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Robin and Maid Marion Fight the Good Fight in "The New Adventures of Robin Hood"

The legend of Robin Hood has been fodder for story speculation and movie, and it has always followed along the same pattern: swashbuckling Robin Hood, who can do no wrong, and a demure and helpless Maid Marion. Not anymore.

We all know the story: Wily, witty Robin (Matthew Porretta), successor to the all-powerful Merlin and sworn bedeviler of greedy Prince John, rises as a folk hero for defying the hunting laws that impoverished the people of 12th century England. In other words, he hunts the King's game. Although Robin Hood has always been portrayed as a man of wit and wiles, Maid Marion (Anna Galvin) has evolved. In the new one hour series, Marion is a leather-clad warrior who can handle a sword as well as any of the Merry Men. There is also the legendary chemistry between the couple, but this time around, the chemistry is unrequited, in the vein of David and Mattie of "Moonlighting."

Set against the backdrop of chivalry, mythology and occasional slapstick in fabled Sherwood Forest, Robin, Marion, Friar Tuck (Martyn Ellis) and Little John (Richard Ashton) fight Royal soldiers, evil Knights and often each other in this "Xena"-like version of the classic legend. Turner Network Television signed an agreement with Warner Bros. Domestic Pay-TV, Cable & Network Features for the rights to 26 one-hour episodes of this action-adventure series scheduled to premiere on TNT January 13 at 10:00pm (ET), making it the first-ever exclusive original series to premiere on the network.

"The legend of Robin Hood has been told numerous times throughout cinematic history. The New Adventures Of Robin Hood brings a contemporary, action-packed feel to the legend," said Bradley J. Siegel, TNT president. "We expect this to be a franchise that we can build on for many years."

England in the late 12th century is brutal at best. With stringent laws against hunting and fishing in the royal forests and the levy of enormous taxes by the greedy Prince John, the English populace grows increasingly impoverished. Out of these harsh conditions, a just and brave man arises, seeking to ease the suffering of the starving, rendering justice his own way - the Robin Hood way.

Robin is a strong-willed man of integrity, compassion and ingenuity. He is a dashing swordsman who can outfight and outwit any enemy, while stealing the heart of every lovely maiden. After two years of tutelage with Olwyn, a master magician and direct descendant of the powerful Merlin, Robin discovers his "higher calling" - to protect the ravaged from the cruelty of the sinister rulers. To help him in his quest, he amasses a ragtag team of followers from the so-called outlaws who illegally hunt in the prince's forbidden woods to stave off starvation. Among them are a very unconventional monk, Friar Tuck, and a warmhearted giant named Little John.

Little John is a bear of a man whose size and brute strength belie his soft heart for children and animals. He is Robin's most devoted and loyal supporter, who is known far and wide for his brawn, leaving the brainwork to others. Friar Tuck is a good-natured, jovial healer, who provides the group with much-needed spiritual guidance, even though he is at odds with the church. His passion for food is second only to his passion for equity. And, while he can be as wise as the most learned professor, he can also be as befuddled as a lost puppy.

Another ally is Marian, the unrequited love of Robin's life. Marian is an agile, self-assured, trained fighter who joins Robin and his men after escaping from an arranged marriage. A former lady-in-waiting to the renowned Queen Eleanore, she believes that all women should be educated, self-reliant and able to defend themselves. Her abilities are innumerable and invaluable, her beauty leaves men speechless and her true feelings for Robin run deep but hidden from herself and Robin.

Whether by designing clever traps, fabricating weapons or conjuring up a bit of magic, Robin, Marian and their battling bandits constantly defy Prince John, his conniving Lady Claudia and their ruthless army. Fighting for justice and freedom has never been more exciting than in this stylish, magical and often whimsical new adventure.

Filmed entirely on location in Europe, the updated treatment of the classic legend lends a '90s sensibility to the action-adventure series by creating exciting, new dramatic situations for the characters. Porretta has appeared in "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Les Miserables" as well as "Robin Hood: Men In Tights," "Dracula: Dead And Loving It" and "The Unveiling." Galvin's career spans feature film, television and theater in both England and the United States.

Here are the first three episodes:

"Race of the Mongols" -- Premieres Jan. 13 at 10 p.m. (all times ET)), Encore airs Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. Robin, Marion, Little John and Friar Tuck must mobilize over-matched villagers to stand together and defeat a marauding Mongol band.

"Attack of the Vikings" -- Premieres Jan. 20 at 10 p.m., Encore airs Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. Robin's and Prince John's men must set aside their differences and fight together against a new enemy -- the Vikings who hold their leaders for ransom.

"Robin and the Golden Arrow" -- Premieres Jan. 27 at 10 p.m., Encore airs Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. Facing a near-invincible foe, Robin Hood must steal a golden arrow from Prince John's castle in order to defeat a Knight who is protected by impenetrable magic armor.

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last updated 9/9/00