Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, much like the mythology that spawned it, is a series of simple good versus evil stories tied up with a moral at the end. They generally go something like this: Hercules and his friend Iolaus are walking through the forest when a desperate person stops them, asking for help. They go to the needy persons town, where they find a monster (or evil army) threatening the innocents. Hercules uses his super strength to defeat the threat, and teaches the townspeople a valuable lesson along the way.
The series was a syndicated adventure show created by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, who at the time were most famous for the Evil Dead Trilogy; though Sam Raimi has since directed the Spider-Man movies. It stars Kevin Sorbo, as Hercules His primary companion, Iolaus, is played by Michael Hurst.
In season two, Hercules invents the Olympic Games, battles the ‘mother of all monsters,’ Echidna, travels to Hades and sees his dead wife, and reunites with Jason and the Argonauts.
It’s just like Greek Mythology come to life; which is neither high-praise nor insult. These are archetypal stories about archetypal people: frightened townspeople, monsters, selfish gods, greedy kings, fallen heroes in need of redemption and young heroes discovering their power. And yet, these stories persevere for a reasons. They’re entertaining and relate-able. While these may be stripped-down versions; the same themes and character arcs are repeated in every award-winning modern TV series and movie.
The mythological setting and lighthearted tone keep the series keep fun and re-watchable. When Hercules originally aired, most networks showed it on weekend afternoons, and if you go into it expecting a Saturday matinee adventure, you will be pleased with the result.
The humor in the series is mostly of the slapstick, three-stooges variety, so it’s not hilarious, but it keeps the tone of the show light.
The DVDs are a re-release from Universal. A long time ago, the series was released by Anchor Bay in big box sets with lots of extras. This new version is stripped of extras; with just the 24 episodes on 5 discs. That said, it’s about $20, so it’s still a nice deal.