Rocket Robin and Maid Marian.


Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Grantray-Lawrence Animation
First Appeared: 1966
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Science fiction is apparently the most easily counterfeited genre in all story-telling media. Over the years, there have been hard-boiled detectives such as Star Hawkins covered with a veneer of …

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… sci-fi, westerns such as Bravestarr covered with a veneer of sci-fi, teenage humor such as Jetta of the 21st Century covered with a veneer of sci-fi, and many others. Possibly the thinnest such veneer is the one that inadequately covers Rocket Robin Hood, which is medieval adventure in extremely unconvincing science fiction drag.

In Rocket Robin Hood, even the main villain's headquarters looks like a medieval castle, despite the fact that it's set in the year 3000. Even the characters have the same names as those in the template from which is was cloned, such as Friar Tuck and Will Scarlet — with the partial exception of Rocket Robin himself, who had "Rocket" appended to his name so viewers would know they were watching something new, as opposed to a set of adventure tales going back back centuries. It was as if history had repeated itself exactly the way Karl Marx said it does — first as tragedy, then as farce.

Rocket Robin was, like his namesake (and ancestor), the stalwart hero of the piece. He was assisted by Maid Marian, Little John etc. (who had no such excuses for the duplication of names). From their stronghold on Sherwood Asteroid, they would sally forth to battle the evil of Prince John, who, as despotic ruler of N.O.T.T. (the National Outer-space Terrestrial Territories, which, if anything, makes even less sense than T.H.U.N.D.E.R. or S.H.I.E.L.D.), terrorized the entire galaxy. Not surprisingly, subordinate villains included The Sheriff of N.O.T.T.

Rocket Robin Hood was conceived and originally produced by The Guest Group, Toronto-based animators under the leadership of producer Al Guest, who were also responsible for Max the 2000-year-old Mouse and Professor Kitzel, a time traveler. It debuted in Canada on Oct. 9, 1966, and in the U.S. on the following January 2. In both countries, it was syndicated. Later, production moved to New York. Also involved was The Grantray-Lawrence Animation Studio, which was also responsible for the 1960s Marvel Superheroes cartoons, which were notorious for practically nonexistent animation, and production values even lower than normal standards of contemporary TV animation.

The first supervisor of this project was Shamus Culhane, who, from Snow White to Milton the Monster, had already distinguished himself in animation. He was succeeded by Ralph Bakshi, formerly of Terrytoons, who went on to Fritz the Cat, American Pop and many other feature-length cartoons. Voices included (among others) Ed McNamara (a couple of villains in the '60s Spider-Man) as Rocket Robin, Gillie Fenwick (villains in Captain America and The Hulk) as the Sheriff, and Paul Kligman (a couple of reindeer in the 1964 production of Rudolph) as Friar Tuck. It was narrated by Bernard Cowan (villains in Iron Man and Sub-Mariner). After the first season, Len Carlson (several voices in Beetlejuice) took over as Rocket Robin.

The show lasted three seasons in syndication, for a total of 52 episodes. Reruns have been seen as recently as 2005 on the Canadian cable station Teletoon.


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Text ©2006-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © The Guest Group.