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Anchor Bay Entertainment presents
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys—Season Six (1999)

"All things come to an end."
- Zeus (Charles Keating)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: July 20, 2005

Stars: Kevin Sorbo, Michael Hurst
Other Stars: Kevin Smith, Sam Sorbo, Jeremy Roberts, Alexandra Tydings, Joel Tobeck, Bruce Campbell, Traci Elizabeth Lords, Meighan Desmond, Charles Keating, Meg Foster
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (suitable for most television audiences)
Run Time: 05h:53m:10s
Release Date: July 12, 2005
UPC: 013131276398
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-BB+ B

DVD Review

Beginning its sixth season, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys faced the threat of an imminent disaster—star Kevin Sorbo’s contract was set to expire after only eight episodes. When the popular actor decided to depart the series and pursue new projects, cancellation was pretty much a foregone conclusion. This activity was probably slightly overdue, as its popular had waned considerably from its earlier heyday. Casual television viewers had moved away from the action-hour craze of the mid’90s and were looking in different directions. A devoted fan base remained for the series, but this group was not large enough to prevent the inevitable conclusion.

This five-disc collection of Hercules’ sixth season includes the final eight episodes, which range between mildly entertaining and nearly unwatchable episodes. Everything feels too familiar and the actors (especially Sorbo) appear to sleepwalk through many of the scenes. The production values are still top-notch, with major assistance from the New Zealand scenery, but few stories contain the unique tone of past seasons. Writer Paul Robert Coyle calls these entries the “lost episodes,” as they rarely appear on the show’s many syndicated repeats. Their omission is also understandable due to the lesser quality level and the lack of any major story arc throughout the season. This coherent storyline benefited the fifth season considerably and lead to a minor renaissance, but that improvement rarely is evident here.

The season begins with a Faustian bargain for Hercules in Be Deviled that turns him into a horned demon. Sam Sorbo returns in the form of his former wife Serena, but she actually plays a devilish character. The demon traps Hercules by pitting him against the vicious Xerses, played well by familiar actor Jeremy Roberts of Mercenary. This episode actually works effectively and begins the season on the right foot, but its momentum is quickly dashed in subsequent episodes. The Amazon characters have grown extremely tiresome and their use in Love Amazon Style is especially clunky and groan-inducing. Frequent guests Joel Tobeck (Deimos) and Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite) make their final appearance in this over-the-top, yet dull entry.

The middle episodes are mostly just mediocre rehashes of superior past tales or mediocre monster tales. The Dracula story finally appears in Darkness Visible, which has Hercules and Iolaus journeying to Vlad’s castle to visit their former friend. Unfortunately, they fail to realize that he has become a vampire and is the true cause of the area’s problems. Bruce Campbell gives one final appearance as the lovable thief Autolycus in Hercules, Tramps & Thieves, which includes an odd guest performance from Traci Lords as his ex-wife. Campbell’s presence is always welcome, and his farewell to Hercules works surprisingly well. The season hits another low point with A Wicked Good Time, which brings back Discord and pits our hero against some yawn-inducing witches.

The series concludes in mostly ho-hum fashion with Full Circle, which returns Hera, Zeus, Ares, and other familiar faces for one last showdown with Hercules and Iolaus. Atlas and the other Titans also make an appearance and try to destroy Olympus, which places the entire world in jeopardy. This story contains all of the elements for a big season finale, and it should have worked, but it provides only tepid entertainment. The final scenes with Sorbo and Hurst are heartfelt and do conclude the series on a worthy note, but the action beforehand is below my typical expectations. The result is not a total failure, but it does feel thrown together and less majestic than I expected.

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys—Season Six should still please the collection of devoted fans eager for any remaining episodes, but it drifts considerably from even the previous season’s success. I found it difficult to make it through specific episodes, which has been a rare occurrence during past years. Sorbo, Hurst, and the frequent guest stars still do a competent job and make the shows partially enjoyable, but they can only do so much in the end. It is unfortunate to observe a once-promising series ending in this fashion, but this dropoff is not entirely surprising given the difficulties in producing a shortened season. The producers and writers should receive credit for at least releasing an adequate product while facing considerable obstacles. However, this collection is recommended only for serious fans or viewers curious about Hercules’ ultimate destination.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Season six's full-frame image transfers are on par with the previous year, which means that do include a considerable amount of grain at times. The pristine New Zealand scenery does look wonderful and showcases impressive bright colors, but the sharpness could have been improved. Nothing distracts too much from the story, but a bit more work could have lead to an even better presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: This release offers a solid 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer that showcases the music and sound effects in powerful fashion. The rear speakers don't seem as effective as some past sets, but they still provide some complexity at certain moments. The rousing score still leaps from the speakers and induces some quick volume lessening. Viewers should not have any major complaints about this consistent audio transfer.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 40 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
2 Documentaries
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Paul Robert Coyle on Bedeviled; Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst on Full Circle
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
5 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Bonus CD-ROM disc with Hercules Chronicles, Bios, Trivia, and Mythology
  2. Cast and Crew Interviews on Love Amazon Style, Hercules, Tramps & Thieves, and A Wicked Good Time
  3. Wrap Party Footage
  4. Hercules Main Titles - Alternate/Never Used Titles
  5. Photo galleries
Extras Review: Considering the short length of this season, this solid collection of extra features is worthwhile. Devoted fans will enjoy seeing the cast and crew say goodbye several times at events on and off the set. Unfortunately, this release does not offer enough details about the reasons for the short season and the decisions involved in crafting each episode. The individual supplements are described below:

Cast and Crew Interviews
The interview segments have always provided more concise details about the series than the audio commentaries. This release’s offerings do not match the superior inclusions of past sets. It appears that many of the contributors, especially Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst, barely remember anything about this season. Rob Tapert shows up a few times to provide quick information, but his appearances are far too brief. Each entry runs for about 10 minutes, but they’re bogged down by episode clips and fall a bit short in providing exciting material.

Audio Commentaries
This collection only includes two episode commentaries, but both offer worthwhile details. The better track comes on the premiere Be Deviled from writer Paul Robert Coyle, who offers plenty of intriguing details about the production. The episode was originally intended to feature Hudson Leick’s Callisto, and he altered it considerably when she could not take the role. The second commentary from Sorbo and Hurst is less informational, but their chemistry helps to make the conversation entertaining.

Wrap Party Footage
Is 43 minutes too much footage from the wrap party? Your response to this question will undoubtedly affect your enjoyment of this feature. All of the show’s major players appear on stage to thank the crew and convey their feelings about the experience. Sorbo, Tapert, Chloe Smith, and everyone else seem very genuine and obviously find it difficult to imagine life without the series. Michael Hurst narrates the festivities, which conclude with a very silly rendition of My Way from the host, Sorbo, and Eric Gruendemann.

Featurette: Bringing Monsters to LIfe at K.N.B. EFX Group Part 3
Howard Burger returns once again to narrate the final segment in Van Nuys, California concerning the models, makeup, and other effects utilized in the series. He begins by discussing the head molds needed for the demons of Hercules and Xerxes in Be Deviled and then takes us into the foam room and through an array of other projects. This 20-minute feature continues one of the better looks at behind-the-scenes effects out there on DVD releases.

Final Episode: Behind the Scenes
Although the official series finale was Full Circle, the last filmed episode was actually Hercules, Tramps & Thieves. This 18-minute behind-the-scenes video seems a bit repetitive after the wrap party footage, as it again includes thanks from Sorbo, Tapert, and Gruendemann. Random clips from the series also appear between the cast and crew comments.

Hercules Main Titles - Alternate/Never Used Titles
This alternate title sequence suffers from a lack of explanation about its creation and why it was never used. The main differences here are a revised script and newer clips from later seasons. The original titles, which were used throughout the series, incorporated scenes from the movies and first season.

Bonus CD-ROM
Hercules devotees will be pleased to learn that even this shortened season contains the typical bonus disc. The usual extras are here, including the Hercules Chronicles; trivia; cast and crew biographies, and background on the mythological aspects of the series.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys—Season Six represents the final eight episodes of the long-running action series. This smaller collection does not attain the high entertainment level of past seasons and drifts among a tired collection of recycled plots. Star Kevin Sorbo would next appear in the long-running science fiction series Andromeda, which also attracted a cult following but has failed to attain to reach the popularity of his last show. His classic role as Hercules will almost certainly attract new fans through syndication and DVD for many years to come.

 


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