Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Modern Classic: Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1994)

The most successful graduate of Universal's ambitious Action Pack movie anthology series, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys transitioned into a 1 hour weekly series in January 1995. The series would last six seasons total, though the final season consisted of just six episodes.

Hercules (Kevin Sorbo), the son of a mortal woman and the Greek god Zeus, traveled with a number of companions, most notably Iaolus (Michael Hurst), who was initially killed off at the start of season 5, only to have an evil god take over his body before it was driven out by Hercules. Some episodes had Hercules meeting other heroes of myth, including Jason, in his travels. After a couple of appearances in season 1, Xena, Warrior Princess was spun off into her own equally successful series.

For some reason, some episodes in seasons 4 & 5 took the most extreme of tangents, as the producers took a light-hearted look at themselves, the idea being to either use past clips, or, in one instance, just to give Hercules a little, ah, vacation. Actor Bruce Campbell (Autolycus) directed at least one of these episodes, as well as a few others during the series. Campbell would also appear on Xena, and then landed his first headlining series in the short-lived Jack of All Trades.

In some cities, Hercules would air premiere episodes in primetime, then repeat them a week later in a much earlier time frame, usually between 1 & 3 pm (ET), giving fans additional chances to catch up. In all one episode could air as much as three times in the course of a week, since the series would replay on a Sunday morning after a Saturday evening premiere.

Here's the intro:

Two feature film versions of "Hercules" this year haven't exactly been blockbusters, and Kevin Sorbo reportedly was a bit miffed that he wasn't even asked to make an appearance in the current film, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, which I believe finished behind "Lucy" this week.

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys gets a B.


magicdog said...

I used to watch this back in the day - it aired in the late afternoons in my area.

It was a fun watch - half the fun was the anachronisms and crossovers of various characters. The other half was the chemistry between Sorbo and Hurst (Truth be told - I adored Hurst as Iolus, and thought he was far better looking than Sorbo!). Best of all - no one took things too seriously.

The movies that preceded the series have been turning up on weekends on EACTN. Funny seeing the actors who became regulars on the series had COMPLETELY different roles in the movies. Renee O'Connor, who played Gabrielle, was shown as a princess looking to reclaim her kingdom. Robert Trebor (Salmonius) was seen as a slave willing to devote himself to Hercules for saving his life.

About the current Hercules movie snub: it's not as if Sorbo didn't have some big screen action - he was in Kull The Conqueror and Meet The Spartans after all! Yeah, it would have been a nice in joke though if he had appeared.

hobbyfan said...

Sorbo was last in "God's Not Dead", now on its way to DVD. Didn't know he was in Meet The Spartans, but I know he did Kull (w/Tia Carerre, if memory serves), probably on a break from Hercules.