The Mighty Hercules Cartoon (1963-1966)

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One of my favourite TV shows as a kid, that my mom absolutely detest, was The Mighty Hercules cartoon. I could watch that show all day as a kid and thanks to one of the Teletoon station here in Ontario as well as my friend, YouTube, I can watch the show again whenever I want!

The cartoon was made way before I was born. It was made in 1962 and ran from 1963-1966 by Adventure Cartoon Productions. There were a total of 128 five minute episodes created in total (source: Wikipedia).  I also have to add that I’m proud to say this was a Canadian production, although it was worked on in New York as well.

The iconic theme song was sung by Johnny Nash and anyone my age or older who watched the cartoon would recognize it instantly.  I’m actually humming it now as I’m writing this.

As a kid, when these episodes were played out of order, I didn’t understand why some of the animation and the voices were different. It turns out that the earlier episodes were more affected by a slightly different look for some of the characters (nothing drastic) but the voice actors were different. I’m not entirely sure at what episode the voice actors changed or why.

The basic premise for each episode is Hercules having to overcome some villain’s plot to take over the Kingdom of Caledon. Either Zeus would send Hercules on a mission, the great seer, Dodonis, would see problems arise from his rock that would show images from the Earth below, or Hercules would be signaled by one of his friends and allies by the Hercules belt that would flash the “H” logo up into the sky. Think of it like the Bat-Signal!  Hercules would take a death defying jump from Mount Olympus and land safely on the ground.

One of the best (and funny) aspects of the show is all the various creatures would practically make the same sound when roaring or letting out their battle cry. Whether the creature was on land or in the air or sea, the made that iconic sound.

Why someone hasn’t made toys of this show is beyond me.  I’m sure it’s a licensing thing.  I tell you, I’d be on board with buying a collection of action figures, especially if they had sound-chip technology.

Here is a rundown of some of the main people on the show:

 

Hercules

You couldn’t have a show called Hercules without the main mythological character, right? Hercules has the brain and brawn to get out of most situations, as long as he has his magic ring.  I think one of the best things about the show is how it shows that no matter how powerful you are in mind and body, you don’t necessarily have the answers to everything.  Hercules did need some assistance to get out of various situations throughout the run of the show and showed his appreciation to his friends.  Sometimes Hercules needs to call on his winged steed, Pegasus, too!

You could always count on Hercules returning to Mount Olympus at the end of each show yelling, “Olympiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

 

Newton

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This centaur is Hercules’ main companion.  On the show he provides comedy relief but is also problem solver when Hercules is in a jam.  He can also be a pain in the ass for Hercules because Newton can get himself into trouble, too.  I’m not sure why Newton wasn’t a target of the bad guys more often because if you took out the hero’s right hand man (uh, centaur), that would probably do a lot to Hercule’s psyche. To this day, I still do Newton’s double-talk.  Watch an episode and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

 

Tewt

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This little guy who can’t talk is Newton’s buddy and usually rides along on his back.  Tewt sometimes gets caught up in some of the action and alerts others when people are in trouble.

 

Helena

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Helena is the typical damsel in distress. Seeing how she’s probably Hercules’ secret crush (he’s a hero who apparently has no time for love), she’s an easy target for the villains.  She’s not the brightest, though, and gets herself into trouble and can’t ever do anything about it.  I can’t even remember if there’s a time in the run of the show where she actually helps Hercules.  There’s an episode where she tries to get Hercules’ attention by crying wolf, pretending to be in trouble, until Hercules just gives up going to save her.  Guess what happens? She actually gets into trouble and almost perishes because of it! Who would have thought? At least it’s a lesson for the kids watching.

 

King Dorion

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A useless King who is only on the show for the baddies to try and take the throne from.  This guy can’t do anything and is always a target for the baddies and someone Hercules needs to bail out.  The people of the kingdom of Caledon should demand a new leader.

 

Daedalus

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The main baddy had some really awesome ways to dispose of Hercules but he could never, ever get the job done.  By enlisting various creatures around Caledon, using magic, possessing various special items, Daedalus brought it all to our hero. For some strange reason, he always left Hercules to die instead of just waiting 10 minutes to make sure the job got done.  Perhaps he was queasy and just didn’t want to see someone die after all.  Usually by his side is his cat, Dido.

 

Wilhemine

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Wilhemine is the female version of Daedalus who is always looking to put an end to our hero’s good will.  Like Daedalus, she uses magic, the environment, and magic to take out Hercules and his friends but to no avail.  I swear this character was also called “Wilhemina” in some shows.  She also has a pet sidekick: Elvira the bird.

 

“The Mask”

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I really realized when I was young that the “The Mask” actually had a real name.  Murtis is another character who wants to rule the kingdom of Caledon and utilizes the Mask of Vulcan to make him invulnerable.  Nothing can harm this man when he wears the mask and it’s almost impossible to get off.  It’s mind boggling that Hercules and his crew tend to figure out some way to remove it.  You’d think Murtis would figure out a way to keep the damn thing on.

Otis

While not featured as prominently as the other villains, he was a shape shifting character that I used to enjoy a lot.

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If you haven’t seen this show, it’s some great entertainment! Take it for what it is, though: a show with a quick plot outline that goes from the climax to the ending faster than many shows.  What do you expect from a five minute cartoon show from the 60s? Ah, hell…I still enjoy all these today and would rather watch these than most of the stuff on TV these days.

Here’s one of the episodes I really like.  It features The Mask and vulture-like creatures.  If you want more, make sure to find the episodes where Wilhemine unleashes a huge octopus-like creature at Hercules in the ocean or the episode where Hercules falls into a pit of darkness and only Daedalus can see using special glasses.  They’re pretty cool!  Click this link for the episode guide.

 

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