Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Season 4 Episode 8

...And Fancy Free

Aired Monday 5:00 PM Nov 17, 1997 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
39 votes

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Episode Summary

...And Fancy Free

Ever since she was a little girl, Althea wanted to be a dancer. The awkward young woman endured taunts from the graceful Oena because she wanted to compete in the Panathenian ballroom dance competition. Then Hercules volunteered to be her dance partner. Anxious to make sure the duo would not defeat his niece Oena, Asterius tried to have them killed. But they thwarted his plan and took lessons from the Widow Twanky. After fighting off an attack by Asterius' henchmen, Hercules and Althea arrived at the Panathenian just in time and performed the dance of their lives to thunderous applause.


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  • Hercules helps a young woman to gain at a dancing contest for making feel better by people's ignorance

    That episode was so great.It has a modern feeling and many historical inacurates like the modern dancings and the soldiers was dressed like turks,anyway i think that all the people can see the era mistakes but the episode was so enjoying and funny so you dont mind after a while.Kevin's acting was so asweome he was acting so natural and giving to the episode the comedy feeling that deserved.I can see a differente aspect of hercules attitude and i like it,we dont get used to see hercules out of the battlefields and out of danger,here he has to deal with more daily and peaceful situations,that he wasnt get used to,i love watching it.The Twanky ofcourse was one of the most important persones of the episode,really funny,lol,.Well,this wasnt a typical hercules episode and is more for the fans but i am sure even the no devoted fans will stay watch it and laugh,no matter if they are kiding the show the same time for airing an episode like this.Overall,one of the funiest episodes of the show if not the funiest.moreless
  • Hercules stops at the dance capital of Greece to become a young girl's dance partner. A special episode indeed.

    "...And Fancy Free" is one of my favorite episodes of the show ever. Why? Well for starters, Michael Hurst is dressed in drag here as the Widow Twanky. I wasn't sure how he'd be in the role, but I was incredibly surprised. He was funny throughout and had many of the best quotes. The Widow Twanky asks Hercules to imagine her as Iolaus during a dance lesson, something she claims would be difficult for him to do. Right...

    Willa O'Neill is cast perfectly as Althea, a bumbling girl who dreams of entering the Panathenia, the town's annual dance contest. Her final dance routine with Hercules is very entertaining and made me smile many times.

    Obviously, this is not a typical episodes of HTLJ, but one must keep an open mind when watching it. It's on par with such Xena eps as "Fins, Femmes and Gems" due to the fact that the actors seem to be having fun being silly. Episodes like this should be kept in moderation though but luckily, the producers of HTLJ and Xena do pretty good jobs deciding.

    Watch it for yourself and see what I mean. It's silly yet funny entertainment all around.moreless
  • Director Michael Hurst drags up to play flamboyant dance teacher Widow Twanky, as Hercules offers to be dance partner to a clumsy young woman in order to try and out-do a local group of bullies. A like it or loath it comedy episode...moreless

    This episode is surely one that will split the vote. Some will really like it, whereas others will be saying "What has the series sunk to?!".

    Personally, I've actually changed camps in recent times. I didn't used to like this episode much at all, feeling it to be really silly and letting the series down. But nowadays, in retrospect, I've come to actually quite like it for the lighthearted and tongue in cheek tale that it is.

    I think one of the main reasons that it suffers is that it is placed in a season with a few too many silly, novelty stories. If it had been placed in a season with more standard stories, it would have fared a bit better.

    Willa O'Neill, who also plays Gabrielle's sister Lila in a few episodes of 'Xena: Warrior Princess', is well cast as the clumsy young Althea, whom Herc offers to partner.

    After the producers had been trying for ages, they finally convinced Michael Hurst (credited as Edith Sidebottom!) to do an episode in drag.

    I wasn't sure about the over the top opening song, but after that and I got used to the whole ridiculousness of the episode, I came to like Hurst as Widow Twanky, and he is a scream in places.

    There is a good moment when Twanky is comparing dancing to fighting moves, and tells Hercules to imagine for a moment that she is his friend Iolaus. Hmm, won't have to try too hard!

    They definitely wouldn't have got away with such an episode as this in any earlier season, but I think by this point, viewers are familiar enough with the series and its characters for it to slip by.

    And the episode is far better than that other Pantomime-toned episode of the season, the terrible 'Beanstalks and Bad Eggs'. All-in-all, some will dislike it, and it's not one of my all-time favourites, but I've actually come to quite enjoy this silly romp.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Willa O'Neill (Althea) plays the recurring character of Lila, Gabrielle's sister on Xena. She also previously appeared in several episodes of Hercules as Phoebe, daughter of one of the Argonauts.

    • Nitpick: In the dance routine shown at the beginning of the episode, the music does not match with the dance. The music playing appears to be swing, while the dance would seem to be a type of waltz.

    • Michael Hurst based his performance as Widow Twanky on the pantomime character named Mrs. Sidebottom (which had been performed by his mother, Edith). The name itself comes from the pantomime production of Aladdin, Mrs. Twankey is the mother of Aladdin.

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Hercules: You all right?
      Widow Twanky: No, I'm not! How they manhandled me, and it's been so long!

    • Widow Twanky: You see, fighting in its very essence is like a dance and you, my hunky Herc, are a natural.
      Hercules: Thanks, I think.

    • Hercules: Pardon me?
      Widow Twanky: Don't you 'Pardon me' me, you! I shall give you 'Pardon me'! I will 'Pardon me' you into the middle of next week! Now, hold that hand out. Right now, young man, or there shall be no lesson today. (Hercules holds his hand out) Ooh, it's quite a strong hand, really. Shapely forearm. And look at the of those biceps! Ooh, it's huge! Hold me. (wraps Hercules' arm around herself)

    • Hercules: Sorry we're late, but we had to do a little practicing of our own.
      Widow Twanky: Oh, practicing, is that what you call it these days? Mucking about, discovering appendages you never even knew you had. Ooh, you are a nasty, nasty little boy!

    • Widow Twanky: Now tell me, have you ever fought with a partner?
      Hercules: Yes.
      Widow Twanky: Emm, and what perchance is his name?
      Hercules: Iolaus.
      Widow Twanky: Iolaus. Well, Hercules, I know this will be difficult, but I want you to imagine for a moment that I am Iolaus.

    • Widow Twanky: Wait! You're not going to the Panathenea dressed like that!
      Hercules: It's all I ever wear.
      Widow Twanky: I know, and I'm sick of it!

  • NOTES (6)

    • Mathew Waters, William Smith and Tim Boggs won the 1998 Monitor Award for "Film Originated Television Series - Audio Post Production" for this episode. Michael Hurst won the 1999 TV Award for "Best Director - Comedy" for this episode.

    • Kevin Sorbo rates this amongst his five personal favourite episodes of the series.

    • Instead of the regular Hercules theme song playing during the closing credits, we hear "Hercules Swings Again" performed by the Scotty Morrison Big Band.

    • Willa O'Neill was pleased when director Michael Hurst allowed her to create her own "interpretive dance" for Althea in this episode.

    • Producer Eric Gruendemann had been trying to get them to do an episode with Michael Hurst in drag for years, and he finally succeeded. He considers this one of his finest personal achievements for the show.

    • Disclaimer: The Widow Twanky, once again on top of the dance world with the success of the Hercules Hustle was not harmed or tripped during the production of this motion picture.