Eighteen years before Mel Brooks released Robin Hood: Men In Tights, he made a TV show that parodied the same classic tale, called When Things Were Rotten. The comedy legend stole the idea for one of his movies from himself. It's a weird case of a brilliant mind refusing to give up on a failed idea.
All of Brooks' trademarks are apparent in the short-lived series—maybe too many for its own good. Each episode was stuffed with sight gags, one-liners, extremely literal jokes, and that unmistakable rapid-fire Borscht Belt wit. Since the sitcom was only about a quarter the length of one of Brooks' movies, When Things Were Rotten can sometimes leaving the viewer feeling like too much of his hyper-silly wit was crammed into each episode. For example, in the opening minutes of the pilot episode, the Sherriff of Nottingham attempts to silence a raucous crowd. "Hold your tongues!" he shouts. The crowd goes silent as they all solemnly lower their heads and pinch their tongues. A slightly modified version of that joke appeared in Men in Tights almost two decades later, when Robin Hood asked a murmuring crowd for their attention by shouting "Lend me your ears!"—only to be pelted with the audience members' ears, which have been pulled off with audible pops.