Hercules (1998 TV series)
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|Also known as||Disney's Hercules
Hercules: The Animated Series
|Created by||Walt Disney Television|
|Directed by||Phil Weinstein|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||65 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original channel||ABC, Syndication, Disney Junior|
|Original run||August 31, 1998– March 1, 1999|
Hercules (also known as Hercules: The Animated Series) is an animated series based on the 1997 film of the same name and the Greek myth. The series premiered in syndication on August 31, 1998, and on Disney's One Saturday Morning approximately two weeks later on September 12, 1998. The syndicated series ran 52 episodes, while the Saturday morning run ran 13.
The series follows teenage Hercules training as a hero as well as trying to adjust to life. With his free-spirited friend Icarus, his future-seeing friend Cassandra and his teacher Philoctetes ("Phil"), he battles his evil uncle Hades. Like all teenagers though, Hercules has to worry about peer pressure when the snobbish prince Adonis ridicules him. The series notably contradicts several events in the original film and is not considered canon.
The series was produced by Tad Stones, who had previously done Aladdin. The directors of Hercules, John Musker and Ron Clements, jokingly said to him while the film was being produced "Hey Tad, we're doing a pilot for a series." All animation production work was done by Slightly Offbeat Productions NZ Ltd a new studio based in New Zealand. The producers decided that the irreverence of the movie would be captured more easily by doing a midquel - not preceding nor following the events of the movie, with Stones declaring that "by ignoring continuity and trying to stay true to the elements of humor and adventure in the film, we came up with a much stronger series that really stands on its own." Since James Woods signed to voice Hades again, along with most of the cast of the film, many big-name actors were interested in taking part on the show. Over 150 celebrities took a part in the series, some self-lampooning: Merv Griffin played a griffin talk show host, game show host Wink Martindale played a riddle-expert sphinx, and Mike Connors, famous for Mannix, played Athenian policeman Chipacles (named after CHiPs).
Disney's revamping of Greek legend moved to the small screen in the late summer of 1998 (the final series to air in broadcast syndication). Disney's Hercules had the Greek god still in "geek god" mode, before his "Zero to Hero" transformation. In the series, "Herc" was enrolled at Prometheus Academy, a school for both gods and mortals. Since events occur before young Herc meets and falls for the lovely Megara (Meg), he is joined by two new friends Cassandra (voiced by comedian Sandra Bernhard) and Icarus (voiced by French Stewart).
In 2000, the series moved to Toon Disney, where it continued airing until 2008.
Disney's Hercules, like the animated series Disney's The Little Mermaid, is a spin-off of the 1997 theatrically released animated film of the same name (Hercules) and is based on his teen-aged adventures, though it is not a prequel to the film of the same name (Disney's The Little Mermaid featured tales of a 16-year-old Ariel which occurred before the start of the theatrical film). Nor is it truly a sequel like Disney's Aladdin (whose tales takes place after the original film and The Return of Jafar). Rather Hercules features events which occur midway through the actual film, similar to The Lion King 1½ and Tarzan II (sometimes called a "midquel"), during his years in training on the Isle of Idra under the tutelage of Philoctetes (Phil) the Satyr. Many of the Olympian Gods and Goddesses only glimpsed during the film pay visit to the young hero-to-be and help or hinder him in his adventures. Other characters from the film that appear are the evil god Hades (voiced by James Woods) and winged stallion Pegasus (voiced by Frank Welker). Corey Burton portrayed Hercules' father Zeus.
However, the series ignores a certain fact about the movie: In the film Hades believed that Hercules was dead throughout his first 18 years of his life, but in the series, the two of them have many interactions while Hercules is still in high school. However, it is possible that between the last episode of the series and the film, he was drenched in water from the river Lethe, so he may have forgotten about Hercules until Meg brought him up.
The main cast of the series includes:
- Hercules (voiced by Tate Donovan) - The god turned mortal hero-in-training; thus he is now half-mortal, half-god. He is a son of Zeus and Hera which is in contrast to the myth.
- Philoctetes (voiced by Robert Costanzo) - The satyr hero trainer. One of the few characters from the movie whose voice actor (Danny DeVito) didn't return.
- Pegasus (voiced by Frank Welker) - The winged horse formed from clouds by Zeus, he is the childhood pet and faithful companion of his owner Hercules with the brain of a bird.
- Icarus (voiced by French Stewart) - Hercules' best friend. The boy who escaped from the Labyrinth with his father on wax wings appears as a complete nut (he was "brain-fried" by flying too close to the Sun). Despite his accident, Icarus still flies every chance he gets resulting in a few more encounters with the sun. Icarus is very adaptive and hence could adjust to about every situation, except when he is very jealous and acts irrational. He could become an ultra serious soldier at boot camp or a nearly identical version of Hades himself. Thankfully, at the end of each episode, he reverts to his own odd self. He is also completely obsessed with Cassandra and flirts with her at every opportunity he gets. His father, Daedalus (voiced by David Hyde Pierce), is a teacher in the academy and Icarus doesn't acknowledge his parents' divorce. When Icarus graduates, he goes into inventing with his father and makes a fortune, earning the commercial title "The Wax-Wing King".
- Cassandra (voiced by Sandra Bernhard) - The Trojan War prophet appears as an anti-social girl, that has visions of the future (usually bad) once in a while, which are rarely believed. Icarus is obsessed with marrying her even though she has shown she has no reciprocation. She tolerated his presence even before Hercules joined the trio because otherwise she would have had no friends. But even after she gained Hercules as a friend she still continues to socialise with Icarus and even admitted to him that she considers him a good friend. After graduating, she joins the Oracle Friends Network.
- Zeus (voiced by Corey Burton) - Hercules' father and king of the gods. He is always ready to provide advice on hero work, but is often prone to mistakes and recklessness himself.
- Hades (voiced by James Woods) - Ruler of the underworld and Hercules' uncle. Wisecracking, devious and hot-tempered, he constantly schemes to steal control of Mt. Olympus from his brother Zeus.
Zero To Hero 
Four episodes of Hercules were reformatted into the movie Zero To Hero and released to home video. The episode Hercules and the Yearbook serves as the linking narrative, with the random clips replaced with the episodes "Hercules and the First Day of School", "Hercules and the Grim Avenger" and "Hercules and the Visit From Zeus".
Some of the dialogue between Hercules and Meg was altered to fit the episodes. An example of this is Hercules and the Visit From Zeus replacing the clip of Hercules graduating from Prometheus Academy.
- "Disney's Hercules". www.bcdb.com, May 13, 2012
- Disney's Little Big Screen: Turning Animated Features Into TV Series, Animation World Magazine
- Disney XD Canada
- Hercules at the Internet Movie Database
- Disney's Hercules at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Hercules at TV.com
- Disney's Hercules at the Open Directory Project
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