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Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

(i)

 

Campy '90s action series has solid messages for teens.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show clearly defines right and wrong, and Hercules is a worthy hero who always chooses the righteous path and influences others to do the same. Themes of equality, respect, and justice are strong throughout the stories, as is the message to follow your own convictions and stand up for what you believe is right. The show is loosely inspired by the legends of Hercules and Zeus and includes elements of spiritual rites like blood sacrifice.

Positive role models

Hercules casts aside the evil heritage of his father's side of the family, fighting for justice and peace instead of power and greed. He's principled and has high standards for his conduct, and he inspires those he meets to emulate his behavior. His conflicts usually dissolve into fighting, but when he's given the choice, he opts for mercy over killing.

Violence

Fight scenes are marked by punching and kicking as well as the use of weapons (swords, staffs, knives, bows and arrows, clubs, etc.). Occasionally death scenes are drawn out and bloody, and rarely the plot brings kids into the mix of the fighting. Blood is used in sacrificial rites. Gods possess people and force them into evil plots.

Sex

Women flaunt their bodies in skimpy costumes that show cleavage, the outline of their breasts, and in some cases expose their buttocks entirely. Men -- especially the chiseled Hercules -- often are shown bare-chested. There's a strong sexual tone to Hercules' interaction with female characters, many of whom try to seduce him. The physical content stops at kissing, but the implications are there.

Language

"Dammit" is the strongest language.

Consumerism

The series inspired a line of action figures and other kid-targeted products back during its original run in the '90s.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is a '90s action series about mythical monsters and gods and battles between forces of good and evil. Expect a lot of violent exchanges with swords, knives, clubs, and other weapons, but very little gore or human drama associated with them. The concept of blood sacrifice and multiple vengeful gods might raise some questions among your teens, which could be directed toward an exploration of mythology in its original form. As role models go, Hercules is as good as they come, thanks to his high moral standards, his willingness to fight for what he believes in, and his emphasis on inspiring those around him with his civic-minded actions. The sexy nature of this show's content is an important factor to consider for your tweens, so you might want to assess the messages sent by the revealing costumes and the female characters' lustful expressions toward the chiseled Hercules.

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What's the story?

HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS stars Kevin Sorbo as the mythical half-god Hercules, the illegitimate son of Zeus and a mortal. Hercules' physical strength is surpassed only by his passion for peace, and he travels the land engaging in battles against monsters, warlords, and the Earthly minions of the gods. Hercules' moral standards make him an enemy to many would-be villains, but his most powerful adversaries hit even closer to home, with his evil goddess stepmother, Hera, and his bloodthirsty half-brother, Ares (voiced by Al Chalk), both of whom have their sights set on destroying him. Often he's joined on his adventures by Iolaus (Michael Hurst) or Salomneus (Robert Trebor).

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Very loosely based on Greek mythology, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys mixes lore, action, comedy, and even some modern themes to produce an entertaining series that enjoyed huge popularity during its original six-year run in the '90s. If you watched it, you'll remember that the costumes and characters were a little campy even for the standards of the time, so filtered through the lens of modern special effects, there's a significant cheese factor working against it. That said, there's something very likable about Sorbo's portrayal of Hercules as an imperfect foot soldier with an unwavering moral compass . . . and a set of biceps that just won't quit.

The show's positive themes about strong values and fighting for a good cause are unmistakable, and the violence -- although prevalent -- is mostly fantasized and rarely gory. But there's a surprisingly insistent nature to the sexual content that you should weigh for your tweens. Hercules practically oozes sex appeal just by being the strong, upstanding person that he is, and women flaunt and flirt their way to being noticed by him. Physically, the pairings typically stop at a kiss or two, but the implications are obvious, and there's a lot of partial nudity (lightly covered breasts, buttocks exposed by a thong-style costume bottom, etc.) to consider as well. The bottom line? Despite its age, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is an entertaining adaptation of Greek lore, and if your teens do tune in, it might inspire in them an interest in the mythology on which it is based.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about mythology. What can we learn from reading mythology? How do adaptations of the stories change over time? Do legends have historical value?

  • Teens: How does this series show its age? Does the nature of the special effects change your enjoyment of the series itself? How have recent technological advances altered how we receive our information? When was the last time you went to a book for information rather than to a computer?

  • Teens: How much of an impact do you think TV violence has on viewers? Is it a reflection of the state of our society, or does society adapt to what we see in the media? Are there different gradients of acceptable violence in entertainment?

TV details

Premiere date:January 16, 1995
Cast:Kevin Sorbo, Michael Hurst, Robert Trebor
Network:Discovery Family Channel
Genre:Action
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, Great boy role models
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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