Hercules: The Legendary Journeys -- 2 Season
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The King of Thieves

 

   
Doug Lefler was writing and directing the opening episode. "The King of Thieves" introduced Bruce Campbell as the charismatic thief Autolycus. "Because it was the first episode of the new season, everybody was able to put a lot into what I gave them. I gave the storyboards to the production people fairly far in advance, so the production designer could build the sets to match what I wanted, the costumes as I designed them to incorporate the gags I wanted. For example, I wanted Bruce to have a lot of gadgets and tricks in his wardrobe that he would use, and they were able to incorporate all that stuff into the production. I was very interested in doing a story where I could present Hercules with a moral dilemma rather than just a physical one. In this case, he must catch the thief and bring him back in order to save Iolaus' life, but in the process, he gets to like the guy and realizes if he does not bring him back, Iolaus dies; if he does, then Autolycus dies. It wasn't a problem Hercules could solve with his muscles. (08.98 Starlog Yearbook)  
   

Iolaus: "You know, I left my heart in Cyros."

This line is a nod to the Tony Bennett's popular love song, "I left my heart in San Francisco. High on a hill, it calls to me."

 

   
The appearance and style of Autolycus seem to carry back Douglas Fairbanks in his "The Thief of Bagdad" (1924) star role.

 

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

All That Glitters

 

   
The episode's title comes from Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice", Act 2, scene 7. A Prince, in order to win the hand of Portia, must find her picture in one of three boxes, made of gold, silver and lead. He chooses the gold one, and finds here a note which reads: "All that glitters is not gold; Often have you heard that told."  
 

Here we find really nice and neat touch of the screenwriters, not for the first time they are using (as in the Greek mythology) meaningful names. Voluptuous = fleshly, sensual.

Evil Voluptua was played by the real-life wife of Michael Hurst actress Jennifer Ward-Lealand.

 

 

 

   
"Float like a butterfly! Sting like a bee!" is a quote from the boxer Mohammad Ali (aka Casius Clay).  
   
Episode disclaimer: No Stuffed Elephants were harmed during the production of this motion picture.
 

What's in a Name?

 

   
The episode's title comes from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", Act 2, scene 2. Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet."

 

   
"Big, green, and bad all over," says John Gibbons from 'Flat Earth' of the memorable monster Mandrake." (1997(?) Herc/XenaYearbook)  
   
Eyes and tail of Mandrake
Kevin imitates fighting with Mandrake
   
Kevin Smith: That was in '95. I'd been around for a little, but pretty much exclusively theater. I'd done a few New Zealand TV series. I'd done a feature flm in '93 called "Desperate Remedies". I went over to Los Angeles; it was a totally miserable affair. I had a few auditions. I was there for about two, three months, and by the end of it every time I'd get a callback, a walk-on guest spot in a sitcom, I was ecstatic. I was homesick, and I felt really disillusioned and all: "Oh God, I'm a piece of crap." And I got this phone call from home. They'd asked me a couple of times before whether I was available. They were auditioning for Iphicles. When they approached me, I said, "Oh man, I can't see running around in a loincloth and stuff like that." Because of the shows l'd done, I kind of got roped into that young take-your-shirt-off leading man sort of thing. At that time in my life I thought, "Can't they see l'm a serious actor?" (Laughter) So I thought, "I won't even bother with this thing." But when they called me up I was living on ketchup and two-minute rice. When they said, "You want to come back?" I said, "Yep!" (Laughter). (06.01 Spectrum #26)  
   
Episode disclaimer: No Mandrakes were harmed during the production of this motion picture.
 

Siege at Naxos

 

   
The episode may have some resemblance to movie "The Siege at Red River" (1954) in which Indians attack a fort with the help of a Gatling gun stolen from Confederate soldiers.  
   
Brian Thompson, who played Goth in this episode, appeared as Hercules in the tv series "Jason and the Argonauts" (2000).
   
Working moments
   
Episode disclaimer: No Barbarians were harmed during the production of this motion picture.
 

Outcast

 

   
Robert Bielak (writer): It was originally written that Lyla dies and that was the end of teaser. It never occurred to me that there would be anything wrong with killing this woman off; it was just part of the storytelling, and it was a big cheat to have to bring her back. I fought as hard as I could to keep Lyla dead in that episode, and ultimately we lost. But, it came back to bite the studio in the butt because in the very next hour, people recognized that Lyla was Lucy who's also Xena (the two series were shown back to back). As originally written, you didn't even see her face. In the first draft I wrote, it was all in shadow, and there was nothing on the screen to remind you this was indeed Lucy Lawless. It's a bad precedent to set, because you start trivialising death, and that takes the jeopardy out of the show. If Hercules can bring them back to life what's the problem? (12.97 Starlog Special)
   
Lucy Lawless: They brought back the Lyla character. Kevin couldn't let this go by, so he slipped in a little ad lib about, "doesn't she remind you of Xena?" (26.11.98 Battle-on-a-Thon)  
   

Hercules: Well, they say you are what you eat.

Classic German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach at one point embraced the view that differences in human cultures are determined by diet, which induced famous "Der Mensch ist, was er isst" - "Man is what he eats."

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

The Mother of all Monsters

 

   
Jonh Schulian (writer): The first is our season opener, called "The Mother of All Monsters". In addition to having a terrific monster, it's a yarn about fallen women, lost loves and bad guys, and I hope it's something many people will be able to connect with. (12.95 Science Fiction Explorer #10)
 
Michael Hurst: Another highlight with Kevin and me was an episode where Hercules gets a fatal wound, or we think it's going to be fatal, and we had to call on the resources of grief--what would happen if he died? Kevin and I got to play some really emotional stuff. That's one of the good things about the series, and one of the things that people will respond to: it will carry that level of acting, as well as the kind of fluff, if you like, especially between these two men who are really friends. I remember when we were playing it on that day, and we were both close to tears. That scene stands out in my memory. (08.96 Starlog Yearbook)

   
Episode disclaimer: The Mother of All Monsters was not harmed during the production of this motion picture.
 

The Other Side

 

   
Q: What scenes in "Hercules" were the most difficult emotionally for you to do? -- Kevin Sorbo: It was when I saw my family, thinking they were dead and I'd never see them again. I picked up my little daughter and well, it was the hardest emotionally. (01.97 Convention in Burbank -- Whoosh!)
   
Robert Bielak (writer): Kevin did some marvellous stuff, with Hercules having to decide he's going to forsake his quest and leave Persephone down there and take his family back. I was really pleased with the way it came out, and there was some funny stuff as well, with Michael Hurst playing Charon, the guy who ferries people across the River Styx. I gave him some funny lines, and he ad-libbed a few more. There was more fun in the script than finally come across, because we had to edit some out. (12.97 Starlog Special)
 
23.01.99 Convention in Santa Monica -- (on the episode which has been most fulfilling for him as an actor) Kevin Sorbo: "There's an episode where I go back to tell my wife that basically she was really dead. It was called The Other Side." (1999 Starburst Special #42, UK)
   
Episode disclaimer: Nether Phil nor Sal nor any of the other Piglet Brethren were harmed during the production of this motion picture.
 

The Fire Down Below

 

Working title - "Nemises of"
   
The episode's title may come from what originally was a pumping shanty, "Fire Down Below" with a chorus:
Fire! fire! fire down below;
It's fetch a bucket of water, boys,
There's fire down below.

 

   
Visual effects supervisor Kevin O'Neill: Earlier this year, we had Hercules fight a character made of fire. For that episode, I had a guy dressed in a green suit, and choreographed all the action with him and Kevin's stunt guy. We then filmed it with the green suit guy fighting Kevin, then had Kevin do the fight by himself. (04.96 Sci-Fi Entertainment)  
   
Visual effects supervisor Kevin O'Neill: This pyre guy we did last year, which involved everyone-3-D and 2-D. That thing is really cool. Whenever we show it to someone, they're amazed. Kevin Kutchaver put all that together. We had a guy carefully choreograph it from the storyboards, then we had him blocking out the action. This was being shot in New Zealand, and we asked them to get a dancer or a mime, someone very thin and lithe who could be very expressive with his body, with the hope that we could really choreograph this thing in detail. But the script called for this guy to throw fireballs, like a baseball. They play softball down there, not baseball, so when we got there, we found that the guy had never thrown a baseball and had no idea what a windup was. So we had him off to one side with the stunt guys throwing an orange around, so he could get the basic sense of what throwing a baseball was all about. There was a ton of clean-up animation, because he was not the most coordinated person in the world. (04.96 Starlog #225)  
   
Pyro in Greek means "fire, flame".  
   
Episode disclaimer: No Completely-Engulfed-in-Flames-Evil-Dudes were harmed during the production of this motion picture.
 

Cast a Giant Shadow

 

   
Michael Hurst's real life broken right arm (he was injuried during filming Xena: Warrior Princess episode "Prometheus") was written into the script on the set during filming of "Cast a Giant Shadow".  
   
Michael Hurst: The way I play Iolaus is absolutely honest and absolutely brave, and when you put those two together, I think his failing is that he sometimes doesn't think, so very often he pits incredible braver against ridiculous odds. Just recently, we had this scene where I was being chased by all these warriors, and I finally come limping into town and the first thing Hercules says to me is, "What have you done now?" (08.96 Starlog Yearbook)

   
Joseph LoDuca (composer): There is a lot of cutting up in the script and on the set. There's a lot of physical comedy. Musically we haven't shied away from that. We have actually gone over the top and commented on it. We have a Typhon, the clumsy giant, kissing Echidna, the mother of all monsters, so I write the "Honeymooners" over a big, sappy, romantic screen kiss. The music is as good-natured as the show. (06.96 Joseph LoDuca answers to the Hercules and Xena NetForums)
   

 

 

Playing baseball between shots

 

 

 

 

   
Episode disclaimer: Neither Typhon nor Echidna was harmed during the production of this motion picture. They went on to lead long and happy lives with their adopted family. However, attempts to reinflate Pylon were unsuccessful.
 

Highway to Hades

 

   
Robert Bielak (writer): I wanted to do something where Hades comes to Hercules and says, "We've got a problem. Only you can set it right". I wasn't quite sure how to approach it, until I was in the shower one day, and I had the vision of the teaser, where this chariot driven like a bat out of Hades would come charging and snorting out, with the horses blowing out smoke and flame. After I had the teaser in my mind, I knew what the episode was going to be. As a whole, I thought it worked pretty well. (12.97 Starlog Special)  
   
Timothy James Scott's first episode of H:TLJ was "Highway to Hades", and he soon discovered that first-time directors on the series were often tested to see how they could handle an episode with a limited amount of resources at their disposal. "Rob Gilles, who's the head of the art department, gave me about 14 pillars and a bunch of material, and said, 'Here`s your castle! You make hallways out of this by putting seven pillars on each side, you can open it up into a square to make a room, and you just keep attaching the fabric along the sides; that's how you'll make your set'. I thought he was kidding, but he said, 'No, that's how we do it here.' So I really had no set to shoot. I couldn't move the camera around and do my sort of thing, because I was busy trying to figure out how to turn these couple of pillars into a set all day long! But it was a great experience, and once I did that, they gave me whatever I wanted, and a few episodes later, they built me an entire castle!" [see "The Enforcer" comments] (06.00 Xena Magazine #8, UK)
   
Episode disclaimer: No rabbits or spirits wandering the earth were harmed during the production of this motion picture.
 

Sword of Veracity

 

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

The Enforcer

 

Working title - "Un-natural killer"
   
"The Enforcer" featured 1979-80 North American women's forms champion Karen Sheperd in the title role. Sheperd, a veteran martial arts/action star with credits in American and Hong Kong films, plays a robotic creature who is on a mission to kill Hercules. "Kevin was a really good sport, very professional, a hard worker, and very positive," Sheperd said. "His positiveness affects the entire crew. The crew in New Zealand was one of the finest crews I've ever worked for - no egos, no attitude, just a team effort and fun to be around." (08).96 Unknown source)  
   
Timothy James Scott: Once I did "Highway to Hades", they gave me whatever I wanted, and a few episodes later, they built me an entire castle!"
By the time Scott returned for "The Enforcer", things were a good deal easier, and the director was able to create some interesting techniques for the episode's eponymous villain. "One of the interesting things that Renaissance says right off the bat," he reveals, "is that if you're going to make a villain, you've really got to make a bad villain, because your heroes can only be as heroic as your villains are bad. When we got Karen Shepherd as the Enforcer, I really wanted to make her bad, and also to create a point of view from her side that you understood was different and weird. (06.00 Xena Magazine #8, UK)
 
   
Karen Sheperd: It was very plain dialogue, you know, "must kill Hercules", it was like really dry and not very colorful. There was no explanation about the character other than she was made out of water and sent to kill Hercules. So I had to come up with something to make it more interesting for me and to give me some motivation. Actually that character evolved through the costume and the director. The costume designer phoned me up from New Zealand and she was fabulous, very talented lady and she asked me my input, 'do I have any suggestions for the costume, how do I envision it?' I gave her my suggestions, you know I said, 'well I have really great abs. (laugh) and my arms I want to be bare. I said it would be great to have some kind of knee padding covering for the stunts and it's got to be flexible and on and on. And she came up with a design that was just outstanding. When I got there I had a make up and wardrobe test and put the costume on. Then the make up artist put the wig on and it was like I started to feel really different, the character started to come alive, it was magical. And it felt so empowering, it looked so great. But there was something about the wig and when I looked at myself in the mirror I thought 'wow, I look really almost looked like a China doll'. So I started doing these movements that were kind of like robotic but not, a little smoother than a robot and the director really liked what I was doing and he said, 'you know there's really something cold about it but yet,' so his idea was to put in the black contact lenses. (before 09.00 Behind The Scenes)

   
Karen Sheperd: It was winter in New Zealand. Lots of rain, cold but very green and beautiful. Did I say cold? Yeah...cold. Especially that establishing scene where I rise up out of the water. On a miserably, cold, rainy day I had to stand in the ocean ... in wintertime ... with no clothes until we got the complete shot. We were filming on a military reserve and there were Navy guys in a boat behind me. The film crew kept trying to get guys to leave so they wouldn't be in the shot. They wouldn't because here was this nude girl on the beach!
I had a gymnastics double who performed the more difficult moves like flipping off of platforms and repeat backhandspringing down the banquet table and stuff. She was really great. All of the fights and most everything else is me.
<...> I wasn't surprised with the creative freedom on the set because I had already met Rob Tapert in Los Angeles and Kevin Sorbo also. I was surprised and pleased when I met them at how open-minded and positive they were. In Hollywood, it's rare to meet such very cool people, really.
Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst. Both guys were awesome. Neither one had egos that got in the way of creativity. They both realized that having a woman knock the blazes out of them was integral to the storyline and they both really got into it. They both did most of their own stunts and took their own hard-knocks. I was impressed. They were both equally open to my suggestions about choreography, as was the fight/stunt coordinator, Peter Bell. The scene where I really thrashed Iolaus was fun because Michael really got into it. The more raw and thrashed he got, the more he seemed to love it. A real gritty actor. He was very cool. I remember the final fight between Kevin and myself, we both were not feeling well that day. The flu bug was going around set. I guess we used how we felt to make the scene appear more violent, as it well should have looked.
(03.02 "Lucy In The Sky" magazine, Sweden)

 

   
 
Once a Hero

 

Working title - "Argonauts Again"
 
   
The most direct homage to Ray Harryhausen's classic "Jason and the Argonauts", lovingly directed by series producer (and Harryhausen fan) Rob Tapert. As in the 1963 film, a group of belligerent, sword-weilding skeletons (eight, not seven, this time) spring to life from a monster's scattered teeth and challenge our heroes in a spectacular climactic battle. The idea of older-but-still-formidable Argonauts reuniting to retrieve the stolen Golden Fleece ties in nicely with the original inspiration. (1996(?) Hercules and XenaYearbook)
 
 
Rob Tapert: "Jason and the Argonauts" is my favorite mythological film. I directed a sort of revisited episode from it, which of course features the famous skeleton fight. It's really cool."
Sorbo agrees that the episode, and that particular sequence, was quite a rush. "It was a dream episode. Even as a kid, this was a fantasy for me, watching those skeletons rising up out of the soil and then fighting Jason. I thought, 'Of all the six billion people in the world, I'm the only one fighting the skeletons!' This was definitely my favorite episode. We had seven fights in it; and this is by far the biggest action episode." (04.96 Sci-Fi Entertainment)
 
   
The show's visual effects supervisor Kevin O'Neill: "In this episode, for each of the eight skeletons, I had guys wear numbered white T-shirts; we rehearsed the sequences until everyone had a feel for the choreography, then filmed it once with the T-shirt guys, then again, with Kevin fighting by himself. Once the material got back from location, I had the editors cut together two versions, one with the T-shirt guys, then one with Kevin fighting by himself that matched exactly, shot-for-shot. The animators then studied the T-shirt guys version and animated the skeletons with reference to the action of the individual T-shirt guys."
The numbered T-shirts helped the editors to recognize the continuity from shot to shot, allowing the sequence to be edited smoothly and rapidly, and provided a template that could be followed in editing the shots of Sorbo fighting alone; and the animators were able to use the T-shirt version as a reference, tracking each animated character's movements and appropriate reactions to Sorbo and the set. (04.96 Sci-Fi Entertainment)
 
   
3-D supervisor Everett Burrell: The skeletons were very difficult. That was our first real big show that had so many 3-D shots, and we also had to integrate them into the plates as Harryhausen did. We had to match the lighting, the textures, the paint jobs, the colors - they all had to look like they were integrated into the scene. That's so hard to do - harder than you think, especially in a computer, when you can't see stuff interact. You have to do rendering tests and paint job tests. We're constantly doing tests to get a feel for the scene. Then comes the animation from Doug Beswick, layering the characters on top of each other.
Q: Did you create the skeletons entirely in the computer?
Burrell: Definitely. We had reference footage, prop skeletons that were shot in New Zealand. I aged them, put in cracks, made them a little weathered-looking. One of them was an older-looking skeleton, so that was fun to do. I used to do Babylon 5, and trying to get the same sensibilities from makeup effects into the computer - texture, shininess, glossiness, that whole textural world--is hard on a computer.
3-D animation supervisor Doug Beswick: The skeletons. It was hard to choreograph the action, and to make it look like the skeletons are actually swinging swords, contacting swords and shields with an actor. They shot reference of stunt men with numbered T-shirts, and that helped a lot. But we had to use our own creativity to link up the action. The hardest part for me is sitting at the computer for 16 hours a day, watching Kevin Sorbo, who is in really good shape, and watching myself turn into Jabba the Hutt." (04.96 Starlog #225)
 
   
Visual effects supervisor Kevin O'Neill: "What we did was buy a skeleton model, then modify it to match the eight skeletons that we planned to use in the three-dimensional animated fight sequence."
Sorbo recalls the scene well. "It was wild seeing this thing put together. First the stunties went through the entire fight sequence, strike for strike, and filmed it as one big master shot so the computer guys could see what it was going to look like. Then I did the fight by myself, copying the exact moves. Then I did it a third time tight, with the [special effects] guys operating the skeletons' arms and legs. Then the computer guys got a hold of it and pieced it together. I'm always amazed at what they do." (09.96 Black Belt, vol. 34)
 
   
"While screenwriter Robert Bielak believes the episode turned out reasonably well, he also admits that there were a number of behind-the-scenes problems. "I'm not going to get into details. I'll just say it changed considerably from its inception. Since Rob [Tapert] was going to direct the episode, it was really his baby, and that's hard, trying to get into somebody else's mind. He's usually very good at sharing what's on his mind, but this one was closer to him and therefore not as accessible to the rest of us. Finally, we got the story where we wanted it, and I took the first whack at the script and then John worked on it, and then for various reasons that Rob will have to talk about, it got handed off to somebody else, and finally came back to John. The miracle is through all that, it turned out to be a pretty decent episode. Where I was wrong and Rob was right was the skeleton fight. My thoughts were that they just don't look like the type of foe who would be a big problem, at least for Hercules. They just seem to be a bunch of bones and you should overcome them pretty easily, and actually they do in that episode." (12.97 Starlog Special)  
   
 
 
 
   
While behind the scenes imaginations can run riot, the filming schedule is tight. It was sunny and warm when they shot the first scenes on board the boat. Filming can't stop just because the temperatures drop. (06.11.95 "Hits and Myths", New Zealand TV)  
   
Episode disclaimer: We gratefully acknowledge the lifelong inspiration Ray Harryhausen has provided on our journey through Filmland.
 
 

Heedless Hearts

 

   
"The romance was missed in this episode," the writer Robert Bielak avers. "There was a big moment where these people wanted to come together, and felt they could not, and that moment was entirely missed. We ended up having Joe LoDuca, who scores our episode, put it in with the music, because somehow it got missed in the heat of battle. The episode should have been a heart-tugger, with Hercules finally finding someone he can fall in love with, and her husband comes back from the dead so Hercules can't have her. Your heart should have gone out to both these people, but it never quite got there." (12.97 Starlog Special)
   
The core of the episode bears a strong resemblance to one of Kev's favourite movies - "Casablanca", in which the main hero falls in love with the woman, who is certain that her husband, one of the leaders of antifascist Resistance, died in a concentration camp. When the husband appears to be alive, the hero decided not to break that couple.  
   
 

Let the Games Begin

 

   
The 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games were the first in the modern history without government support. Approximately 10000 athletes, representing 197 countries, participated in the Games.  
   
Episode disclaimer: The nuclear blast that destroyed the fiendish Mesomorphs was purely trick photography. The Mesomorphs are alive and well and living in Poughkeepsie.

The Apple

 

   
Kevin Sorbo: Maybe I'm not qualified to direct in general, but I'm certainly qualified to direct this show. (10.95 Sci-Fi Universe)  
   
 
   
Kevin Sorbo: I directed "The Apple" after a three-week Christmas break, so I had all of the information and facts I needed, and I prepped thoroughly. (04).97 Net article-MrShowbiz)  
   
Kevin Sorbo: My favorite episode? That is tough. A personal favorite was "The Apple", it was my directing debut and it was just wacky and fun. We had a great time doing it. (07.97 - On-line Chat AOL Live Olds Celebrity Circle)  
   
Kevin Sorbo: "You know what? A total ball, a total kick, a total blast. It introduced a new goddess, Aphrodite. This was my first time directing, but I had a few things in my favor. Number one, I know the show. Number two, I know the characters. Number three, the crew is great and they were there to protect me and work with me. And number four, I had a three-week Christmas break, so that gave me the time that most directors get to prep for a show. I was able to read the script a thousand times, to break the scenes down, and get to the locations. I took photos of everywhere we would film. I talked to the heads of wardrobe and makeup and locations. And it was summertime [in New Zealand]. It was sunny in January and beautiful. And everybody was glad to be back. We had a great episode. We put three beautiful women in scanty outfits, so the crew loved me. Everybody was happy. And it was just a fun episode to do. The other two actresses were really models...

In one of Iolaus' dreams, where I'm getting beaten up and he saves me, I added a bit. During our lunch breaks the crew always plays Hacky Sack. And I said, "Why don't we make a human Hacky Sack of Hercules? These guys are kicking him and we'll send me up in the air and we'll do slowmotion shots of me just falling around and screaming out, 'Iolaus, save me!'" In another dream scene [where Hercules appears a foolish foil to Iolaus' wise man] Rob Tapert had a problem with that because he said, "God, you know, you are the hero, and you are making fun of yourself." I said, "But Rob, it's a dream. Who cares?

We made this an over-the-top episode. I put in "tubular," the whole idea about Iolaus surfing in on a board, and Aphrodite's windsurfing. And we made up things [as we went along]. For example, having Michael and the fisherman he's with on the beach drop their poles as soon as they see Aphrodite." (Date unknown - EpisodeGuides.com)

 
   
  Michael Hurst: The script was already pretty far out. And both Kevin and I went, "Are you kidding, this is really what they want us to do?" And then we thought, what the hell! And Kevin had the sensible notion to go with it, not just a hundred percent but a million percent. And he said, "Whatever we can make up, [do it]." So we went for it. Man, did we go for it! ...Yes, he did make fun of himself [and Hercules], but didn't it actually intensify the truth, which is that he is amazing? The ability to be mocked and to mock oneself makes one bigger. (Date unknown - EpisodeGuides.com)  
   
"Although Tydings had already talked over the character with Kevin Sorbo, who was making his directorial debut with "The Apple," there was still a momentary feeling of panic about the direction they had chosen. "Kevin pulled me aside and said, 'I'm not really sure about this character, so feel free to ad-lib and do whatever you want.' My insides turned to stone, because I'm not a writer," Tydings recalls. "But I thought, 'Okay, don't panic; it's your first day here, you just got off this ridiculous plane ride, so just go in there and do whatever you want to do.' So I did and, happily for all of us, they laughed a lot." (1998 Hercules and Xena Yearbook)  
   

" 'The Apple' was a dream job. I had never seen Hercules when I auditioned for it. My manager was a little hesitant about letting me audition because I should have been focusing on my feature film career and it was action TV. My agent said, 'It's just two weeks out of your life, and you get to go to New Zealand.' And I said, 'Oh really. Well, if I get the job, I'm going to go because I want to go to New Zealand.'
"Then, I read the script and was really confused. I had a vague idea about the show, people running around slaying dragons, but the script was funny, quirky and campy. I was like, 'What's going on here? Is this a comedy?' My agent told me, 'It's a real funny show a lot of the time, so if you're getting the instinct that it's funny, then you should follow your instincts.' And that's what I did."
And why does Tydings like "The Apple" so much? "Mostly because it was my first time in New Zealand. This was also the first time I had ever done comedy - and I'm still pretty new at it - and it was so much fun. But on top of that, it was January, and it was cold, rainy and dark at 5 p.m. in the States. I got on the plane here, and I got off in paradise. It was summertime and light at 9:30 p.m. We were shooting at the beach every day. Kevin Sorbo was my director, everyone was so relaxed and comfortable, they had just been on a vacation. The crew and actors all knew Kevin real well, so they could do their jobs and not be uptight. At the end of the day, I would get out of my costume and go swimming. It was amazing! I also just adore New Zealand - I've made some great friends there. But I also thought it was just a fun episode. It was the first time I ever got to emerge from a clam shell, surf, disappear or zap people with a love spell.

Kevin's such a sweetheart to work with; he's so nice. The first time I met him was before 'The Apple' - which he was directing. He called me up saying, 'I'm going to be in town [Los Angeles] over Christmas. Do you want to get together for a drink?' We did, and it was really nice. Sometimes it's hard to go on location, especially to a foreign country where you don't know anyone and you're in this hotel room, which can be so cold. Kevin is just so outgoing, friendly and warm. So it was nice to meet the star and my director before going down there.

When we met, he said, I'm not sure about how they've written this character. I'm not sure about this whole Valley Girl thing, so if you want to come up with your own dialogue...' and that just panicked me. I'm more comfortable with it now, but I don't consider myself a writer, and I was like," she laughs and mimics panic, " 'Can't we just leave the dialogue the way they wrote it? I didn't say that. I was more, 'OK yeah.' When I got to the read-through, I read it the way it was, and they were all pretty happy with it." (08.98 Starlog #253)

 
   
Alexandra Tydings first heard about the role from casting director Beth Hymson, who had cast her in a guest role in another Universal series, the short-lived "Vanishing Son". Aphrodite was originally introduced as a somewhat ditzy, Valley girl-type character. "There were mostly blondes in the audition, and I was actually a little surprised," says Tydings. "A lot of girls were wearing leather and stuff, which was kind of weird, and then Beth came out to walk me in, and said, 'Now, one thing I want to tell you: a lot of girls are playing her like she's stupid, and she's definitely not stupid; she's not a bimbo.' I said, 'Okay, it never even occurred to me that she would be a bimbo, because the episode was The Apple, and she was so manipulative, so it never would have occurred to me that she was dumb."
"I was booked in December," she explains, "and was going down the second or third of January, and because it was Christmas time, Kevin Sorbo happened to be on his way back home and was going to be in LA for a few days, so he called and said, 'I'm going to be in LA for a few days; do you want to hook up?' It was really lovely, because when I got down there on the very first day, they get you off the plane and put you right to work; they put you straight into wardrobe, and it's not a hard day, but you're working and his was one of the first faces I saw when I got there, which was really nice."
"Kevin had a lot of ideas, for stuff between him and Michael [Hurst], like the fantasy scenes, which he was really excited about. <...> There were these two other girls who were playing the other goddesses, Athena and Artemis, they were two models, and they were so beautiful. Artemis was in such killer shape, I've never seen a body like that in person before, and I turned to Kevin and said, 'I think you might have miscast, if I'm supposed to be the God of beauty and here I am against these two girls,' and he said, 'No no, we cast this thing perfectly,' so that was nice." (12.98 TV Zone #109, UK)
 
   
   
Alexandra Tydings: Kevin is adorable. He called when I booked 'The Apple', to congratulate me and welcome me aboard, and apologized that my first experience on H:TLJ would be with him as a director! He noticed that it was my birthday, and wished me happy birthday. He was going to be back in Los Angeles for a few days, and he suggested we get together and have a drink. We met in front of my agent's office, and I had never seen the show before, so he said: 'Well, I'm tall and have long hair.' And my agent is a fan, and she was, like, 'You have to let me see him! You have to tell me when he's here!' So when I walked in, I saw her receptionist, and she's, 'You're meeting Kevin Sorbo!' And I said, 'Yes. He's not here yet?' And she said no. So I went in to see my agent, and then we decided to walk outside. And there's Kevin, sitting on a bench in front of the building. He had been in, but he had his hair in a pony-tail, and he had his glasses on, so she hadn't realized it. She died, you know! But he was so kind, and so welcoming.
It was really fun that he was my first director. Everyone was just so relaxed on the show. First of all, everyone had just come back from holiday, so everybody was pretty happy. And also it was summertime, so it was beautiful! We were shooting at the beach, and it was just lovely. And he was a good director, too. They had all been working together so long that everyone had just built up mutual respect and trust that you could just feel. It helps you to be creative. (07.99 Xpose #36, UK)
 
   
Sorbo's stunt double Sam Williams appeared on screen in the role of Comrade. Williams (38) is a stunt veteran and he's a martial arts instructor. The fight and weapon scenes are Sam's specialty.
 
   
Alex Tydings: I was very surprised by my costume. I was certainly surprised I was wearing pink, because it's not really one of my favourite colours. And the curly blonde wig was pretty hysterical too. I had really short hair at the time, and I thought it was cool that they had cast a short-haired goddess of love. But no, they hadn't! (05.00 Xena Mag #7, UK)  
   
"The valley girl thing was already written," Tydings said of the Aphrodite persona. "I was just as shocked as everyone else by the dialogue. Kevin said that a lot of times the actors rework their dialogue. He said, 'If you're uncomfortable with the whole valley thing, then you can change that.' He sent me into a complete panic because I'm not a writer. So, I decided to do what I planned to do in the first place." Although she decided against tinkering with the dialogue, she "added a little Mae West and a little Marilyn Monroe and a little Alex," to flesh out the character." (Winter 2000/01 Parsec Magazine, Canada)  
   
Alex Tydings laughs: It was bizarre, stepping out of that clam, Kevin [Sorbo] was working as the show's star and director. He was amazing and great fun. When I come out of the clam shell, he came over to me and said "How cool is this? I am sure you are the only actress in the world coming out of a clam shell today!" (11.00 Dreamwatch, UK)  
   
Episode disclaimer: No extremely oversize clam shell windsurfing apparatuses housing goddesses of love were harmed during the production of this motion picture.
 
 

Promises

 

Working title - "Two Weddins and a Funeral"
 
Episode disclaimer: No hairy Sasquatch-like mammals were battered, bruised, burned or beaten during the production of this motion picture.
 

King for a Day

 

   
Hercules' version of "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1952) - screen adaptation of romantic adventure novel by Anthony Hope (1894) - starring Stewart Granger in the dual role of a holidaying Englishman Rudolph Rassendyll and the coming king of Ruritania Rudolf V, his exact duplicate. Rassendyll fills in for the prince in his coronation ceremony because the royal person has been poisoned and kidnapped by conspirators under the leadership of his power-hungry step-brother. While he impersonates the king, he falls in love with princess Flavia.

 

   
Episode disclaimer: No slightly soused kings-to-be who finally pull themselves up by their bootstraps and realize the true meaning of leadership were harmed during the production of this motion picture.
 

Protean Challenge

 

 
Episode disclaimer: No Slightly Discolored and Impish Gods who vaguely resemble any Candidate in the 1996 presidential elections were harmed during the production of this motion picture.
 

The Wedding of Alcmene

 

   
The Savage Memorial is placed right in the middle of Auckland, overlooking Tamaki Drive. It has a formal garden and pond fronting a mausoleum and obelisk dedicated to Michael Joseph Savage, the first Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand. This location has only been used in one episode.  
   
   
Building on the success of their original sea serpent featured in "Lost Kingdom", Flat Earth conjured up a new, improved version - Perfidia. "Cool, creative design," offers Bryan Blevins. "Too bad we had to kill it." (1996(?) Hercules and XenaYearbook)  
   
Here we find really nice and neat touch of the screenwriters, not for the first time they are using (as in the Greek mythology) meaningful names. Perfidy = treachery, insidiousness.  
   
Kevin Sorbo: The toughest monster was probably in the episode "The Wedding of Alcmene." We shot that over Valentine's Day a year ago. I remember because my parents were in town. Hera sends this sea serpent that swallows up Jason, and I go leaping into the mouth just before it closes to follow Jason down into the stomach. We get down there and, I mean, we had to shoot inside the slimiest, grossest looking bowels of a stomach you've ever seen in your life. Yeah, we had to crawl around and slip and slide in this bubbly, gross stuff for two or three days. I was constantly taped from head to toe in this slimy kind of crap that would get rock hard on my body and they'd have to keep hosing me down and slapping more of the crap on me. (02.04.97 Los Angeles Times)
   
Q: Kevin, is being inside that sea monster as disgusting as it looks? What do they put on you guys to make you look so slimy? -- Kevin Sorbo: It is absolutely gross and slimey and disgusting! And very, very uncomfortable. I have no idea what it is. All they say is that it won't hurt me. (28.08.97 Universal Chat)
   
In memory of Jerry Siegel
Jerry Siegel, who as a teen-ager in the Depression co-created Superman and started a craze for comic book superheroes that has never abated, has died at age 81 on January 28, 1996.
 

The Power

 

   
"Art director Rob Gillies goes about his business of decorating this timeless universe. <...> A script had called for a land yacht. So Gillies thought up a sort of three-wheeled scooter with a huge sail on its back and sent the drawing over to the prop shop - where, three days later, the full-size yacht is wheeled out of the garage by a half-dozen twentysomethings who have worked overtime to get the thing built. "It'll go 70 kilometers per," says 26-year-old sculptor Chris Fitzpatrick, a member of the prop shop's crew, as he admires the saber-toothed tiger skull he has mounted on the prow of the craft, just in front of a crossbow-style slingshot. "Skulls are kind of good," he says with a strait face." (9.11.96 TV Guide)
   
Episode disclaimer: No Manure was harmed during the production of this motion picture.
 

Centaur Mentor Journey

 

   
"The episode ran long by several minutes, which meant excising one particularly touching scene. Robert Bielak (writer): "Salmoneus is talking about the parents that he never knew. He's trying to help Hercules over that hump, because this centaur is his surrogate father, because Zeus, his real father, was never around, and was off impregnating other mortals. Salmoneus went to help our hero and tries to say something and had to idea what to say because he didn't know his own parents, which said something about his character, that he felt he couldn't help him, and Hercules appreciated the effort anyway. It was a well-acted and well-written scene, but it didn't further the story and because of time constraints, it had to get lost." (12.97 Starlog Special)  
   
Robert Trebor told fans about the cut scene. Hercules lashed out at Salmoneus telling him that he could not relate to his grief over the death of Ceridian because he was an orphan. The premise then would be that Salmoneus developed his skills as a salesman because he had to fend for himself at an early age. Since he could not fight, he had to learn to talk his way out of things. (05.98 Convention in Phoenix)
   
Kevin works the scene twice - the same with actor and with horse
One of the centaur's parts, as seen on the computer screen
 
"The centaur episodes may be popular with viewers, but they're amoung the most difficult to shoot because of the extensive technical requirements involved. Robert Bielak (writer): "You're dealing with animals, with blue-screen stuff, and it's very physically demanding for the director to get al these balls in the air, juggle them and bring them down at the same time." (12.97 Starlog Special)
   
Episode disclaimer: No Centaurs were harmed or discriminated against during the production of this motion picture.
 

Cave of Echoes

 

   
"The Cave of Echoes,'' a "clip show" featuring flashbacks, earns the most prominent Sorbo seal of disapproval." (28.11.99 Tennessean Showcase)
   
Episode disclaimer: No Vicious Tabby Cats were harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, the Pre-Hellenic Litter Box is in dire need of a change.

 

Official graphics MCA TV, Universal

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