I was born in 1983, so most of my education of classic Hanna Barbera cartoons comes from the early days of Cartoon Network on cable television. In the early to mid-nineties, the channel was treasure trove of their classics. Among some of their best on constant rotation was “The Herculoids.” A mix of “Swiss Family Robinson,” “He-Man,” and “Kazar,” the series mixed some great character dynamics and sleek monster designs in what was a show primarily centered around action and adventure.
Debuting on CBS in 1967, it centers on patriarch Zandor, his wife Tara and son Dorno, as they all fight alongside a group of creatures on a mysterious alien planet known as Quasar. There, they defend it from an array of alien invaders and enemies like the Mutoids and Sta-Lak. Among their monster friends, there’s Zok the dragon who shoots laser beams from his eyes, a rhino-like animal named Tundro who shoots energy blasts from his horn, shape shifting creatures Gloop and Gleep, and (my personal favorite!) giant monkey creature Igoo with a rocky exterior.
Inexplicably loyal to the family, they help one another to combat their foes every week.The show is admittedly very thin on character focus, or small conflict. There’s no explanation on where the family came from, why they’re on this planet, and what the whole end game is. Are they aliens? Are they stranded? Is this the past, or the future? If you go in to every episode just looking for some fun action and neat creatures, “The Herculoids” doesn’t disappoint as every installment is simplistic but fun. The animation is fun, the characters are worth rooting for, and I love how there’s still so much potential for a bigger universe. I sure do love it and think it’s one of their best efforts.
It’s also begging for a fun reboot with a lot of room for some epic fantasy.
The three-disc set retains the single featurette found on the DVD release with The Herculoids: First Family Of Planet Quasar, a five minutes featurette on the cartoon with noted animation mavens like Jerry Beck, Paul Dini, and Mark Evanier. The Alex Toth designs and clear Ray Harryhausen influences are points raised about the Hanna-Barbera show.