Friday, September 11, 2009

Hercules - Kevin Sorbo

There are few actors who can claim to have launched an entire sub-genre of television series almost by themselves. To be sure, the producers, writers, directors, and all the other talented people who help create these shows give unequalled quality to the overall productions. But the charisma, charm, and smooth delivery of Kevin Sorbo popularized a contemporary interpretation of ancient Greek myth and legend. It was clear from the very first movie, "Hercules and the Amazon Women", that something different was happening. A fresh creative and artistic wind came sweeping across the Pacific ocean from New Zealand.
I'm not an Original. I rather wish I was, but in 1994 I had a lot of other things on my mind and I didn't watch much television. In fact, I still don't watch much television. But I came home one day, turned on the television set, and caught the tail end of an episode of HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS. Some girl was thanking Kevin (Herc) for saving her village.
Okay, the girl got my attention. What can I say? I was nonetheless hooked and made a note to be home the next week at what I thought would be the right time to catch the show. Unfortunately, I thought it was a half-hour show (don't ask why -- like I said, I don't watch much television and, frankly, my expectations were not high).
Well, catching the second half of an hour-long show isn't much fun, but the camp, the violence, the scantily clad women -- hey, it was worth arranging to be home a third week in a row just to see what the show was all about. I've been watching it ever since.
Since that time I've met so many Herc and Xena fans who started watching the shows after me I often wonder why Renaissance found the justification to start the first Herc season in the first place? Who watched all those movies (that I never even knew existed until I saw "Hercules and the Underworld" in 1995)?
As a side note, my (now) six-year-old niece Megan often watches Herc and Xena with me. She's been watching the shows since she was three. She'll notice right away if Iolaus is not in an episode, so I think she likes Michael Hurst more than she likes Kevin. Maybe I'm mistaken, though.
I've seen the movies now so I can describe them a bit and have formed some opinions.
Except for one episode I've seen the entire first season, and can say I watched the Xena Trilogy before most Xenites ever heard of her.
I got my introduction to online fandom through the Usenet but have since become acquainted with the Netfora, the Web sites, the mailing lists, etc. about as well as anyone.
Of course, no Kevin Sorbo discussion would be complete without mention of his work in the recent movie "Kull The Conqueror". Kevin took a daring step by reaching out to a whole new community of fans who are, it seems, rather discriminating in their views. I'm only marginally involved with the Robert E. Howard fans but they do have their passions, too.
Early in 1998, I received some email from Charles Edward Pogue, the first scriptwriter for "Kull the Conqueror". I've included here some of his comments so as to present a more balanced discussion of the movie. I owe Mr. Pogue a deep apology as at the time of our exchange I had anticipated updating this Web site within a matter of only a few weeks, but circumstances forced me to suspend work on Xenite.Org for more than a month. He went unheard for an inordinate length of time and I regret that outcome of our exchange, but it was by no means a situation related to his comments.
You may read Mr. Pogue's commentshere.
My passion seems to be over-involvement in all things fannish. But it helps fill the hours when I've nothing else to do. :)
Hercules fans got some bad news and good news in 1999. Kevin announced he would be leaving the show after six long years of hard work. Many of us had followed the rumors of the contract negotiations which led to the demise of the show. Kevin's contract extended only for eight episodes into the 1999-2000 season, and he and Renaissance Pictures were unable to reach an agreement. It has been said by some people who know him that Kevin was tired and homesick for America. It has also been said that had he been offered the money he was asking for, he would have stayed but he would only have done the work for the money, and that is not a very satisfying prospect for him or fans.
The good news is that Kevin was offered many projects to consider here in the states. He has entered into an arrangement with Majel Barrett Roddenberry to star in a Science Fiction series based on an idea left undeveloped by the late Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek. In mid-1999 rumors began circulating that Kevin might star in a new Trek, but these seem to have been loosely based on a report in The New York Times that a new Trek series, possibly to be set in Starfleet Academy, was being created. The Times retracted the story in August and confusion over Kevin's future plans among the fans seems to have been cleared up. He is said to have an interest in the new show, which should mean he will have a greater degree of control over it than he had with H:TLJ.
For her part, Roddenberry has had a rough time with fans of Earth: Final Conflict, who were immensely disppointed with the departure of the show's lead character (and actor) at the end of the first season, as well as the radical alterations in cast and storyline which ensued throughout the second season. It is to be hoped she will exercise tighter control over the quality of the new series and not let secondary producers get out of hand. But it seems likely that if Kevin were to leave this new series, it would be his own choice to do so. Hopefully, we'll get to enjoy seeing the Big Guy in the new show for years to come.
I'm glad I've gotten to see HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS and all the movies. I'm glad I got to see "Kull The Conqueror". I look forward to following Kevin's career through the years to come. Long after my Web sites are nothing more than memory I'll still be a fan. This guy doesn't ever have to be a great actor or win any academy awards. He just has to be Kevin, and that's all we ever asked of any good actor, isn't it? He's good. He's Kevin.


  1. I pasted this like this needs to be spread and shared.

  2. Sorbo was never HERC in my eyes. He actually was more of a Tarzan type. Hercules was a little more rugged looking and GREEK I might add.
    But I did watch the show and actually enjoyed a few episodes here and there. The one where Lucy Lawless was a blonde was definately one of them. Incidently...I think Lucy actually is blonde. But we'll need to ask Gabrielle.