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"They've got the power, they've got the weapons. All we've got is a Rasta, a wally, and a bearded avocado."—Marian
Maid Marian And Her Merry Men was a children's Sitcom made by The BBC, based on Robin Hood and written by Tony Robinson, who also played the Sheriff. Calling it a kids' version of Blackadder is trite and obvious, but also, to a certain extent true. Only much more surreal.
The concept was that Robin wasn't a noble outlaw hero at all, but a clueless yuppie who had inadvertently got involved with the revolutionary schemes of Maid Marian, presented here as the real brains behind the operation. Joining them were Little Ron (a violent dwarf), Rabies (a large and very stupid peasant) and Barrington (a Rasta, despite Rastafarianism not existing yet). Much to Marian's exasperation, none of them were particularly reliable, least of all Robin, who spent most of his time designing their outfits (except when he started believing the hype and thinking he was the leader).
Prince John, technically the leader of the forces of opression (or "Ye Baddies", as the credits had it), was usually portrayed as an unstable raving lunatic, leaving the actual scheming to his Dragon, the Sheriff of Nottingham. The Sheriff's two Mooks, Gary and Grahame, were almost as stupid as Rabies.
Since Marian and the Sheriff were the only intelligent people within walking distance (the villagers were just as bad), they were usually the only ones the other felt they could talk sensibly with, even though they were on opposing sides. Somehow, this never made the Sheriff look like a Punch Clock Villain; he was just biding his time til he could catch the whole gang.
Later seasons added two new Baddies: Rotten Rose Scargill, Marian's Rival Turned Evil with a crush on Robin, and Guy of Gisbourne, John's childlike, and borderline deranged, nephew.
- Action Girl
- Anachronism Stew: Virtually everything that happens. Despite being set in The Dung Ages, it still manages to have a Rastafarian (identified as such), a telethon, belief in space aliens and sell-by date laws. Amongst many other examples.
- One episode contains numerous references to Paul McCartney and his then-wife Linda.
- Anticlimactic Parent: Marian never admitted to her mother that she was an outlaw. This leads the main characters to keep up the charade of being The Merry Dentists. However, when Marian is captured, her mum leads the rescue effort and ultimately reveals she has her own geriatric gang of outlaws.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: The show a very good example of the second kind. The show featured a considerable amount of slapstick (mostly mess), though almost no actual violence, but Maid Marian herself is practically never a victim, even when all of the rest of her band are. The worst that happened to her was a bucket of water, once. Admittedly Rose once got paint poured over her, but then Rose is a villain (The trope seems to apply slightly less strongly to female villains).
- Though in the season 4 premire episode where she was pelted with mud while her and Rose were tied up together thanks to Guy. Of course that was nothing compared to what happened to two of the bad guys that episode as the Merry Men had set up a maze specifically designed to get them Covered in Gunge. However Marian also received the mazes final big gunging, it happened off screen but we did get to see the aftermath IIRC.
- Big Bad: King John
- Card-Carrying Villain: The Sheriff (whose hobbies include lying, cheating and poking small children with sticks) and Prince John.
- Catch Phrase "UNDERSTAND?". (King John as coda to his latest threat to do something nasty if the Sheriff fails in carrying out his orders.)
- Celebrity Impersonator: Parodied in an episode where they discover there is a celebrity impersonator of Robin Hood, whom the Sheriff hires to frame Robin. That's right, professional celebrity impersonators in The Dung Ages.
- Cool Old Lady: Gladys
- Covered in Gunge: This tended to happen to people a lot
- Crowd Song: At least Once an Episode, often with Lampshade Hanging.
- Different As Night and Day: Subverted, everyone expects Richard the Lionheart to reclaim his kingdom and sort everything out but he turns out to be John's Just As Evil Twin.
- The Ditz: Guy of Gisbourne.
- Dreadlock Rasta: Barrington. Specifically described as a Rasta on several occasions, despite living centuries before Rastafarianism existed. He sometimes acts as a sort of narrator for the ongoing events.
- The Dung Ages: Mud is seen as both a currency and a dietary staple.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Sometimes even the Sheriff was disgusted by some of King John's characteristics.
King John: I will do such disgusting things to you that even the torturers will say "UUUUGH!" and ask to leave the room!
- Everyone Meets Everyone: The first episode is even called "How The Gang Got Together."
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Robin Hood was mistaken for being the leader of the merry men, even though it was Marian
- Five-Man Band
- The Fool: Robin. Actually, most of the cast...
- Fourth Wall Psych: During the 'telethon' in the episode "Little Brown Noses".
- Gentle Giant: Rabies
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Barrington the Rasta is the Cat
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: The show features one in each camp, the titular heroine to Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Both double as the Only Sane (Wo)man of their respective sides.
- Important Haircut: Marian cuts her hair at the beginning of series four, in an attempt to look tougher. The DVD commentary states that the actress had cut her hair for a play in between seasons, and didn't have time to grow it again.
- Jive Turkey: Barrington.
- Keep-Away: Used as a spoof of Rugby. Just to add to the spoof, they're using an actual egg.
- With running commentary by Graham.
- Large Ham: John, who is something of a Brian Blessed Expy, sans beard.
- Margaret Thatcher: Had a house repairer character called 'Margaret The Thatcher'.
- Medieval Morons: Similarly present here, where Marian and the Sheriff are the only characters with two brain cells to rub together.
- Minion with an F In Evil: Garry and Grahame. They're inept to the point Marian and co quite like them when they're not pursuing them on Nottingham's orders.
- Namesake Gag: The episode "A Game Called John" revolves around the invention of a game that involves moving balls around on a cloth-covered table, which is named in honour of Prince John until he decides he doesn't want it and gives it away, with all naming rights, to a random peasant -- whose name turns out to be Snooker.
- Not So Different: Both the Sheriff and Marian are far more intelligent than the idiots surrounding them and easily frustrated and exasperated by their stupidity.
- Only Sane Man: Marian for Ye Goodies and the Sheriff for Ye Baddies.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: For all Marian's preaching about being freedom fighters the merry men mainly spend their time doing school activities and dysfunctional flat sharing. Lampshaded by Little Ron.
- Playing Against Type: Tony Robinson's most famous role is the imbecilic Bumbling Sidekick Baldrick in Blackadder, a complete 180 from the savvy, intelligent Sheriff. In fact, one gets the feeling that Robinson fancied playing Blackadder for a change. (With Gary and Grahame as his Baldricks.)
- Rival Turned Evil: Rotten Rose.
- Shout-Out: Plenty. Not least of which- Hang on! We're playing Chronic The Hedgehog! It's the first time we've ever got up to level four! And he hasn't been zapped by the crabs once!
- Stalker with a Crush. Rose again.
- Stockholm Syndrome: King John's torture victims are horrified by the idea of leaving the torture chamber and going to live in the world with all its stress and fast carts and modern technology (like pointy sticks)
- Terrible Trio: The Sheriff, Gary and Graham.
- Tickle Torture: Happens in the first episode
- Upperclass Twit: Robin.
- Visual Pun: In one episode, the Sherriff is collecting taxes. This includes a large carpet (the carpet tax) and a small mint (the Tic Tax).
- You Mean "Xmas": Invoked and parodied. The Sheriff of Nottingham and his henchmen, Gary and Grayhame, invent a public holiday called "Bloopy" in order to get out of trouble with King John, and every single cynical thing ever said about Christmas applies to Bloopy as well. Also, Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) becomes "P-p-p-p-p-p-p-pancake Day!"