Sunday, June 06, 2010

Hercules and Xena

Here’s another obligatory I Have Finished A Television Series And Must Now Talk About It post. This one’s about Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.

And also Xena: Warrior Princess because I apparently didn’t talk about that when I finished it. I don’t know how I managed it, but I did.

So, where to begin?

I grew up with these shows. There were episodes on every Saturday morning and, because I wasn’t allowed to watch the conventional Saturday morning shows like Power Rangers, I spent my Saturdays watching Hercules and Xena. I loved it then and I loved them again when I rewatched both this year.

As you might have guessed from my disclaimer above, I watched Xena again first. I remembered Xena more clearly and, let’s be honest, Xena is a hot warrior chick. Most folks would go for the hot warrior chick first.

But I enjoyed both series just as much. I understand more of the references now that I’m an adult and I can appreciate the humor that would have gone right over my head as a kid. I loved going back and watching all the odd episodes that somehow became commonplace in the 90s.

You know, the obligatory musical episodes, the amnesia episodes, the time travel episodes, the episodes that take place in the future that look back on the main characters…

Also, there was the fun “modern-ness” of the shows. They never really aimed for historical accurateness, but you can’t help but laugh when markets have department store clothes racks or gambling dens have showgirls or when one of the characters uses an altered modern phrase.

And, of course, both the shows were constantly crossing over each other, so you would see Autolycus and Salmoneus switch between the two heroic pairs and Xena, Gabrielle, Hercules, and Iolaus rush to the others’ help. Both shows recognized that they owed their popularity and continued fandom to each other.

The shows’ creators knew what the fans wanted, which is something that is lacking in today’s television. Part of the fun of watching these shows is that they know what you think of the characters and they will throw in lines or situations just to get you to laugh. Like the episode where a journalist was trying to find out if Xena and Gabrielle were lovers the entire time, or the “partner” jokes that Aphrodite makes at Iolaus and Hercules’ expense. They knew which characters should make repeat appearances and which ones weren’t well received. The days of clever fanservice are past, which is a shame.

I know some people would be reluctant to watch these series again because of the cheesey 90s-ness and the terrible effects and over the top acting, but I love that kind of stuff. I’m sure some of it is nostalgia, but I genuinely enjoy series that are unapologetically goofy and fun. That was the point to these shows and I love them for it.

No comments: