Such are the labors ahead for "Disney's Hercules,"
the new animated television series premiering Labor Day,
Monday, Sept. 4th on Toon Disney five days a week,
Monday-Friday (check local listings). "Disney's Hercules"
is an outgrowth of Disney's 1997 animated feature film,
which chronicled the lifelong exploits of the mythical
hero. The series expands upon the Greek demigod's feats
during his formative, hero-in-training, "high school"
with action and humor, and complemented by an entertaining array
of music, the series features an all-star voice cast including
the film's Tate Donovan (Hercules) and James Woods (Hades),
new co-stars French Stewart ("3rd Rock from the Sun"), Sandra
Bernhard ("Without You I'm Nothing") and Diedrich Bader ("The
Drew Carey Show"), and an amazing roster of guest stars. Jason
Alexander, Jennifer Anniston, Kathie Lee Gifford, Lou Gossett
Jr., Merv Griffin, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Lisa Kudrow, Heather
Locklear, Wayne Newton and William Shatner are just a few names
from an eclectic list of nearly 170 entertainers from primetime
television, major motion pictures and the Broadway stage.
of "Disney's Hercules" is Tad Stones, the creator and producer of
"Darkwing Duck," "Chip 'N Dale Rescue Rangers," "Disney's Aladdin"
TV series and both "Aladdin" video premiere movies - "The Return of
Jafar" and "Aladdin and the King of Thieves." The series producers
are Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley ("Disney's Aladdin" television
series and both "Aladdin" video premiere movies).
to the original film, the animated series is being treated as
a "mid-quel," explains Stones. Chronologically within the feature
film, the TV series occurs during Hercules' adolescent "hero-in-training"
segment. Instead of simply honing his physical skills, however,
Hercules, at Zeus's insistence, also receives a balanced education.
To that end, Hercules is enrolled in the Prometheus Academy, the
high school of choice among the Greek elite.
Half mortal, half god, the series'
Hercules is a gawky teenager with superhuman strenh which he can't
always control. He's a misfit torn between two worlds, with only one
path back to Mount Olympus - by becoming a true hero. But at this
stage of life, defeating monsters is only half his battle. This demigod
must also endure the challenges of high school.
"Disney's Hercules" isn't all action-adventure, though. The series
is grounded in Greek mythology and provides life lessons within its
overriding storyline of Hercules' search for self-improvement and
acceptance. Among the issues and themes of the 52 episodes exclusive
to syndication: the rigors of enrolling at a new school ("Hercules
and the First Day of School"); establishing career objectives ("Hercules
and the First Doctor"); the tribulations of dating ("Hercules and
the Dream Date"); and the corruption of money ("Hercules and the Big
||Each episode will feature the most outrageous,
larger-than-life adventures a wanna-be hero can face," says Stones.
"But when you strip away the amped-up action and epic mythology,
you have a journey that everybody takes: the trek through adolescence."
"Being the strongest man on earth, no challenge is too great for
Hercules, except one - growing up," Schooley says. "We parallel
our fantastic plots with very earthbound complications........
Herc may be able to thrash a Nemean
Lion, but can he find a date to the dance? We wanted to ground his
heroic journey in a way that is appealing and meaningful to our
Hercules struggles to fit in among the likes of (to name a few): Adonis
(Diedrich Bader), the arrogant big man on campus; the all-too-perfect
Helen of Troy (Jodi Benson); and Tempest (Jennifer Jason Leigh), an
Amazon princess in direct competition with Herc's noble intentions.
Still, Hercules does form a tight friendship with two other outcasts,
Icarus (French Stewart) and Cassandra (Sandra Bernhard). "Despite
his best efforts, Icarus can't shake his Greek 'geek' label - he's
the boy that flew too close to the sun, and his hair wasn't the only
thing that got fried. It goes deeper," McCorkle says. "Cassandra is
the sour counterpoint to the show's gonzo testosterone. She has the
dubious gift of seeing the future, which means she also has a keen
perspective on life after high school. Her wry detachment adds a note
of maturity to the group."
|Compared with the feature film, the series provides
greater range for exploration (and parody) of characters and locations.
For example, the Agora will be familiar to any kid who's hung
out in a local mall; Sparta offers the ultimate in military cold-war
paranoia; and Abacus Valley provides the last word in high tech.
Hercules and his friends answer the riddle of the sphinx posed
by an overwhelming game show host ("Sphinx Martindale," voiced
by Wink Martindale), while those with a desire to learn the future
contact the Oracle Friends Network.
The Prometheus Academy's distinguished faculty includes the institution's
founder, Prometheus (Carl Reiner); gym teacher Phys Oedipus (Richard
Simmons); guidance counselor Parenthesis (Eric Idle), whose dialogue
is peppered with parenthetical phrases; and shop teacher Daedalus
(David Hyde Pierce), who is also Icarus' father.
Hades (James Woods) is the series' central recurring villain, and
he is backed by comic henchmen Pain (Bobcat Goldthwait) and Panic
(Matt Frewer). All three actors/characters return from the film.
Added for the series is a lengthy list of mythological antagonists,
including Kathie Lee Gifford as Echidna, the "mother of all monsters."
Also guest starring is Tom Arnold (Cupid), Tim Conway (Griff) and
Harvey Korman (Arismap) as ancient foes, Jane Curtin (Hippolyte),
Linda Hamilton (Nemesis), Florence Henderson (Demeter), Reba McEntire
(Artemis), Mandy Patinkin (Hippocrates) and Vince Vaughn (Loki).
Music weaves an amusing and often narrative thread through the series'
action and comedy. The majority of the 65 episodes feature full-blown
songs and/or ditties. While the Muses (Lachanze Sapp, Roz Ryan, Lillias
White and Cheryl Freeman) play an integral role in most of the musical
numbers, many prominent stars - several singing for the first time
- also take a crack at carrying a tune. Among those performing are
James Woods, Kathie Lee Gifford, French Stewart, Dom DeLuise, Sandra
Bernhard, Melissa Manchester, Paul Shaffer (also reprising his movie
role as Hermes), Tate Donovan, Idena Menzel, Eric Idle, Robert Stack,
Corey Burton, Bobcat Goldthwait and Matt Frewer.
||Two of Walt Disney Feature Animation's leading
ladies - Susan Egan (Meg from "Hercules") and the aforementioned
Jodi Benson (Ariel from "The Little Mermaid") - also recorded
songs for their characters. Egan reprises her Meg role in two
flashback episodes, while Benson is a "Disney's Hercules" regular
"Disney's Hercules" is a production of Walt Disney
Television Animation.Tad Stones is Executive Producer, and Mark McCorkle
and Bob Schooley are the Producers and Executive Story Editors.