The Fourth and Next to Last installment of the Hercules TV movies is about a trip to the Underworld , but Hercules, now a husband and father therefore not to keen on self-sacrificing missions that take away from his home life. Obviously (considering the ages of the children) it's been a few years since he and his wife retrieved fire and returned it to Man, but it's the same ol', same ol' for Herc. Just like the last few film this one starts with a random pet of Hera's being sent to annoy Hercules. And (happy in domestic bliss with his two little boys, baby girl, and lovely wife, Deianeira) he's even more pissed off then usual about Hera's interference. Zeus, ever the little boy, is amused cheering his son on as he fights a demi-giant.
Of course there has to be a village in danger and this one is being threatened by a crack to the underworld... but who cares there's relationship drama to sell. In this case our messenger from the troubled town comes in the form of an attractive young virgin named Iole who has the same Destiny complex that the "other Deianeira" from "Lost Kingdom had". While the whole "crack in the underworld is Hercules "mission" for the story, the real enemy to be destroyed here is jealousy. For it seems Hercules' centaur buddy Nessus is in love with his wife. Nessus is also a devote of, who else, Hera. And the young Iole gives him just the ammo he needs to plant the seeds of doubt in Hercules fidelity in Deianeira. She struggles to believe in her husband's fidelity, but upon discovering it is, in fact, the young virgins job to seduce Hercules (she in fact has been trained for it) her faith begins to break. Then on his death bed Nessus gives her a cloak he claims will ensure Hercules' fidelity (of course it does no such thing). Iole does seem to semi-succeed in attracting Hercules, but when she offers the dirty deed he easily refuses. Unfortunately the cloak is tool enough to convince Deianeira of Herc's death and so she follows him into the underworld. Of course, now along with healing the "crack to the underworld" (which was caused by the 3 headed dog Cerberus getting loose) he now has to save his wife. All in all, I didn't like Deianeira in this much. As an insecure wife she was just less fun. And it's kind of sad that I know he goes through all this trouble to save her from death only to see her die in the first episode of the regular series (which for me is two episodes away). The actor who played Nessus (the first centaur of the series) did a BRILLIANT job. His acting was top notch. Quinn was once again charming as Zeus, but seriously he has an ENTIRE universe to run and he has nothing better to do than stalk his son! Hades turned me off, I'm so glad they revamped and recast the character of Hades. Once "Uncle Hades" actually turned up I was very disappointed as I was use to his other incarnations in the Herc/Xena world and this one didn't work for me at all. I personally am a big fan of the Hades character in general (even in that sad excuse for a Hercules movie made by Disney) so that says a lot. Iole was cute enough, but her destiny issue has been done before and better by Renee O'Connor in "Lost Kingdom". And at this point I'm aching for a good ol' "this is how much Ares hates his brother" episode.
The early creature work seen here was top notch for it's age. The first Centaur featured is a convincing blend of Man and Horse, the dead of the underworld (the Tartarus end anyway) are horridly wonderful. And finally Fluffy... I mean Cerberus the three headed dog was well done. Even though he's a tricky blend of Puppet heads and early cgi work, I think they sell it better than most full scale CGI work sells itself these days.
Also, (along with a Hades I'm not to fond of), I again hit a continuity bump considering Young Herc and the Underworld visit. Again, this is a fault of Young Hercules (a series that too much wanted to do what was already done) Charon has never met Hercules before here, but Hercules visits the underworld as a teen in young Herc. However Hades' guards and Hades' himself seem to know Hercules in a pretty casual way. So Herc's trip to the underworld is a mixed bag. In some ways you can say he's been there before, but other things...well. Xena presents almost the same problem with Charon's memory as he goes on about live people not visiting the underworld even after Hercules has been there not only alone, but with friends (Jason, namely, who visits his dead father in the Underworld when he drops in with Hercules). It's possible Herc has been there before and Charon just doesn't connect this man to the teen visitor he'd had awhile ago. I don't think Herc ever identifies himself to Charon by name when he initially visits as an adult. It may have only come to him later. It's also funny, they seem to flip flop on the idea of people's "memories" in the Allesian fields. In Xena, Solan didn't want to go and lose his mother's memory and Deianeira did lose her memories entirely in order to be at peace here. Also, in a Herc episode later Deianera and the kids don't know they're dad. But in other episodes (like when Jason and Hercules visit the fields in the Young Herc series or the episode where Herc visited his family and wife to tell her he's getting remarried) the people they visit seem entirely aware of their former lives. Not to mention, Marcus (Xena's lover, at least one of them) said the dead hear the thoughts of the living, but what if they are thoughts that will hurt them? Like the thoughts of a lover they can't be with. Of course, Marcus was in Tartarus first so he was coming from a different perspective. And when she left him at last in the Allesian fields it's possible memories that would hurt him were then taken away. And on a sidenote... poor Micheal Hurst again dies early into a Herc movie. He's playing a random villager instead of Iolaus, but it's sad he's now twice played someone who dies early into a Herc film. Of course he played Charon who was very much... well sort of... Alive. In the underworld, but not really "dead", but I'm not sure... well he's not eactly mortal... so... ah forget it. Okay film, but not the best of the lot at all.