"Come gather around me. Space travellers surround me. Hark now to the ballad of Rocket Robin Hood. I may well confound you, astound you, spellbound you, with heroes and villains, the bad and the good. Watch now as our rockets race here from afar. For now, with our Robin, we live on a star." "Three. Two. One. Blast off! Band of brothers, marching together. Heads held high in all kinds of weather. With fiery blasts, our roaring rockets rise, beyond the Earth, beyond the skies! At the side of Robin, take your stand, with the gallant leader of our band. Send a joyous shout throughout the land! For Rocket Robin Hood!"To a generation of Canadians, with childhood between 1966 and 1984, the legend of Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest is more recognisable as that of Rocket Robin Hood of Sherwood Asteroid, Space Age version and descendant of the medieval outlaw, who, accompanied by such latter-day Merry Men as brawny Little John, "pleasingly plump" Friar Tuck, and spirited, red-goateed Will Scarlet, continues his ancestor's crusade against heavy taxation, despotism, and the general forces of evil.
Rocket Robin Hood was produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and later in New York City from 1966 to 1969. Al Guest of Toronto had been founder and leader of "The Guest Group", a team of cartoon animators that formed into Trillium Productions to bring the Merry Men of the future to television. Krantz Films of New York, the company also responsible for Spiderman (1967-70) and two series of six-minute cartoons that recounted periods and personalities in history and featured the museum-inhabiting Max the 2000-Year-Old Mouse and the quirky, time machine inventor, Professor Kitzel, financed and had ownership of the project.
In addition to some of the staff for Grantray-Lawrence Animation's The Marvel Superheroes (1966-8; also a Krantz Films property), Guest requisitioned illustrator talent from places as far away from Canada as England and Spain. Per-episode budgets reached a high of $18,000, prompting company chief executive Steven Krantz to hire and send Ralph Bakshi to Toronto to oversee what Krantz considered to be a problematic production. Bakshi replaced Shamus Culhane of "The Guest Group" as the Rocket Robin Hood in-animation-studio producer, and the style of the television series underwent a distinctly noticeable change at this time. Differences of opinion on matters creative and financial and consequent quarrels in Trillium offices resulted in Bakshi departing Toronto and moving production of remaining episodes to New York City.
The writers of Rocket Robin Hood evidently had a tongue-in-cheek penchant for mixing past with future (i.e. old Earth time periods with the Space Age) and myth with fantasy, with a Gothic motif distinguishing the backgrounds of many later episodes to a desirable spooky effect. However, the production as a whole does suffer from poor cartoon animation, several half-baked sequels to earlier episodes so that animation, even dialogue, could be reused wholesale, and an arguably stereotypical pair of continuing villains, greedy, money-grubbing tyrant Prince John and the Sheriff of N.O.T.T., whose overweening ineptitude becomes so laughable as to nullify whatever attempt there may be at instilling a sense of menace. It is not surprising that Rocket Robin Hood does not enjoy the critical success of the other Krantz Films cartoon animation properties. Halliwell's Television Companion, while saying that Spiderman was, "...quite stylishly done," describes Rocket Robin Hood as, "Undistinguished cartoon capers." But it was, by and large, great fun! For Generation X, it was the equivalent of the Saturday matinee serials of the 1930s and 1940s. And at its best, with its most effective episodes, a downright scary space opus.
The speed of light is recognised in one instance as being impossible to surpass, and yet easy, fast interstellar travel is frequently referred to or accomplished, with no mention of how it is achieved. Space is said to be an airless void in some episodes, while in others humans or other air-breathing creatures can survive in the vacuum of space for quite some time without the necessary attire. However, Rocket Robin Hood is innocent fantasy. It is set far in the future, the Earth year 3000, when scientific possibilities are nearly infinite. Lapses in continuity can be forgiven and disbelief can be suspended, because the notion that distant descendants of Robin Hood's men will all look the same as their ancestors, share a sense of social justice, and come together to vanquish evil, is enticing enough to command the unwavering attention of young or young-at-heart viewers.
Indeed, the nobly altruistic, fighting-against-evil raison d'etre of the latter-day Merry Men can be said to redeem some of the lamer episodes with Prince John and the Sheriff, for it does convey to young audiences a distinct code of morality, in contrast to Prince John's unmitigated avarice and unremittingly despotic attitudes.
Having been mostly produced in Canada, Rocket Robin Hood has understandably received more exposure in the Great White North than elsewhere. Syndicated in the 1970s and 1980s for broadcast, in no particular episodic sequence, on television stations (affiliates of the CBC, CTV, and Global networks) in Canada's various regions, Rocket Robin Hood tended to be shown as a Saturday morning offering, though sometimes, it was seen on weekdays.
Rocket Robin Hood was formatted exactly like The Marvel Superheroes, with each half-hour episode composed of three 6 to 7 minute segments, and with cliffhangers ending segments one and two and a recap occurring at the start of segments two and three. Each segment was assigned its own title, though the title at the start of segment one is supposed to be the one for the whole episode. However, some of the more amusing titles were attached to the second or third segments of Robin's adventures, including "Say Aaah, or Hot Tonsils", as the third segment title for "The Eternal Planet of Romarama", and "Planet, Planet, Who's Got the Planet?" titling segment two of "The Incredible Gem of Cosmo Khan".
Between the segments of each episode are descriptions of some of the Rocket Robin Hood characters, with appropriately amusing superlatives, and mated with rapid scenes demonstrating the characters' abilities, personalities, habits, or other attributes.
"Rocket Robin Hood, the happy outlaw of outer-planetary 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, 3000." "Strongest member of Rocket Robin Hood's band is Little John, the brawniest spaceman ever to rocket through the cosmos in the fantastic years to come. This Goliath of the galaxies has the might of a cosmic Hercules, the brute force of an unleashed meteor, combined with a truly super weapon- the electro-quarterstaff. Little John, whose great strength is tempered with a simple, good-hearted kindness toward all living things. Mightiest of Rocket Robin Hood's Merry Men in the amazing years to come- Little John." "When the problems of Rocket Robin Hood call for 'heavy' thinking, then it's time for the one and only Friar Tuck to come to the rescue. Some, like the wicked Sheriff of N.O.T.T., think him fat, foolish, and not worth worrying about. But don't you believe it! Friar Tuck, whose courage is as tremendous as his appetite, is just one of the astounding space characters in the merry band of Rocket Robin Hood in the fantastic years to come." "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."The cartoon animation quality is uneven and at times incontrovertibly poor, always limited but in the first season more blatantly so- because the backgrounds are not impressive enough to compensate for scarce character movement- an inherent problem with The Marvel Superheroes' cartoon animators, it would seem, and a liability that was no doubt a factor in Steven Krantz's dissatisfaction with the expensive production of Rocket Robin Hood in its first season. Fight scenes often consist of Little John's fist moving toward "the camera", a starry effect denoting impact, and a helmeted N.O.T.T. soldier falling to ground or floor, while the limit to the backgrounds of first season and some second season episodes is a lush but somehow bleak-looking Sherwood Asteroid, barren neighbouring worlds, and the scarcely furnished N.O.T.T. Castle, with occasional planetary orbs seen in the skies.
For Season 3, and many episodes of Season 2, standard close-ups of characters were used, with lip movement superimposed. A consequent hefty reduction in cartoon animation costs allowed for more funds and attention to go to layout and background as the series shifted away from the space opera of the battle with N.O.T.T. headquarters to such pure science fiction/fantasy as a living planetary organism, a sun-extinguishing "Lord of the Shadows", and a frightening fifth dimension where weirdest thoughts become real. Part of the way through Season 2, Ralph Bakshi funded airfare to Toronto for Warner Brothers cartoons' stalwart background designer Richard H. Thomas, to whom Bakshi assigned the task of modifying the look of the "amazing years to come". It has been speculated that the background artists under Thomas' guidance for the third season were "tripping" on LSD while they were working. Use of bizarre milieu of the kind that made the last segment of 2001- A Space Odyssey a psychedelic experience, is Rocket Robin Hood's most defining trait, and it is precisely these episodes that are best remembered by young viewers of the television series.
Backgrounds of Season 3 defy satisfying verbal description, but this writer will attempt it. Continued bleak settings were rendered darker. Hideous rock formations, for instance those on the asteroid controlled by Dr. Manta in "From Menace to Menace", are sometimes adorned with hanging vines and surrounded by wastelands with decayed but oddly symmetrical patterns of lines and cracks in the soil, giant, exposed stalagmites, crags, winding rivers, and leafless trees with jagged branches. Medieval castles of Gothic architecture and tall, mushroom-shaped towers are situated in these unnerving locales, with skies filled with planets, crescent moons pointing downward, and multi-coloured nebulae as ubiquitous in the cosmic vacuum as clouds on Earth. Technological alien civilisations have spiral streets and stairs, microchip-shaped or top-heavy buildings with cathedral-like windows, reel-to-reel computer tapes, conspicuous levers, a laser cannon having a vertical, transparent energy tube with the power source shown building upwards in the tube, electric arcs joining a machine with a miniature sphere, and monorail cars.
In such completely outlandish places, a literally black villain develops his army of cat shadows which emerge from a circular pool of liquid suspended in mid-air, mechanical mummies and a huge, flying sphinx are controlled by a descendant of King Tut, and an unscrupulous scientist uses a device to mentally manipulate a planet's elements, turning plants, craters, and volcanoes into devouring monsters. Audacious material for an animated cartoon television series of narrow budget!
Equally effective is the music, including such melodies as an instrumental rendition of the main title song, played whenever Sherwood Asteroid is introduced and probably meant to signify brotherhood and good will. An "old technology" theme frequently plays over long, fading shots of machinery, for example when Tondo, the "underground gentleman" of "Lord of the Shadows", briefs Robin on the history and achievements of the indigenous race of the planet invaded by Dr. Nocturne, and when the Minutiae civilisation is first shown in "Space Giant". A music of similar feel is used in other scenes in which Robin and the Merry Men meet alien races or speculate on the nature of a menace, such as that of "Dementia Five". A tune sounding like two drumsticks being clapped together accompanies the emergence of a problem or challenge, like Baron Blank's setting of a trap for Robin and Will Scarlet in "Who'll Kill Rocket Robin?", or the surrounding of Robin and friends by the robot mummies in "The Solar Sphinx". One of the most haunting pieces of music in the series is the synthesised piano/pipe mix which plays over Robin and Little John's ordeal in "Dementia Five" and with the first appearance of the Flying Dutchman in "The Ghost Pirates". It is also heard at length in "Dr. Mortula".
Voice talent in this television series is of high calibre, with the late Bernard Cowan (various voices for the 1967-70 Spiderman television series) narrating and Ed McNamara, whose acting credits include Silver Streak (1976) and Bayo (1985), providing the resonant tones of Rocket Robin. Len Carlson, who was the voice of the seagull in CTV's The Waterville Gang (1972-3) and has announced for several CTV game shows, substituted for McNamara at times in Season 3. Chris Wiggins, best known as the patriarch of The Swiss Family Robinson (1974-5), voiced the witty and reverent Will Scarlet and such fearsome foes of the Merry Men as Infinata, the overlord of "Dementia Five", and Baron Blank of planet Blotto. Paul Kligman's piercing characterisation of fusspot Friar Tuck is similar to his rather shrilly nattering J. Jonah Jameson of Spiderman (1967-70), Len Birman instated an appropriate air of authoritarian arrogance to the timbre of Prince John, and Gillie Fenwick, who played the butler, Poole, in the 1968, Jack Palance version of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and can be heard as Dr. Smartyr, Dr. Conner, and feline sorcerer Pardo in Spiderman (1967-70), gave vocal life to the verbally polished, otherwise oafish Sheriff of N.O.T.T..
The following is a complete Rocket Robin Hood episode guide.
Season 1The first production block of Rocket Robin Hood began with promise. Episodes like "The Time Machine", "Safari", and "City Beneath the Seas" are quite laudably rooted in pulp science fiction. Conceptually, at least. And "Prince of Plotters" and "Wily Giles" are competent, fairly effective premise-establishing and character-introducing efforts. With "Prince of Plotters", the viewer knows the heavy-taxation-directives and tyranny of Prince John and why Rocket Robin Hood and the Merry Men are righteously opposed to him and his Sheriff. A sense of menace and mortal urgency is present in "Warlord of Saturn", and "Mystery of the Crown Jewels" is a respectable attempt at the tried-and-true "who-done-it?" type of story. But with "Jesse James Rides Again", Al Guest and his writing team decided to go along a situation-comedy route, and thus did Rocket Robin Hood become oddball-guest-character-of-the-week, with some "off-the-wall" personage rooted in old Earth lore somehow setting Rocket Robin's men against their N.O.T.T. foes in renewed adversarial interaction, the Sheriff of N.O.T.T. himself being increasingly a laughable villain in those episodes.
Meantime, the quality of cartoon animation and cartoon layout and background, never really having been the linchpin to Rocket Robin Hood's appeal, was becoming downright laughably bad. Production costs had risen with Guest hiring more and more people, some of them from as far away as Spain. The talent of some of the newcomers to the production was questionable, and divergent approaches to drawing of characters and backgrounds were affecting the look of the output episodes. So was the viewer served with Leprechaun and bungling-magician episodes, etc., while the ocular facets of the television show were deteriorating.
"Marlin, the Magician" is quite possibly the nadir of Rocket Robin Hood in concept, story development, and depiction. It probably is because of episodes like "Marlin, the Magician" that Rocket Robin Hood has come to quite unfairly be branded the worst cartoon-animated television show of all time, by some television historians. "Goritang", a wedding farce involving the Sheriff of N.O.T.T.'s ineffectually goofy, ninny son, Quigley, and an ape-like creature from the planet Lucifer, shares with "Marlin, the Magician" strong contention for the dubious status of nadir of Rocket Robin Hood. Definitely a "what-were-they-thinking?" episode. Guest was spending increasing sums of Steven Krantz's money on an increasingly deficient product, and according to Ralph Bakshi, broadcasters started complaining to Krantz Films about episode quality, eventually refusing to accept further episodes. Relations between Krantz and Guest deteriorated to the extent of possible litigation.
Krantz sent Bakshi to Toronto to replace Shamus Culhane as in-studio-producer and to chart a different course for the production of Rocket Robin Hood, and so did the troubled cartoon television series re-invent itself into the spooky opus imprinted so creepily upon the grey matter of Generation X.
"Prince of Plotters" First episode of Rocket Robin Hood introduces the wicked Prince John, castle-inhabiting, absolute ruler of the National Outer-Space Terrestrial Territories (N.O.T.T.) and who, with his scrawny, whiny, dimwit lackey, the Sheriff of N.O.T.T., taxes the hapless, pastoral citizens of the asteroids of the Solar System so that subsistence is almost impossible, and gives nothing to them in return. The Sheriff's beefy, cruel deputy, Titanor, slams peasants' heads together when said peasants bemoan their misery and uses his Neuron Puppet Rod to induce a protesting asteroid-village mayor to dance and to cry like a baby before arresting the mayor for a couple of years in N.O.T.T. Castle's dungeon. Enter Rocket Robin Hood, descendant of medieval England's Robin Hood. Rocket Robin intends to steal Prince John's ill-gotten riches from the vault in the tyrant's castle for distribution to the beleaguered peoples of the Solar System- and to humble the notorious Titanor. To this end he has the help of his Merry Men of Sherwood Asteroid, all of whom are the many- generations progeny of the original Robin Hood's outlaw group. To enact the Sheriff of N.O.T.T.'s "wonderful" plan to destroy Rocket Robin, Prince John contacts Sherwood by video communicator with a proposition: if Robin can defeat Titanor in personal combat in the vicinity of the Elthrak Asteroid Swarm, the N.O.T.T. peasants' taxes will be lowered. The prince expresses confidence that Robin will lose the duel, and Robin dares not decline to fight, for he will throughout the Solar System be branded a coward. Robin accepts Prince John's challenge and confronts Titanor in competition by lance and space- ski in the designated location, his Merry Men watching the battle by video communication monitors on Sherwood. Robin proves his superior agility as he dodges every swing of Titanor's lance, then knocks Titanor's lance out of Titanor's barbarian clutches and sneakily programmes Titanor's space-ski control to propel the hulky acolyte of N.O.T.T. into collision with an asteroid. After Robin easily confiscates Titanor's laser gun and points the weapon at Titanor's head, Titanor yields the battle. However, Prince John has no intention of honouring his promise to lower the peasants' taxes, and N.O.T.T. soldiers emerge from the Elthrak Asteroids to surround and capture Rocket Robin. At N.O.T.T. Castle, Robin is sentenced to death by Prince John by means of crystallisation globes capable of changing any atomic arrangement into beautiful, clear crystal. The evil prince orders the release of the peasant mayor from N.O.T.T. Castle's dungeon so that the mayor can report Robin's "certain" fate as a crystal statue to all N.O.T.T. citizens- and Prince John's decree that N.O.T.T. tax rates will be doubled. Friar Tuck leads a rescue party to N.O.T.T. Castle, meets the mayor in the forest outside of the castle, and is informed by the mayor of Robin's death sentence and of an execution technician's expected arrival at the castle. Tuck and his companions, including Alan A-Dale and Little John, infiltrate N.O.T.T. Castle by substituting themselves for the execution technician and the technician's staff. Meanwhile, Robin has asked to view Prince John's vault, and the prince is pleased to adhere to his prisoner's "last request", thus giving to Robin knowledge of the hidden vault's precise location. The Merry Men in disguise as the execution team spring into action to surprise the easily routed N.O.T.T. guards, Robin is rescued, and the jolly outlaws seize Prince John's accumulated wealth to reallocate to the impoverished peoples of the Solar System. "The Time Machine" Rocket Robin and Little John investigate rumours of importation of strange equipment "under cover of darkness" to N.O.T.T. Castle for many consecutive Lunar nights. Late one evening, they sneak into N.O.T.T. Castle without difficulty and interrogate one of the guards, Little John grabbing the man-in-uniform and holding him, his feet dangling, atop a steep castle wall. The guard tells to Robin and Little John that the incoming machinery has been requisitioned by the Sheriff for entrapping Rocket Robin Hood. Little John calms the guard with an effective strike of the hand, and, after dispatching by homing arrow a message to Friar Tuck on Sherwood to send help if they fail to return to their home asteroid by noon on the next day, Robin decides that he and Little John will "walk" into the Sheriff's trap- which is the best way of determining what the trap is- by serenading the "imbecile Sheriff of N.O.T.T." beneath the window to the sleeping Sheriff's bedroom. The awakened and displeased Sheriff summons his retinue, who force Robin and Little John by laser gunpoint into a laboratory wherein the pair are shackled inside of what the Sheriff identifies as a time machine. The Sheriff selects the twelfth century A.D. and England as the destination in time and space for the meddlesome duo, so that his ancestor, the High Sheriff of Nottingham, will contend with them and with their forebears, the Earl of Locksley and olde Little John, with equal "efficiency". Thus, amidst the thickets and brambles of Sherwood Forest near century twelve's village of Nottingham, materialises two exiles from year 3000, and in no time at all, they are collaborating with the original Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet, et al., to rescue Robin Hood I and Little John I from peril in the dungeon in Nottingham Castle, an easy endeavour with the surprise of two Robins and Little Johns befuddling the Sheriff of Nottingham- who exactly resembles in look and manner his thirtieth century descendant- and his minions. The combined talents of the Merry Men of olde with Rocket Robin and future Little John succeed in freeing Robin Hood I and Little John I from their prison cell, when the solitary guard there is startled to see what he thinks is Robin but who is really Rocket Robin standing in front of him and outside of the locked prison cell door- and obligingly opens the door to verify that Robin is still inside of the prison cell. Rocket Robin judo-chops the guard unconscious, future Little John flies with the use of his jet-powered quarterstaff to reach the chains that lower the castle drawbridge, Rocket Robin slings fire-tipped arrows onto mounds of hay within the castle, and the escape from Nottingham Castle is complete, for all outlaws. In the future, Friar Tuck has captured and questioned- with pointed gun- a N.O.T.T. soldier to learn of Rocket Robin and Little John's predicament. Sending robot attack spaceships to fire laser rays upon N.O.T.T. Castle to preoccupy the N.O.T.T. defence forces, Tuck leads Will Scarlet and Alan A-Dale into the N.O.T.T. Sheriff's laboratory and speedily operates the user-friendly time machine to whisk Rocket Robin and Little John away from a few hours of activity and banter with their olde English counterparts and company- and into materialisation in N.O.T.T. Castle A.D. 3000. Subsequent ease of escape from N.O.T.T. headquarters and from a flustered and frustrated latter-day Sheriff by Rocket Robin, Little John, Alan, Will, and the Friar is a foregone conclusion! "Robin Versus the Robot Knight" The Merry Men disguise themselves as monks to attend the N.O.T.T. Tournament Games on Camelot Asteroid as spectators, something that they do every year, and Prince John expects their presence at the upcoming Tournament Games. He hopes to utilise Rocket Robin Hood's "outdated code of honour", Robin's word as a cosmic nobleman, to jail the Solar System's most renowned outlaw for life. At the Tournament Games, the prince announces the betrothal of Maid Marion, captive of the Sheriff of N.O.T.T., to Baron Barth of icy Pluto. Barth's champion, the mysterious Red Knight, will, at the close of the Tournament Games, bring Marion to Pluto for the wedding unless the knight is challenged and defeated in 3 of 5 tournament events. Determined to spare Marion from an unwanted suitor on a frigid planet, Robin removes his monk disguise and asserts himself as a contestant against the Red Knight. Prince John states the reward of Marion's freedom from marriage and from N.O.T.T. if Robin wins three of the five specific competitions (toppling, astro-wrestling, archery, astro-tug, and jousting) and the penalty of life imprisonment for Robin should Robin lose three of them. Robin accepts the prince's conditions for the duel, and only after this does the prince reveal that the Red Knight is a robot stronger tenfold than Robin. Undaunted and a man of his word, Robin fights the Red Knight in the five games. He is toppled from a log in electro-quarterstaff combat with the knight and is next trapped in a bear-hug by his astro-wrestling machine opponent. Down two to nothing, Robin rebounds and wins the remaining three contests, despite Prince John's illicit attempts to prevent it, by ordering the archery target board reversed so that Robin cannot directly train his arrow on the bulls-eye (a complication for which Robin compensates by means of a "boomerang" arrow slung by Robin to fly under the target and then arc around to hit the bulls-eye and better the knight's un-handicapped arrow shot), by magnetically bonding the robot to its platform in the astro-tug so that it cannot be thrown from it (a ploy of which he speaks aloud and which Robin's Sherwood fellows in the audience overhear and thwart with a magnetic field inverter ray fired from Alan A-Dale's laser pistol), and by drugging Robin's water with sleep-inducing potion (which Robin detects with his sensitive nose and pretends to drink so that he can feign sleepiness in the jousting on rocket-powered hover-sleds and then surprise the knight with swift evasive action- so that the startled knight ploughs into the ground). Never a man to honour his promises, Prince John orders his guards to seize Rocket Robin while the Red Knight forces Marion into its Plutonian spaceship and departs Camelot Asteroid in haste. However, the full compliment of Merry Men at the Tournament Games come out from their monk guises to clobber and prevail over the legions of N.O.T.T., and Marion stops the Red Knight by depositing some of her lady's apparel into a cavity that she has discovered on the back of its head. Robin rescues Marion from the Plutonian space vessel. "The Mystery of the Crown Jewels" A masked prowler ascends the walls of N.O.T.T. Castle, enters the castle while Prince John sleeps, and steals the royal crown jewels. The thief leaves at the crime scene an arrow that implicates Rocket Robin in the heist. To insure that Robin will surrender himself to N.O.T.T., the Sheriff captures Maid Marian while the Merry Men are at a space carnival. Once Robin learns of Marian's captivity and the criminal act of which he is accused, he does exactly what Prince John and the Sheriff have expected him to do; having ordered Little John and Friar Tuck to remain at the carnival- and to be ready to come to his rescue, he ventures to N.O.T.T. Castle to free Marian from the Sheriff's custody and to examine the evidence against him. Robin is overpowered by N.O.T.T. soldiers and, before a court assembled by Prince John, is declared guilty of the theft. At the carnival, Little John and Friar Tuck watch a circus performer, Marvello, who is skilled in archery and acrobatics. Convinced that they have found the true crown jewel filcher, Little John and Friar Tuck forcefully escort him to N.O.T.T. Castle, and Robin and Marian are grudgingly released from N.O.T.T. by the Sheriff and by Prince John, to whom the crown jewels are returned when ascertained to be in Marvello's possession. "The Warlord of Saturn" Little John is returning to Sherwood Asteroid after a lucrative day of poaching for Rocket Robin on Prince John's Royal Game Preserve when he is surrounded in his spaceship by the space battle fleet of the Warlord of Saturn- Rocket Robin Hood version of Flash Gordon's Ming the Merciless. Ming is, in fact, the Warlord's proper name, and he talks in a stereotypical Oriental dialect. The Warlord aims to commandeer asteroid Sherwood, whose movability would enable him to attack targets from whatever spatial position that he desires. To this purpose, Ming blankets and penetrates Little John's spaceship with hypnotic gas, Little John succumbs to the gas' effect, and Ming directs his husky Merry Man puppet to lead the Saturn space battle fleet to Sherwood's top-secret present location. With an audio transmitter-receiver placed onto Little John's person by one of the Warlord's soldiers, Ming now has continuous vocal contact with his slave after Little John has landed his spaceship on Sherwood. Ming orders Little John to prevent his colleagues from activating the Sherwood astro-shield or firing ground-to-air missiles. Little John blocks the entrance to the power supply building for those defence mechanisms, and although Rocket Robin and the other outlaws promptly suspect that Little John is under some mesmeric influence, Little John is a formidable fist-fighter, and several of his friends are pounded by his punches before Robin subdues him with an enwrapping rope connected to one of Robin's ably-propelled arrows. Little John reels by the rope into a tree trunk and is hence unconscious, but already, the Warlord has advanced inside of Sherwood's defence boundary, and Robin recognises the design of Ming's hovering spacecraft. Ming rapidly releases his ultimate weapon- the Oxyvac- onto Sherwood's surface. The clam-shaped, four-legged Oxyvac devours by suction everything in its path, including trees, brick structures, and air! The Merry Men reassemble in attack formation, but the Oxyvac is impervious to the arrows and laser gun rays fired by them against it. The sinister Saturn despot communicates with Robin by means of the audio transmitter-receiver on Little John's still-unconscious body, to declare Sherwood to be the conquest of Saturn and to say that the Oxyvac's primary function is to suck the oxygen out of Sherwood's atmosphere. Robin deduces that the Oxyvac must be storing the enormous quantity of oxygen that it collects in the sack on its posterior- and oxygen is highly combustible. Robin attaches Will Scarlet's electronic sword to an arrow and shoots the arrow directly through the maw of the Oxyvac and into the sack. The sword's electric current ignites the oxygen within the rampaging robot's sack, reducing the Oxyvac to rubble in a explosion with no casualties or further damage on Sherwood. Ming retreats into space, and Little John awakens, his awareness and self- control fully regained, to express his puzzlement at the wreckage strewing the Sherwood terrain. "Safari" Little John and Will Scarlet, while in a hunting competition against each other on the N.O.T.T. Royal Game Preserve, are captured and caged in a landed zoological spaceship by pygmy-sized, green-skinned aliens. The aliens desire the best possible specimen of the species of Earthman represented by the Merry Men, and to that end, they force Little John and Will to engage in combat with hand-held weapons, the winner in that contest to be retained for zoological study and exhibition, and the loser purportedly to be killed. Will is struck unconscious in the fight and declared the loser. While being dragged outside of the spaceship by a pair of the aliens, Will revives. He is able to escape from the aliens and summon help from Rocket Robin, whom the aliens, eavesdropping on Will's communication with Sherwood Asteroid, now deduce to be the Merry Men's Alpha Male and a more desirable zoological subject than Will (who is recaptured by the aliens) and Little John. Robin, Giles, and Friar Tuck arrive at the Royal Game Preserve and find the aliens' spaceship. The aliens agree to a bargain proposed by Robin. If he prevails in a personal duel with the aliens' leader, he and all of his men will be allowed to go free from the aliens. If Robin loses, he and his men will surrender their fate to the aliens' intentions. With the aliens' attention concentrated on their leader's duel with Robin, Giles and Friar Tuck free Will and Little John, and the four of them release all of the zoo creatures from the cages, causing enough of a commotion to give to Robin the advantage in his battle. Robin prevails, and the alien leader, avowing the honour of his kind- in addition to declaring the Merry Men and their species far too troublesome, keeps his word. The Merry Men depart the Royal Game Preserve before Prince John's minions can arrive there to apprehend the jovial interlopers. "Wily Giles" For Lt. Paul Wagner of the Earth Patrol, Robin recounts the induction of thieving scoundrel Giles, an exile from Earth, into the Merry Men as their cook. While Robin and Little John were poaching deer on the Royal N.O.T.T. Game Preserve, they prevented a mischievous, little, bearded man from throwing a plutonium grenade at the deer and thereby became acquainted with Giles, who impressed Robin with his pick-pocket slight of hand. After Robin and Little John parted from Giles to resume their illegal food-procurement, Giles reported their presence on the Royal N.O.T.T. Game Preserve to the N.O.T.T. Sheriff, in expectation of a generous reward, but the Sheriff only paid 50 kovars of platinum to the "conniving jackanapes". The Sheriff and his troops surrounded Robin and Little John, released from the Sheriff's space cruiser a bubble that enwrapped the two outlaws, and consigned the duo to an underground dungeon with converging walls. "Double- dealing" Giles then sneaked away from the N.O.T.T. army (preoccupied with the execution of Robin and Little John) and decided to seek remuneration from Robin's friends for telling them about the crisis that had befallen their two comrades. He flew in Robin and Little John's spacecraft by homing beam to Sherwood and mentioned without specific location the Sheriff's confinement of Robin and Little John. Suspecting Giles' involvement in Robin and Little John's capture, Tuck refused to add to Giles' monetary stash, and he and the other Merry Men with waving of fists forced the relevant information from the cringing knave and brought Giles with them on the rescue mission. Giles slunk away from the Friar's party as they were planning to free Robin and Little John, and was recaptured by the Sheriff, who declared the wayward Giles untrustworthy and threw him into the underground dungeon wherein Robin and Little John were losing the battle against the enclosing walls. Giles had stolen the Sheriff's key to a door in the tightening prison and provided it to Robin and Little John so that the three men could escape a crushing doom. Robin and Little John overpowered with ease a squadron of N.O.T.T. guards in a cavernous exit of the dungeon, and Tuck's group, hiding in a neighbouring forest, were staggered to see Robin and Little John at liberty and in gratitude of Giles, who, they all expected, now knew that the Sheriff was unsympathetic to his mercenary shenanigans and would be content to join the Merry Men in a successful departure from the site of the Sheriff's failed trap before the Sheriff could assemble his confused crowd for pursuit. "Jesse James Rides Again" One legendary Earth outlaw's descendant meets another on a rugged, desolate, uncharted asteroid. While on said asteroid during an unsatisfactory hunting expedition, Rocket Robin and Will Scarlet are bemused to find themselves staring down the nozzles of the six-gun pistols of the progeny and namesake of that terror of the Wild West, Jesse James. This Jesse James, however, is a squat, mostly bald-headed, white haired, addle-brained, over-the-hill oaf who rides a lumbering, rocket- powered horse and who could not steal his own gun without it backfiring at him. Feeling sorry for the hoary gunslinger, Robin tries to persuade James to do as a virtuous outlaw does: rob the rich and give to the poor. But James insists that robbing the rich and keeping the booty is the better motto. Undaunted and tempted by his troublesome sense of humour to help James to prove himself capable of a heist in the tradition of his forebear, Robin forecasts to James the impending pass over the asteroid of the Interplanetary Stagecoach, then leaves James alone in a valley on the asteroid as he and Will return to their spaceship, dress in stolen N.O.T.T. guard uniforms that they transport with them at all times, and begin to paint "Tombstone Stagecoach" on their space vessel's hull. They intend to impersonate the hapless pilots of the not-really-existent Interplanetary Stagecoach that James will endeavour to ambush and plunder. However, a N.O.T.T. reconnaissance spaceship containing Prince John and the Sheriff and voyaging in this asteroid's astral sector, is thought by James to be the Stagecoach, and he mounts his ridiculous steed and attacks the N.O.T.T. spacecraft, which activates its laser turrets to cripple James' vehicle. The blustery blunderer is thus a prisoner of the wicked prince and brought to N.O.T.T. Castle. Robin and Will return in their "stagecoach" to the valley where they last saw James, find only the wreckage of his space-horse, and guess correctly as to James' action and its result. In their N.O.T.T. guard uniforms, they easily infiltrate N.O.T.T. Castle and overcome the pair of Prince John's men who are escorting James to the castle dungeon pending an investigation of James' claim that there is a reward on Earth for his capture. Reunited with their counterpart outlaw, Robin and Will target the crown jewels in the royal vault. Will, his newly confiscated N.O.T.T. garb that of a Colonel, enacts a cantankerous officer browbeating the two N.O.T.T. troops standing guard at the vault and distracts them as Robin lasers a hole in the vault door and filches a sack of gems. All three thieves then easily escape N.O.T.T. headquarters in Prince John's fastest space cruiser, and Robin drops a handful of the stolen diamonds into one of James' empty belt holsters and promptly discovers them there, lauding the latter-day Jesse James as a successful criminal and an honour to the infamy of his forefather. "Giles the Great" While Rocket Robin is absent from Sherwood, the Merry Men are strutting their duelling prowess in fun combat with metal lances. Friar Tuck reels backwards after he loses a contest with Little John and collides with Giles, knocking the short- tempered cook into a vat of pancake batter. Furious, Giles tongue-lashes his comrades, all laughing at his gooey tumble, for their impudence and boasts that HE is the best of Robin's outlaw group. As an innocent prank against the diminutive, bragging chef, Little John challenges Giles to a lance-swinging competition that he allows Giles to win. The cook's lance strikes the deliberately ineffectual strongest man on asteroid Sherwood. Falling to ground, Little John pretends to have been legitimately defeated by Giles, and he and the other Merry Men christen their baker as "Giles the Great". However, they do not know that Giles now believes himself capable of single-handed interplanetary heroism. On a "date with destiny", Giles flies one of the Merry Men's spaceships to the castle of Prince John, leaving behind a note for Rocket Robin in which he proclaims his hair-brained aim of by himself overcoming the wicked prince and freeing from the castle dungeon all of the N.O.T.T. citizens being detained by N.O.T.T.'s greedy despot ruler to intimidate the peasantry of N.O.T.T.'s many worlds to accept woefully high rates of taxation. Giles swaggers at the castle gate in confrontation with some N.O.T.T. soldiers, and the soldiers, amazed by his chutzpah, apprehend him in seconds. Prince John demands to know from the self-identifying, brazen chef of Rocket Robin Hood the location of Sherwood Asteroid. When he declines to cooperate with his captor, "interstellar insect" Giles is shackled in the N.O.T.T. Castle dungeon and threatened with torture by the prince's personal implement of mayhem, a Thermal Ray Gun. Robin has rejoined his fellows on Sherwood and read Giles' note. With Friar Tuck, Alan A-Dale, and Little John, Robin embarks upon a mission to liberate Giles from Prince John's wrath. Alan, Little John, and the Friar pose as Delta Patrol spies for the Sheriff with Rocket Robin as their captive and in this capacity approach and are granted access by unsuspecting N.O.T.T. troops to N.O.T.T. Castle, wherein a decisive battle by the four intrepid outlaws against Prince John and a squad of castle guards, involving lengthy exchange of laser gun fire and Robin's rope-arrow felling and ensnaring the prince, is successful in rescuing Giles before the prince can subject him to the searing effect of the Thermal Ray Gun. "City Beneath the Seas" Rocket Robin and Little John are piloting their spaceship to Sherwood Asteroid after a successful hunt for animal meat elsewhere in the Solar System when they encounter an oval asteroid that has only recently entered into orbit around the Sun. The pair of Merry Men attempt a reconnaissance of the strange asteroid, but their spaceship loses power and plunges into its fully oceanic biosphere. Robin and Little John use an ejection bubble to escape their doomed space vehicle before it sinks to sea bottom. Wearing their spacesuit helmets for a supply of oxygen, they intentionally descend to the murky depths for a damage assessment of the spaceship and for Robin to attempt to radio their location to Friar Tuck. However, they are attacked by a tentacled monster which Robin repels with a single blast from his laser gun, and this event is monitored with interest by green, fish-scaled and gilled humanoids in an underwater city. Robin's heroics have edified these intelligent, cultured creatures. The sovereign of the Kingdom of Aqua orders the capture of the two Merry Men by way of a mechanically controlled whirlpool that pulls the duo into the sub-oceanic settlement. The Aquans are weaponless and defenceless against sea beasts that threaten the integrity of Aqua's enclosed city. They want for Robin to repeat his prior act of sea monster-defeat against three further tentacled menaces. Little John is incapacitated by a strike from behind him by the Aqua king's sceptre and carried to and locked inside a prison cell by the king's servants. Holding driftwood as simulated weapons, the Aquans intend that the large Merry Man be their hostage to insure Robin's cooperation. Thus, Robin ventures into the water to confront the three terrors- and vanquishes the sea beasts with laser energy directed into their eyes and throats. The triumphant Robin is congratulated by the grateful populace of the undersea metropolis, and he and Little John are informed of the weapon-free Aquan way of peace and presented with their fully repaired spaceship by the Aqua king. "Don Cayote McPherson" Riding upon his mechanical, flying horse named Dandelion, a Scottish space traveller, Don Cayote McPherson, arrives on Sherwood Asteroid. Don Cayote challenges the patience of the Merry Men with his incessant bragging about having slain "the dauntless Dragon of Doom". Rocket Robin has acquired a mechanical device that duplicates the spoken words of other people, thereby enabling convincing mimicry, and demonstrates the machine for his men and for his Scottish guest. Meanwhile, the Sheriff of N.O.T.T. also possesses a "new toy"- a disintegration ray, which his underling, Cog, claims to have invented. Naturally, the Sheriff is scheming to use this weapon against Rocket Robin. After irritating his hosts on Sherwood Asteroid and outlasting his welcome there, Don Cayote departs Sherwood and is promptly captured by the Sheriff for use as bait to lure Robin and company to N.O.T.T. Castle, after the Sheriff has learned that Don Cayote is acquainted with the Merry Men. Thus, the Sheriff allows Don Cayote's aerial horse, Dandelion, to return alone to Sherwood so that Robin deduces that Don Cayote has been apprehended by the forces of N.O.T.T.. Robin remote-control-pilots his empty spaceship above N.O.T.T. Castle's asteroid and directly into the disintegration ray, which Robin already knew was in operation by the Sheriff, and of course the Sheriff and Cog both believe that Robin has been annihilated. Then, with the voice imitation mechanism, Robin, Will Scarlet, and Friar Tuck infiltrate the N.O.T.T. Castle dungeon, surprise and punch the N.O.T.T. soldiers standing guard there, confiscate the guards' uniforms for use as disguises, rescue Don, and employ the voice imitation machine to copy the voice of the Sheriff to order the lowering of N.O.T.T. Castle's drawbridge and defences so that they all can escape. Don bids good-bye to the Merry Men and says that he is on a continuing quest for "the Baleful Beast of Brou-Ha-Ha". "Michael Shawn- the Leprechaun" Poaching wild boar on Prince John's Royal Game Preserve, Little John meets a magical, dwarfish Irish pixie, a Leprechaun named Michael Shawn O'Day, who fears that Martian mercenaries intend to steal his prized pot o' gold, which is actually a cache of oxynite, a rare and valuable form of interplanetary currency and element for weapon production. Michael Shawn also claims to have a life span of many thousands of years and to have met Little John and Rocket Robin's medieval ancestors! The large Merry Man brings his tiny, new acquaintance to Sherwood to introduce him to Robin and company. After amusing the personnel of Sherwood with his archaic witticisms, the sprightly O'Day disappears from Sherwood. Little John then mentions the Leprechaun's possession of oxynite to Robin, who shares Michael Shawn's apprehension about Martian lust for the pot o' gold and fears that the Irish elf is in danger of capture if not by the Martians, then by the Sheriff of N.O.T.T., were knowledge of O'Day's lucrative property to have spread from Mars to N.O.T.T. headquarters. In an intensive search by the Merry Men for Michael Shawn, Little John flies in his spaceship to Mars, where O'Day, having been apprehended by the Martians, is being interrogated as to the location of the coveted oxynite. Little John commences a ray gun battle with O'Day's captors, and both he and the Leprechaun fall through a trap door on the Martian surface to an underground prison cell. The Sheriff of N.O.T.T. intercepts an assistance-plea message arrow dispatched by the jailed Little John through space to Robin as its intended recipient. So, with the power of his Zeptyr Ray Cannon, the Sheriff visits Mars. Routing the Martians, he gains entry into the Martian dungeon and offers to rescue Little John and Michael Shawn from captivity on Mars in exchange for the location of the oxynite. The Leprechaun agrees to the Sheriff's proposal, says that the item sought by the Sheriff is buried, and specifies the place. Never one to honour his side of a bargain, the Sheriff fails to release Little John and Michael Shawn from the prison- and so, the responsibility for doing this rests with Robin, who, worried about Little John, ventures to and arrives on Mars and finds and frees the jailed pair. O'Day reveals that the oxynite was really secreted on Little John's person and that the Sheriff is digging for nothing. "Little Little John" Little John, alone in his personal spacecraft, confidently penetrates the hull of one of Prince John's tax space-wagons to rob the prince's wages of tyranny, only to be fired upon in the tax space-wagon by a ray from the Sheriff of N.O.T.T.'s latest toy, a matter reducer (i.e. a machine that shrinks people and objects). Little John and his spaceship both diminish to finger size and are easily trolled in a butterfly net wielded by the elated Sheriff! However small that Little John may now be, he still has his wits, and the Sheriff's butterfly net does not contain him for long. After hearing the Sheriff's boast that Robin and the other Merry Men will all soon experience the same small problem as their no-longer-huskiest comrade, the now-truly-little Little John pilots his spaceship to Sherwood, where he, with the tone of his voice inaudible to his normal-dimension friends, must write a warning on a piece of paper to Robin and company, revealing the Sheriff's intention to send a meteor laced with paralytic gas toward the surface of Sherwood, "freezing" the Merry Men to facilitate their capture and exposure to the matter reducer presently at N.O.T.T. Castle. Incredulous at Little John's petty proportion and heeding their tiny compatriot's message, the Merry Men alter Sherwood's course away from the Sheriff's strategic space flotsam and divert the meteor back to N.O.T.T. Castle, where it renders the Sheriff and his army statuesque, thereby enabling Robin, Friar Tuck, and Alan A-Dale, all wearing gas masks, to raid the castle in search for the machine that shrunk Little John. They hope to reverse its effect. But the Sheriff regains mobility sooner than Robin had expected, and Robin, the Friar, and Alan are fettered in electronic shackles controlled by the Sheriff. Little John twice flies his spacecraft past the Sheriff's head to distract him, so that two of the machine's limited ray charges are wasted in misfires. A spider is struck by one of the rays, but rather than diminish, the arachnid grows (the machine was in reverse mode), and Little John thrusts his spaceship directly into the operating panel for the shackles, "shorting it out" and freeing Robin, Tuck, and Alan. With the Sheriff and his minions preoccupied with the giant spider in their midst, Robin easily manipulates the infernal machine to restore Little John to proper size, and all four Merry Men depart N.O.T.T. Castle. The matter reducer, exhausted of its ray charges, is therefore now useless to the behemoth-spider- plagued Sheriff. "The Marmaduke Caper" Able Baker Charlie, a long-time, monocled, English-accented friend of Rocket Robin's, is travelling to Uranus to demonstrate the Super-bug, the ultimate in listening devices, capable of eavesdropping on conversations anywhere in the cosmos, when he decides to visit the Merry Men on Sherwood Asteroid, which is on his route to Uranus. With him is his impressionable, adolescent son, Marmaduke. Marmaduke's hero-worship of his father abruptly ends when he learns that Able Baker is incapable of the archery and derring-do at which he has always claimed to be an expert. Robin decides to give Able Baker a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of his son by fighting N.O.T.T. troops intending to kidnap Marmaduke but who are really Robin, Little John, Will Scarlet, and Alan A-Dale in disguise, uniforms easily confiscated from N.O.T.T. Castle, of course. The plan is for Able Baker to tour on foot with Marmaduke the landscape of asteroid Sherwood, to relax with the boy in a grove prearranged with Robin and company to be the site of the attack by "N.O.T.T. forces", and to repel the assailants in a carefully choreographed phony fight. However, Prince John and the Sheriff have their own spy transmitter on Sherwood (apparently after they somehow learned Sherwood Asteroid's secret location) and know about Robin's good-natured fakery and of the existence of the Super-bug, which they intend to procure from Able Baker by abducting Marmaduke for real, the Super-bug being the ransom for the youngster's freedom. The Sheriff drops a glob of Moonite, the galaxy's most impenetrable and durable element, on top of Robin and company, who are preparing for their prearranged ambush in N.O.T.T. troop garb of Able Baker and Marmaduke, and the Moonite forms into a bubble to encase the four outlaws. When actual N.O.T.T. soldiers surround Able Baker and Marmaduke, Able Baker believes them to be his Merry Men friends and resists their advances upon him and Marmaduke as per Robin's ruse. The roped boomerang arrow which Robin has lent to him does what it was supposed to do, lassoing the laser guns of the interlopers and disarming them. When the N.O.T.T. numbskulls punch somewhat more forcefully than was expected, Able Baker acts bravely to trip some of them, manoeuvre pairs of them to collide with each other, and fist-duel with the others. Within less than a minute, the tussle has ended, and Able Baker is victorious. Robin, Little John, Will, and Alan have burrowed through the ground beneath the Moonite bubble to release themselves from their oval prison and are surprised to find that Able Baker has defeated the N.O.T.T. villains. Robin advises Able Baker to tell nothing of their bogus battle scheme to Marmaduke so that Marmaduke remains in unabated awe of Able Baker for the heroics of this day. "Follow the Leader" Will Scarlet challenges Rocket Robin's leadership, alleging that, "Being boss is merely directing others to do the work for you." He boasts that he could lead the Merry Men as effectively as does Robin and pledges to eat his hat, feather and all, if he should fail in this regard. Robin decides to give to Will the chance to prove this bold assertion, on the pretence that he and Alan A-Dale must voyage to distant Aurora Asteroid and a substitute Sherwood commander is required for the duration of Robin and Alan's travel. Will has committed himself to this responsibility and graciously accepts Robin's confidence in him, but Little John, Friar Tuck, Giles, and the other Merry Men do not appreciate the upstart Scarlet's barking of orders, and the problems for Will worsen when a partly bald, grey haired man claiming to be Robin's uncle, Venusian author and philosopher Prof. Montague Harristrom, arrives on Sherwood for an extended visit and deliberately stirs further resentment of Scarlet by Friar Tuck, Little John, and the others. He demands the liberty to cook his own meals, that protesting Giles be relieved of duty and replaced by inept baker Little John, that Friar Tuck act as a "bellboy", and that Sherwood's personnel adhere to a 17-hour day work schedule of simple chores to facilitate his studies. Because Will dares not offend Robin's uncle, he orders the Merry Men to do as the professor says. They refuse to comply- and accuse Will of currying favour with Robin's uncle, who insists that Will penalise the "mutinous" rabble by jailing them in Sherwood's stockade, and then does a homing message-arrow, supposedly sent by Rocket Robin, strike a New Sherwood Forest tree. Will reads Robin's note reporting that the Sheriff of N.O.T.T. is planning an attack upon Sherwood and cannot rouse his disaffected troops to assume defencive positions. The professor promotes fighting between the Merry Men by causing each of them to think that the others are insulting them, and Will, unable to stop the ensuing chaos, relinquishes command and races to the communicator console to contact and recall Robin to Sherwood. Now, Harristrom reveals his true identity from beneath a mask- Rocket Robin, who wanted to prove a point to Will, that being a leader is no easy thing. It was Alan, on the other side of asteroid Sherwood, who dispatched the homing arrow with a bogus message. Will must honour his promise, and Giles serves Will's hat, feather and all, to Will on a dinner platter! "Cleopatra Meets Little John" While hunting on an asteroid near to Sherwood, Little John finds a playful, female dinosaur that he names Cleopatra. Deciding to adopt her, Little John brings Cleopatra to Sherwood, where she causes havoc by raiding Giles' kitchen and sleeping on the wires to the Sherwood power grid. Robin orders Little John to return Cleopatra to her home asteroid, and Little John reluctantly agrees with his leader. En route to Cleopatra's asteroid with the dinosaur in tow behind his spaceship, Little John is shocked when Cleopatra's nose detects the scent of food and drags him to N.O.T.T. Castle, smashing through the castle walls and destroying Little John's spaceship- and Prince John's feast! Prince John and the Sheriff believe that Cleopatra is a new weapon of Rocket Robin's and jail Little John. On Little John's instructions, Cleopatra rolls over and plays dead after being harmlessly hit by the Sheriff's laser pistol. Left by the N.O.T.T. guards for dead, she arises and helps Little John to free himself from his prison cell. Little John rides on her back as she flies away from N.O.T.T. Castle. They observe Prince John at a missile launching site with a rocket about to launch to hit Sherwood, and Little John commands Cleopatra to intercept the missile after its lift-off and reverse its course, so that it explodes at Prince John's missile launching site. After Little John and Cleopatra bid to each other a tearful goodbye in the forests of N.O.T.T. Castle's asteroid and Cleopatra flies away, Little John finds an egg left behind by Cleopatra, and it hatches a little Cleopatra. "Little George" Little John's yokel brother, Little George, comes to Sherwood Asteroid in hope of becoming one of the Merry Men. With Robin's approval, Will attempts to give to Little George some equipment training, and the result is a broken radar system, rendering Sherwood vulnerable to attack by the Sheriff of N.O.T.T.. Little George further makes a nuisance of himself by devouring Sherwood's food supply, and an exasperated Robin demands that Little George replenish the food reserves. While on a hunting expedition, Little George is captured by the Sheriff, who decides to use the unwitting Little George to lead N.O.T.T. troops direct to Rocket Robin's headquarters, by permitting Little George to leave N.O.T.T. Castle in a provided spaceship and return to Sherwood, followed covertly by N.O.T.T. forces. The result is a battle on Sherwood between the Merry Men and the Sheriff, who orders his numerous troops to fire laser guns, forcing Robin's group into a cavern. Then, Little George's pet skunk repels the invading N.O.T.T. army with its odour, and Little George is an unlikely hero. "The Magic Medallion of Morse" Friar Tuck, flying solo in a spaceship on a reconnaissance mission for Rocket Robin Hood, experiences an emergency situation while hundreds of miles away from the safety of Sherwood Asteroid: insufficient spacecraft fuel to complete his return to Sherwood and depleted food reserve. Luckily, the Friar is close to an Intergalactic Fully Automated Space Service Module, at which he is able to replenish these supplies, but N.O.T.T. soldiers surround the I.F.A.S.S.M. and apprehend Tuck for transport to a N.O.T.T. Castle jail cell. The Friar activates his personal electromagnetic signal device, a radiation-symbol medallion, in a manner that registers on Sherwood as a distress signal from an in-trouble Friar. Robin alone ventures to N.O.T.T. Castle in heroic determination of freeing the Friar. He incapacitates some of the castle guards and is outside of Tuck's prison cell when the Sheriff's army nets and successfully captures him also. The Sheriff summons Tuck to the N.O.T.T. Castle dining room, where he hopes to exploit the Friar's weakness for food to cause Tuck to reveal the secret location of Sherwood Asteroid. A banquet is offered by the Sheriff to the Friar in exchange for Sherwood's strategic coordinates, but Tuck declines to partake in the hefty meal, its price being too high. The Sheriff promises to withhold food from Tuck until the Friar's yearning to eat becomes all-consuming. Tuck pretends to succumb to the weakness of his flesh and, before divulging the information wanted by the Sheriff, uses food (soup, leg of lamb, green vegetables) as ballistic weapons against the Sheriff's guards, only to be hit on the head by one of his own implements of combat when the guards learn how to use them with equal precision. In neighbouring prison cells, Robin and Tuck collaborate to transmit a message by Morse Code with the Friar's medallion to Alan A-Dale and Little John on Sherwood, requesting team assistance to escape, with a "fancy firework" meteor shower created above N.O.T.T. Castle by the Merry Men as diversion. With N.O.T.T. personnel's attention concentrated on the sky spectacle, Robin and Tuck are easily returned by their friends to Sherwood. Robin decrees that the Friar diet for one month, and Giles prepares for the famished Friar a lettuce sandwich on dry toast! "The Awful Truce" "Happy birthday to me," is Prince John's motto, as he initiates on this special day what he presumes to be the ultimate Merry Men-entrapping ploy. Although N.O.T.T. has been at war with Martian aggressors for 100 years, the devious prince expects that Groldan the Ghastly, Mars' most vicious warlord, and his followers, all of whom being hired soldiers who, it is said, fight for anyone for pay, will agree to assist in the destruction of the Sherwood Asteroid outlaws. Bela Lugosi- impersonating, blue-skinned Groldan accords with Prince John's proposal on the promise of a handsome dividend from the N.O.T.T. monarch. His group of marauders will attack the prince's armada in spaceship combat with "dummy" practice missiles being fired by both sides, creating the appearance of a fierce battle in which N.O.T.T. forces will require the assistance of the Merry Men. Prince John will transmit a Mayday signal, pleading for help from Rocket Robin and company before N.O.T.T. and all of its innocent civilians are overrun by Groldan. Once Robin's group are in space in the "war zone", Prince John and Groldan will surround the Merry Men, who will have no alternative but to surrender, because the Sheriff and his troops will have traced the location of Sherwood Asteroid by the rear trajectory of the Merry Men's spacecraft and captured with threat of execution the persons remaining on its surface. Everything goes according to plan, until Groldan treacherously replaces his spaceships' practice missiles with real warheads and announces his intention to conquer and rule N.O.T.T., with Prince John appointed as the Sheriff! N.O.T.T.'s spaceships have aboard no warheads as per Prince John's failed ruse, and Prince John's only hope of stopping Groldan's invasion of N.O.T.T. rests with a true truce between himself and the Merry Men, whose spacecraft have bona fide firepower. Robin's terms for a truce: release by the Sheriff of Maid Marion and Giles, who were the only outlaws on Sherwood when the Sheriff's army seized it, withdrawal from Sherwood of the Sheriff and all of his men, the prince becoming prisoner of Rocket Robin until the battle against the Martians is concluded, and all of Robin's combat personnel permitted to return safely to Sherwood. Prince John grudgingly accepts Robin's conditions, and the Merry Men commence a counter-attack upon Groldan. On Sherwood, Giles, none too familiar with the communications and space battle computer console and while attempting to contact Robin, launches Sherwood's, pre-programmed, computer-controlled spaceships toward the area of ballistics. When Groldan sees the approach of massed "reinforcements" from Sherwood, he aborts his N.O.T.T. invasion goal and retreats to Mars. Prince John honours his compliance with Rocket Robin's terms of truce. "The Sad, Sad Sheriff of N.O.T.T." Prince John has had enough of the Sheriff of N.O.T.T.'s failures to rid the universe of the nuisance of Rocket Robin Hood. He replaces the "simpleton" Sheriff with a verbose, over-confident man named Quilty and assigns a time of execution to the disgraced, dismissed Sheriff. Rocket Robin's spies at N.O.T.T. Castle through their contact, Little John, report this upsetting development to their noble leader on Sherwood Asteroid. The predictable, blundering Sheriff has been an important asset in the Merry Men's fight against Prince John's tyranny, and his successor could not possibly be as obligingly inept as he. Robin is resolved that the Sheriff remain alive and in Prince John's employ. So, Robin and Little John clandestinely visit the place of execution at N.O.T.T. Castle. With arrows and a scaling rope, Robin and Little John ascend the castle wall, Little John nonchalantly slams together two guards' heads to provide for himself and Robin a couple of N.O.T.T. soldier uniforms, and the disguised pair of Merry Men use a laser gun to burn a circle of little holes in the platform on which the Sheriff is scheduled to soon be disintegrated. They conceal their spaceship underneath the capital punishment platform, and seconds before Prince John's Cosmic Disintegration Ray strikes the Sheriff standing inside of the platform-weakening circle of holes, Little John beneath the platform uses a rope to pull the circle clear of the structure, and the Sheriff "drops in" on Robin and Little John's spacecraft. With lightning speed, Robin and Little John escape N.O.T.T. Castle with their guest while Quilty is marvelling at Robin's cleverness and Prince John is denouncing the new Sheriff's incompetence. The Merry Men confine the former Sheriff to a dungeon on Sherwood and act to redeem said Sheriff in the eyes of Prince John. With his followers in an astro-shielded space cruiser engaging Quilty and N.O.T.T.'s army in battle at N.O.T.T. Castle's gate, Robin sneaks into the castle from its rear, scales a rope into and out of Prince John's vault from a laser gun-formed hole directly above the prince's cache of riches, and steals the crown jewels. The Merry Men retreat from their diversionary assault at castle front and, with Robin carrying the heisted jewelry, return to Sherwood. They then bestow the gems for "safe keeping" to their prisoner, with full expectation that the Sheriff will triumphantly return the jewels to Prince John after they permit- nay, help- him to escape custody at Sherwood (with Will "accidentally" dropping the key to the Sheriff's prison cell within reach of the Sheriff therein, the Sheriff freeing himself from the jail cell and snatching a ready-and-waiting Sherwood spaceship for a swift, albeit perilous (the Merry Men need to remote-control-pilot the spaceship away from a collision with a mesa), flight to N.O.T.T. Castle to bring back the jewels to a grateful Prince John, who reinstates the original Sheriff and banishes the ineffectual Quilty to the farthest corners of the cosmos. "Don't Make a Sound" Robin and the Merry Men meet a happy-go-lucky boy named Jeremy, who is capable of ventriloquism and of convincingly imitating all kinds of sounds, including burglar alarms, breaking glass, and the bellows of beasts. Robin is delighted by his entertaining, elfin guest on asteroid Sherwood. Meanwhile, Prince John is admiring the Yellow Rubelite, the rarest jewel of space, which he has stolen from the "white throat" of Maid Marion, to whom the glowing gem was bequeathed by her father. The prince wants to gloat about his prized acquisition and for this purpose invites Rocket Robin Hood to dine at N.O.T.T. Castle. Robin has been seeking an opportunity to regain the jewel for Marion and regards Prince John's dinner invitation as a capital opportunity for entry to the N.O.T.T. fortress to accomplish the task; therefore, he accepts Prince John's proposal, unaware that the N.O.T.T. ruler plans- after bragging about being the new owner of the Yellow Rubelite- to feed Robin to a ferocious Trogalyger, a variant of the Earth lion. Jeremy stows away on Robin's spaceship as Robin flies it to N.O.T.T. Castle, and while Robin is bidden by the prince to sit in a trap chair at the prince's dinner table, Jeremy, having tricked a N.O.T.T. guard into investigating the thrown sound of approaching galloping horses, stealthily moves through the corridors of N.O.T.T. Castle and hides behind a curtain in the castle's dining room. Behind the curtain- and Jeremy- is the caged Trogalyger, and when Jeremy sees the ravenous cat, he panics and hiccoughs. Prince John is thus alerted to Jeremy's presence and captures him along with Rocket Robin, who is swiftly bound in the trap chair's metallic restraints. Robin and Jeremy are thrown by Prince John's men into the Trogalyger's cage, in which Jeremy imitates cat meows and wins the affection of the Trogalyger, which is as much desirous of friendship as it is of food. Jeremy commands the fierce cat to attack its captors, Prince John and the N.O.T.T. guards. In the ensuing commotion, Robin easily snatches the Yellow Rubelite, and he and Jeremy escape N.O.T.T., accompanied by the flying Trogalyger. "Goritang" Maid Marion is captured by the Sheriff of N.O.T.T. and against her will betrothed to the Sheriff's clumsy, ninny son, Quigley. Friar Tuck learns of the impending marriage when he is asked by some of the Sheriff's guards to attend and perform the ceremony. Tuck declines to sanctify such matrimonial absurdity and informs Rocket Robin of Marion's fate. Advising the Friar to accept the Sheriff's invitation to preside at the planned wedding, Robin hatches a delightfully devious and ridiculous plan. The Merry Men infiltrate the nuptials at N.O.T.T. Castle with no difficulty because the Sheriff and his troops are preoccupied with the foolish festivity, and replace Marion with a diminutive, nimble, ape-like creature, a Goritang from planet Lucifer, concealed in Marion's wedding gown. The creature wreaks havoc in the N.O.T.T. headquarters palace and, to the Merry Men's amusement, causes both the Sheriff and Quigley to look more foolish than they already are. "The Orbital Salesman" Alan A-Dale, Rocket Robin Hood's "right-hand man", is captive of the wicked Sheriff of N.O.T.T. in the N.O.T.T. Castle dungeon. He is strapped to a table, and a swinging laser beam is positioned above him to drop an inch every 20 minutes. The Sheriff astrophone-communicates an ultimatum to Rocket Robin: unless Robin surrenders New Sherwood Forest to N.O.T.T. forces, Alan will be sliced to pieces in an hour. N.O.T.T. headquarters, in the castle, now has a super-defence system, an electronic dome of invincibility composed of pure anti-matter, which can only be penetrated by the Merry Men's anti-matter inverter cannon. However, while the cannon is being primed to fire at the N.O.T.T. Castle dome, a strange spaceship approaches Sherwood Asteroid, and the cannon's discharge is aborted by Will Scarlet, Little John, and Friar Tuck to avoid hitting the mysterious spacecraft. The cannon is rendered inoperative due to a charred diode not replaceable within 300 light-years, and the cause of this misfortune, the itinerant pilot of the "astral junkwagon", is a carnival-barker-like vendor (Sidney Star is his name, and selling is his game) of such wares as hair-restoring fluid that interests the Friar and rocket polish and supersonic hairbrushes which Little John fancies. Robin is more than irritated with Star's pushy salesman tactics in the midst the crisis with Alan, but Star's largest article of merchandise, a huge, hollow, wooden stallion, begets a Trojan Horse ploy conceived by Robin. With Star towing the horse to N.O.T.T. Castle, Robin, Will, Little John, and Friar Tuck hide inside of the horse, and Star, unsuspected by N.O.T.T. police of involvement with the Merry Men, calls at the door to N.O.T.T. Castle and dupes the Sheriff into granting access to him and to his huge commodity through the dome. He shames the Sheriff into purchasing the ornamental stallion on the pretext of wooden horses being a popular galactic item and N.O.T.T. having a reputation for poor fashion sense. While Star continues his "sales pitch" to include a vinyl-covered moat and castle storm windows and thereby distracts the Sheriff's attention, Robin and company exit the horse and free Alan. The Sheriff realises that he is being tricked when he sees the Merry Men running out of N.O.T.T. Castle, and Star remote-controls an explosive device to fly above the controls of the dome and neutralise it and the Sheriff's guards situated there. Star and the Merry Men all easily escape N.O.T.T.. "Marlin, the Magician" From one of the pots for Giles the cook's prepared repast for the Merry Men messily materialises with an explosion an indigestible and inept character, another self-promoting, diminutive, offbeat vestige of Earth yore to trouble Rocket Robin and company: Marlin the Magician, garbed in typical wizard's attire. Like a carnival barker, Marlin tries to peddle his ware, Dr. Marlin's Voodoo Elixir, "guaranteed" to prevent ageing, mumps, measles, whooping cough, and hiccoughs, and which drips upward, contrary to gravity, from its bottle; from the silly sorcerer's false and flame-fettered claim to swallow fire, it is reasonable to assume that all that Dr. Marlin's chemical mixture would do is cause nasty nausea. Rocket Robin, already disinclined to welcome the uninvited visitor, demands that Marlin disappear from Sherwood. Marlin replies by promising to vanish Robin along with him by means of one of his incantations (e.g. "Wimpo-flame-dap-dipple- dilly-dum-dum"). He succeeds in this regard, by teleporting both himself and the leader of the Merry Men into the bedroom of the Sheriff of N.O.T.T.! When the Sheriff attempts to summon his guards to apprehend his two nocturnal guests, Marlin transforms the Sheriff's tiny cat into a ferocious lion that chases Robin and the Sheriff, with them clinging respectively to a wall light and chandelier. Only Marlin knows the magic words to reverse the metamorphosis, if only he could remember! After several failures to re-transform lion to domestic feline, Marlin accomplishes the task and follows it with a return of himself and Robin to Sherwood. All of the irate Merry Men threaten bodily harm upon the little sorcerer if he does not readily remove himself from their corner of the universe. The frightened Marlin disappears, but his robe remains in the midst of the Merry Men. Wherever he will next emerge, there had better not be any ladies present!
Season 2With the arrival of Ralph Bakshi in the role of in-studio-producer, the episodes of Rocket Robin Hood improved immediately in ideas and visualisation, while the cost of making the episodes was substantially reduced, to the delight of Steven Krantz. Bakshi sent many of the Rocket Robin Hood- Season 1 production people back to from wherever they had come, and replaced them with some of his colleagues of his earlier days at Terrytoons, some highly talented Marvel Comics illustrators, and Richard H. Thomas, formerly of the Warner Brothers cartoons, and utilised cartoon-animation techniques that, although basic, had a consistency and a quality to them. It was not until sometime later that the cartoon-animation became repetitive, but even then, the backgrounds and the ideas very much compensated for that.
Bakshi almost entirely jettisoned Rocket Robin's conflict with the N.O.T.T. villains and started introducing his own brand of antagonistic quantities, mad and evil scientists and grotesque-looking, diabolical overlords with horrible settings and apocalyptic intentions. Or mythological horrors like the Cyclops, the Hydra, and the Medusa. The result was a run of episodes that were ominous and scary and made an indelible impression upon young viewers.
The eternal-life-achieving though averse-to-light Dr. Mortula, on an asteroid where Count Dracula would feel very much at home, wanted to extinguish the Sun, Dr. Magnet exploited his extensive control over the forces of magnetism for audacious robberies, and Dr. Manta worked to transmute plant life into animate, sentient, and deadly reptile creatures. Rocket Robin and Little John met Ulysses and fought mythological monsters on a desolate astral body of Earthly origin, and Robin aided a latter-day Rome to repel a horde of giant-Electrosaur-riding barbarians. And there was an episode with such idiosyncratic and interesting villains as Baron Blank, Mr. Cool, and Laser.
And there was "Catch a Comet By the Tail", an episode that is exceedingly preposterous in the resolving of its situation, expecting the viewer to accept that a large boulder shot into space by a geyser could retain enough air to sustain two men for many minutes, and that the gasses in the tail of Halley's Comet could be breathable. And this is saying nothing of the effect of space's temperature. Yet, the episode is so compelling in its creative audacity (Robin and Will matter-teleported by Prince John to some lost world and needing to be propelled into space and moved into communication range of Sherwood Asteroid) that one cannot help but want to accept it. All of it. Yes, even its preposterous resolution. Who knows? Perhaps the laws governing gravity, air dispersion, comet gassing, and space temperature have changed, somehow, by the year 3000.
But as tensions mounted and strife erupted anew between Krantz and Guest, Bakshi was instructed by Krantz to move Rocket Robin Hood's cartoon-animation production from Toronto to New York City (the voices would still be provided by the same talented voice-artist team in Toronto). Bakshi procured as many materials as he could from the Guest cartoon-animation studio and returned to the his home metropolis of New York City, and there he produced the third and arguably the most imaginative and visually striking season of Rocket Robin Hood.
"Dr. Mortula" Rocket Robin, Giles, and Maid Marion are returning to asteroid Sherwood after a productive space-cargo-supply expedition when their spaceship is ambushed and rammed by a giant robot bat. Not equipped to fight the bat, its fuel running tanks ruptured, and 100 tons of spare fuel in its storage tanks not accessible because of an inoperative emergency fuel pump, the cargo spacecraft crewed by Robin, Marion, and Giles is so disabled that immediate landing is essential- on the only nearby celestial body, an asteroid enshrouded by thick clouds. Disembarking their in-need-of-repair spaceship on the spooky, lightning-storm-swept asteroid's craggy surface, Robin and his companions are collected by a horse-pulled coach steered by a beefy man named Montressor. Montressor is servant to the master of Mortula Castle, and it is to there that Robin, Marion, and Giles are brought by Montressor, who turns feral when a faint amount of light from a certain Jovian moon can be seen in the sky of the gloomy asteroid. With luminance emitted from a ring, Dr. Mortula is able to pacify Montressor and thereby prevent Montressor from harming his coach passengers. Dr. Mortula looks and is garbed like a certain Transylvanian Count of Earth legend but is a congenial host to his three guests in the castle, providing them with a meal as he explains that he is a scientist who succeeded in attaining eternal life for himself, but his immortality is only possible with darkness; if the Sun were to shine upon him, he would die. He conquered and clouded the asteroid for protection against the Sun's rays but is now tired of confinement and wishes to travel the Solar System. For this reason, Mortula is intent upon extinguishing the Sun and wants for Rocket Robin Hood to perform the task with the use of Mortula's Super-Solar Extinguisher towed by Robin toward the Sun and then released into the parent star of the Solar System. Robin refuses to destroy the trillions of people of the Solar System for the comfort of one man; so, Mortula activates his robot bat, Bruno, the same bat which earlier impacted Robin, Giles, and Marion's space vessel, to eliminate Robin and company. Although confident that his bat is impervious to Robin's arrows, Mortula did not expect that Robin would shoot an arrow at the bat control device on Mortula's belt, thereby temporarily immobilising Bruno. In simple perpetual-darkness-terms, Robin and his friends explain the consequence of Mortula's apocalyptic scheme to sunlight- craving Montressor and promise that the Sun will shine again on asteroid Mortula if Montressor helps them to stop Mortula. Montressor grabs the bat control from Mortula, and Robin, Giles, and Marion command the bat to fly them out of Mortula Castle. Back at their spaceship, Marion signals Sherwood so that a rescue party is sent, while Robin primes the 100 tons of stored rocket fuel to detonate once the slightly operable spaceship reaches an asteroid-orbital position- with nobody aboard it, of course. The fuel explosion depletes much of the cloud cover, and sunlight bathes the no-longer-dreary Mortula Asteroid. Mortula flees to caves to avoid lethal exposure to Solar rays. "The Space Wolf" "It's the Norsemen. The Vikings have come to N.O.T.T.." Ransacking Viking warriors traverse the Solar System in their outlandish spaceship, a rocket-powered Viking Sea Wolf, pillaging the wealth of targeted space vessels. The Sheriff of N.O.T.T.'s transporter spaceship, en route to N.O.T.T. Castle after a visit to one of N.O.T.T.'s astral counties, is intercepted by the space Vikings, its propulsion system encumbered by an Alpha Attractor Ray emanating from the mouth of the dreaded "Space Wolf", and is tractor-beamed into the bosom of the Viking spacecraft. Viking Captain Erik Arthur orders his tall and muscular soldiers to chain the Sheriff to a pillar and threatens that the Sheriff will endure the tortuous and ultimately lethal lightning power of the hammer of Thor, Viking God of War, who also happens to be in Erik's crew, if he does not surrender all of his wealth to the Viking raiders. The wily Sheriff pleads poverty, on the pretext that Rocket Robin constantly steals all of the tax revenue collected by the Sheriff, and says that Rocket Robin Hood is therefore the man to hijack and divest of riches. The Vikings release the Sheriff in his space vessel after the cretinous N.O.T.T. official provides to them information on Rocket Robin's appearance and on that of the Merry Men's spaceships. Erik later seizes a space cruiser piloted by Robin and Little John, pulling it via Alpha Attractor Ray into the Space Wolf. A fierce battle ensues between the laser pistols and fists of the two outlaws of asteroid Sherwood and the spears and metal shields of the Norsemen, the victors being Robin and Little John. However, Erik uses a lever to release a foam that gums the legs and feet of the heroic duo and demands, with threat of Thor's hammer, that Robin release his bountiful booty of which the Sheriff spoke, into the greedy hands of the Norsemen. Robin asserts to Erik that the Sheriff was not entirely truthful. Robin may steal some of the Sheriff's income but not all of it, and what he has filched was returned to the impoverished people from whom it had been extracted by cruel N.O.T.T. authority. Robin proclaims that in the vault in N.O.T.T. Castle are piles and sacks of gold and baskets of jewels- and that he knows how the abundant plunder can be attained through chicanery. The Viking Captain agrees to a 50:50 partnership with Robin! With Little John remaining aboard the Space Wolf, Robin and Erik fly in the Merry Men's spaceship to the gate to N.O.T.T. Castle, Erik pretending to be bringing Robin to the Sheriff's custody for a reward. The Sheriff allows access to Prince John's vault to Erik and Erik's "captive" so that he can pay 2,000 gold pieces to Erik, and Erik in his zeal at seeing the contents of the vault divulges the fact of his allegiance with Robin. Now alerted to Erik and Robin's subterfuge, the Sheriff slyly moves out of the vault and with a shutting of its door, seals the associates in thievery inside of the "impregnable" enclosure. He has also activated a force field around the vault hatch, and Robin manipulates the force field controls inside of the vault to burst the door open and free him and Erik. The two are able to stealthily escape N.O.T.T. Castle with sufficient quantity of stolen sacks of gold in their possession before Erik dissolves the partnership and beckons the Space Wolf to collect him and all of the heisted gold- and to recapture Robin. However, Little John has succeeded in commandeering the Space Wolf and has radio-requested assistance from Sherwood. Little John and Will Scarlet join Robin in an area near N.O.T.T. Castle, Robin regains the riches snatched from the vault, and Erik runs away from Robin and company, boards the Space Wolf after all of the Merry Men have departed from it, and tries to resume his Viking piracy, only to discover that the Merry Men have rendered the Alpha Attractor Ray inoperative. "Dr. Magnet" Rumours of his death have been exaggerated. Dr. Magnet is alive. The space scoundrel who wears a visor with voice-register lines like those on an electroencephalogram and who talks through an audio speaker located over his mouth, has assembled a motley crew of outlaw mercenaries in his effort to divest the Interplanetary Bank of its gold supply. This is done with the use of magnetism, a tractor beam magnetic field directed at the Interplanetary Bank's gold carrier platforms from an antenna on Magnet's "innocent-looking", triangular space vessel. The magnetic ray not only pulls the gold into Magnet's spaceship but also neutralises bank communication, alarm systems, and gold guards' laser guns. After Magnet's most ambitious heist, of one billion dollars' worth of gold bullion, the thieving genius hopes to direct the attention of the Interplanetary Police onto the Merry Men. Magnet has copied Rocket Robin Hood's homing arrow and inside the duplicate arrow inserts a message stating "Rocket Robin's" intention to continue stealing gold from the Interplanetary Bank. Magnet dispatches the arrow in the direction of Interplanetary Police headquarters, and as Magnet has planned, the police force issues a warrant for Robin's capture. On Sherwood Asteroid, the Merry Men intercept a transmission in this regard by police Captain Scott, and Robin resolves to meet with Scott in order to help Scott to apprehend the real culprits. Accompanied by Will Scarlet, Little John, and Friar Tuck, Robin departs Sherwood in a spaceship and encounters Magnet's flying triangle. Magnet announces himself and his nefarious deeds to Robin and company by radio communication before training a concentrated magnetic blast at the Merry Men's spaceship, crippling its controls and sending it on a collision course with the surface of Sherwood Asteroid. Robin and friends manage to activate the retro-rockets of their spaceship in sufficient time to prevent a high-angle crash-landing. With a meteoric rock camouflage around their revitalised space vehicle, they trail Magnet's criminal band to planet Plato, where they sneak into the cavernous lair of the evil-doer and eavesdrop on Magnet's deliberations to learn of Magnet's next target, a 20 million dollar transfer of gold from an Earth vault to one on the Moon. Captain Scott is leading a police convoy in escort of the gold, and the Merry Men confer with him as Robin proclaims his innocence and announces that Dr. Magnet is the guilty party. Knowing in advance of Magnet's seizure of the Earth-to-Moon gold shipment, the Merry Men are permitted by Scott to act to stop Magnet, with Robin spacewalking onto Magnet's spaceship to twist the magnetic ray-firing antenna and reverse its pull. The tractor-beamed gold changes course from going into Magnet's spacecraft to going out of it and back into the possession of the Interplanetary Bank. Magnet frets and is easily captured by the Merry Men and by Scott, and all of the stolen gold is retrieved from Magnet's planet Plato hideout. "The Manta Menace" "Sound the stimulator. Unleash my menace." Planeton is a pastoral world in the frontier of deep space, its soil abundant in nitrolic energy essential to the diabolical experiments of Dr. Manta, an alien scientist with the physical attributes of a humanoid mantis and the genius of Dr. Frankenstein, and who is assisted by Igor, a hunchbacked man further alluding to Mary Shelley's tale of a doctor who dared to tamper with the forces of nature. Such is the essence of Manta's research, too. Tapping into the nitrolic energy of Planeton, Manta has succeeded in converting the atoms of plant organisms to those of reptiles, bestowing motor mobility to previously inanimate matter- and entirely under his control. He wishes to extend this hybridisation of the plant and the animal for purpose of conquest. An eerie sonic symphony emitted from a Gothic organ in the castle of Dr. Manta in a forest on Planeton transforms huge trees into rampaging dinosaurs and giant mushrooms into Triceratops stampeders. Planeton's indigenous elfin populace is terrorised by these abominations, which trample farm houses and threaten to penetrate the fortress of Mound City. Manta, with Igor, plays a tune of destruction on the organ by night for maximum creepy effect. Planeton's diminutive, bearded, Irish-accented king, Planethut, suspects Manta of responsibility for the monsters but requires the assistance of his friend, Rocket Robin Hood, to confront Manta. A S.O.S. signal from the Planetons is received by Robin, who comes to the troubled planet to aid King Planethut in thwarting Manta's mayhem. Robin and Planethut visit Manta's castle after being attacked by "marching trees", i.e. dinosaurs, which were repelled by a fire-tipped arrow slung by Robin. Manta knows that he need not have any secrets from his accusers and demonstrates the obscene power of his musical instrument. Robin falls through a trap door on the floor beneath his feet, lands on a spider web, and must battle a flower-turned-spider-crab with his quarterstaff, while Manta's Triceratops hoard marches against the walls of Mound City. With Planethut as his captive, Manta demands unconditional surrender from the Planetons, but, as usual, the villain underestimates the fighting prowess and ingenuity of Rocket Robin, who bests his arachnid opponent by striking with his quarterstaff its antenna-receiver of Manta's sonically transmitted directives and causing it to retreat from combat. After jetting on his quarterstaff out of Manta Castle to Mound City, Robin shoots an energy-conductor-roped arrow connected by the Planetons to the city's power generator directly through the antennae of all of the Triceratops before the horrors can annihilate Mound City. The surge of electricity through the sonic-information receptors of the beasts neutralises Manta's command of them, and Robin easily frees Planethut from now-powerless Manta and Igor, who scurry away from Planeton. "Young Mr. Ulysses" Robin and Little John discover a sword jutting from the rock of an asteroid formed from a volcanic reaction on some planet, and find a man in ancient Greek garb in a natural suspended animation process caused by volcanic gasses. Robin utilises a chemical concoction to reverse the effect of the gasses and restore the Greek man to life. The Greek man is Ulysses, who was in the midst of his quest for the legendary, omnipotence-bestowing Golden Fleece when the volcanic reaction sent a chunk of Earth, with him and his three enemies, the Hydra- a three-headed serpent, the Medusa, and the Cyclops, on it, into space. Ulysses' three foes are still alive in caves on the Earth rock asteroid, and when Robin and Little John agree to help Ulysses to find the Golden Fleece, they must battle each of Ulysses' nemeses. The two Merry Men and their Greek cohort are extremely careful not to gaze upon the Medusa's face, which can turn anyone who beholds her into stone! Robin uses the Medusa's reflection on a cave wall to target a tranquilising arrow, fires the arrow behind his back, and renders the Medusa unconscious. Neutralising the Hydra by encasing it in Moonite released from a trusty, hand- held cylinder on Robin's person, the three heroes find the Golden Fleece on a pedestal, in the possession of a dozing Cyclops, and they try to attain it before the one-eyed giant awakes. They snatch the Fleece, but Little John's joyous, "We got it!", jolts the belligerent giant out of sleep, and the Cyclops chases Robin, Little John, and Ulysses. Not gazing upon the unconscious Medusa, Robin places the fleece on her face, awakening her. She petrifies the Cyclops, and Robin, Little John, and Ulysses exit the labyrinths, with Ulysses now possessor of the Golden Fleece. He chooses to remain on the asteroid, a part of his native habitat. "The Incredible Gem of Cosmo Khan" The advanced and highly populated planet Thor is attacked by a marauding despot named Cosmo Khan, who freezes Thor in time, shrinks the world to walnut size, and encases it in a protective bubble. The miniaturised Thor is then removed from its orbit around its star and brought by Cosmo Khan to Khan's home planet of Zanador. The United Solar Systems Council requests Rocket Robin's assistance in rescuing Thor cloak-and-dagger style from Cosmo Khan's palace, and Robin, Will, and Little John are flown by a U.S.S. spaceship carrier to the upper atmosphere of Zanador and released from the carrier in an aeroplane disguised as a Kogool bird to be undetectable by Khan's men. But the aeroplane is fired upon by Zanador hunters believing it is a Kogool, and the three Merry Men crash-land on Zanador. They swim a moat and dig through dirt to enter Khan's palace. While the gluttonous Khan is napping after a feast, the trio of Merry Men act on their opportunity to steal the shrunken planet from Khan's chamber, by lifting it out of an electromagnetic ring and pulling it to the ceiling with the use of a plunger-tipped arrow. Little John shouts, "We got it!" Khan awakes. The Merry Men play pass- the-ball with the planet to keep it away from Khan, who calls for his guards. Robin and his companions subdue Khan and Khan's men, but Khan shoots a size-restoring ray at the shrunken planet and tells to the Merry Men that they have very little time to return Thor to its proper position in space before it returns to full size. Robin, Will, and Little John fly one of Khan's space cruisers to return Thor to its precise position before Khan shrunk it, without a second to spare. It enlarges to full size and is fully reanimated. Khan is imprisoned for his planetary thievery. "Who'll Kill Rocket Robin?" Baron Blank of planet Blotto, Mr. Cool from ice world Frigida, and Laser, three of Rocket Robin's enemies, are employed by the Warlord of Saturn, sworn by the supposedly jewelled rings given to them by the Warlord, to ruthlessly attack the noble outlaw of Sherwood Asteroid. Each executes his plan, every one a failure, to catch and kill Rocket Robin and Will Scarlet. Baron Blank utilises his disintegrator implement, called the Eraser, to vanish trees and a mountain on a U.S.S. outpost planet, thereby luring a predictably curious Robin, accompanied by Will, into the planet's spatial region, where a giant spider under Blank's control spins a web to entangle Robin and Will's spaceship, for it to be towed to Blotto by Blank's astronaut army. On Blotto, Blank offers a choice of death method to the heroic duo: perforation in a spiked maiden or dissolution by the Eraser. Robin and Will distract and overpower the Baron's guards and gain possession of the Eraser, with which they persuade Blank to join them in a spaceflight to Sherwood and thence to the U.S.S. authorities. En route thus to Sherwood, Robin and Will's spacecraft is crippled by a freezing ray emanating from Mr. Cool's space cruiser and falls toward the surface of an obscure planet. Robin's ingenuity prevails yet again as he modifies the ice-encumbered spaceship's heat shield to melt the ice encasing it and bring the space vessel to a landing on the planet. Surface temperature there plummets to 1000 degrees below zero, and Robin senses the frosty influence of his nemesis, Mr. Cool. He and Will speedily relaunch their spaceship on a course for Frigida. Robin threatens to bake Frigida by magnifying the rays of the Frigida sun unless Mr. Cool surrenders. This Mr. Cool does, and he joins Blank as prisoner in the cargo hold of Robin and Will's spacecraft, which is intercepted by Laser. Robin defeats Laser by discharging Moonite from his utility belt to cover Laser's laser pistol finger, divesting Laser of his ability to kill. Having collected their three adversaries, Robin and Will return to Sherwood, where the rings given to each of Robin's three adversaries by Ming are examined by Robin and found to be composed of nitroflex, a powerful explosive. The Warlord had expected the three to fail and was planning to detonate the nitroflex rings once Robin brought the villainous trio to Sherwood, but Robin orders the rings rocketed into space in sufficient time for their explosion to do no harm to Sherwood. The three villains are released by Robin to avenge themselves upon Ming, who had intended their death. "Genius in a Bottle" Rocket Robin Hood and Will Scarlet must rescue Maid Marion, who has been captured by a crazed robot, the legacy of Zantog, an ancient scientist preserved in suspended animation by the robot, to which Marion assigns the name of Beast. The robot controls an army of squid-shaped, other robots, and Robin and Will are themselves frozen as the robot plans to add them to its collection of life form exhibits. Marion, however, is to be spared from suspended animation, to be the robot's unwilling consort. Robin is able to use his laser pistol to melt the ice surrounding him and frees Will by the same method, and together they reanimate Zantog to learn the robot's weakness: all of its power is channelled through a belt around its waist. They succeed in removing the belt from the robot, who loses control over the other automatons, which attack him, reducing him to scrap metal. "The Tree Kingdom of Caldomar" Monocled warrior Count Phantasmo targets the planet of Caldomar as his next conquest. The energy-rich Caldomar soil causes the growth of mile-high trees in which the technologically advanced, peace-loving, Orientals-like people of Caldomar have constructed immense cities, and Phantasmo hopes to distill the Caldomar soil into a super-fuel to power his robot soldiers and machines (i.e. armoured tanks and saucer-shaped space laser-gunships) of destruction. To do this, he must subjugate the Caldomar population. Commanding his war fleet of space gunships to base in the least populated part of the planet and to dig deep underground, Phantasmo plots to destroy the Caldomar civilisation at its literal roots. He and his robot troops burrow into the vicinity of the outlying city of Nomar, where he uses his ultra-powerful atomic sword to strike at the arboreal metropolis' foundations, toppling the tree wherein Nomar is situated. Word of this catastrophe reaches the Caldomar capital city. There, Rocket Robin Hood, Will Scarlet, and Little John are honoured guests in Caldomar's celebration of 300 years of peace. Their host and Robin's school friend, Caldomar Prince Sim, is aghast to learn of Nomar's fate. Phantasmo contacts Sim by astral-communicator to demand total surrender. If Caldomar's citizens yield to Phantasmo, they will be enslaved; if they resist him, they will die in the devastation of their cities. Caldomar is not practised in war, and Sim needs the help of the Merry Men to fight against Phantasmo. Robin, Will, and Little John are happy to participate in this task. They use Phantasmo's transmission to trace the location of his centre of operations on Caldomar and swing on Caldomar tree vines to stealthily approach it. Little John fells a line of Phantasmo's robot soldiers with one swish of his quarterstaff, and Robin confronts the Count in physical combat and gains possession of the atomic sword. Phantasmo escapes the trio in one of his spaceships and retaliates against them and against the people of Caldomar by igniting a spreading fire in the forests. The Merry Men return to Prince Sim in advance of the holocaust and assist Sim's scientists to concoct crystals to seed the clouds of the planet and begin a drenching rainfall to douse the flames. Remote-controlled spaceships containing the crystals are launched from Caldomar's urban capital, Phantasmo lasers the spaceships, and the crystals are thereby released into the atmosphere. The ample rain water quenches the blaze, to the chagrin of the Count! The Merry Men pursue and down Phantasmo's fleeing space gunship, and Robin wields the atomic sword to knock the defeated Phantasmo's monocle out of Phantasmo's eye. "Catch a Comet By the Tail" Prince John hopes to rid himself of Rocket Robin Hood and Will Scarlet by way of a matter transporter to hurl them to the furthest reaches of space, but the overzealous Prince John fouls the process, and though Robin and Will are teleported somewhere, it is not anywhere as far from the Solar System's asteroid field as the wicked prince had hoped. Robin and Will are on a desolate asteroid where they are captured by savages, who prepare to burn the two Merry Men at stakes, but the fortuitous passing of Halley's Comet and Will's inane chants that appear to the savages to be controlling the moving light in the sky, convince the primitives to release the pair and treat them like royalty. Growing quickly bored, Robin and Will seize a remote chance to return home by riding a boulder propelled into space by a geyser, and becoming drawn into the tail of comet Halley. Once in space, they call to Sherwood Asteroid to give to Friar Tuck their location, and the Friar arrives at the comet to rescue them before their air supply around the boulder is exhausted. "The Emperor Jimmy" Rocket Robin Hood encounters Carbonetta, an asteroid cut and faceted to look like a diamond, and lands on the smooth-as- glass surface, where he is immediately captured by armed guards and carried in an chariot formed from laser energy, to meet the crowned Emperor of Carbonetta, a clearly bored boy named James, and the Prime Minister, a chubby, ill-tempered, nasal-voiced man who orders Robin's death. But Emperor James spares Robin and requests that the galactically famous Robin demonstrate his archery skills. Alone with James (called Jimmy by Robin), Robin asks James to permit him to escape, and the boy obliges, by going along with Robin on a phony hostage-taking in which Robin uses Jimmy as a shield so that he can depart the jewel asteroid. Once in space, Robin contacts Carbonetta's Prime Minister to arrange to return Jimmy to the jewel asteroid, and the Prime Minister, always having wanted the crown for himself, announces that he is now Emperor, that he has told his people that Robin killed Jimmy, and that Jimmy will be killed as an impostor if Jimmy returns to Carbonetta. So, Robin adopts Jimmy as a junior squire on Sherwood Asteroid, but Jimmy's enthusiasm changes to despair due to his ineptitude at Merry Men activities. Robin assures him that with time and training he will thrive. Going with Robin on a training flight in a spaceship, Jimmy intercepts a transmission between Carbonetta's new Emperor and Prince John, involving a plan by the two tyrants to divide the diamond wealth of Carbonetta between them and enslave the people. Jimmy and Robin descend to the jewel asteroid, where Jimmy proves himself a man in the battle against both the usurper Emperor and the N.O.T.T. troops that come to the asteroid. First, Jimmy defends Robin with some fancy arrow-slinging, entangling in rope the Carbonetta guards ordered by the usurper Emperor to kill Robin. And then, swinging on another rope, Jimmy kicks the stomach of the ill-tempered, illegitimate Emperor. His usurper effectively ousted, Jimmy easily convinces his people that he is who he says he is. All of the people of Carbonetta avow loyalty to Jimmy, who directs the Carbonetta population to chip away pieces of diamond from Carbonetta's surface to throw at the N.O.T.T. men, whose greed results in fighting among themselves and a rout of them by the united Carbonetta forces. Jimmy is Emperor again by acclamation, and Robin bids to him a warm good-bye. "The Eternal Planet of Romarama" Rocket Robin Hood is alone in his spaceship, reconnoitring the fringes of known space, when he deciphers an S.O.S. transmission from a planet in an uncharted cosmic region and informs Friar Tuck and Will Scarlet on Sherwood of his plan to assist whoever is in trouble. However, the S.O.S. signal is a deception to lure Robin close to the planet, from which a beam of energy is emitted to surround, seize, and pull Robin's spacecraft to the planet's surface for a crash-landing there. The event is being monitored by three men of whom the leader, Tug Lug, intended to entrap Robin as fodder for his fearsome pet Electrosaurs, dinosaurs that discharge matter-obliterating neutron rays from their nostrils. The Electrosaurs attack Robin in the area of Robin's crashed spaceship, and instinctively, Robin fires his laser gun at the beasts, but the laser energy only increases their size! Robin tries to shelter himself in his spaceship by activating its heat shield for protection against the Electrosaurs' neutron rays, but the monsters by their mouths grab Robin's spacecraft, with Robin still inside! Tug Lug, who has command over the Electrosaurs, orders them to bite into Robin's metal refuge, but before the horrible latter-day dinosaurs can complete this action, Robin's space vessel is again manipulated by an enwrapping surge of energy. This time, it is levitated out of the mouths and reach of Tug Lug's pets and carried in a strange aeroplane to the walled city that Tug Lug curses for its interference. In the fortified city, which is patterned like ancient Rome but with high technology, Robin meets the benevolent Emperor Claudius of Roma Seconda, established by Romans who harnessed the eruption of Vesuvius to escape the miseries of Earth. After millennia of peace, the Romans on their second planetary home are now threatened by Tug Lug's hoard of barbarians. Tug Lug is in possession of some of the same technology owned by Roma Seconda (e.g. the spaceship-moving tractor beams), and the Romans cannot repel, with their catapulted disintegration "rocks" composed of de-atomising anti-matter, an impending massed assault atop Electrosaurs by Tug Lug's group of marauders because, as Robin has observed, the Electrosaurs are impervious to all forms of energy, including that produced in impact by Roma Seconda's anti-matter weaponry. Robin assists the Roman champion, Marcus, Claudius' son, in a personal confrontation with Tug Lug and with the Electrosaur atop of which the vandal leader sits. He slings an arrow directly into the mouth of the roaring beast. The Electrosaur is reduced to baby-size, Tug Lug temporarily withdraws from battle, and Robin and the Romans deduce that Robin's iron-tipped arrow acted like a lightning rod, causing a reverse flow of the monster's neutron energy. The Electrosaur's Achilles heel is in its throat. In accordance with this discovery, Robin and Claudius arrange for the catapults positioned along the city perimeters to shoot solid steel blocks (which are used for Roma Seconda wall construction) directly into the mouths of the Electrosaurs when Tug Lug initiates an all-out aggression against Rome. Every Electrosaur is diminished to hand-held cuteness, Tug Lug is defeated, the Romans rejoice, and Friar Tuck is transported in a bubble to the planet to join Robin in a Roman feast.
Season 3Production of the third season of Rocket Robin Hood began at what was called "Ralph's Spot" in New York City. Ralph Bakshi fully put his stylistic stamp onto the television programme, with the result that the most visually and conceptually impressive Rocket Robin Hood episodes are arguably those of Season 3. "Dementia Five", "Lord of the Shadows", "The Living Planet", and "From Menace to Menace" offer a veritable bonanza of creepily arresting images, in addition to most deadly danger for Rocket Robin and his men, with whole worlds being destroyed, cat shadows bloodily killing a dog, and an artificial planet whose constituent elements can be lethally directed against any unwitting or unwilling comer to that synthetic astral body. Other third season episodes involve a belligerent giant wreaking destruction upon an advanced city, controlled earthquakes that engulf hapless scientists, and a huge, flying sphinx that swallows spaceships. Evil scientists want to expunge the Earth, darken stars, and plunder an asteroid for lavaside before destroying said asteroid with a behemoth mountain monster, and Infinata of Dementia Five will stop at nothing to preserve the secrets of his nightmarish realm.
Some of the most intense visualisations ever to be manifest on Saturday morning television are those of Rocket Robin Hood under the full creative control of Ralph Bakshi. Bakshi stretched budgets while working to exceedingly rigid timetables to produce a run of Rocket Robin Hood episodes that truly portrayed space and its worlds and its megalomaniacal-minded life-forms as daunting and scary. When money was all but gone and there was a further five episodes expected to be produced, Bakshi, as he did with Spiderman, cobbled together some "cheater" episodes using existing footage. "Planet of Dreams" is quite an inventive variation on the flashback episode, with Rocket Robin and his men needing to keep from falling asleep by remembering their past experiences. The other "cheater" episodes reuse footage, even dialogue, from previous third season episodes to present sequels to past encounters with certain villains, with, in some cases, almost no measurable difference from how the original tussle of Robin (or Robin and accompaniment) against villain had proceeded. Cartoon-animation and backgrounds are reused wholesale, with only some perfunctory expositional dialogue to give some semblance of a new and different storyline. Whereas Spiderman's "cheater" episodes are often quite creative in their construction, Rocket Robin Hood's "cheaters" are mostly half-baked in conception and tenuous, at best, in their story plot development, and non-availability of some of the voice talent was a complication that further reduced the value and quality of the five "cheater" episodes. With the exception of "Planet of Dreams", all of them are forgettable and disposable. But they should not detract from what had preceded them in Season 3. Absolutely not!
"The Living Planet", in positing that a planet, albeit an artificial one, could be a living, single, holistic entity, references the concept of Gaia, the exquisite notion that a planet and its ecosystem could be alive and conscious as a being, a life-form, its flora, its geological formations, its atmosphere, its environment being its bodily organs or appendages and its processes, all performing a function contributing to the whole planetary body's life-force. And that planetary body possessing a consciousness, a sentience. Though the planet's sentience in "The Living Planet" comes from the brain waves of evil scientist, Dr. Medulla, through a machine called a galvomagnetiser, the principle of Gaia in its most elaborate iteration, is still very discernibly present. A planet heart is even seen to beat. It is a profoundly sophisticated concept, and Rocket Robin Hood dared to utilise it for one of its most impressive episodes. There is some Gaia invoked also in the machinations of Dr. Manta in "From Menace to Menace" as he is able to instill some consciousness and sentience into formations of rock, such that they become fearfully deadly and destructive animals.
"Dementia Five" proposes that thought alone can form dimensions of horrific substance, fully autonomous and co-existing with normal space, and able to cross into normal space to destroy highly populated astral bodies and individual space travellers, in addition to selectively pulling persons into them for the most nightmarish of experiences. Then there is, in "Lord of the Shadows", the idea that the forces of darkness do exist in the universe as corporeal entities and can be destructively harnessed where starlight is weakest or not present at all. Amazing material! Rocket Robin Hood was no longer about an inept magician, an animal-sound-making, elfin boy, or an ineffectual and goofy would-be bridegroom. With its third season, Rocket Robin Hood became conceptually provocative space horror, quite aptly befitting, and indeed often surpassing, its overall Gothic aesthetic.
"The Dark Galaxy" Rocket Robin Hood and Will Scarlet on Sherwood Asteroid watch an Earth news broadcast announcing that one of Robin's long- time friends, Sir Godfrey Humbolt, is missing and presumed dead. Humbolt had been exploring a fearsome region of the cosmos called the Dark Galaxy, before his reconnaissance space cruiser was subjected to intense blasting from nuclear missiles. Humbolt dispatched into space a message capsule containing his final mission report wherein he tried to warn the universe of a unspecified threat, before all communication from him ceased. Robin believes that Sir Godfrey, a "tough old bird", is yet alive somewhere in the Dark Galaxy, into which Robin and Will penetrate in hope of rescuing Humbolt. The twosome land their spaceship on a planet inhabited by giant reptiles and savage humanoids. Surveying on foot the planet's surface, Robin and Will are beset by the brutes, and a violent fight results. The primitives capture Will, who notices that a pendant worn by one of them has Humbolt's initials on it. Ergo, Humbolt was on this wretched planet at some point in time. Robin re-boards and flies his and Will's spaceship into the mouth of a volcano to which Will is condemned to death by his apish captors, and rescues Will from the fall into molten lava. The pair hasten to leave this planet, with the primitives in pursuit. A spear thrown by one of the savages ruptures the fuel tank of Robin and Will's spacecraft, forcing an emergency landing by the intrepid duo on a neighbouring planet with East Indian and Egyptian architecture. A giant sphinx pursues, swallows, and transports the two Merry Men to the lair of the evil Count Adolf, who, assisted by an army of robot mummies, plans to conquer the universe. Count Adolf consigns Robin and Will to a spike-walled jail cell, where they find Humbolt, who tells to them that Count Adolf uses an atomic brain to control the mummies. The three prisoners escape their converging-wall prison by dint of Robin's skill at archery and the capacity of his arrow to remove iron bars from jail cell windows. Learning from Sir Godfrey that Adolf's observatory building is the location of the atomic brain, Robin executes a plan to utilise the mummies to destroy the brain in a stampede by leading the mummies on a chase through the observatory building. The mummies mindlessly smash the delicate equipment composing the brain. When the brain is destroyed, Adolf's power over the mummies is broken, and the mummies rebel against him. Robin, Will, and Humbolt depart the Dark Galaxy in the giant sphinx that belonged to the Count. "Space Giant" The Merry Men's friend, Tiny, the amiable Giant of Zeno, is turned into a rampaging monster when the Minutiae inhabitants of a black cloud mechanically generate a thunderbolt to strike Tiny's head, befog his conscience and gentle nature, and energise his latent aggression. Tiny begins demolishing the buildings of a city inhabited by normal-sized Zenons, and Robin, Will, Little John, and Friar Tuck are unable to communicate with Tiny, who punches their spaceship. The Zenon army prepares to discharge an atomic howitzer against Tiny, and the Merry Men, having escaped their crippled spaceship, perceive the black cloud moving above Tiny to give to the giant another mania-inducing jolt. Robin undergoes a reducing process so that he is small enough to enter the cloud and battle its micro-organic occupants who are using Tiny to destroy Zeno's civilisation so that they can assume control of the planet. Robin ignites a fire that consumes the cloud and its micro-organic denizens, and Robin escapes the inferno and returns to full size. Tiny recovers to his lucid, kindly state of mind and remorsefully agrees to help to rebuild Zeno's city. "The Haunted Asteroid" Colonel Horatio Spaulding and his weaselly assistant, Gideon, are being transported by the Merry Men to a conference of military leaders, when their spaceship is attacked by mysterious forces and crash-lands on an asteroid widely believed to be haunted. The asteroid was once home to a magnificent alien civilisation and is said to have a deserted city with great riches, and ghosts supposedly guard the asteroid and city against interlopers. Gideon is most insistent about the haunting being truth. However, Robin is never one to believe in the supernatural, and when his party, trekking across the gloomy surface of the asteroid, is attacked by skeletal dinosaurs, by giant, man-eating plants that appear to consume Gideon, and by bat-like things firing freezing rays from their eyes, Robin removes pieces of the hostile creatures that have a mechanical look. Robin theorises that the attacking creatures were robots. The heroic group finds the legendary city and a number of lizard-like things that are loading the priceless artifacts of the city into rockets. Robin grabs the leader and finds that it talks in a familiar voice and is just a man in a costume. Removing the mask, Robin, to no surprise, finds Gideon, who had planned to steal the wealth of the city and use the haunted asteroid legend as a "smoke screen". Robin's men capture all of Gideon's thugs to be delivered to the United Solar Systems authorities, and depart the asteroid in one of Gideon's rockets. "The Plot to Destroy N.O.T.T." Prince John has devised a one-of-a-kind super-missile whose existence, he believes, will bring terror and order to the Solar System. But the Warlord of Saturn attacks N.O.T.T. Castle, raids the hangar, and snatches the missile. Prince John's only hope of reclaiming the missile is to infiltrate Ming's fortress by stealth, and the Merry Men are most adept at this. So, Prince John contacts Sherwood Asteroid to plead for Robin and company to help him to recover his property. Robin knows that the Warlord of Saturn is the worst of two evils, that while Prince John is a "stand-pat" despot, the Warlord is a conqueror who has no compunction about using the missile. So, Robin agrees to help Prince John! Robin, Will, and Little John sneak into Ming's fortress, narrowly escaping many deathtraps, and gain access to the hangar where the missile is- to find the Warlord himself guarding it. In retaliation for Prince John sending the Merry Men to filch the missile, the Warlord fires it directly at N.O.T.T. Castle! Robin leaps onto the missile as it launches, and rides it into space. Will fights with the Warlord and turns the effect of the Warlord's freezing ray ring onto its wearer. Escaping the Warlord's fortress, Will and Little John fly alongside the rocket as Robin adjusts the mechanism to neutralise the detonator so that when the rocket reaches N.O.T.T. Castle, all that it does is give to Prince John a harmless "fireworks show". "The Solar Sphinx" Robin, Will, and Little John are preparing to attack what appears to be one of Prince John's tax space-wagons when the spaceship changes its appearance. It discharges a paralytic substance onto the hull of the three outlaws' spacecraft and pulls the trio and their space vessel inside of its fully robotised structure for a journey to asteroid Nilor that is fashioned like ancient Egypt, with walking mummy robot-guards. The Nilor ruler, Emperor Tut, introduces himself to the Merry Men and says that he brought them to his asteroid to crown them as princes, providing that they help him to conquer the universe. Robin declines, of course: "Sorry, old boy. But I'm really Napoleon. And these (Will and Little John) are Humpty and Dumpty. We have a date for a ping-pong game with Alexander the Great. Maybe some other time." Tut furiously orders his mummies to seize the trio and to throw them into a dungeon with walls that converge onto them. Little John's jet-quarterstaff stalls the enclosing walls momentarily, until the three Merry Men are able to use acrobatics to propel themselves above the walls and out of danger. They then are met by an aged and bearded man named Ezra, leader of a Nilor rebel group that wants to overthrow Tut's tyranny. Ezra gives to Robin a map indicating the location of a launch area where the Merry Men snatch a spaceship to escape Nilor. Tut activates his "ultimate weapon", a gigantic, flying sphinx, to pursue Robin, Will, and Little John. It bites into and swallows their heisted spaceship- and ingests them too! Inside the Solar Sphinx, Robin chooses to corrupt the sphinx's mechanism by ramming a gear into a wheel. Robin and his friends parachute to Nilor from the wildly spinning sphinx before it collapses into itself and explodes. They infiltrate Tut's palace by disguising themselves as mummies, with wrap-fabric adapted from the parachutes, and administer a consciousness- divesting strike to Tut's head with a metallic food tray. His now-directionless mummy robots easily deactivated, Tut is arrested by the revolutionary group led by Ezra. "Lord of the Underworld" Three scientists are swallowed by the Earth, the victims of two consecutive earthquakes. Robin does not believe in coincidences, and Dr. Von Beck, one of the missing scientists, once saved Little John's life. So, Robin, Little John, and Will fly to Earth to investigate and hover over one of the earthquake sites. The ground beneath them opens and pulls their spaceship into the Earth, to an underground river. They swim ashore to a maze of caverns and are met and captured by a midget scientist named Lord of the Underworld, who kidnapped the scientists to use their knowledge, mechanically extracted from their brains, for constructing a bomb to trigger a highly volatile Earth's core element, magnium, a spoonful of which can destroy a city. Underworld has extracted enough of it to reduce the Milky Way to dust, leaving sufficient magnium in the Earth's core to obliterate Earth in retaliation for Earth's thwarting of his prior scheme to seize power there. Underworld plans to depart Earth with his huge supply of magnium, having locked the three Merry Men in a prison cell- to die with everyone on Earth when the magnium in the planet's core is triggered by a timed bomb. Robin, Will, and Little John escape their confinement. Will follows and stops Underworld's escape vehicle, and Robin slings a roped arrow to pull the bomb away from its assigned, magnium-triggering position and throws it into a cavern where it explodes harmlessly. The Merry Men free the three scientists and leave Underworld to the Earth authorities. "The Ghost Pirates" The Flying Dutchman, famed ghost-ship of Earthly legend, doomed to sail for eternity with a phantom pirate crew and commanded by a ruthless Captain Vandergeist, appears periodically in Solar space, raiding cargo spacecraft and bringing terror to the interplanetary space-shipping lanes. Rocket Robin Hood is asked by the Solar System Space Guard to provide safe passage of the beautiful Princess Leia of Jupiter to Saturn for a royal wedding. But the presence and fighting power of Robin's intrepid group is ineffective against the sudden manifestation of the Dutchman. The Dutchman slams into Robin's space cruiser, which is then swiftly invaded by an overwhelming number of Vandergeist's raiders. The Princess is captured for ransom, along with Friar Tuck and Will Scarlet. Robin does not believe that Vandergeist and the Dutchman are supernatural. The punches and sword strikes of Vandergeist's minions are too solid for ghosts. Joined by Little John, who rescues him from his rammed and crippled spaceship, Robin trails the Dutchman to Caribia, the Ocean Asteroid, and to a bubbled city that rises out of the water, admits entry to the Dutchman, and submerges. Robin and Little John attract the laser energy of a mutant eel to break through the bubble at its weakest point. The heroic pair free Will and the Friar. Robin fights with Vandergeist, who is no ghost; the Dutchman's "ghostly" visitations are technological fakery. With one punch, Robin overcomes Vandergeist and citizen-arrests him. The pirates are defeated, and the Princess is freed. "Dementia Five" By far the spookiest and most provocative episode of Rocket Robin Hood! Scientist Athom of planet Goth in the Galaxy of Kamosah has, with his computers, discovered the secrets of Infinata, one-eyed, skeletal ruler of a frightening, psychedelic dimension where thought is reality and Infinata's wicked thoughts are all-powerful- so powerful that he is able to invade normal space and destroy all worlds that pose a threat to his dimension, Dementia Five. Athom's conversion of all of Kamosah's accumulated knowledge, including the secrets of Dementia Five, into a library accessible by any technological civilisation, dooms Goth, as Infinata attacks and obliterates Goth before Athom can use his information. Flying a rocket, Athom escapes his exploding planet. He carries the Library of Goth, reduced to a portable, spherical module, into space in hope of finding a civilisation that can decode and apply the data to defeat Infinata. Infinata knows that Athom yet possesses the Library and orders a trio of his blobby minions to fire destructive psycho-waves at Athom's rocket, crippling it, despite its protective shell of meteoric rock, and sending it on a crash course with Sherwood Asteroid. But Rocket Robin orders that Sherwood's trajectory be mechanically altered so that Athom's rocket does not collide with it and parachutes as a tiny packet into Robin's hand. Athom is insect-sized in relation to Robin and lives long enough with his mortal wounds sustained in the crippling of his rocket, to telepathically communicate his mission to Robin and bestow upon the Merry Men the Library of Goth, which must be brought to the United Solar Systems Agency where it will presumably be safe. Robin and Little John leave Sherwood, in a spaceship to transport the Library to the U.S.S., but Infinata attacks, hurtling their spaceship impossibly past the speed of light so that it breaks apart. Robin orders Little John to compute the spaceship's last position before it explodes, throwing Robin and Little John into space, but not normal space. After being compelled to ascend a stairway and cross through a portal, they are in Dementia Five, where Infinata tries to choke the location of the Library out of them. Then, when Robin's ring, which Infinata infers must contain the tiny Library, is found to be empty, Infinata sentences Robin and Little John to die in a quicksand-like pool. But Robin closes his eyes and finds himself floating in normal space. He orders Little John to do the same, and both have learned Infinata's jealously-guarded secret, that Dementia Five is all illusion, existing only in the minds of those persons who believe in it, and that by closing their eyes and minds to Infinata, Robin and Little John will be free. This they do, and they are back in normal space, instantly rescued by a United Solar Systems Patrol space vessel, and the Library of Goth is recovered at the precise position where Robin and Little John's spaceship exploded. "Lord of the Shadows" Dr. Nocturne, "wizard of cosmic darkness, sorcerer of the perpetual night to which all black forms obey," uses an ammonia- gas-firing asphyxiator to blot out sunlight. On Sherwood, Robin and Friar Tuck observe the darkening of stars near to the Solar System. Robin embarks on a solo mission to investigate the phenomenon and comes to the planet of the most recent victim star. A boy on the bleak planet, while walking his dog, is attacked by the shadowy but solid and deadly forms of multiple, vicious cats, formed by Nocturne's sorcery. Robin seeds the planet's sun with sodium, which reverses the ammonia gas' effect, and the result as a brightening of the sun, saving the boy from death by the murderous cat shadows. Robin lands his spacecraft on the planet, and Nocturne orders the sun re-darkened, then releases the power of his feline shadows upon Robin, who, outside of his spaceship, is levitated out of danger by a transporter beam that conveys him to an elevator for descent to an underground city. There, Robin meets Tondo, the father of the boy whose life that Robin has saved. Robin is told by Tondo about Nocturne's sorcerous powers of darkness and about the black villain's awful plan to extend his dark dominion through the universe. The inhabitants of the underground city have maintained a brave "front" against Nocturne's insidious powers by channelling solar energy for electrical light, but with Nocturne's sunlight- asphyxiating device, the underground dwellers cannot hope to endure much longer. So, Robin leads an attack group of Tondo's best men disguised as "shadow bats" and armed with fluid mercury guns and firecrackers to bring the battle to Nocturne's castle. Nocturne and his servant, a stone creature, are surprised by Robin's assault, and Nocturne attempts to douse the firecracker lights but is subdued by the bombardment of mercury by Robin and company, reduced to a liquid pool, bottled, and corked! "The Living Planet" A fiendish, balding scientist named Dr. Medulla has used the combined genius of many worlds' most eminent scientists to construct a giant brain in the form of a planet whose collective life-force is controllable by a machine, a galvomagnetiser, linked to Medulla's own brain waves. Each grain of sand and piece of vegetation is a living cell or nerve, and there is a beating heart. Medulla is able to manipulate the artificial planet's constituent elements and weather patterns to generate violent storms that radiate into space and pull Rocket Robin Hood, on a solitary journey in a spaceship, to the brain-planet's surface, where Robin is attacked by giant, carnivorous plants that enwrap and seize his spaceship, then by a volcano which forms around him and emits deadly hydrochloric acid gas. Robin is spared from a stifling death by men with curare-tipped pick-lances relaxing the part of the brain-planet that they touch. Riding on jet- powered air cars, Robin's saviours transport him to the Unconscious Forest, that part of the brain-planet where Medulla has least dominion, and confer with the noble outlaw of Sherwood Asteroid. They were the scientists who were tricked by Medulla into building the brain-planet by Medulla's falsely stated ideal of mind-over-matter for peaceful purpose, i.e. an end to interplanetary war. The brain-planet has grown in potency and now has the capacity to teleproject impulses to control or to destroy life everywhere. When the deceived scientists became cognisant of Medulla's megalomania and his personal symbiosis with the artificial planet, they revolted, ran from Medulla's castle headquarters, and became nomads of the Unconscious Forest. All except for one scientist, Hugo, Medulla's only present assistant. Robin and his new friends deduce that the brain-planet has a motor-reflex, an involuntary nerve centre, Cerebellum Crater, that can be short- circuited, triggering a paralytic chain-reaction. From air cars, Robin and company drop incendiary bombs of their own makeshift manufacture into Cerebellum Crater. Medulla panics and increases the power of the galvomagnetiser, Cerebellum Crater short-circuits, the brain-planet is immobilised, and Medulla's machine instruments explode. Medulla and Hugo flee the flambeed castle and are caught by Robin and the other scientists and placed atop a pick-lance. "From Menace to Menace" An adversary from Rocket Robin's past, Dr. Manta, plays his favoured musical instrument, an organ that transmits electrical impulses to give rampaging movement to inanimate matter, to form giant, mechanical beetles from giant mushrooms to capture and enslave the inhabitants of a majestic city on an asteroid. With his humpbacked assistant, Igor, Manta consigns those persons captured to toil in the asteroid's lavaside mines. One of the victimised people manages to send a distress call to Rocket Robin Hood, and Robin and Will Scarlet travel to the asteroid to successfully battle Manta's beetles (by usurping robot control of them to cause a massive beetle collision), stone elephant (by luring it to a cliff top, from which it falls to its doom), gargoyle (by pulverising it with laser energy from Robin's laser ray pistol), and castle moat alligator (by puncturing its mouth and carcass with a sharp twig thrust into its mouth by Robin), in an insistent effort to foil Manta's scheme to acquire large quantities of lavaside, the most powerful explosive in the universe. Manta's final move is to create a mountain monster programmed to destroy the asteroid, and Robin commandeers Manta's spaceship, filled with lavaside, to ram into the monster, after first ejecting from the spaceship at sufficient distance to avoid being caught in the explosion. Robin and Will apprehend Manta and Igor by gunpoint and free the asteroid's populace. "Planet of Dreams" Crash-landing on a planet whose flora, giant mushrooms, release a gas that blocks subspace radio waves and induces permanent sleep, Robin, Will, Little John, and Friar Tuck must stay awake by telling stories, true stories, of some of their previous adventures- with reused footage from "The Plot to Destroy N.O.T.T.", "Space Giant", and "Dementia Five". They are able to stave off sleep until morning on the planet, when sunlight destroys the gas, permitting their distress transmitter to signal a rescue spaceship. "The Storm Makers" Wild space storms are spreading and threaten to cast the entire Milky Way into darkness, and a stolen device capable of generating the instabilities that cause the storms, is believed to be responsible for the adverse space weather. The suspected culprits are Nocturne and Manta, who have joined forces and are operating from the anti-matter universe. Robin is transported into the anti-matter universe to battle first Manta, then Nocturne in clumsily reused footage from "From Menace to Menace" and "Lord of the Shadows". Robin again defeats both, of course. "Jaws of Steel" Investigating rumours that the Solar Sphinx is being operated again, Rocket Robin, Will Scarlet, and Little John journey to familiar ground on asteroid Nilor. The landing of the trio's spaceship on Nilor is monitored by their nemesis, Emperor Tut: "So, they've come back! Fools!" This is a retread of "The Solar Sphinx", on the pretence that Emperor Tut's motive is revenge for his previous defeat, and he repeats nearly all of his prior mistakes. Robin, Will, and Little John gain control of Tut's giant, spaceship-consuming sphinx, and this time, they cause it to collide with Tut's Nilor palace. "Slaves of Medulla" With reused footage from "The Living Planet", "From Menace to Menace", "Lord of the Underworld", and "The Plot to Destroy N.O.T.T.", Robin, Will, and Little John battle Dr. Medulla and Hugo, who have teamed with Underworld and Igor for the purpose of universal domination by use of the galvomagnetiser, powered by minerals mined by the people of the same asteroid seized by Dr. Manta in "From Menace to Menace". This episode is a mess, with explosions lasting for more than ten seconds simply to fill time, unclear terms of alliance between Medulla and Underworld, the latter again in possession of three missing scientists merely because said scientists happened to be in the clumsily utilised "Lord of the Underworld" film elements, and a scene showing the Warlord of Saturn, whose presence here is unexplained. Robin and company prevail over their foes with repeat heroism from all of the episodes from which footage is culled. "Return Trip" Worlds are being bombarded by missiles, and this is occurring in the region of space where Infinata was encountered by Robin and Little John. Believing that Infinata is responsible, Robin, Will, and Little John dare to enter Infinata's domain, and Infinata releases a beetle army and stone elephant (in scenes from "From Menace to Menace") upon them. They survive these and confront Infinata, who says that they have intruded upon his realm for nothing, that Prince John is who is really responsible for the bombardments, and they intercept one of Prince John's missiles and send it into a reverse trajectory (in scenes from "The Plot to Destroy N.O.T.T.").The legacy of the three-season-long Rocket Robin Hood offers some intriguing anecdotes. The Spiderman television series of 1967-70 utilised extensive footage from Rocket Robin Hood's "From Menace to Menace" and "Dementia Five" for two of its Ralph Bakshi-produced episodes, a certain side view of Rocket Robin's face was repainted and used for The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo, an educational series of five-minute cartoon shorts provided to the CBC television network by Al Guest and his wife, Jean Mathieson, in the mid-1970s, and a housing subdivision in Mississauga, Ontario, a Toronto suburb, has the distinction of streets named in honour of the Rocket Robin Hood characters.
In April, 2004, Canada's specialty television animation station, Teletoon, began running episodes of Rocket Robin Hood seven evenings per week. And with Teletoon launching its Teletoon Retro broadcasting progeny in autumn of 2007, Rocket Robin Hood was chosen to be one of the television shows of yesteryear to spearhead the fledgling television channel. In 2009 and 2010, Rocket Robin Hood was released on DVD in Canada by Paradox Home Entertainment by way of two four-DVD box sets. All episodes except for "Safari" were included in the DVD release, though the picture quality of the episodes was variable and never approximating what is expected with commercial DVD. Happily, most of the more popular episodes, and especially "Dementia Five", looked quite satisfactory. The second Rocket Robin Hood DVD box set containing "Dementia Five", all other episodes of Season 3, and all of Season 2, was out of stock at Amazon.ca just one day following the DVD box set's release date.
Bernard Cowan (Narrator and other voices)
Paul Kligman (voice of Friar Tuck)
Len Carlson (voice of Rocket Robin Hood in part of Season 3)