It’s hard to envision what the producers of this latest take on the mythical Hercules had in mind when they created this two-hour telefilm, as program fails to score on any level, especially with the casting of a beef-cakey heartthrob as its lead. Any viewers left by show’s end probably will be scratching their heads trying to figure out how this uninteresting and unsatisfying trip back in time made it to the small screen.
When Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) is called upon to save a local village from attacking “beasts,” he discovers that the malefactors are women who visit the hamlet for brief conjugal visits with the men.
The women — apparently motivated by their disdain for men and reeling from a history of subservient treatment — prefer to live commune-style with each other , occasionally returning to the village for purely procreative purposes. Female babies are kept, males are set adrift in the river to be retrieved by the men.
Hercules serves as a Dr. Ruth in chamois briefs, telling the men how they can recapture the flame with these Amazon femmes, so they can live happily ever after. Rather than the two species fighting to the death when the once-a-year mood hits, he insists they could live in harmony.
Sorbo, a competent but uncharismatic commercials actor, lacks the skills to make this either a farcical romp or a serious delve. His contemporary looks and manners — one almost expects his conversation to be punctuated with an occasional “Dude!”– undermine his credibility.
Telepic’s failure is especially acute considering that it comes from producers Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, the pair behind the biting “Darkman” and its sequel; they have lengthy and substantive credits of creating interesting characters.
The show is visually stunning, with plenty of raging waterfalls and lush tropical setting, with the actors mere set dressing.
Scriptors Jule Selbo, Andrew Dettman and Daniel Truly give the actors dialogue more likely to be spoofed by comedy improv groups than taken seriously.
Relationship advice proferred by the suntanned Hercules is ridiculous and would be more fitting coming from his friend Iolaus (Michael Hurst), program’s sole diamond in the rough. Hurst’s infectious personality and sidekick demeanor aids in keeping this sinking quasi-melodrama afloat.
While program is designed to be the first of five two-hour adventures, subsequent episodes will have to be more interesting than this to garner auds.
Director Bill L. Norton probably brought a lot to the party, but only the aerial shots and special effects show on screen.