"I've spent so much time walking down that road, and wondering if eventually it would take me somewhere I'd want to stop. But you know what? This is my life. It's what I do best. You know maybe, someday I'll be ready to slow down. But for now, I'd rather just keep on walking." - Hercules
Hercules the Legendary Journeys was an action/adventure series that aired for six seasons beginning in 1995. It was loosely based on the Greek myths of Hercules and the Olympian gods, and focused on Hercules' travels fighting the injustices of the world and protecting people from the gods' interference. The television series was preceded by five movies and during season 1, the spin-off of Xena: Warrior Princess was created. Hercules was really the beginning of the action/adventure wave of shows that were popular in the mid-90's and it was easily one of the best.
For me the heart of the show is the relationship between Hercules and Iolaus. They had such a strong and enduring friendship and it was so nice to see two characters make it through an entire series without ever having a major rift or falling out with one another. These two guys always had one another's back and their friendship survived everything, even death, to find them still walking side by side in the last scene of the show. We did not originally watch seasons 5 and 6 during the original run once we heard that Iolaus had been killed off, but once we finally did watch them we were really surprised by how much we enjoyed them. Hercules was able to grow and change as a character and show many different sides of himself when he lost Iolaus. And Iolaus' return was handled really well and it was nice to get back to the basic premise of the show for the final season.
It was really fun when this show was airing in the same programming block as Xena and they could be watched back-to-back. A lot of story elements and characters overlapped between the two shows, although that could sometimes be a detriment to Hercules when it got stuck with storylines Xena's show dropped. However, it could be really interesting to watch both shows and see how different Ares interacted with Xena versus Hercules or see guest characters like Autolycus, Salmoneus, and Joxer appear on both shows. Both Xena and Hercules had tone problems between episodes (they could go from Hercules mourning the loss of Iolaus to seeing Autolycus and Salmoneus goofing off with a genie within two episodes), but in my opinion in Xena it was way more all over the place and the poorest episodes of Hercules did not reach the lowest of Xena's.
However, even though the tone could be inconsistent, having both really wacky comedic episodes and dark dramatic ones showed how talented the actors were. The really funny off-the-wall episodes could have been really cringe-worthy, but the cast pulled them off so well that they were really quite good. "Yes Virginia There is a Hercules" and "For Those of You Just Joining Us" were extremely memorable and you could really tell that not only were the actors and writers having a great time, but they were laughing with the audience instead of being laughed at. Hercules was at it's very best when it wasn't taking itself too seriously, but that's not to say that the darker episodes were not good. It really got better as it went along, in my opinion, since I felt nothing when Hercules' family was killed in the first episode and the effects on Hercules were really no where as deep as they should have been, but Iolaus' loss sent him into a season long tailspin that he really had to work through.
Although most fans of this genre seem to prefer Xena, I always felt more of a connection with Hercules and to this day Hercules is still one of my very favorite shows.
||Hercules, Iolaus, Ares, the Sovereign
||King for a Day, The Wedding of Alcmene, ...And Fancy Free, Men in Pink, Just Passing Through
||The Apple, The Wedding of Alcmene, King For a Day, Stranger in a Strange World, ...And Fancy Free, Yes, Virginia There is a Hercules, Just Passing Through, For Those of You Just Joining Us, Men in Pink, Monster Child in the Promised Land
||Hercules and Iolaus, Iolaus/Niobe
||Hercules and Iolaus, Iolaus and Aphrodite, Typhon/Echidna, The Sovereign/Parallel Xena