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The Herculoids title card.
|Created by||Alex Toth|
|Voices of||Mike Road
|Country of origin||USA|
|No. of episodes||18 (36 segments, 1967–1969)
|Executive producer(s)||William Hanna
|Running time||22 min.: two 11 min. segments (1967–1969)
6 min. segments of Space Stars (1981–1982)
|Original run||September 9, 1967 – January 6, 1968|
|Related shows||Space Stars|
The Herculoids is an American Saturday-morning animated-cartoon television series, created and designed by Alex Toth, that was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions. The show debuted on September 9, 1967 on CBS. Hanna-Barbera produced one season for the original airing of the show, although the original 18 episodes were rerun during the 1968–69 television season, with The Herculoids ending its run on September 6, 1969.
Eleven new episodes were produced in 1981 as part of the Space Stars show. The plotlines are rooted in science fiction, and have story direction and content similar to Jonny Quest and Space Ghost. This series is set on the distant planet Amzot (renamed Quasar in the Space Stars episodes). The name "Amzot" was first mentioned in the Space Ghost episode "The Molten Monsters of Moltar" (in which the Herculoids made a brief guest appearance) and in the series proper in the "Time Creatures" episode.
The Herculoids battled to defend their planet from menaces on Amzot/Quasar and from outer space. All of the Herculoids displayed Human-level intelligence—employing precision teamwork and complex tactics—as well as emotions, and Zandor and Tara both displayed a working knowledge of complex alien technologies as well as the ability to pilot interstellar spacecraft.
But essentially, Zandor, Tara, Dorno, and the Herculoids were all apparently fighting to keep Amzot/Quasar a technology-free, primitive planet. This is further indicated by the pseudo-barbarian outfits of Zandor, Tara, and Dorno and the fact that technology was used mainly by the various villains, but rarely if ever by the heroes.
Although the "speech" of their companions was limited and repetitive, Zandor, Tara and Dorno demonstrated that Gloop and Gleep, at least, had a comprehensive mode of communication, and that they could at least understand and interpret this language (c.f. "The Mutoids:" "Gleep says that the aliens who landed are attacking Dorno and Tundro"). The "voices" used in the shows were actually brief tracks supplied by two actors and reused throughout the series, in keeping with Hanna-Barbera's thrifty ethos.
A number of episodes featured alien invaders who came to Amzot/Quasar to seek revenge against Zandor for an unspecified battle or adventure from the past. All were apparently technocratic, and the aliens's grudges seemed basically to boil down to them being stymied in their attempts at bringing technology to Amzot/Quasar, which the apparently primitivistic Zandor wanted to avoid.
The show's opening theme was a fully orchestral composition, suggesting uncommon heroism. An alternative opening theme was also utilized for some episodes. All of the show's incidental music was recycled from Jonny Quest.
In some of the seasons, the episodes opened with the following narration: "Somewhere out in space live The Herculoids...Zok the laser-ray dragon! Igoo the giant rock ape! Tundro the tremendous! Gloop and Gleep, the formless fearless wonders! With Zandor their leader, and his wife, Tara, and son, Dorno, they team up to protect their planet from sinister invaders! All-strong! All-brave! All-heroes!! They are The Herculoids!!!"
Continuity with Space Stars
But exactly what had originally made Zandor, Tara, and Dorno as anti-technological and as primitivistic as they were shown to be was never explained in any of the episodes.
There are eight regular characters:
The three humanoid characters were the only ones who could communicate in English.
- Zandor (voiced by Mike Road) - The protector of Amzot/Quasar. Leader of The Herculoids.
- Tara (voiced by Virginia Gregg) - Zandor's wife.
- Dorno (voiced by Ted Eccles in the original series, Sparky Marcus in 1981) - Son of Zandor and Tara. Despite being their son, he still refers to them by their first names, rather than "Mother" and "Father." However this changed in the 80's revival of the series.
The five creature characters of The Herculoids are:
- Zok (voiced by Mike Road) - A flying space dragon. He can emit laser beams from his eyes and tail. His eyes also produce a "nega-beam" that can neutralize certain energy attacks. Zok can survive in space unaided, is capable of interstellar travel, and can breathe fire.
- Igoo (voiced by Mike Road) - A rock ape. An extremely large and powerful simian, he has extremely dense rock-like skin and is nearly invulnerable to harm. In one episode, Igoo wades through a pond of molten lava. Igoo has a kind and gentle temperament as well as a great fondness and devotion for Tara, and would do anything for her.
- Tundro (voiced by Mike Road) - A ten-legged, four-horned rhino/triceratops hybrid. He can shoot explosive energy rocks from his cannon-horn (Zandor, Tara, and Dorno also occasionally shoot similar rocks with slingshots). His natural armor-plating is exceptionally strong, similar to Igoo's rock skin. His legs have the ability to extend to a remarkable length, somewhat like stilts. He can also spin his head at blinding speed, allowing him to drill through solid rock, and has the ability to make magnificent leaps.
- Gloop and Gleep (both voiced by Don Messick) - Two protoplasmic creatures. They are able to absorb and deflect energy blasts and laser beams, often placing themselves between attackers and other Herculoids to act as shields. They can also form shapes including, but not limited to: cushions, trampolines or parachutes to break falls; stretching themselves between tree limbs or rocks to act as slingshots; encircling an attacker's limbs to restrain them, or the entire body to squeeze and render them unconscious. Gloop is the larger of the two.
Outside of their own TV series, the Herculoids made appearances in various comic books through the years. In 1968-1969 they appeared in issues #1-2, and issues #4-7 of the series Hanna-Barbera Super TV Heroes. In 1978 they appeared in issue #3 of the Marvel Comics series TV Stars. Finally between 1997-1999 they appeared in issues #5, #9, #13 and #17 of the DC Comics series Cartoon Network Presents.
Roughly contemporaneous to their own series premiere, the Herculoids made an appearance in an episode of Space Ghost, "The Molten Monsters of Moltar" (sources are unclear and/or inconsistent as to exact airdates). In the "Council of Doom" story arc, Space Ghost, while battling the combined might of all of his enemies, meets a number of Hanna-Barbera heroes just as they were debuting in their own respective series. Along with the Herculoids were Shazzan, Moby Dick and the Mighty Mightor, the last two sharing one series.
Several episodes of Space Ghost Coast to Coast mention or show the Herculoids. In "Lawsuit", Space Ghost mentions the Herculoids planet. In the episode "Sequel", he goes to their planet and refers to it as a "rotten hippie monster commune" after they demand he leave while pelting him with stones.
Gloop makes several guest appearances on Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law as well. Gleep is mentioned at one point but he does make cameos in "Mindless" and "Juror in Court", and Zok makes an appearance in "Peanut Pubeerty" (Phil Ken Sebben throws a graph chart at him). Tundro makes an appearance in "Beyond the Valley of the Dinosaurs" firing his energy rocks at Phil Ken Sebben, who forgot to close the hot tub time portal to prehistoric times, Tara appears on the evolution chart in between Fred Flintstone and Race Bannon in "Evolutionary War".
The Herculoids is mentioned in an episode of The Venture Bros., where an old "fan letter" of Dr. Venture to the show is discovered. Upon reading, the letter is revealed to be more akin to hate mail; young Rusty Venture called the Herculoids hippies for not fighting in Vietnam.
Tundro and Gloop appear in an episode of Family Guy, "8 Simple Rules for Buying My Teenage Daughter". In the scene, Gloop fails to get a babysitting job from Lois. In protest, Tundro shows up and fires his energy rocks at Lois. (NOTE: The Herculoids is owned by Hanna–Barbera, not FOX parent News Corp..)
|1||The Beaked People|
|3||The Pod Creatures|
|4||Sarko the Arkman|
|5||The Mole Men|
|7||The Spider Man|
|9||The Lost Dorgyte|
|11||Defeat of Ogron|
|12||The Android People|
|13||Temple of Trax|
|14||The Swamp Monster|
|16||The Raider Apes|
|17||Tiny World of Terror|
|18||Prisoners of the Bubblemen|
|19||The Time Creatures|
|20||The Gladiators of Kyanite|
|21||Mekkano, the Machine Master|
|22||Invasion of the Electrode Men|
|23||Mission of the Amatons|
|25||Attack of the Faceless People|
|27||Return of Sta-Lak|
|28||Revenge of the Pirates|
|29||Ruler of the Reptons|
|30||The Island of the Gravites|
|31||Malak and the Metal Apes|
|32||The Return of Torrak|
|34||Attack from Space|
Space Stars revival
|1||The Ice Monster||Dorno is feeling depressed when Zandor treats him like a child because of his size and age. At the same time, an ancient robotic monster emerges from an iceblock and it is indestructible.|
|2||The Purple Menace||Glowing purple rocks have brought to life purple vines that cause havoc.|
|4||The Energy Creature||A meteorite containing an energy creature lands on Quasar. When it imprisons creatures in its coils, it takes on their form and properties also.|
|5||The Snake Riders||Dorno and Gleep discover a plot by the Snake Riders to take over the planet. It's up to the Herculoids to stop their plans for planetary conquest.|
|6||The Buccaneer||The Buccaneer and his band of pirates arrive on Quasar to look for buried treasure.|
|7||The Thunderbolt||Saiju, a creature with a voracious appetite, comes upon some electrical-charged rocks and turns into a living electrical monster upon eating them. The Herculoids learn that the effects of those rocks are temporary and try to get Saiju back to normal.|
|8||Return of the Ancients||The descendents/survivors of a highly-developed race that was wiped out on Quasar return to the planet after a 1,000-year mission, and they're not happy to find out their civilization is gone.|
|9||Space Trappers||The Space Trappers arrive on Quasar and captures the Herculoids for their intergalactic circus.|
|10||The Invisibles||A chunk of Magnilite lands in the Lost Lake of Quasar. Before long, the Herculoids go up against enemies that they can't see. Zandor soon learns from the Zelos King Zel that his son Eezo and his followers might be the culprits.|
|11||Mindbender||Dorn, Gloop, and Gleep are playing and discover an unearthed metal cylinder which contains a big-brained alien. When they release him, he reveals himself to be a member of race that ruled Quasar thousands of years ago. It's up to the Herculoids to reseal the Mindbender.|
The Herculoids in other languages
- French: Les Défenseurs interplanétaires
- Italian: Gli Erculoidi
- Portuguese: Os Herculóides
- Spanish: Los Defensores Interplanetarios or Spanish: Los Herculoides
- Hungarian: A Herkuloidák
- Japanese: 怪獣王ターガン Kaijû Ô Tâgan (Monster King Targan)
- The characters' names in Japan were Targan (Zandor), Marmi (Tara), Kane (Dorno), Maryû (Zok), Rikira (Igoo), Tangurô (Tundro), Hyûhyû (Gloop) and Bôbô (Gleep).
- Welsh: Sandor. The cartoon was dubbed into Welsh and transmitted during Yr Awr Fawr (The Big Hour) on Sunday mornings. Originally shown on BBC2 Wales and then BBC1 Wales in the late 1970s and 1980s, this was before the introduction of the Welsh language channel S4C in 1982.
On June 14, 2011, Warner Archive released The Herculoids: The Complete Original Animated Series on DVD in region 1 as part of their Hanna–Barbera Classics Collection. This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through Warner's online store and Amazon.com.
- The Herculoids at the Internet Movie Database
- The Herculoids at TV.com
- The Herculoids at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- The Herculoids on Don Markstein's Toonopedia