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Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
|Created by||Christian Williams|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||111, plus 5 pilot Television movies|
|Running time||41–44 min.|
|Original release||January 16, 1995 –|
November 22, 1999
|Related shows||Xena: Warrior Princess|
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is an American cult television series. It aired from January 16 1995 until November 22 1999. The series was created in 1995 by writer-producers Christian Willians under his production tag, Pacific Renaissance Pictures LTD with later co-executive producers being Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, John Schulian and R. J. Stewart, the series is a Spin-off from the TV movies series aired in 1994, Hercules and the Amazon Women, Hercules and the Lost Kingdom, Hercules and the Circle of Fire, Hercules in the Underworld, and Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur, the last of which served mostly as a clip show of the previous movies as a lead up to the series, was very loosely based on the tales of the classical Greek culture hero Hercules. It ran for six seasons, producing action figures and other memorabilia as it became one of the highest rated syndicated shows in television history.
The series is set in a fantasy version of ancient Greece not precisely located in historical time. Although set in ancient Greece, the show also has a mixture of Oriental, Egyptian and Medieval elements in various episodes. The show stars Kevin Sorbo as Hercules and regularly features Michael Hurst as his sidekick Iolaus. Robert Trebor often rotates with Iolaus as Hercules' other sidekick, Salmoneus.
Typical plot lines involve Hercules and Iolaus, or Salmoneus, saving rustic villagers from monsters, evil warlords or the often selfish whims of the gods. In the earlier episodes, as mentioned in the show's opening title, Hercules' main nemesis is his evil stepmother Hera, who seeks to destroy Hercules using various monsters, because he is a reminder of her husband Zeus' infidelity. As the series progressed, a wider range of enemies was used; notably, the malicious Ares, god of war, replaced Hera as the show's primary antagonist. Towards the end of the series Ares is himself replaced by the evil god, Dahak, who is the main villain in the show's fifth season and sets off a story arc that has Hercules traveling to Sumeria, Norseland and Éire. Although Zeus, Hercules' father, is frequently cited by Hercules as a neglectful father, Zeus' love for Hercules is well-documented in the show. Indeed, Hercules is often referred to as the favorite son of Zeus. Zeus makes several appearances on the show, even saving his son's life and restoring his superhuman strength on one occasion when he needs it the most. Hercules, for his own part, is always there for Zeus when his father needs him, and in the end, Hercules reconciles with his father and buries whatever issues he has with the father he has come to understand and love.
The show had a successful spin-off, Xena: Warrior Princess, with which it shared recurring characters such as Ares, Autolycus, aforementioned Salmoneus, Aphrodite and Callisto. Both shows, although produced in New Zealand using mostly local actors who strove for American accents, were syndicated worldwide.
Characters and cast
Hercules is the world's greatest hero. The son of Zeus, King of the Gods and the mortal woman Alcmene, Hercules uses his divine strength in the aid of all people. His father was never really there for him and Hercules looked on the centaur Ceridan, who was his master at the academy as a father figure. Despite this, there are many who wish him dead. Most notably, Hera, Queen of the Gods and the wife of Zeus, she despises Hercules because he is a testament to Zeus' infidelity and has tried to destroy Hercules and his loved ones at every opportunity. Despite the many tragedies that have befallen him, not least of which both of his wives being killed, Hercules continued to be a force of good in the world. Hercules is played by American actor Kevin Sorbo.
Iolaus has been Hercules' best friend for many years ever since they met at Cheiron's academy. A former thief, Iolaus has long since repented his unlawful ways and is now a permanent force for good. His happy-go-lucky attitude makes him a popular guy, especially among the ladies, but Iolaus has had more than his fair share of tragedy. Not only did he lose his wife Anya and their children to mysterious circumstances, but Iolaus himself has been killed three times. The first two times Hercules brought him back without too much hassle, but the third time was more complicated. In saving Nebula, Iolaus was killed by the treacherous Gilgamesh and Dahak took Iolaus' body as his own. Hercules teamed up with Zarathrusta to defeat Dahak and Iolaus was allowed to become a Servant of the Light in Heaven. Iolaus broke his pact with the angels however, in warning Hercules of Michael's plan to unleash the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on the world. As punishment Iolaus was deprived of his status of Servant of the Light, but allowed to return to Earth to fight at Hercules' side. Iolaus is played by actors Michael Hurst and Dean O'Gorman.
- Alcmene: Elizabeth Hawthorne, Liddy Holloway and Kim Michalis
- Althea: Willa O'Neill
- Aphrodite: Alexandra Tydings
- Apollo: Scott Michaelson
- Ares: Kevin Tod Smith
- Artemis: Rhonda McHardy
- Atalanta: Cory Everson
- Autolycus: Bruce Campbell
- Callisto: Hudson Leick
- Cassandra: Claudia Black
- Charon: Michael Hurst
- Cupid: Karl Urban
- Daedalus: Derek Payne
- Dahak: Michael Hurst, Mark Newnham
- Deianeira: Tawny Kitaen
- Demeter: Sarah Wilson
- Dirce: Lisa Chappell
- Discord: Meighan Desmond
- Falafel: Paul Norell
- Gabrielle: Renée O'Connor
- Hades: Erik Thomson, Mark Ferguson
- Hera: Meg Foster
- Iphicles: Kevin Smith
- Jason: Jeffrey Thomas, Chris Conrad
- Joxer: Ted Raimi
- Kernunnos: Stuart Devenie
- Mabon: Nicko Vella
- Morrígan: Tamara Gorski
- Nebula: Gina Torres
- Nemesis: Karen Witter, Teresa Hill and Kimberley Joseph
- Odin: Peter McCauley
- Orestes: Michael Hurst
- Persephone: Andrea Croton
- Psyche: Susan Ward
- Salmoneus: Robert Trebor
- Serena: Sam Jenkins, Kara Zediker
- Strife: Joel Tobeck
- Xena: Lucy Lawless
- Zeus: Roy Dotrice, Peter Vere-Jones, Charles Keating, Anthony Quinn.
International broadcast history
- In Australia, this show was shown on Network Ten on Saturdays at 7:30pm back in 1997. Right after it, at 8:30pm, Xena: Warrior Princess was aired.
- In Brazil, the show was previously shown on SBT from 1994 to 2000 and reruns being shown on Rede Record along Xena from February, 2006.
- In Dominican Republic, the show was shown along Xena on Telesistema 11, and its female-oriented brother channel Coral 39.
- In Egypt, the show was previously shown on Egyptian TV Channel 2 and also received reruns due to its huge popularity among Egyptian viewers.
- In France, the show was shown on TF1 and is currently repeated on NRJ 12.
- In Germany, it was shown on RTL at 20:15.
- In Greece, it was shown along Xena on Star Channel.
- In Israel, it was shown along Xena on Channel 1 and AXN.
- In Malaysia, it was shown along Xena on nt7 in 1999.
- In Singapore, it was shown on Channel 5.
- In the Netherlands, the show was shown on Yorin.
- In Poland, the show was shown on Polsat, TV4 and AXN.
- In Russia, the show was shown on STS.
- In Spain, the show was shown on the public TV station TVE, then it started broadcasting in regional TV channels. It's sometimes been broadcast along Xena.
- In Slovenia, the show was shown along Xena on POP TV and KANAL A, usually Weekends afternoon.
- In Sweden, the show was shown along Xena on TV3, together they were branded Äventyrssöndag.
- In Turkey, the show was shown along Xena on Kanal D.
- In the United Kingdom, the show was broadcast by subscription service Sky, who also ran Xena. It was also run by terrestrial Channel 5, in a Saturday tea-time 5:50 p.m. slot. For a while, some fourth season episodes were broadcast in a Sunday evening 8 p.m. slot, and some later re-runs of earlier episodes aired on Tuesday evenings, with the odd episode turning up late on during the night-time schedules. However, both shows abruptly disappeared from their schedules mid-way through the show's run, leaving several seasons unbroadcast. It is currently being shown on satellite/cable channel Bravo 2 on weekdays.
Awards and Nominations
|ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards:|
|Top TV Series||Won|
|Top TV Series||Won|
|Top TV Series||Won|
|Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films:|
|Best DVD Television Release||Nominated|
|International Monitor Awards:|
|Film Originated Television Series, Audio Post Production||Won|
|Film Originated Television Series, Audio Post Production||Won|
|Motion Picture Sound Editors:|
|Best Sound Editing, Television Episodic, Dialogue & ADR, Music and Effects||Nominated|
|New Zealand Film and TV Awards:|
|Best Director, Comedy (Michael Hurst)||Won|
|Best Dramatic Performance in a Supporting Role (Michael Hurst)||Won|
Differences from the original mythology
- Hercules is shown to be a younger half-brother to Iphicles, while the myth states that Hercules was born a fraternal twin but half-brother to Iphicles since both Zeus and Amphitryon impregnated Alcmene at the same time.
- Jason is pictured here to be older than Hercules and marries Alcmene, which never happens in the myth. The mythical Jason dies when a part of Argos falls on him. Also, Jason and Hercules are somewhat the same age in the myth.
- Hercules never was along Atalanta in the myth, nor along Daedalus.
- Salmoneus is the name of a man who tried to impersonate Zeus.
- Hercules is sent after Persephone by Demeter. In the myth, Hermes is who was sent to rescue Persephone from Hades, and Persephone's stay is a result of eating the pomegranate seeds while staying there.
- Hercules is supposed to be a royal member from the House of Perseus. No mention of Perseus is ever made in the story.
- The mythical Iolaus was a son of Iphicles and Automedusa, and Hercules' eromenos in the Theban version of the myth, where the relationship was said to pre-figure or originate the Theban Band.
- Arachne did not become a dangerous spider monster as depicted in the show. She simply keeps weaving after Athena turns her into a spider.
- Hercules never falls in love with Psyche due to a love arrow, nor did Hera curse her grandson Cupid to become a green-eyed monster.
- Apollo is portrayed as an arrogant god. In the myth, Apollo is whom Hercules consults on the purification after he kills his first wife, Megara, while he is under Hera's madness.
- Hercules fights the Minotaur in the series. In the myth, it is Theseus who slays the Minotaur.
- The mythical Hercules kills his first wife, Megara, and their children after Hera strikes him with madness. In the series Hercules' first wife is Deianeira, and Hera kills her directly with a fireball. This story does not exist in the myth. Deianeira was Hercules' third wife, who accidentally tricked him into his death. He is later ascended by Zeus into with Hera's consent and married one of his half-sisters, Hebe, a daughter of Zeus and Hera. No mention of Hebe is made in these TV series.
- Hades looks younger than Zeus when he is supposed to be the older brother of Zeus even before Poseidon. Hades and Hercules are shown here to be allies, while in the myths Hades rarely works with Hercules, aside from that of a framed-up death. Hades never has an alliance with Hercules in the myth, although the two are not enemies. Also Hades has his own infidelities with two nymphs whom his niece/wife Persephone turns into plants.
- Aphrodite and Ares' relationship is not very emphasized, though flirtations between them are shown. Ares' paternity to Cupid is not stated clearly. Also, it should be emphasized that Aphrodite never has a happy relationship with Hephaestus nor do they reconcile and Aphrodite frequently cheats on him with Ares.
- Echidna never turns good nor befriends Hercules in the myth, where she has the body of a serpent with the head of a woman and is a Titan herself. She is not an octopus–like creature, as is portrayed in the show. In some sources of the myth, she mates with Hercules to produce three children who are all human.
- Here Hercules runs away from the offer to impregnate the fifty daughters of a king which in the myth he is tricked into sleeping with by the king who sends one daughter to his bed each night for fifty nights, Hercules believes them to be only one woman.
- The Hydra, Cerberus, Ladon, Medusa, Minotaur are specific, not generic monsters in mythology. Also Hydra, Cerberus, Orthrus, Chimera, the Nemean Lion, the Sphinx, Ethon and Ladon are siblings to each other, sons and daughters of Echidna and Typhon.
- Typhon is violent in the myth and Hera never locks him away as punishment to Echidna until she can kill Hercules. It is Zeus who locks Typhon away to separate him from Echidna, to avoid them from conceiving any more monsters after the war with the Titans is over.
- There are no accounts in most Greek myths which state that Hercules met Zoroaster, fought with somebody who seems to be the archangel Michael, helped Thor and all. Dahak is derived from a Persian myth based on the evil god Aži Dahāka, of darkness and sworn enemy to Allah or, in some, Ahura Mazda. The idea of helping Thor comes from the Marvel Comics incarnation.
- Ares is also supposed to be rejected by his own refined mother, Hera. But in the series, the two seem to get along and Hera seems to be unrefined like Ares. Ares is also portrayed in the series to be much of a Satan–like character in the later episodes, that is until Dahak comes.
- Hera is portrayed to be quite evil in some ways. Though in the Greek myths she only wants to inflict harm on Hercules and only does evil as a last resort, unlike her son Ares who harms many people.
- In the myth, Hera asks for Hercules' forgiveness when Hercules saves her from being raped by the Titan Portheryon and performs all labors required of him. She allows her daughter Hebe to marry Hercules when he becomes a full deity. In the series, after Hercules reunites Zeus and Hera, she stops hating Hercules, and even helps him stop Zeus from killing Xena's unborn child.
- Hercules becomes a full deity by Zeus, only to defeat Hera and Hercules later denounces his position. In the Greek myth, Hercules becomes a full deity because of Zeus' decision that his heroism surpasses the other demigods. When he meets Hera on Mt. Olympus, he is already at peace with Hera.
- Hephaestus is supposed to be a lame and ugly god, but in the series he is good-looking. Also, he reunites with Aphrodite after the many times she cheated on him, presumably with Ares, Hermes, Dionysus and even Adonis, which never happens in the myth.
- No mention of Hippolyta being Ares' daughter is ever made in the movie Hercules and the Amazon Women.
- Hermes is portrayed to be big and chubby, when most myths portray him to be slim and short.
- Hera appears as a pair of peacock-feathered eyes for many episodes, which in the mythology never happens, though this is a nod to her signature bird the peacock, on whose tail she placed the hundred eyes of her dead servant Argos Panoptes after his slaying by Hermes. Hera is never imprisoned in Tartarus and freed by Evander. Also, if she appears in the sky, she always shows her full face or part of her. Also Hera's blue monks never take over Troy.
- Hercules never has a mission to retrieve fire from Hera, who takes it away from Prometheus. In the myth, Zeus wants to get fire away from the mankind, not Hera, and Prometheus is condemned by Zeus to be chained for giving the fire to the mankind.
- Hera turns Atlas into stone. In Greek mythology, however, it is Perseus who turns Atlas to stone with the Medusa's head.
- Hera never banishes Nemesis into a mortal body for not wanting to kill Hercules.
- In the myth, Evander is not a son of Ares, but of Hermes and Nemesis.
- Also, Hera never falls in love with Adonis. Adonis is not killed by Zeus but by the jealous Ares who is somewhat still in love with Aphrodite.
Anchor Bay Entertainment has released all 6 seasons of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as well as all TV-Movies on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. The first two season box sets are not closed-captioned, even though the original release of episodes on TV was.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|Season 1||18||June 24 2003|
|Season 2||24||October 21 2003|
|Season 3||22||March 23 2004|
|Season 4||22||July 13 2004|
|Season 5||22||January 11 2005|
|Season 6||8||July 12 2005|