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 second 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.
35. Season 2, Episode 1: “The King Of Thieves” (Aired: 09/04/95 | Filmed: 04/24 – 05/03/95)
While Iolaus is about to be beheaded for a robbery he didn’t commit, Herc and the real culprit are playing cat-and-mouse with each other– and a gigantic serpent is playing cat-and-mouse with them.
Written by Doug Lefler | Directed by Doug Lefler | Production No. 876807
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for the introduction of a beloved character, here.
36. Season 6, Episode 5: “Hercules, Tramps, And Thieves” (Aired: 11/01/99 | Filmed: 07/14 – 07/22/99)
When Autolycus is charged with robbing the first bank of Greece, it’s up to Hercules to save him from taking the rap for his ex-wife.
Written by Liz Friedman & Vanessa Place | Directed by Charles Siebert | Production No. V1105
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for the hilarious hijinks of Traci Lords as Autolycus’ ex-wife, here.
37. Season 3, Episode 7: “The Green-Eyed Monster” (Aired: 11/11/96 | Filmed: 05/03 – 05/14/96)
Hercules and Cupid get caught in the middle of a plot by jealous Aphrodite to marry off a mortal female whose beauty is drawing attention away from her.
Written by Steven Baum | Directed by Chuck Braverman | Production No. V0103
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for its great story and fun Olympian shenanigans, here.
38. Season 2, Episode 3: “What’s In A Name?” (Aired: 09/18/95 | Filmed: 05/16 – 05/23/95)
A not-so-heroic Hercules imposter, Herc’s mortal half-brother Iphicles, is about to wed the stepdaughter of an evil warlord.
Written by Michael Marks | Directed by Bruce Campbell | Production No. 876803
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for introducing Herc’s brother and giving him an emotional interest, here.
39. Season 5, Episode 12: “Sky High” (Aired: 01/25/99 | Filmed: 11/09 – 11/18/98)
Hercules, with the help of the Amazon Ephiny, the Centaur Nagus and a youth marked for murder, must stop a volcano from destroying the people of Mount Pelion.
Written by Paul Robert Coyle | Directed by John Laing | Production No. V0718
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for its high stakes original premise and the appearance of Ephiny, here.
40. Season 4, Episode 19: “War Wounds” (Aired: 04/20/98 | Filmed: 01/30 – 02/10/98)
Herc and Iolaus’s war buddy Ajax wants to erect a statue to fallen comrades. But the plan runs into violent opposition from King Iphicles, who happens to be Herc’s brother.
Written by Paul Robert Coyle | Directed by John Mahaffie | Production No. V0308
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for its weighty story and some fine action, here.
41. Season 4, Episode 3: “Regrets… I’ve Had A Few” (Aired: 10/13/97 | Filmed: 08/04 – 08/12/97)
Hercules reminisces about the accidental death of a childhood bully, when Celesta arrives to take the brother of the deceased boy to the Elysian Fields.
Written by Paul Robert Coyle | Directed by Gus Trikonis | Production No. V0309
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for the backstory it gives Hercules and a really cool final scene, here.
42. Season 5, Episode 2: “Descent” (Aired: 10/05/98 | Filmed: 05/12 – 05/21/98)
Consumed by grief over the loss of Iolaus, Hercules attempts to bring his best friend back from the Underworld.
Written by Lisa Klink | Directed by Richard Compton | Production No. V0704
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for its emotional gravitas and the ever enjoyable Nebula, here.
Come back next Thursday for numbers 27-34! And stay tuned tomorrow for another Blondell Pre-Code Film Friday!