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The Mighty Hercules

The Mighty Hercules was an animated series based loosely on the Greek mythological character of Heracles, under his Roman Mythology name, Hercules. It was created in 1962 and then debuted on TV in 1963 and ran until 1966.

Summary

The cartoon features Hercules, the legendary hero, who dwells on Mount Olympus. When villains threaten the people of ancient Greece, he puts on a magic ring from which he gets his superpowers. When he puts it on, it is struck by flashes of lightning (referred to as the Thunder of Zeus in several episodes). Hercules is then endowed with super-strength, and goes forth brief episodes to do battle with nemesis such as Daedalus, an evil wizard who is the chief villain, as well as others such as Wilhemine the Sea Witch, and the Mask of Vulcan (whose real name, mentioned in only a few episodes, such as "Hercules and his Two Rivals", is Murtis). Hercules has friends and allies such as Helena, his girlfriend; Prince (later King) Dorian; the boy centaur Newton; and Tewt, a miniature boy satyr who "spoke" only by playing his panpipes.

In the original episode, Hercules beats his friend Theseus in a footrace and a wrestling match, and for his victory is granted any request by Zeus as a reward. Hercules wishes to go to Earth to fight evil and injustice, but Zeus reminds him that going to Earth would cause him to lose his godly powers and become a mortal. Zeus then creates a magic ring that allows Hercules to access his godly strength while on Earth. The rest of the cartoon involves Hercules meeting Helena and fighting a giant named Cacus and the giant's pet dragon. None of the other familiar characters make an appearance in this episode, and it features different character designs for Hercules (who in this one short has a yellow belt and wristbands, with a black H in block lettering on the belt; the ring is of similar design, large and yellow, with a black H in a giant sunburst) and Helena (who has a different hairstyle, a silver necklace, and more makeup than her later versions).

The show generally used real Greek myths for their inspiration, but used the influences oddly. (Daedalus, the evil wizard who is Hercules' most frequent foe, is named for Daedalus, mythological artificer who wasn't a villain at all, and Cacus, the giant in the first episode, is based on the mythological monster Cacus. Other recurring creatures like the Nemean Lion, the Lernaean Hydra, the Erymanthian Boar, and the Stymphalian Birds were taken directly from Hercules' Twelve Labors, but most weren't presented as trials for him to overcome. (For example, Hercules defeats the Lion in one punch before Murtis gives it a Mask of Vulcan to help it, and the Boar is already bound by a silver chain, with Hercules stopping first Murtis and later Dedaelus from freeing it).

In addition to the ring, later episodes added new equipment for Hercules and his friends to use: a "moon stone" beam in his belt (and a matching belt that Newton frequently wore) that could be used to summon him from Mount Olympus, an invulnerable sword and shield (both with the same "H" symbol as his ring and belt), and a set of pipes to summon Pegasus, his winged steed. (Hercules being paired with Pegasus was not in the original myths, but it was used again when Disney made their own animated version of Hercules).

Background

128 episodes of approximately 5 minutes each were produced. Adventure Cartoon Productions made the series in connection with Trans-Lux Television, the same people who later brought the anime series Speed Racer to U.S. audiences.

The show also featured two different sets of voices for the characters (there was no gradual change - most of the early episodes had one set of voices, the rest have the second set). The most noticeably different voice was Newton: in the "older" voice style he sounds like he'd just hit puberty, with his voice constantly cracking, while the later episodes give him a high-pitched Mickey Mouse-like voice. The animation for the "putting on and charging up the ring" sequence also subtly changed with the voices. For an example of the former style and voices, watch the episodes "The Minotaur" or "The Chair Of Forgetfulness"; for an example of the latter, watch "The Nemean Lion" or "The Chameleon Creature".

Hercules's voice actor was Jimmy Tapp. The series also featured a memorable theme song sung by Johnny Nash, a singer whom some fans and web sites, such as Billy Ingram's TV Party, mistakenly claim is Johnny Nash, an African-American pop singer-songwriter of the same name, best known for his 1972 hit, "I Can See Clearly Now". A quick listen to both the cartoon's theme and one of Nash's songs clearly demonstrates that these are two completely different singers.

Stations

Alphabetized by city.

Episode List

  • 1. Hercules Comes To Earth
  • 2. Hercules Vs. The Hydra
  • 3. Hercules And The Stolen Ring
  • 4. Hercules And The Magic Arrows
  • 5. Daedalius Kidnaps Helena
  • 6. Theft Of The Magic Seal
  • 7. Double Trouble
  • 8. Hercules Rescues Timon
  • 9. The Chair Of Forgetfulness
  • 10. The Strength Potion
  • 11. Hercules Vs. The Hideous Bird Beast
  • 12. Pegasus Kidnapped
  • 13. The Invisible Potion
  • 14. Medusa's Scepter
  • 15. Search For The Golden Apple
  • 16. The Thieving Bird Hoard
  • 17. Daedalius Becomes A Giant
  • 18. The Stolen Treasure
  • 19. The Cure
  • 20. The Thunderbolt Disc
  • 21. Sun Diamond Of Helios
  • 22. Hercules Lends A Hand
  • 23. The Defiant Mask Of Vulcan
  • 24. The Golden Goblet
  • 25. The Lexas Lagoon
  • 26. Guarding Of The Olympic Torch
  • 27. Helena Cries Wolf
  • 28. Hercules Saves The Villagers
  • 29. Hercules And The Magic Arrows
  • 30. Hercules Battles The Krudes Beast
  • 31. The Cave Of Death
  • 32. Medusa's Sceptre
  • 33. The Bewitch Birds
  • 34. The Enchanted Pool
  • 35. The Endless Chasm
  • 36. Hercules Protects Helena And Newton
  • 37. Hercules Helps King Neptune
  • 38. The Return Of The Mask
  • 39. Hercules Saves Helena
  • 40. The Magnetic Stone
  • 41. The Magic Rod
  • 42. The Minotaur
  • 43. Hercules And The Eternal Sleep
  • 44. The Clutching Clay Pool
  • 45. Princess Rhea
  • 46. The Valley Of Whirlwinds
  • 47. The Wild Boar
  • 48. The Magic Belt Of Hercules
  • 49. The Errand Of Mercy
  • 50. The Neamean Legion
  • 51. The Magician
  • 52. Dorian's Wreath
  • 53. The Unicorns
  • 54. Wilamene
  • 55. The Witch And The Magic Ring
  • 56. Diomedes' Evil Plot
  • 57. Hercules' Unwanted Powers
  • 58. The Enchanted Wolf
  • 59. Hercules And His Two Rivals
  • 60. Hercules Saves The King
  • 61. The Thracian Army
  • 62. The Gems Of Venus
  • 63. The Golden Torch
  • 64. Hercules Vs. Teron, The Evil Spirit
  • 65. Hercules Saves The Kingdom
  • 66. Kidnapped By Wilamene
  • 67. The Chameleon Creature
  • 68. Earthquake Valley
  • 69. Newton The Centaur
  • 70. Helena Kidnapped - Hercules To The Rescue
  • 71. Hercules And His Friends
  • 72. The Magic Sword
  • 73. Timon's Grandfather And Hercules
  • 74. Hercules Loses His Memory
  • 75. The Hall Of Justice
  • 76. The Cave Of Callisto
  • 77. The Powerless Hercules
  • 78. Omar,The Sultan's Champion
  • 79. Sandals Of Electra
  • 80. The Sea Witch
  • 81. The Giant
  • 82. Helena's Beauty
  • 83. The Island Of The Miros Monster
  • 84. Hercules And The Fireball
  • 85. Hercules Outwits The Magician
  • 86. The Evil Weapon
  • 87. The Giant Ruby
  • 88. The Owl Man
  • 89. The Chameleon Man
  • 90. Hercules Foils The Mask Of Vulcan
  • 91. The Exploding Diamond
  • 92. Hercules And The Sea Witch
  • 93. The Magic Lamp
  • 94. The Owl-Man Of Panssus
  • 95. The Eruption Of Mount Sirus
  • 96. The Deadly Gift
  • 97. The Thesian Thunderhorn
  • 98. The Dreaded Beast Of Charon
  • 99. Hercules, Newton, And The Evil Magician
  • 100. The Fiery Abyss
  • 101. The Giant Dragonfly
  • 102. Tewt's Magic Wand Trouble
  • 103. The Wings Of Mercury
  • 104. The Sea Beast
  • 105. Prometheus In Dire Danger
  • 106. The Crafty Chameleon
  • 107. Kingdom Under The Glass Dome
  • 108. The Fantus Beast
  • 109. The Lyssidian Locusts
  • 110. Hercules Saves Calydon
  • 111. Helena's Jinx
  • 112. The Sinister Statue
  • 113. Friend Or Foe Of Centaur
  • 114. The Young Olympians
  • 115. The Feast Of Calydon
  • 116. The Lava Flow
  • 117. The Dreaded Draught
  • 118. Underwater Battle
  • 119. The Sidian Illusion Stone
  • 120. Timon To the Aid Of Hercules
  • 121. The Fiery Pits of Pyros
  • 122. The Clovis Creature
  • 123. The Valley Of Storms
  • 124. The Centaur On Mischief Day
  • 125. The Throne Of Calydon
  • 126. Battle Of the Magic Rings
  • 127. Diomedes And His Warriors
  • 128. King For A Day

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