ANCHOR BAY is continuing their welcome tradition of releasing entertaining fantasy television series in boxed sets containing an entire season. They’ve started the process with “THE HIGHLANDER” television series, and are now beginning to release the Sam Raimi produced “HERCULES” series.  Kevin Sorbo stars as the heroic strongman, and in spite of some ridiculous scripts, its tongue-and-cheek approach, makes for wonderfully addictive viewing. 

ANCHOR BAY deserves a lot of credit for their packaging here.  Not only does this boxed set include the entire first season, but five “tv movies” as well!

Thankfully, the series gets much better than the first 4-5 episodes suggest.  The pilot episode introduces the viewer to Herc and displays the penchant the series’ writers have for openly playing with the legend. It’s immediately obvious that there’s little concern for keeping to traditional interpretations of the character, and that’s fine as well as the stories are still entertaining.  While many obviously enjoyed the early episodes, this reviewer didn’t. However, by the 4th episode, the series began taking a different road, and the “winking at the audience” style of atmosphere actually began to work.

The series also features some exciting guest stars.  Cory Everson appears in episode 5 and Lucy Lawless, who would later go on to star in her own series as “XENA”, appears in episode 6 as a character named Lyla. 

Apparently the show’s producers weren’t concerned about Lawless returning as an entirely different character, only three episodes later, as she does in her first appearance as “XENA”. 

As with the first episodes of the series, the initial intro to the “XENA” character is less than perfect. However, within a few episodes, the stories involving her and Herc are more refined, and the series’ overall atmosphere has settled in, ensuring consistently entertaining viewing.

ANCHOR BAY has preserved the correct 1.33:1 aspect ratio of the show.  Colors are solid and often vibrant.  While there are some signs of compression, it’s minimal, and the otherwise sharp detail and color quality more than make up for it.  Fleshtones appear natural.

ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT has presented both a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and Dolby Surround mix.  While the 2.0 mix is fine, offering surprisingly effective bass and separation, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, newly remastered, offers a flurry of surround/directional effects, and it’s terrific! The 5.1 seems better balanced and engaging throughout, and it too, has its share of bass. The dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.

ANCHOR BAY has included commentaries.  Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst provide commentary, but it’s for the show’s most die-hard fans.  There are some interesting moments, but for the most part, it’s not too engaging, and often dry. 

ANCHOR BAY has also included a bonus cd, offering a screen saver of the show’s star, as well as cast bios and trivia.  Something all fans will appreciate is the episode guide included here.