Welcome to a new Xena Thursday! As a result of the popularity of my Hercules reviews and some requests I’ve personally received, today’s entry, echoing our initial Xena offerings, is the first in a series of posts counting down my picks for the fifty best episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (which also celebrated its 20th anniversary this year). While each of my initial posts on every Herc episode listed a few MVEs, you’ll notice that some seasons are much better than others — they’re not of equal quality. In other words, all the MVEs (and some non-MVEs) from early Season Two may be listed before any of the MVEs from the second half of Season Five, and because all of those choices were designed to represent only their specific season/half-season, the accompanying posts cannot properly reflect the true determination of qualitative preference and strength. Instead, these seven entries can serve as a reference for both hardcore fans, curious Xenites, and anyone interested in partaking in the fun that is Hercules. While Xena is far and away my preference, this series has such a lot to offer, and I’m certain that if you want to find it, you will.
43. Season 5, Episode 19: “Once Upon A Future King” (Aired: 04/26/99 | Filmed: 02/10 – 02/19/99)
A young Merlin enlists Hercules to save Britain from a cruel and calculating tyrant — Arthur of Camelot.
Written by Gene O’Neill & Noreen Tobin | Directed by Mark Beesley | Production No. V0722
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for its original and magical premise, here.
44. Season 3, Episode 21: “A Rock And A Hard Place” (Aired: 05/05/97 | Filmed: 03/14 – 03/21/97)
When a murder suspect escapes and flees into an old mine, only Hercules and Iolaus can keep a vengeful mob away until the crime is solved.
Written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman | Directed by Robert Trebor | Production No. V0128
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for its unique psychological dramatics, here.
45. Season 6, Episode 1: “Be Deviled” (Aired: 09/27/99 | Filmed: 04/22 – 05/03/99)
Hercules meets a Serena lookalike who persuades him to help her return one of his enemies to Hades.
Written by Paul Robert Coyle | Directed by Mark Beesley | Production No. V1102
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for the demonic turmoil in which Hercules is put, here.
46. Season 5, Episode 21: “My Best Girl’s Wedding” (Aired: 05/10/99 | Filmed: 03/03 – 03/10/99)
Fishermen Hercules and Iolaus 2 get second chances at the ones that got away — Serena and the mermaid Nautica.
Written by Gerry Conway | Directed by Andrew Merrifield | Production No. V0727
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for its thematically coherent two-story premise, here.
47. Season 1, Episode 5: “Ares” (Aired: 02/13/95 | Filmed: 10/06 – 10/14/94)
Hercules confronts his half brother Ares, the god of war, in his attempt to prevent a teen-age boy from becoming one of the evil deity’s soldiers.
Written by Steve Roberts | Directed by Harley Cokeliss | Production No. 76603
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for Atalanta’s first appearance and its dangerous conflict, here.
48. Season 6, Episode 3: “Rebel With A Cause” (Aired: 10/11/99 | Filmed: 07/02 – 07/13/99)
Hercules and Oedipus battle the ruthless Creon to help Antigone assume her rightful position as Queen of Thebes.
Written by Lisa Klink | Directed by Garth Maxwell | Production No. V1104
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for its mythologically meaty source material (and some great fights), here.
49. Season 5, Episode 14: “Just Passing Through” (Aired: 02/08/99 | Filmed: 05/04 – 05/11/98; 07/09-07/10/98)
While traveling with Iolaus 2, Herc recalls a “typical” day with Iolaus. It involves a stolen gem, Autolycus (of course), and a curse that could destroy an entire village.
Written by Gene O’Neill & Noreen Tobin | Directed by Charles Siebert | Production No. V0702
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for its character-oriented silliness, here.
50. Season 3, Episode 4: “Mummy Dearest” (Aired: 10/21/96 | Filmed: 06/12 – 06/20/96)
Herc gets mixed up with a Pharaoh’s seductive daughter, a hungry mummy, a dead king’s ghost and Salmoneus’s “House of Horrors.”
Written by Melissa Rosenberg | Directed by Anson Williams | Production No. V0108
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for its monstrous and campy fun, here.
Come back next Thursday for numbers 35-42! And stay tuned tomorrow for another Blondell Pre-Code Film Friday!