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 fourth 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.
19. Season 4, Episode 14: “Armageddon Now (II)” (Aired: 02/16/98 | Filmed: 12/10 – 12/19/97)
Iolaus encounters the evil, unreformed Xena during his journey into the past to stop Callisto from killing the pregnant Alcmene before she can give birth to Herc.
Story by Paul Robert Coyle and Gene O’Neill & Noreen Tobin | Teleplay by Gene O’Neill & Noreen Tobin | Production No. V0320
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for the opportunity to see the characters (including Xena and Gabrielle) in an alternate timeline, here.
20. Season 4, Episode 4: “Web Of Desire” (Aired: 10/20/97 | Filmed: 07/15 – 07/24/97)
Hercules and Iolaus join forces with beautiful Captain Nebula to battle deadly spider-woman Arachne.
Written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman | Directed by Michael Levine | Production No. V0301
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for its perfect-for-Halloween premise and the introduction of Nebula, here.
21. Season 4, Episode 22: “Reunions” (Aired: 05/11/98 | Filmed: 03/17 – 03/27/98)
Hera blackmails Zeus into becoming mortal; Hercules battles the gods to return Alcmene’s soul to the Elysian Fields and restore his father’s powers. Meanwhile, Iolaus reunites with his mother.
Written by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci and Jerry Patrick Brown | Directed by Charles Siebert | Production No. V0326
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for some resolution given to Hercules’ relationships with both Zeus and Hera, here.
22. Season 5, Episode 5: “Render Unto Caesar” (Aired: 10/26/98 | Filmed: 06/11 – 06/22/98)
As Julius Caesar prepares to attack the emerald isle of Eire, Hercules helps the demigod Morrigan find the good within her.
Written by Noreen Tobin & Gene O’Neill | Directed by John Laing | Production No. V0706
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for the blending of several stories — including the incorporation of Julius Caesar, here.
23. Season 2, Episode 13: “The Enforcer” (Aired: 01/15/96 | Filmed: 10/11 – 10/20/95)
Hera’s old hit woman, Nemesis, is on Herc’s side when Hera sends a new hit woman, who’s known as the Enforcer, to do in Our Hero.
Written by Nelson Costello | Directed by T.J. Scott | Production No. 876815
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for the Terminator inspired villain and the return of Nemesis, here.
24. Season 1, Episode 10: “Gladiator” (Aired: 03/20/95 | Filmed: 02/02 – 02/10/95)
Herc and Iolaus get themselves enslaved in order to reunite an aging gladiator with his wife and son.
Written by Robert Bielak | Directed by Garth Maxwell | Production No. 76611
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for the powerful guest stars (Tony Todd and Alison Bruce), here.
25. Season 1, Episode 7: “Pride Comes Before A Brawl” (Aired: 02/27/95 | Filmed: 11/25 – 12/02/94)
Hercules’ friend Iolaus fights for his life when Hera decides to punish him for an act of pride.
Written by Steve Roberts | Directed by Peter Ellis | Production No. 76604
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for the introduction of Nemesis and the exploration afforded to Iolaus, here.
26. Season 1, Episode 1: The Wrong Path” (Aired: 01/16/95 | Filmed: 09/05 – 09/14/94)
When his stepmother destroys his family, Hercules is so consumed by hatred that he loses sight of his purpose to help people in need.
Written by John Schulian | Directed by Doug Lefler | Production No. 76601
Check out my thoughts on this episode, chosen for the wonderfully dark way this episode allows the series to begin, here.
Come back next Thursday for numbers 11-18! And stay tuned tomorrow for another Blondell Pre-Code Film Friday!