When Things Were Rotten

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When Things Were Rotten
When Things Were Rotten cast photo 1975.JPG
Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Genre Parody
Situation comedy
Adventure
Created by Mel Brooks
Norman Stiles & John Boni
Directed by Norman Abbott
Bruce Bilson
Peter Bonerz
Marty Feldman
Peter H. Hunt
Jerry Paris
Coby Ruskin
Joshua Shelley
Starring Richard Dimitri
Richard Gautier
Bernie Kopell
Henry Polic II
Ron Rifkin
Misty Rowe
David Sabin
Dick Van Patten
Theme music composer Artie Butler
Country of origin USA
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13
Production
Producer(s) Mel Brooks
Stanley Jacob
Norman Steinberg
Running time 30 min.
Production company(s) Paramount Network Television
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run September 10, 1975 – December 3, 1975

When Things Were Rotten is an American situation comedy television series created in 1975 by Mel Brooks and aired for half a season by ABC.

A parody of the Robin Hood legend, the series starred Richard Gautier (who earlier had played Hymie the Robot in Brooks' Get Smart series) as Robin Hood. Also in the regular cast were Dick Van Patten as Friar Tuck, Bernie Kopell (another Get Smart veteran) as Alan-a-Dale, Henry Polic II as the Sheriff of Nottingham (whose name was Hubert), Ron Rifkin as Prince John, Misty Rowe as Maid Marian, and David Sabin as Little John. Richard Dimitri played a dual role as identical twin brothers; Renaldo was one of the Merry Men, while Bertram was the Sheriff's right-hand man.

Humor[edit]

One-liners, sight gags and literal humor were hallmarks of the show's style; e.g., complaining villagers, commanded to "Hold your tongues!," obediently reach into their mouths. In another episode, The Sheriff asked to hang the banners, with an immediate cutaway to a husband, a wife, and their two children on a wall, saying "Hi, we're the Banners." There was also occasional breaking of the fourth wall: in one episode, as one of Robin's men (Renaldo) was being interrogated, with an accuser (Little John) asking, "Are you ready to tell that to your maker?" Renaldo turns his head and looks off-camera, and says: "Mel! I didn't do it!"

Much of the humour was anachronistic, such as the occasion where Marian's ladies-in-waiting burst into the 1960s Supremes hit "Stop! In the Name of Love"; or when the Rock of Gibraltar had been destroyed, and a messenger brings Prince John the remaining chunk, to be told "I always wanted a piece of the rock," a reference to Prudential Insurance's successful slogan, "Own a piece of the Rock."

Also notable was the show's lampooning of 1970s social concerns; e.g., in the episode "Those Wedding Bell Blues," Prince John was preparing to sign a deal with OOPEC, an OPEC-like cartel whose chief export was olive oil. Prince John: "I'll control all the olive oil! Anyone who wants to make a salad will have to come to me!"

Theme Song[edit]

During the opening show credits, a satirical song "Yay for Robin Hood!" was performed:

"Once upon a time when things were rotten,
Not just food, but also kings and cotton,
Everybody kicked the peasants,
Things were bad and that ain't good,
Then came Robin Hood (Ta-daah!)

"Soon a band of merry men he'd gotten,
They wore outfits made of plain green cotton,
Helping victims was their business
Boy oh boy was business good,
Good for Robin Hood!

"They laughed, they loved, they fought, they drank,
They jumped a lot of fences,
They robbed the rich, gave to the poor
Except what they kept for expenses!

"So when other legends are forgotten
We'll remember back when things were rotten
Yay for Robin Hood!"

Cancellation[edit]

The rapid-fire, Mel Brooks style of comedy was out of place on network television of the era, so despite critical acclaim, the series failed to find an audience and was canceled after 13 episodes, with The Bionic Woman being its mid-season replacement, which was a great success.[1] Eighteen years later, Brooks produced another Robin Hood parody, the feature film Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Van Patten also appeared in the later film as an abbot.

The cancellation of When Things Were Rotten allowed Van Patten and Kopell to move on to more successful and long-running series — Eight is Enough and The Love Boat, respectively. Rifkin, meanwhile, would eventually become best known to modern-day audiences as the ambiguously villainous Arvin Sloane on Alias.

Home video and DVD[edit]

Several episodes of the series have been released on VHS in North America.

In April 2013, it was announced that the complete series would be released on DVD, as a manufactured-on-demand item exclusively available on Amazon.com's CreateSpace.[2]

Episodes[edit]

Title Air date
1 "The Capture of Robin Hood" 10.Sep.1975
2 "The French Dis-connection" 17.Sep.1975
3 "The House Band" 24.Sep.1975
4 "Those Wedding Bell Blues" 01.Oct.1975
5 "A Ransom for Richard" 08.Oct.1975
6 "The Ultimate Weapon" 15.Oct.1975
7 "Ding Dong, the Bell Is Dead" 22.Oct.1975
8 "There Goes the Neighborhood" 29.Oct.1975
9 "Quarantine" 12.Nov.1975
10 "Birthday Blues" 19.Nov.1975
11 "The Spy: Part 1" 26.Nov.1975
12 "The Spy: Part 2" 26.Nov.1975
13 "This Lance for Hire" 03.Dec.1975

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Bionic Woman (1976): Season 1". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2014-09-03. 
  2. ^ DVD release info at TVShowsOnDVD.com

External links[edit]