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  • Critics like to give Roger Moore a hard time, accusing him of acting mainly with his eyebrows and of making a clown out of a secret agent. The fact remains he was popular (and/or handsome) enough to star in three successful TV series, and just when everybody expected he would be stuck on the tube forever, became one of the biggest movie stars of the seventies and eighties. His Bond revitalized the 007 franchise and managed to go with every fad that time period had (Smokey and the Bandid style car chases, Kung Fu, Disco). So what if he always plays the same part (and has basically been parodying himself in every other movie role he has taken on since). The legacy of the "eyebrow-artist" started right here in 1958: as Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe (though the first name was hardly ever mentioned).

    Everybody recalls the opening credits that started with young Bart blowing his mighty Gondorian horn and shouting: I-van-HOE!, after which Sir Roger the brave would ride out in full armor and wearing his feathered helmet, accompanied by long haired servant Gurth and the usual rabble of peasants and foresters. Based very loosely on Sir Walter Scott's 1819 novel, the series centered on these three characters (though Gurth's boy Bart disappeared after awhile, only to be seen at the opening). Noble Ivanhoe was always ready to help the poor and oppressed fight the followers of rotten Prince John (until Richard the Lionheart would return).

    Stripped of his title and lands, Roger did not have to wear that clunky armor during most of the 39 episodes, but wore a simple leather tunic instead (much handier in fight scenes). All that love business from the book involving Rebecca and Rowena was basically neglected, though Ivanhoe's contemporary Robin Hood (a mayor character in the novel) appeared at least once. Instead the series concentrated on action, and thanks to American funding, this ITV series had better production standards than usual. I was surprised to find out all the episode were filmed in one stretch and amounted to just one season.

    During Roger's Bond years, when his popularity was at an all time peak, "Ivanhoe" was repeated numerous times, especially in Europe, despite the series being in black and white (though apparently, the pilot episode was shot in color). In fact, this reviewer last saw it around the time Duran Duran's A View to a Kill was in the charts (coincidence?). Equally ironically, Robert Brown (Gurth) took over the role of Bond's superior in "Octopussy" (did Roger pull some strings?) and kept on playing 'M' during the Timothy Dalton years. During the nineties most major TV stations simply stopped broadcasting B/W shows, meaning that while Moore's other TV series "The Saint" and "The Pursuaders" are still occasionally shown, the dashing Sir Ivanhoe has been left behind.

    8 out of 10
  • bkoganbing24 November 2018
    After the action of Sir Walter Scott's great medieval set novel it certainly didn't seem right for Ivanhoe to just ride off into the sunset. British television which syndicated many TV series involving such legends as King Arthur, Robin Hood, and even real characters like Sir Francis Drake Ivanhoe was a natural fit as well.

    Young Roger Moore before he became the Saint, or James Bond did 39 episodes of the Ivanhoe television series. He was like a medieval gunfighter going about the country righting wrongs and keeping an eye out for any treachery that Prince John played by Andrew Keir might pulling on the home front while King Richard was doing his crusade thing in the Holy Land. He was aided and abetted in this by Robert Brown, a peasant leader with a nice band of former serfs looking to settle some scores.

    Moore did make a dashing Ivanhoe with a heroic presence for the small screen. It was seen here on this side of the pond for years especially after Roger Moore became 007.

    A well remembered part of my childhood.
  • Richard Greene's "Adventures of Robin Hood" was in its 3rd successful year, and NBC was headed for a wrap on "Adventures of Sir Lancelot", when Columbia Screen-Gems decided (December, 1956) to produce this 39 episode series with Sydney Box Productions in England. Actually, the schedule to get the pilot before ABC (which didn't purchase the show) required that the first episode and the head-title/tail-credit sequences be filmed at the Columbia Ranch outside LA in February 1957. Only this episode was shot in color (only released for broadcast in B&W). The show then returned to post-winter England. The pilot-episode features Roger Moore with a much tighter haircut and an open-throat camail of armor. The backgrounds are also quite Southern California. The show was more lavish than "Robin Hood", and generally more engaging than "Sir Lancelot". Moore and Brown had good chemistry and became close life-long friends. The half-dozen best episodes would be, "Freeing the Serfs" (pilot), "The Witness", "The German Knight", "Rinaldo", "Brothers in Arms", and "Freelance". The most dramatically balanced of these (with better than average production) is "Freelance". The largest action scene is the closing ambush-and-battle, involving 25 mounted riders, in the higher budgeted pilot, "Freeing the Serfs". The best staged and scored sequence is the joust and duel between Moore and Christopher Lee in, "The German Knight". A lot of Baby Boomers have fond memories of seeing this series in syndication as kids.
  • AH YES, THIS is yet another obscure title from those early Paleozoic Days of 1950's television. It is a co-production of Columbia Pictures' television Subsidiary, Screen Gems of the U.S. and Sydney Box Productions of the U.K. Being filmed in "Merry Olde England" with this international economic partnership it represented a sort of Entertainment World's replication of the great Alliance of the 1940's.

    THIS IS THE first recollection that we have of Mr. Roger Moore. Although the series certainly could not be considered to be anything but fodder for the bubble-gum crowd, and certainly not "Art", Roger has nothing to hang his head about; for it is a starting point, an entry vehicle for which any actor would be grateful. (That would include the future Simon Templar/THE SAINT, Beau Maverick/MAVERICK and 007 JAMES BOND.)

    AS WE CAN remember, the origin episode had a young Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe winning his knightly spurs and pledging that he will be a sort of Knight Trouble Shooter for all in Prince John's oppressed England. He immediately frees Serf Gurth and his son, Bart; who become his Squire and Page, respectively.

    AFTER ONLY A FEW episodes, young Bart was left with Friar Tuck (or someone like him) at a monastery for the lad's education. Ivanhoe and Gurth then take off, a la Lone Ranger, to fight injustice, throughout England. (There is an interesting similarity here; as the format and story lines could be those of typical "B" Western material.)

    AS WITH MOST pilot episodes, there were more actors portraying knights, more horses, more action; all intended to sell the series, not only to the potential viewers; but also to pro$pective $ponsor$!

    AFTER ALL, IT'S the Anglo-American way!