Hercules: The Legendary Journeys -- 1 Season

The Wrong Path


Michael Hurst: "I liked the opening fight sequence, which is hilarious. Basically, working with Doug Lefler on that, and on a number of other episodes is always a highlight, because he understands that kind of action. I think he's influenced by [Hong Kong action director] John Woo, actually, and understands that sort of rhythm, and we just have a hilarious time achieving it." (08.96 Starlog Yearbook)
John Schulian (head-writer): "During the first season, we had to make some major changes in terms of Hercules' family. The practical reasons were we just couldn't afford Anthony Quinn to play Zeus on a regular basis, and secondly, Tawny Kitaen had a TV series, so there was a conflict in her schedule. While people like the family values aspect of H:TLJ, it's also nice not to have him tied down to a wife and kids who he must check in with at the beginning and end of every episode. What we did, and it was certainly my idea, was to wipe out Hercules' family with a fireball. I know it wasn't a popular decision with the brass at Universal, but it was the only way to free up Hercules, and give him a cause for the rest of his life, that he honors his dead family by doing good on Earth, and trying to fulfill their image of him." (12.95 Science Fiction Explorer (Starlog) #10)
"While Sorbo says he understands the reasoning behind the producers' decision - "It would not look good for my character to be circumnavigating the globe and forgetting that I have a family back home" - he still wishes "they wouldn't have killed off the children, and I've told them that many times." After all, Herc could've parked them with grandma." (11.05.95 Newsday)
Doug Lefter (director): "I was able to put a great deal of action on film for the amount of time I had. The tavern and temple fights and the fight with the snake woman were all carefully storyboarded, so I was able to put a lot into those sequences, but there were other places where I didn't know enough shortcuts to do things as smoothly as I could have done them later. That aside, I felt there was an emotional tug, where Hercules loses his wife and kids and kind of snaps, and as I watched the episode again, that interested me. From the beginning, one of the things about Hercules that I felt very strongly about - was to make it more of an emotional challenge to him." (08.98 Starlog Yearbook)
Hercules loses his wife and children. Is he going to run around taking it out on everybody in sight the rest of his life, or is he going to do good deeds and have that be his therapy? "So he makes the last choice and that's more interesting than previous Hercules, as far as I'm concerned," says Sorbo. (16.12.95 TV Guide)

Eye of the Beholder


The episode's title comes from an English proverb that says "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".  
Robert Trebor: "[Salmoneus was] stripped by women and hang out naked on a tree limb. I remember it rained half the day while I was out on this limb, and I had to hang out there in a loincloth, with an umbrella over me - and they have several funny Polaroids of that! - until the rain cleared 20 minutes later." (08.96 Starlog Yearbook)

The Road to Calydon


Doug Lefter (director): "When we first got started on Hercules, I felt that it was very important that we keep trying to come up with a series of obstacles that would make it more of a challenge for him. We were constantly looking for ways to make the action scenes more interesting. In 'The Road to Calydon,' which is not an episode that worked very well, the end sequence had been written that the giant bird attacks Hercules, who fights and kills it, the kids run off into the swamp and fall into the quicksand, and Hercules rescues them. I suggested that we combine the two scenes, so that the bird chases them into the quicksand, and while Hercules is trying to pull them out, the bird attacks him. We were constantly looking for things of that nature to do." (08.98 Starlog Yearbook)
Kevin Sorbo: "They had the tail, only the last third of it. And they had the head which is only head for the creature. And for the most part I fought... nothing! I fought the air. I grabbed the tail once, I grabbed the head once in a little Heimlich, but beyond that there's nothing there to play with." (fall 1995 E! TV)


As Darkness Falls


John Schulian (head-witer): "As far as the first season goes, certainly the centaur episode was one of our absolute best. It had many good things going for it; the centaurs were sensational, and we got to see Salmoneus in a slightly different role than as strict comic relief, because he acts as Hercules' eyes after he has been given this potion and lost his eyesight. There was a real nobility throughout." (12.95 Science Fiction Explorer (Starlog) #10)  
Kevin Sorbo: "I'll do the same with the actual actor, but with camera angles and things like that. He is filmed waist up obviously. And they'll bring horses in to work the same area that you walk through and they bring the actor on the blue screen to have him... I get technical, you know. Bring in Kevin O'Neill [the show's visual effects supervisor]!" (fall 1995 E! TV)
Robert Trebor told the fans that episode was filmed in a dormant volcano, and he strained his muscles in order to get out. He said it was shot for about 9 days. (01.98 Convention in Burbank)
"An off-handed remark gave birth to those wacky disclaimers in the show's end credits. During a playback session of a mix midway through working on the first order of 13 H:TLJ shows, producer Liz Friedman turned to coordinating producer Bernie Joyce who runs the post production department and said, "I wish we could say, 'No Centaurs were harmed during the making of this motion picture.' That would be so funny." Joyce looked at her and said, "We can." (05.99 Cinefantastique #31)

Episode disclaimer: No Centaurs were harmed during the production of this motion picture.

Pride Comes Before a Brawl


The episode's title comes from the modification of the going back to Bible English proverb "Pride goes before a fall".  
There is a nice blooper from this episode. When Iolaus and Lydia roll in the mud in order to hide from the gang, Lisa Chappell and Michael Hurst were laying down thoroughly soiled. Blooper keeps the sight of Michael solicitously wiping mud from Lisa's cleavage and suddenly becoming aware of what he is doing. "What am I doing!" They both burst with laughter.


Episode disclaimer: No hydras were harmed during the production of this motion picture.

The March To Freedom


John Schulian (head-writer): "One thing that really caught my eye in the movies was Kevin Sorbo, who is immensely likable, and while he's not Robert DeNiro, he's not a lox. He's absolutely wonderful with the emotional moments. We did an episode last year called 'The March to Freedom,' where he visits his family's graves, and I have to tell you, a chill went down my back when I saw him do it. He found something inside himself, and was really able to bring it out. It was very touching, and I don't think there are too many actors in the action genre who are capable of finding that kind of emotion. He also has a wonderful, sly sense of humor that comes across." (12.95 Science Fiction Explorer (Starlog) #10)

The Warrior Princess


Rob Tapert (producer): "John Schulian said, "I want to do the story of the woman who comes between Hercules and Iolaus." I said, "Great, John, I want to do the story of this evil Warrior Princess and do this three episode arc." I wasn't thinking spin-off at this point. I had a very definite vision of what I wanted that Xena character to be. John wrote the script WP. If you ever would ask Kevin, he hated that script. Always hated it. Eric Gruendemann and a bunch of other people down here didn't like it. They never believed that a girl could get Herc and Iolaus to fight each other." (01.01 Whoosh!)
"The trick was finding an actress with the presence and physicality to stand toe to toe with star Kevin Sorbo. The role was reportedly offered to Vanessa Angel ("Weird Science"), who was sent off for a month's physical training, but the actress was stricken with the flu only several days before she was scheduled to leave for New Zealand. A number of other candidates were approached, but no one wanted to leave America over the holidays just before pilot season."Rob [Tapert] didn't know who he wanted as Xena," says director Josh Becker, "so he started talking to all the action babes in town. <...> I said he should read Lucy Lawless. I probably brought it up three or four times, and he ultimately did read her."
Unfortunately, the powers-that-be at Universal Television weren't too happy about using A) a New Zealand actress, who B) had recently appeared as another character [in "As Darkness Falls"], and that's actually part of the reason why Xena's hair is black. "We were worried about using her again so fast, but when we had no other choice, we tried to find her. She was camping with her husband in the Outback, so we couldn't even get to her directly by phone, so we had to leave word at her parent's house," recalls producer Liz Friedman." (02.01 TV Zone Special, UK)
Lucy Lawlees: "I remember the very first day I played Xena. I had only been playing the part [Lyla] for 20 days before that, but I came on set, and it came to the make-up and I said, "I'm not ready for this!" and burst into tears! They said, "Oh, you are!". They pushed me up, squeezed me into a costume and pushed me out there and i was fine. But it was that heart-stopping moment where it all came crashing down on me - the weight that I had on my shoulders." (09.98 TV Hits, Australia)


1893 -- New Zealand becomes the first country in the world to give women the vote. And you thought it is surprise that they have Lucy to play Xena?
Lucy Lawless: "On the first day, I went to work it was the biggest job I'd ever had... sat down in the make-up bus... and burst into tears. I'm not ready for this! But I guess I was. Well, you be the judge. When we first sat down and in the make-up bus discussing how we wanted Xena would look, they wanted to take me blonder because my natural hair color is kind of a light ash blond... and I just knew that this would make my hair fall out in a matter of months, so I said 'no... she should be like Gabriela Sabatini. She should be, you know, bronzed and big and strong and sexy', so that's what we did... we went with dark hair." (26.11.98 Battle-on-a-Thon)
Michael Hurst: "Learning to ride a horse was another highlight. Before that, I could sit on a horse and move around, but for the Xena episodes, we learned to gallop and the horses were rearing, and it was a lot of fun." (08.96 Starlog Yearbook)
"TTV: Did you ever get clocked? -- Kevin Sorbo: Oh, yeah. The worst was from Michael Hurst himself, as Iolaus. He hit me with his sword big-time in the back of the head. It was totally his fault. He knew it. And I let him know I wasn't too happy about it. I mean, if a guy hits me in the face, my career is done. Yeah, I took a 3-inch gash in the skull. I had nine stitches to close it up. They had to rush me to the hospital. That wasn't good." (12).11.96 Total TV)  
"Q: You received a nasty cut on the head. Rumor has it Michael Hurst was the one who hit you on the head. Is this true? -- Kevin Sorbo: Yes, it is. Thank God, he hit me with the side of the sword, because if he had hit me on the blade side, the doctor said it would've popped my skull open. So we had words the next day, Michael and I, because we had to stay friends, so, because I was pretty upset about it, because to me it's like, you know, if I would have turned my face into that, that would have been it for my career, basically." (02.12.96 TVGuide)
Kevin Sorbo: "I caught a sword in the back of the head. It was just a miscalculation in our choreography." (14.03.97 Unknown source)


"Q: Was it really bad or did he just get slightly offended that you whacked him over the head with a sword? -- Michael Hurst: No, it was nine stitches. I've seen the shot, well, it is actually been edited. I'm doing a reverse spin with the sword, and in those days they gave us real metal swords - idiots, you know, but anyway, he didn't duck quite far enough and my aim was off." (20.05.99 Interview to Hurst News)
Kevin Sorbo: "The second season [he counts movies as Season1], I was doing a swordfight with a guy, where I had to basically duck under him when he's coming at me from behind with the sword. He's supposed to miss me, but he cracked open the back of my skull." (14.08.99 TV Guide)
Michael Hurst: "There were a lot of knocks, bruises, things like that. We had Kevin in stitches because of a misjudged sword stroke, which I did, actually. I felt absolutely terrible about it, but there were no bad feelings; we just finished the rest of the day with me, and Kevin came back the next day..." (02.01 TV Zone Special, UK)

Hercules to Iolaus: "After Xena, you'd be better off falling in love with a Black Widow."

Black Widow is considered the most venomous spider in North America. Adult males are harmless, about half the female's size. Females may occassionally kill and eat a male after mating.


John Schulian (writer): "I thought that Kevin and Michael were very good, being at odds over this woman, and I thought that Lucy was really great as a femme fatale. It's a very simple episode and there are no special effects, but there are some wonderful action sequences and it was shot very well. If you watch closely, though, the ending is a little flat - she just rides away... I wish I'd come up with something a bit better there. But as a whole she was stamped indelibly on the audiences' minds as a great character. She was so evil and treacherous, and there was that great scene where Kevin and Michael square off at the end of the second act." (12.96 SFX #19, UK)
"The main idea of the story - to turn Iolaus against Hercules - isn't convincing for an instant. The lack of suspense removes any real drama from the episode." (05.96 Spectrum #5)

Kevin Sorbo: "I had a hard time with this episode, because I didn't buy that Iolaus would not believe me. This guy and I have know each other since we were kids. And I'm Hercules, for crying out loud! He knows me as an honest guy. If I said (to my closest friend), 'Look, this woman's a maniac!' you know, I don't care how much you're in love with somebody, at least you'd go, 'Okay, let's talk about it.' But for us to fight was silly. And the fight got a little too carried away. What I remember the most is Michael Hurst hitting me in the back of the head with his sword." (02.98 "Hercules, the Legendary Journeys: The Offical Companion" by Robert Weisbrot)
Episode disclaimer: No animals were harmed during the production of this motion picture

The Gladiator



Hercules: Id rather sleep in a dungeon with rats than share satin pillows with a viper.

"Sorbo is somebody who can keep a straight face spouting that dungeon-with-rats /satin-sheets-with-viper dialogue. <...> He argued over the dungeon line and lost, Sorbo reports with a chagrined grin. "I find downplaying those lines makes it work better than really trying to deliver it or get into it." (11.05.95 Newsday)



The Vanishing Dead


Working title - "The Dog of War"
Michael Hurst: "I really enjoyed working with Bruce Campbell, who directed 'The Vanishing Dead'. We got on famously, and of course, I remember seeing Bruce in the Evil Dead movies. It was great to work with someone like that. He was fantastic, because you'd set up a shot, and then he'd come up to you and mumble something in your ear like, [imitating Campbell's voice] 'The money is on the shot here, so make sure you give it to me there; anywhere else, I don't care!' He understood it from the acting side, and it was great because you knew where he was looking and what he was looking for, and he communicated it very clearly." (08.96 Starlog Yearbook)
"H:TLJ can be violent show, which tends to put many Humanists off watching, which is a shame. After all, the central theme is a call for peace and an end to violence. God Of War Ares's first collision with Hercules ends on the brink of a bloody battle between two armies which Hercules stops with the aid of the maimed ghosts of the dead of former battles standing between the two forces, reminding the living of the cost of their wars. When Ares tries to force Hercules into direct combat, Hercules refuses and beats the more powerful God by refusing to fight at all. Whilst violent, the message of Hercules is one of peace." (11.98 Matrix mag, produced by the British Science Fiction Association)  
Episode disclaimer: No Dogs of War were harmed during the production of this motion picture.

The Gauntlet


Robert Trebor told fans how he'd created the song ("Xena, coming to your town!") at the end of shooting and enacted it with walnut shells. (12.96 Stellar Convention in Dallas)
Robert Bielak (writer): "It was definitely a dark script, and that goes back to me as the writer, but for the scene where Xena was cast out of her gang and had to go through the gauntlet and was beaten up, what you saw in the episode was a watered-down version of what was in the dailies. They pulled no punches, and it got even darker than what I had intended in the script." (12.97 Starlog special)  
Robert Trebor mentioned his least favorite scene - hanging upside-down from a tree. Due to frequent showers, he was left in that position for over two hours. (12.96 Stellar Convention in Dallas)

Lucy Lawless: "Kevin got 10 stitches on the back of his head from a metal sword [filming "The Warrior Princess"]. It was a really nasty hit actually I saw it on video, and next week I did it to him myself and I just felt terrible!" (14.08.96 WGN TV)

"Kevin got 17 stitches from a sword whack in one of the episodes," Tapert recalls. "We didn't even use the shot. We figured it would be in bad taste." (10.95 Sci-Fi Universe #10)

"TTV: Who wins in a fight, Herc or Xena? -- Kevin Sorbo: You know, it's funny. It's a question people write, and I find that a problem with the writers. It's sounds like I'm being nitpicky, jealous or petty or something, but the thing is, Hercules was a real mythological character, Hercules was the strongest person in the world. Period. And people sort of... this is one of my fights with the writers. I get that question a lot from fans. Is she a god, too? You guys have to draw the line. When I hit guys, they fly a hundred yards. I said, "You guys have to watch that. There's a fine line in there to make it that way." There's got to be a reason why you make it that way. It think that's part of the appeal of Hercules is that as affable as he is, as funny as he can be, and as human as he can be, part of the appeal to the watcher is that he still has this thing that we don't have. And I think they stand the risk of losing that by doing what they do in terms of... the fights I've had with her before she became a good girl, I said, "Guys, she's a kung fu artist and can flip around and do all this stuff. Still, if I got a hold of her, I could snap her like a twig." And they go, "Well, you don't want to do that because you have to play it like you're trying to defend yourself because you don't want to hurt her." Well, okay. But the way the fight is set up, it looks like it's pretty even or that she's beating me up. So I always had a problem with that, but I'm more than happy to say that in reality Lucy really could beat me up." (12).11.96 Total TV)
John Schulian (head-writer): "I think 'The Gauntlet,' was a little too dark. It was well-shot and well-directed, but it wasn't H:TLJ. It was the case of a relatively inexperienced director seeking to make his mark, and what happened was, he made his mark so well that he didn't make the show. There's a way you do H:TLJ, a certain sensitivity that you must be aware of. This is about action and making your heart beat faster, and yes, people do die and there is violence, but it's all done in a way that doesn't make you cringe. Unfortunately, as wonderful a bit of shooting as 'The Gauntlet' was, it's still not the show." (12.95 Science Fiction Explorer (Starlog) #10)  
Kevin Sorbo: "I like the story, I like the episode, and it's funny how it all came together. At that time they didn't know 'Xena' would be made into a series. I mean, Lucy was a last-minute replacement. And she's perfect for the part - Lucy "is" Xena!" (02.98 "Hercules, the Legendary Journeys: The Offical Companion" by Robert Weisbrot)

The Unchained Heart



I seriously doubt someone had intention to make allusion to the song "Unchained Melody" by Elvis Presley - I just can't stop myself from hearing this:

"Lonely rivers flow to the sea, to the sea.
To the waiting arms of the sea."



Robert Trebor: "Hercules, Iolaus, Xena and Salmoneus are getting buried under rocks. That was the first time that Salmoneus got really scared and serious." (12.98 SF Report Mag, Netherlands)
Robert Tapert (producer): "The change we made was at the end - we were going to have Xena killed. We kept her alive so she could go on." (01.01 Whoosh!)
"Xena Trilogy" comes to a disappointing and muddled conclusion. The Hercules/Xena love plot is okay and a reasonable extension of past events, but a couple of times the staging of the scenes approaches (perhaps attains) wretched sentimentality (i.e. when Iolaus comes upon the two after he returns from a scouting expedition). Fortunately, the strength of Sorbo and Lawless as actors saves many scenes that would have been unwatchable with lesser performers.
When that's not going on, the writers have to figure out how Hercules and Xena are going to kill an enemy who's already dead. The idea of such a battle is interesting. Unfortunately, the conclusion falls flat. Gragus eats Darphus and bursts into flames. Why?" (05.96 Spectrum #5)
The hottest Herc-Xena love scene was cut for TV and Herc's VHS/DVD editions. You can find full version on "The Xena Trilogy" (VHS and DVD) or on the YouTube - Herc And Xena ... what you never saw on the show!!! (use Free Download Manager to save it)  
Episode disclaimer: No Vicious Beasts intent on taking over the world were harmed during the production of this motion picture.


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