This week's topic is going to be a fun one because the subject is on a show that I have not seen in years. I just don't really know just how many of you will know the subject. The show is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year, and I only remember watching it when I was a very young boy. Back in those days, cartoons would air almost non-stop on Saturday afternoons, and one particular channel would mix the newest cartoons with old-school shows our parents grew up watching.
That channel was Global. But, then again, I must have told you this before. Probably ad nauseum. But hey...it was one of my favourite channels to watch as a kid (and to be fair, I watch it quite a lot as an adult too).
Anyway, there was one television cartoon that aired for years and years on Global in the afternoon block. And, when I was a kid, I mistakenly believed that it was a brand new show, as it hadn't aired on any other networks. It wasn't until the title screen came on, and I saw that there was a date stamped in Roman Numerals on the very bottom. When I was really small, I couldn't figure out what those letters meant until I began school. Once I figured out what the Roman Numeral for MCMLXIII meant, I was stunned to realize that the show first aired in 1963! Eighteen years before I was born!
It was a rather interesting show at that, because the show was based upon a heroic character found in Greek mythology. He was a person who could pick up a boulder weighing thousands of tons with the greatest of ease. He could pick up a rock and squeeze it into a fine powder. He could battle foes with valiance and strength, and always found a way to come up on top.
There was just one catch. In order for his powers to work, he had to have a particular piece of jewelry...one that he was given in the very first episode of the series, which aired on September 1, 1963.
I think most of you know where this is going now, so I'll just play the theme song for this cartoon right now.
INTERESTING TRIVIA: The iconic theme song for “The Mighty Hercules” was Johnny Nash, who you might know as the singer of this classic early 1970s hit single.
“The Mighty Hercules” was just one of those shows that I was absolutely glued to back in the day. I honestly don't know what it was about the show, but I had to watch it. And, the show was unique in that it didn't screen just one 22-minute episode. Instead it was similar in format to “The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show”, in which a series of five-minute episodes were squeezed into a half-hour.
How the show began was like this. Hercules ends up competing in some ancient competition involving wrestling and a footrace. He comes up the victor against his friend, Theseus. For winning the competition, Zeus (that's the legendary God of lightning and thunder, for those of you who don't know) grants Hercules anything he wants.
The possibilities were endless. He could have a castle in the sky above Mount Olympus, he could have all the riches in the world, he could have his own personal brothel...
...well, okay, this was a kids show. Eighty-six the brothel.
Hercules, though, was not considered to be a selfish man. His request was quite simple, as far as he was concerned. He wanted to go to Earth to fight against injustice and evil. There was just one problem. If he did go down to Earth, he would lose his godly powers and become a mere mortal.
Which some people might see as a GOOD thing, but I digress.
Nevertheless, Zeus does not go back on his word (I imagine if he did, and this were modern times, Hercules could sue Zeus for breach of contract, in which Zeus would french fry Hercules' behind in retaliation with a big bolt of lightning). He crafts a ring that Hercules can use to keep his powers while on Earth.
Of course, Hercules has his allies on Earth who fight alongside him, who fall in love with him, or are just there to provide moral support.
And, well, I'll be honest with you. While there were some characters who I enjoyed watching, there were also some characters that annoyed me greatly.
Let's start with Helena. She's a beautiful young lady with blonde hair and a pink toga, who also happens to be the love interest of Hercules. We also have Timon, a young man from the kingdom of Caledon, as well as Dodonis, with his crystal rock of seeing, which warn Hercules of the dangers that he could face in Caledon.
But, as I said before, there were some characters who just irked me. Let's start with Tewt, a satyr who happens to lack the vocal ability needed to communicate with Hercules...so instead of using his voice, he used his flute. It was a nice gag for a little while, but after the twelfth episode, I just wanted to grab his flute and stomp on it.
And, don't even get me started on that annoying centaur known as Newton! He HAD to be the one to repeat EVERY FREAKING THING HE SAYS TWICE. Again, the first episode, that was kind of cute. But by episode three, I wanted Hercules to “accidentally” drop a boulder on top of him.
DISCLAIMER: I am definitely not a man who promotes violence, and I would never suggest that anyone drop a boulder on anyone. But, if you have ever watched Newton on “The Mighty Hercules”, you would understand why I find him grating enough to entertain that possibility.
And, what cartoon wouldn't be complete without the antagonists mixed in with the protagonists? After all, “The Mighty Hercules” would be kind of boring if Hercules was always happy.
Anyway, the main bad guy was a purple cloaked bearded man named Daedelus (almost all of the names of the characters were taken from actual figures in Greek mythology), and his main goal in life was to cause havoc in Caledon by using his evil wizard powers.
Daedelus didn't just act alone though. Like Hercules had his own allies, so did Daedelus. One of them was Wilhelmina, a sea witch, who kind of physically resembled Helena...if Helena were a chain smoker that wore drab clothing and hadn't washed her hair in about fifteen years.
We also had Murtis, a man who proved to be quite the formidable opponent for Hercules, as Murtis would be rendered invincible whenever he wore the Mask of Vulcan.
(Which was basically nothing more than a metal bucket with eye holes, but hey, we're supposed to believe that makes a person invincible. We were kids, what did we know, right?
Anyway, I think that what we should do to close this entry off is watch a couple of episodes of the series, just so I can jog your memory a bit. Just a couple of notes about the one entitled “Helena's Birthday”. One, I'm surprised that they had gift boxes and ribbons back in the days of ancient Greece. And, secondly, if it's Helena's birthday, why would Newton sing a song about Hercules?
DAEDELUS PASSES WIND (looking back on it, that is an unfortunate title!)
Hold on...I think I hear something...