plans to sell the young lady to someone else. Instructed to put John off, the Canon tells him that even though he’s paid the full amount with interest, he still has to pay the, err, early redemption charges, at which point my anachronism counter melted.
Of course, handing over the money was one of Robin’s Cunning Plans. The chest containing the money was rigged to leave a trail of sand, which would lead the gang to where the Sheriff is now keeping his valuables, which should include that pact thingy that he tried to steal earlier. Like all the best Cunning Plans, it doesn’t quite work. The Sheriff has a new place for his valuables – his “bird cage”. It’s a quite large metal cage hanging up in the castle courtyard, well guarded and in plain sight. This is, he says, part of his commitment to open government, at which point the melted blob that was formerly my anachronism meter jumped out of the window. Just as well, as if the poor thing had heard the Sheriff’s next line, if might have attacked the TV in an attempt to save itself.
If Robin Hood asks “have you seen my money?” tell him the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
But it’s not all fun and games. Guy “persuades” Allan to lead him to Robin’s camp. Marian has a heated row with her father Edward, who, you might recall, is currently a guest in the Sheriff’s dungeon. In the course of their chat, Edward somehow manages to get hold of that nice little curved dagger Marian normally keeps in her hair. Having done that, she rides off to warn Robin that Guy is on his way. Naturally, she gets caught in Will’s little trap, and much hilarity follows, so much so that Marian has to thump Robin before he’ll listen to her warning.
The gang shoot all of Guy’s guards ever so slightly dead, leaving Allan to rescue Guy. Now this is a bit of a problem, as Guy realises that robin must have been warned of his planned attack.
Taking the uniforms of the guards, the gang return to the castle. While everyone else goes to rescue the girl (Remember her? The one John of York wants to marry, and who the Sheriff is planning to sell to another of his dubious associates?), Robin goes after Allan, determined to stop him from any further betrayals. Robin and Allan have a bit of a fight, which ends when Marian pops in and tells Robin not to kill Allan, so he doesn’t.
Meanwhile, Edward (Marian’s father, do pay attention) has killed the jailer and escaped from the dungeon. He creeps into the Sheriff’s room and finds the hidden safe. Robin arrives around then, and with the usual confusion and fun, the two of them manage to escape with the pact. As the castle is going into “emergency lockdown”, the gang manage to get out by distracting the guards. An arrow into a bag full of coins in the Sheriff’s bird cage sends money all over the place, and the underpaid guards just can’t resist..
Just when you might think it’s all over, the delightful Canon of Birkley gets in the way. He grabs Edward and holds a knife to his throat, demanding that Robin lets him have Beatrice (John of York’s expensive girlfriend). Nobody seems to like that idea, and Robin lets him have an arrow instead. Unfortunately, the Canon manages to stab Edward, and they both fall down dead.
And finally, Guy, who’s been showing signs of not being entirely happy about some of his boss’s policies, warns Marian that as the jailer was killed with her dagger, the Sheriff might just be inclined to hang her. Now that her father is dead, there’s nothing to hold her, so off she goes to join the outlaws in the forest.
It’s all very silly, and still a lot of fun.
 Boo!! Hiss!!
 Since he’s playing a panto villain, it seemed appropriate
 Off crusading, supposedly on his way back
 American readers can feel free to substitute Rube Goldberg
 Well, that wasn’t the term used, but since historical accuracy isn’t the game we’re playing
 Such a nice word, that
 Behind a picture on the wall, naturally
 See? They’re not even trying for authenticity, are they?