Robin Of Sherwood: The Knights Of The Apocalypse
By Richard Carpenter; Performed by a full cast
2 Hours – CD or Digital Download [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Spiteful Puppet
Published: June 30, 2016
England in the reign of King John and a dark force is intent on conquest. Only the hooded man can stand against it… The church lies impotent at the mercy of the Pope and the interdict against the kingdom. With the people living in fear and a series of disappearances that threaten the very fabric of noble society, Robin ‘i’ the hood and his band of outlaws must race to rescue the past so that the future may be protected. A journey to Huntingdon and beyond Sherwood will see them battle their most dangerous enemy yet as Herne’s son faces The Knights of the Apocalypse…
If you close your eyes you’ll see it – it being a new two part episode of the classic ITV television series Robin Of Sherwood, minus the grainy 16mm film stock. From the opening Clannad theme – you’ll see it all – that brightly lit forest green, those grey stone castles and churches, the flashing swords, the flying arrows. You’ll of course hear them all too.
Early into The Knights Of The Apocalypse we learn that England is suffering under the “Interdict”, a punishment of all of England for King John’s offence of the Catholic Church. This really happened. The titular Knights of the Apocalypse, though fictional, are said to be a breakaway branch of the Knights Templar – and the ultimate historical destruction of the Templars is very effectively retroactively-foreshadowed in this production.
The two hours, in two parts, had me struggling with the heroes, thinking deep thoughts, rallying against the heavy hand of oppression, chuckling at the baddies, laughing with the heroes, worried at what might possibly happen next, then heart-warmed, and ultimately delighted at the lightfooted sweep all the little details added up to. This is an epic as big as The Swords Of Wayland and as revolutionary as Robin Hood And The Sorcerer.
Barnaby Eaton-Jones, the producer, seems to have made it his mission to make The Knights Of The Apocalypse as true to the original show as humanly possible. Soliciting initial funding using an indiegogo campaign, Eaton-Jones paired a script by the now deceased Richard Carpenter, Robin Of Sherwood‘s creator (he also wrote some of the show’s finest episodes), and tracked down every living member of the original cast to this production. The result is truly tremendous! It is amazing to hear the voices of that old cast once again – Mark Ryan (the brooding Saracen swordsman Nasir), Ray Winstone (forever the hot-headed Will Scarlet), Clive Mantle (smiling and gentle Little John), Jason Connery (that noble second incarnation of Robin, the hooded man), curly haired Judi Trott (voicing the summer maid of Sherwood, Marian), Phil Rose (the friendly friar, Tuck), and Peter Llewellyn Williams (Much, the simple miller’s son).
A lot of folks probably think of Alan Rickman as the most iconic Sheriff of Nottingham – he was terrific – but for me the worst (and by that I mean best) Sheriff of Nottingham will always be Nickolas Grace. Grace is back to his old tricks; playing that cowardly cartoon of law, that malefactor of injustice, all the while wonderfully dripping contempt and venom from every sour word. We get Grace in several scenes, including some with his equally contemptible brother, the Abbot Hugo, played wonderfully once again by Philip Jackson. A few of the voices are new, filling in for the deceased Robert Addie (Guy of Gisbourne) and Daniel Abineri (Herne, now played by his son). But we also get some audio drama stars like Colin Baker and Terry Molloy playing guest villains.
The Knights Of The Apocalypse is a magical experience. Its story will satisfy, so much so that it could slip-in right next to that final TV episode that aired June 28, 1986. No, this is not a reboot, not re-imagining, not a rerun – this is a reunification. You’ll be reunited in righteous camaraderie with the merry folk of Sherwood – doing the work that must be done, for the good of the people, and breaking the law as needs must.
In reading some of the other early reviews I think they’ve short-shrifted both the historicity and the timeliness (or maybe the timelessness) of what’s going on in The Knights Of The Apocalypse. This really isn’t just a story about how a cute cult TV show got a little fan service 30 years after the last episode aired. No, this is a story about power, politics, economics, about religion. This is a story about class and class struggle, human virtue and human vice. For who is King John, that off-screen terror, if not the hubristic government the governs for the rich and not for all? Who is the Sheriff of Nottingham if not a cynical functionary enforcing the unjust laws unequally, and for his own gain? And why is it, exactly, that an old folktale about a band of heroes who break the law for the good of the people so very, very resonant exactly 30 years (or approximately 550 years) after they were first told?
Here’s a recent piece of publicity:
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #372 – June 6, 2016 by George Allan England; read by Julie Davis of A Good Story Is Hard To Find. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (52 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Julie Davis, and Maissa Bessada.
June 6th, 2016 was first published in Collier’s in April 22, 1916.
Talked about in this episode:
as a story, a fine imagination about all the technologies we’ll have in the future, a time capsule to open after 100 years, storytelling aside…, accurate predictions?, a historical artifact, Looking Backwards, what were you thinking, nothing is accurate, a third right, if you squint real hard, a terrible plot, the sappiest romance, he foresaw Marilyn Monroe, he got texting, radio movies = television, any particular paragraph, technology and social change, alcohol isn’t made anymore, socialist pushing, prohibition, that experiment failed, smoking is still in fashion (but falling out of favor), unless you’re sanitized, he got Skype right (kinda), wouldn’t it be great if we could…, burning our clothes, everything is made of paper and only used once, paper underwear, it’s illegal to make noise or to be sick, as a dystopian story, “Repent, Harlequin!” Said The Ticktockman by Harlan Ellison, free public transit, everything is aluminum, everything is regulated, weather regulated, cloud seeding, from the Territory of Patagonia to the State of Labrador, the President of England, the 1970s push for the metric system in the USA, everyone is cooperating now, the United States of Asia, the Asian fleet is stationed in Hawaii, Japan or China, they made NAFTA really work, the TPP, a 2016 airplane that’s already broken, the anti-grav element, automation from a distance, the self driving car, the “Tesla” thing, more Philip K. Style, 250km per hour, the Trans-Atlantic aircraft, how amazing that would have sounded, he got some things right, why this story is so extraordinary, Philip K. Dick’s 2016, a slice of life from one day 100 years into the future, what he got right, 28 million people live in New York, a social trend that nobody predicted (except for Clifford Simak), Make Room, Make Room, Stand On Zanzibar, what Science Fiction is doing, the “where’s my flying car” or “where’s my jetpack?” phenomenon, obsessed with hygine, Purell everywhere, there’s no crime in this story, she was promised more rain, what makes one a great writer, the human element, the essence of the story, the role of women, a 1960s lady, and his heart melted, businesses actually paying their taxes, the kind of socialism we can get behind, everyone knows what everyone is doing all the time, everybody knows where everybody is, convenience vs. Big Brother, everyone has everything they need, children are to be seen and not heard, where’s the children, Brave New World without the drugs, Soma in the ozoneators, the women’s suffrage movement, the Prohibition movement, every leap year women got the opportunity to ask men to marry them, marriage, cellphones (or satphones) telepathy, a slidewalk as in The Roads Must Roll by Robert A. Heinlein, Iridium Satphone, an urgent telepathic call from Hong Kong, bluetooth technology, the Sub-Atlantic tube, a trans-atlantic tunnel, Channel Tunnel, email, video ads on the subway, newspapers are completely gone, how much would George Allan England like us talking about this story on this date?, headphones, what a world of wonders we do live in, to George, we’re not there yet (for non-commercial cremation), filling in New York harbour, we bend nature to our will, the big eugenics thing, the eugenics board, the fallacy of eugenics, Muhammad Ali, how fallible and foolish people are, alcohol going out of fashion, turning off alcohol would be like banning marriage, The Drunken Botanist, the benefits of alcohol, people in 9,000bc, the archaic art of letter writing, a little gesture of the time, investing in the characters, the PDF is a bit hard to read, muting the feminine philosophy, feminism, he will make more in the end, the images, did the art come first and the story follow?, etherically connected, centrally regulated atomic clocks, a Pickwick Papers situation, Charles Dickens, the illustrator died, monthly installments, the invention of the cliffhanger, Paul is related to Charles Dickens.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1881, 1882, Julie’s Mark Twain obsession, realistic fiction, children’s literature, reading with teenagers, old books teach you their vocabulary, quasi-historical fiction, Tom Sawyer, something classier, Sir Walter Scott, like Dickens-lite, sooo Dickens!, Huckleberry Finn, young people of all ages, anything public domain was marketed for children, appealing to children, sympathetic characters, lacking wry cynicism, less biting, he’s an anglophile, making points, how do we treat people, trading places, The Pickwick Papers, Nicholas Nickleby, Bleak House, the progress of an author, everybody knows the story, enters the popular culture like a fable, a meta-issue, where’s the science fiction and the fantasy?, Jesse’s thinking, The Prisoner Of Zenda, Ruritania, inspired by, precursors, an immediate classic, that Ringo (1974) movie, Carrie Fisher, that Monty Python thing, so much fun, and his talentless half brother, Vincent Price, John Ritter, chock-full of fun, The Man In The Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas, Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein, this phenomenon, replacing the king, Citizen Of The Galaxy, the influence of Twain is in SF, Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, the Wishbone adaptation, way down into the culture, Dave (with Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver), Moon Over Parador with Richard Dreyfuss, in that continuum, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, research and divergence, footnotes, Edward, Lady Jane Gray, Star Trek: Mirror, Mirror, parrallel worlds, Freaky Friday, so many avenues, Big with Tom Hanks, swapped identity, genre defining, what it says on the tin, parody versions, The Monkees, 25 minutes of ridiculous, The Monkees a fake version of The Beatles, Twain’s Joan Of Arc book, incredibly well plotted, dreaming the life of a king, Tom is the king of Offal Court, crazy, King of the Gamecocks and King Foofoo, Miles Hendon’s story is parallel to Prince Edward’s plot, it goes really deep, Tom’s two sisters, Nan and Bess, Mary and Elizabeth, everybody gets to be king or queen for a day, queen for nine days, Mary’s short reign, Elizabeth’s long reign, a lot of pain and torture and unjust punishment and superstition, the psychological irony, every king should live by the laws of his subjects, the Blue Laws, pardonings, wise judgement, chapter 22/23, not a joke book, situational humour, doing the Robin Hood thing, the Ruffler, a beggar who refuses to beg, threatening the tinker with a soldering iron, a thief who won’t steal, putting a clime on him, a cant term for an ulcer, a slatternly woman and a diseased baby on the side of the road, an here’s the recipe, the mother daughter witches, witchcraft, the wisdom of Solomon from the mouths of babes, foolishly wise, native common sense, hath it always this dread effect?, a parallel scene, when Edward is in gaol as Tom, the crime of being Baptists, who burned?, burned at the stake, Tom had watched a procession, crisp flesh, some gruesome stuff, not a satire, straightforward historical (romanticized), Errol Flynn as Miles Hendon in the 1937 movie, the Oliver Reed movie adaptation (1977), tainted by Ringo, too heavy, Ernest Borgnine, Rachel Welch, interchangeable beauty, you monster!, he’s Errol Flynn-ing it all over the place, a heavy focus on the Miles story, Charlton Heston as Henry VIII, he was every historical male figure, all the time travelers form the 1970s movies, Miles’ brother is sent to the American colonies and becomes a politician, making it more satirical, the 1977 adaptation is very faithful to the novel, comedy, Edith, the children’s hospital, when Twain visited Europe he bought a lot of books, after his ordeal, teachings out of books, The Merchant Of Venice, reading the classics, I’ll make a classic tale, as if it has been with us forever, absolutely historical fiction and yet…, a Disney version, a timeless story, remember the humanity of the people around us, applying your humanity, anchor in reality, the kids, forgoing the crazy laws, I’m going to honor children always, meta-stuff, a short reign, the romantic relationship, she spurns Tom and marries a rich old Earl, Romeo And Juliet, twin brother from another mother, Ivanhoe, close enough, about as far away from SFF as Jesse will go, Moby Dick, Wrath Of Khan, William Shatner is the white whale, Patrick Stewart, the whipping boy, “to cheapen miracles by wasteful repetition”, he’s going places, what do you do with your time?, the Prince’s eyes flashed, speak on, we wade and swim in the canals, reality was so dreary, be careful what you wish for, the grass is always greener, delicious irony, adults child relationships, Mark Twain’s relationship with Dorothy Quick, on a trans-Atlantic crossing, a Disney movie about their relationship, Dorothy Quick was a Weird Tales poet, a New York Times obituary for March 16th, 1962:
DOROTHY QUICK, POET AND AUTHOR
Mystery Writer Dies – Was Friend of Mark Twain
Mrs. Dorothy Quick Mayer of 880 Park Avenue and East Hampton, L.I., a writer who treasured a childhood friendship with Mark Twain, died yesterday at her home here after a long illness.
Miss Quick was a girl of 11 in 1907 when she met the famous author on an Atlantic crossing. She was returning to Plainfield, N.J., from Europe with her parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry Quick.
Recognizing Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) by his wavy hair and white suit, she walked around and around the deck, passing very slowly by his chair each time, until he finally came over and introduced himself.
“It was the beginning of a friendship that was to last until the very day of his death,”  she recalled in 1954.
After the voyage she received a telegram from Twain asking whether she would prefer as a birthday present “one elephant or 10,000 monkeys.” She replied that she would prefer his books – which he sent her, along with a tiny white elephant.
Her memories of Mark Twain were published last year by the University of Oklahoma Press under the title “Enchantment.”
Miss Quick was married in 1925 to John Adams Mayer, who died in 1940. She continued to write under her maiden name. Her collected poems were published by the University Press, Washington. She also wrote mystery stories and contributed a weekly column for many years to newspapers in East Hampton and Riverhead, L.I.
Since 1960 Miss Quick had been honorary president of the Mark Twain Association of New York. Her other literary memberships included the P.E.N. Club, Pen and Brush, the National League of American Penwomen, the Brooklyn Poetry Circle, Women Poets of New York, and the Society of Composers, Artists and Authors.
over-sexualizing everything, Jack London and H.G. Wells, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens, a persuasive fan letter, Poe and Dickens had a private lunch, my pet raven, the end of Barnaby Rudge, a can of leaded paint, Poe had been struggling with a particular poem: The Raven, Dickens is the epitome of success, his reviews, there’s a reason why, put that in, worth a reread!
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1890, Oscar Wilde, Lipincott’s Magazine, a meeting at the Langham hotel August 30, 1889, The Picture Of Dorian Gray, a golden evening, years vs. six weeks, Doyle’s massive output, Wilde’s one novel, a whole new story, a Sherlock Holmes melting pot, Jeremy Brett adaptation, Mystery!, Masterpiece Theater, the 1983 cartoon, great visuals, the Sherlockiana, cocaine begins and ends the book, A Study In Scarlet, Watson is done already, black armbands, “an old adventure”, so Aspergery, Psychology Today, a patriotic obligation, the Andaman Islander, wrapped into a romance, 120 different kinds of tobacco ash?, worrying about details, movable wounds, misshapen heads, the Andaman Islands, they may not even have fire (technology), that’s still a thing, stone age, low on metal, Conan Doyle’s omnivorous interests, Joseph Bell, Jonathan Small has big willpower, a supervillain with a conscience, a sympathetic villain, blacks vs. whites, if Seth were here, we four should enter into a tontine, a recipe for murder, a group investment scheme, the strand with the romance, holding hands, Mary’s disdain for money makes her more attractive to Watson, the Agra treasure, the golden barrier, very chemical, significant looks, love is an emotional thing opposed to true cold reason, A Scandal In Bohemia, The Valley Of Fear, Sherlock Holmes vs. the Ku Klux Klan, the Mormon community, The Five Orange Pips, Philip K. Dick was reading histories of WWII, Doyle was reading the newspaper, a mystery romance, he’s overthinking it, go out and get Toby, the Baker St. irregulars, he does a chemical analysis, Sherlock Holmes tropes, deerstalkers, like wearing a hunting jacket in NYC, warm tweeds, Watson calls Holmes an “automaton”, Fred Saberhagen’s Berserkers, Cylons, the Borg, he forgets to kill all humans, Wings Out Of Shadow, the Red Baron, a deducing machine, allowing for expansion, the little nuggets allow participation in the experience, Agatha Christie, waiting for plot development to happen, two knights errant, Mr. Spock, Edgar Allan Poe’s C. August Dupin, consulting detectives, tales of ratiocination, The Purloined Letter, a government official who has lost a document, solves, Zadig by Voltaire, full blown Science Fiction, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Phileas Fogg is clock-like, he loves the fog, there is no hot-air balloon in Around The World In Eighty Days, The Seven-Percent Solution, a chase on the river Thames, Robert Downey, Jr., disabling spleens, hidden talents, an improvisational violinist, I am an excellent housekeeper, Professor Challenger, Otto Penzler, Neil Gaiman, The Big Book Of Sherlock Holmes, someone with vast interests, The White Company, off to look at The Lost World, dinosaurs, fairies, spiritualism, false-imprisonment, warships of the future, spaceships?, the conversations between Oscar Wilde and Conan Doyle, you seem great – come and talk to us, Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: The Undiscovered County, one of Spock’s ancestors, Spock as a descendant of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The original Wrath Of Khan, Charles Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities, Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, Genesis, the A Good Story Is Hard To Find podcast, the war in India, horse, foot and gunners, blowing our own bugles, we’re still that stupid, the 1857 Sepoy rebellion, tallow and lard greased cartridges, the ultimate topper, repeating the cycle, the American Revolution, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin radicalized Thomas Paine, Common Sense by Thomas Paine, you have to reject monarchy, a petition to King George, Paine was right, BBC Radio 4: In Our Time, like a ministerial briefing, nobody looks at history, Doyle is dropping little comments in there, he’s super-anti-racist, rotten families, looking at it a little more cynically, taking-off the romantic blinders, super-human strength, murder, don’t call the police, corruption, ultimately underneath all of it is corruption all the way up and down, human nature, otherwise you have no story, notice Sherlock Holmes never gets paid?, he lays out money, this is why he needs a roommate, class, child labour laws, latch key kids, free-ranging kids, homeless kids, Seth we miss you, Maissa’s son, is Martin Freeman Hollywood’s choice to represent the British everyman?, homo-eroticism, Sherlock‘s entire focus is on the will-they or won’t-they?, Mary in Sherlock, derivative fiction, it is not an adaptation, Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings, stuffed up a chimney, Without A Clue, Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine, John Watson: The Crime Doctor, The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, Billy Wilder, homosexuality, a twinkle, Maissa’s local video store is still open!
Posted by Jesse Willis
This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (4 hours 24 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.org. The Sign Of The Four was first published in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, February 1890.
The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #342 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and David Stifel discuss the audiobook of Beyond Thirty by Edgar Rice Burroughs (narrated by David Stifel)
Talked about on today’s show:
All-Around Magazine, 1916, a peek into 1916s subconscious, not even really a novel, a future history, reading the dispatches from the Western Front, mechanized war, how WWI was affecting consciousness, spiraling into barbarism, J.R.R. Tolkien, L. Ron Hubbard’s Final Blackout, Genesis Of The Daleks, a simple plot, a very relaxing book, a mediation, what is Burroughs’ conclusion?, boringly peaceful, excruciatingly peaceful, an American Libertarian utopia, the corrupting influence of civilization, Europe has blown itself back to the stone age, the Lusitania, the Spanish American War, Cuba, the Philippines, 175 east, 30 west, the Monroe doctrine, the Zimmerman Telegram, a moment of the American psyche captured in time, 1913-1921, push pull of expansionism and isolationism, the Japanese are the British of Asia, the Japan Russia war, the story of Pearl Harbor before Pearl Harbor, the cruiser Maine explosion, Yellow Journalism, “Screw Spain and Remember the Maine”, the novel’s premise is kind of crazy and yet…, Crime Think, historical precedent, Zheng He’s treasure ships, China, Japan, Korea, the Hermit Kingdom, Perry, global village, provincialism, American policy on Cuba, taboos end, we’ve bought into the premise, tigers and lions in England, tigers in Africa, Simba the Lioness (nee the Tigress), the Tigers and Lions and Elephants of London, the African veldt in England, a setting for a planetary romance, Beyond The Farthest Star, Caspak, Tarzan, the Mars and Venus books, the gravity shield, the airship/submarines, the narrator is extremely naive, a sequel that wasn’t written, hanging threads, being a slave, Burroughs’ subconscious is all over the page, the U.S. Civil War, Birth Of A Nation, some of the racism, they are essentially the Romans, the Asian empire, the Yellow Peril and the Black Menace, all the white women sent off to the evil emperor’s harem, what did we think of Queen Victory?, more spunk than Deja Thoris, John Carter (2012), the Tharks, a flea jumping around, we could have a Woola sequel, a Minion movie, the Ralph Bakshi Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings in a week, Beyond Thirty would make a good comic book, the literacy of the Abyssinian, our hero is from Arizona, Beyond 175 would be the sequel, recolonizing England as a sequel?, “chastened and forgiven Europe”, Buckingham the Brute, they don’t even have fathers any more, 200 years of devolution, the sunken depths, “it may as well as have been nuked”, “stay out of this mess, Europe is doomed”, died at his desk, tigers and lions sitting on the throne, “Burroughs not a symbolism guy he’s a Roddenberry guy”, the two Gene Roddenberry pilots from the 1970s, Andromeda, Planet Earth, Genesis 2, the DVDs, the Earth is going to be fine, lamenting the lack of war, worried about footpads, remember Teddy Roosevelt, Bully!, manly escapades, a pan-American peace, target practice, Voltaire’s Candide, “that Volatire guy”, Manifest Destiny and the American Wild West, Europe as the new frontier, he’s the new Columbus, interesting animals, everyone in Pan-America speaks Pan-Am (English), the cultural memory loss in Europe and the language gain in South America is kind of suspicious, Hispanic names, homogenization, L. Sprague deCamp’s Viagens Interplanetarias, Brazilian Portuguese, Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, Firefly, a hidden history, a constriction, that’s my head cannon (?), antelopes all over Europe, just Africa transported north, a very relaxing book, enjoying Burroughs like a vacation, not a lot a depth, very little symbolism, its fun, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes, David is speaking with the Burroughs estate, running out of public domain Burroughs, a huge stockpile of Burroughs still under copyright, not counting the mundane worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1923-1949, the Caspak series, Amtor, he built himself a rocketship, the Venus series, a tropical rainforest, a sidebar, S.M. Stirling’s re-imagining of the Mars and Venus books, red-striped tigers, bird-people, and a beautiful princess, it’s his thing, this romance thing, The Outlaw Of Torn, his take on the Three Musketeers, brute strength and manly men, Under The Moons Of Mars, from the early 1930s, Pirates Of Venus, Lost On Venus, like the first three Mars books.
Posted by Jesse Willis