Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Canada's cartoon channel, Teletoon, follows the two basic principles of Canadian cable TV: 1) Never show an older show if you can help it, and if you do broadcast an older show, make sure it's a bad one; and 2) Find the cheapest, crappiest Canadian-made show available to fulfil the CRTC's "Canadian Content" regulations. They're currently living up to these principles by broadcasting the mostly Canadian-made, generally terrible Rocket Robin Hood.

The above link gives most of the necessary background on the show; it was produced by Krantz animation, the same company that gave us "The Amazing Spider-Man," "The Mighty Hercules," and those Incredible Hulk cartoons with the theme song about "Dr. Banner, belted by gamma rays..." Canadian kids who grew up with "Mighty Hercules" will recognize that "Rocket Robin Hood" uses the same narrator and some of the same other voices.

Before I saw an episode last night, I hadn't seen the show since childhood; I remembered the super-cheap animation and even worse editing (actions with no sound-effects, mismatched shots, and so on), but not a single plot from the show. So for those of you who remember "Rocket Robin Hood" but can't remember what, if anything, happened, here's a summary of the episode I saw last night:

In their hideout on Sherwood Asteroid, Rocket Robin Hood and his Merry Men practice space-jousting. Then they go to Camelot Asteroid, in disguise, to watch the games. To get Robin out of hiding, the evil Prince John announces that he has betrothed Maid Marian (who wears the usual space-underwear of women in sci-fi cartoon shows, but topped off with a feathered Sherwood Forest-y hat) to the equally evil Baron Barth, ruler of the frosty planet Pluto. To save Marian from this fate, Rocket Robin Hood agrees to fight the Baron's champion, who turns out to be a giant space robot: the Red Robot Knight. They face off in five contests:

- Toppling, where each competitor has an electro-quarterstaff, and first one pushed off the anti-gravity log is the winner.
- Space wrestling.
- Archery, with space-arrows. (Prince John: "Curses! I forgot about his boomerang arrow!")
- Tug-of-war while standing on anti-gravity saucers. (There's an anti-gravity everything here, in the good Kingdom of Nott.)
- Space jousting. (Robin's previous experience comes in handy. See kids? Practicing is good.)

Robin loses the first two contests but wins the last three. Prince John orders his men to take out Robin anyway, and a fight ensues, with various still frames of characters with fists being slowly moved toward them. The Robot Knight winds up scuffling with Robin on board a spaceship, and things look lost for Our Hero until Maid Marian manages to take the Robot Knight's gears apart, using her compact and all the other stuff in her space-purse. "But now I have no makeup left," she laments. Cue hearty laughter from all concerned.

This "episode," in three segments, actually only takes up about fifteen minutes of screen time. The rest of the show, like some of Krantz's other shows, was taken up with filler: not only the opening and closing titles, but various "introductions" for the characters, which were repeated in every show, and which promised all sorts of adventures that never actually happened in the episodes. (This practice was spoofed on the show Freakazoid!, where a character called "The Huntsman" had an incredibly long introduction followed by an "episode" where noting happened.) Here are some of the better ones, all done in the voice of that Mighty Hercules announcer-guy:

Rocket Robin Hood, the happy outlaw of outerplanetary space, is the
direct descendant of Robin Hood of old. He's fast, with a joyful laugh,
a ready jest, and a quiver full of futuristic arrows. Robin robs from
the cosmic rich to give to the astral poor. He's fun. He's fantastic.
Rocket Robin Hood, merriest of the Merry Men in the astounding year,

Arch-enemy of Rocket Robin Hood is the cruel space tyrant, Prince John,
despot ruler of the National Outer-Space Terrestrial Territories. With
the help of the wicked Sheriff of N.O.T.T., the black prince plans for
that terrible day when he will destroy and conquer the entire Solar
System. Well, he might, if it were not for-- Rocket Robin Hood. Rocket
Robin Hood, outlaw defender of right in the astounding years to come.

Well, you can't argue with that, can you?

Come to think of it, in its medieval space stories, "Rocket Robin Hood" may have been the true ancestor of "Star Wars" and other science fiction stories that took place "a long time ago in a galaxy far away." I don't know whether George Lucas saw "Rocket Robin Hood," but really, would you put it past him?


Anonymous said...

I remember sitting down on a Thursday afternoon to watch the show, but that is all. It cannot have been that good as I remember the disapointment feeling and none of the plots

Anonymous said...

You think "Rocket Robin Hood" sucks? I think *you* suck!

Rocket Robin Hood was a very large part of my childhood. I watched it faithfully, every day. The good-guys-versus-bad-guys thing shaped my Character in many subtle ways.

And as an Adult, I decided to be a Good Guy.

Fighting Evil is lots of fun!

Anonymous said...

You are correct. Rocket Robin Hood is a terrible cartoon, but the theme songwas pretty groovy.

Anonymous said...

I think it was a great show. All the "cheesy" effects and animation short cuts made it more funny.

Frohickey said...

The show may well suck, but it's all worth it for the episode,"Dimentia Five."
Dr. Manta and his hideous giant beetles were pretty cool too.

Kramden66 said...

I wish i could see this show , it hasn't been on in my area of the USA since 1975 and all i have are a couple 16mm films , is there anyone that taped them i could get copies from ? btw Demension 5 and the one with the giant beetles were both converted into Spiderman stories .


Anonymous said...

I don't think Teletoon makes mistakes when they run shows like the old Hulk cartoon and Rocket Robin hood.

I actually enjoy these shows.. but I will say, I like them for the wrong reasons.

These shows make me laugh harder than most shows they play now.. sadly.. It follows the laughing "at" and not "with" principal.

I guess I just get a kick out of badly drawn characters and horrible cuts that make them look like they teleported from a desert to a mountain in the span of 2 seconds. By the end of it all my sides ache and I feel a lot less intelligent. But it's all in good fun.

Anonymous said...

rocket robin hood may have been the inspirition for starwars ...even one of the episodes was used in a spiderman show ,also the character robin hood was used in the cartoon captain nemo ...if it was remade today with more of a budget ,it would do well today...so heres to rocket robin hood ....

Mattieshoe said...

The really bizarre thing is,John Kricfalusi just LOVES Rocket Robinhood

apparently, it was a bigger inspiration to him then Bob Clampett!!!

don't believe me? see for yourself.


Anonymous said...

It might be 'cheesy', etc, but I loved it growing up, and still love watching it with my son now. It's one of his favourite shows, and he really gets into the concept of 'good guys' and 'bad guys.' We always have a good cheer when the bad guy loses in the end.

As to the people who voiced these characters also providing their talents for other shows...that's hardly new. Look at most Hanna Barbera cartoons. Mel Blanc made quite a living for himself voicing many cartoons, not just for Warner Brothers. He was one of the voices for Barney Rubble, and voiced Dino also! Take a look at many shows from the 60's, you'll see many character actors that look familiar. The old Dragnet had actors that might be villians in one episode, victims in another, and generally helpful in another.

If you don't like a show, you can always change the channel, or even turn the tv off.

Anonymous said...

Some of you say you watch Rocket Robin Hood, but laugh at it, not with it? The way you go on, I suspect you doth protest too much...there is nothing wrong with enjoying the show. I'm sure if you really felt the way you say, you should be able to find easier methods to amuse yourself.

Anonymous said...

RRH has got to have the most niggardly use of anamation in the history of the art. Its not much more than a narrated comic book with occassionaly animated mouths. Gotta love how they could float around in space without having the life sucked out of them.