"The Adventures of Hercules" began as one of the entries in MCA-TV's rotating block of "Action Pack" telefilms, and was successful enough that the distrib decided to test the syndie series waters with this and fellow "Action Pack" alum "Vanishing Son."

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“The Adventures of Hercules” began as one of the entries in MCA-TV’s rotating block of “Action Pack” telefilms, and was successful enough that the distrib decided to test the syndie series waters with this and fellow “Action Pack” alum “Vanishing Son.”

The premiere seg stretches the boundaries of typical TV offerings with its combination of special effects and unique skew on crime fighting; however, a weekly dose of Hercules runs the risk of overkill.

“Hercules” is backed once again by a smart list of above-the-line and special-effects types, including veteran filmmakers Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert as well as TV vet John Schulian.

Although the dialogue at times seems forced and the secondary characters have difficulty shedding their 20th century mannerisms, the top-notch special effects and colorful locales should help overcome such shortcomings.

Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) began as a single guy, but quickly became a husband and father, and viewers may be surprised as the series offers a ball of fire that destroys his family in the first act.

But the disaster serves as the impetus for Hercules’ questioning his role in life, and sets in motion his out-of-character craving for vengeance.

While it may be pretty heady stuff for a guy to slay demons, gods and creatures for a living, writer John Schulian nonetheless succeeds in giving the half-man, half-god believable vulnerability.

Sorbo’s work as the hunky hero has evolved considerably from the first telefilm, and his relaxed demeanor fits well.

Director Doug Lefler finesses credible perfs from the actors in what are largely cookie-cutter characters; he also taps into the expertise of director of photography John Mahaffie to make the beautifully shot countryside integral to the story.

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys the Wrong Path

(Sat. (21), 8-9 p.m., KTLA)

Production

Filmed in Auckland, New Zealand, by Pacific Renaissance Pictures and MCA Television. Exec producers, Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert; co-exec producer, John Schulian; producers, Andrew Dettmann, Daniel Truly, Eric Gruendemann; co-producer, David Eick; supervising producer, Steve Roberts; director, Doug Lefler; writer, Schulian.

Crew

Camera, John Mahaffie; editor, Steve Polivka; production designer, Robert Gillies; art director, Mark Robins; sound, Tony Johnson; music, Joseph Lo Duca.

Cast

Cast: Kevin Sorbo, Michael Hurst, Clare Carey, Mick Rose, Nicky Mealings, Elizabeth Hawthorne, Martyn Sanderson, Eric Gruendemann, Patrick Wilson, John Watson, Gordon Hatfield, John Dybvig, Tawny Kitaen. The martial-arts action is worth the price of admission in the bow of this fast-moving series, which finds the mythical hero challenged by both deities and mortals.

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