Episode 502
The Original Hercules

    We were stoked, all of us.  This Saturday was going to be one of the best Saturdays in a very long time.  Why you ask? Let me tell you, first off there would be a new episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, some movie called Hobgoblins which we all knew as a cheap rip-off of Gremlins.
    Is that all you say?
    Of course not you dorks, if that was all, it would just be a good Saturday.  No the reason it was great was because of a very small ad in the personals section of the San Diego-Union-Times-Tribune-Star-Herald that almost everyone in the entire metropolitan San Diego area missed it.  But not Vince Hozler and Professor Aarron Graves. These cats had sharp eyes.
    I only found out about it on Thursday at 8 a.m.  I think it went a little something like this.

    “Benson, guess what!”
    I was naturally a little worried about the state of agitation that Vince was in when he arrived at the Professors offices at the Center Of Tall Black Edifices Complex.
    “What is it Vince, they cancel Xena?”
    “If that was the case, I’d have my guns and that look in my eyes that my guidance counselor used as justification for banning me from metal shop.  No, something far more important. Guess who is going to be in town Saturday from noon to two?”
    Aarron piped in. “If it’s another one of your favorite porn stars like that Christie Canyon incident last month that you tricked all of us into I’ll personally kick your ass.  You know how jealous Mercedes gets.  It took four bouncers to separate those two when they got into that silicon verses saline argument.
    Vince shook his head vigorously.  “No, it’s even better.”
    “Better than Ron Popeil,” asked Nagasaki?”
    “Better than John Carpenter scouting locations to start principle photography on the sequel to Big Trouble in Little China,” asked Aarron?”
    “Yes, though if it was a Sunday, it wouldn’t be as good.”
    Needless to say, I added my two cents. “Is it better than Bruce Campbell signing autographs?”
    Aarron was obviously becoming impatient.  “Spill it Vince.”
    “Hercules will be signing autographs.”
    “Which one? Kevin Sorbo, Lou Ferigno, Alan Steel, Mark Forest, Reg Park, Arnold Strong/Schwarzenegger, or Kirk Morris.”
    "No! No goddamit! The only Hercules, the first movie Hercules.  The mighty Steve Reeves!”
    Nagasaki and I were dumbfounded, could it be true? Could the great Steve Reeves have come to San Diego? We were all clamoring for more information.  Aarron however was not as excited.  As usual the Professor had to ruin the deal . . . we can never have nice things.
    “I don’t think that he was the best.  I mean he is better than Kevin Sorbo and most of the other Hercs, but I always felt that Alan Steel was the better Hercules.”
    “Oh come on Aarron, Alan Steel fought the moon men.  What the hell kind of deal is that.  Steve Reeves played the character as he was written.  Huzzah for good natured brawling.”
    Aarron got real close to Vince like a baseball guy and an umpire, except there was no spitting. “If Steve Reeves was so damn good than how come he didn’t do more than two films when the franchise was heating up.”
    “Oh yeah, Remember that chick in Hercules Versus the Moon Men, any guy who would be attracted to a woman with eyes that scary is a big idiot.  Steve Reeves got the good chicks.”
    Stupidly I got myself involved in this argument. “Come on Aarron, the first Hercules was really good.  I mean he actually had character development, he wasn’t always fighting and wrestling.  There was that scene where he was tutoring Jason on the fact that the mind was as important and ones prowess in fighting. The film had strong female characters.  On the MST3K side, this was one of the films where Crow and Servo really had the good lines.  All of the workout jokes, the sexist jokes regarding the Amazons, a pretty funny episode.”
    Aarron ended the argument abruptly.  “Fine, to end this argument before we head out to meet Mr. Reeves, we’ll watch Hercules and then Hercules Versus the Moon Men.  We’ll see who is the better Herc.”
    So we did and Hercules validated every thing I had said and more.  I could tell that it was very hard for Aarron to keep from laughing several times, especially at the truly disturbing skit about gene Rayburn.  When Hercules Versus the Moon Men came on, it was obvious that yes, the movie was funny and that Alan Steel was an okay Hercules, but it was also apparent that Aarron was forcing the laughter several times.  The problem was that, at the end of the film, he would not let up regarding his position.  We all decided to let the autograph session decide the whole deal . . . something that, in reflection, was a bad idea.
    So we drove to the Fitness Center where Steve was at and got into the line waiting to talk to him.  While we were waiting, Aarron and Vince were taking pot shots at each other.
    “Come on Vince, the monsters of rock quote was funny.”
    “Somewhat, but not as funny as the subtlety of the scene where Herc and that snotty prince yelled at each other.”
    “What about tossing the throne,” asked Aarron?”
    “Cute but what about the leg of meat, now that is disturbing,” was Vince’s rebuttal.
    “Uh guys, you’ve reached the head of the line.”
    And there he was, Steve Reeves.  Sure his hair was gray and he looked old, but you could still see the old Herc of the fifties peeking out.  It was like meeting Adam West, or William Shatner.  You know it is not going to be the same guy in regards to looks and maybe attitude, but the character that made the man, that was still there.  You could tell that he was still in good shape, you could tell because he got up and started choking Aarron.
    Sure as shit, he had his hands around the Professors neck.  It was obvious I had missed something while I was rambling about the inherent coolness of the man.  Vince was trying to break the two up but the chick that was with Alan was wrestling with Vince to keep him from ending the fight.
    “My ass Alan Steel was a better Hercules, he wasn’t even a friggin Mr. Universe, and any other frigging bodybuilding champion . . . but I was!  I was a better actor than that musclebound wannabe.  I starred with Debbie Reynolds in a musical.”
    Aarron shot back, in a raspy fashion. “Lou Ferigno was a Mr. Universe and he got a TV show.  Did you get a TV show.  You blew your chance and Alan Steel took advantage of it.”
    “Kiss my ass pencil neck, I wrote a screenplay, can Alan Steel claim that, no!  And if Ferigno had it so good with the TV gig, how come he didn’t have one speaking part.”
    The crowd surrounding us was getting lagers and smaller shoving matches had broken out among Alan Steel fans and those who were supporting other Hercules’ . . . There was even a Kevin Sorbo fan who got his ass kicked in a rapid fashion by just about everyone.
    It was at that point that the police arrived and were able to pry Steve from the Professor. Aarron wouldn’t let the matter die, even as he was being carried out to the police car. “Alan Steel would have snapped my neck the moment he started choking me!”
    “Bring it on teacher boy!
    And that was that, Aarron was on his way to jail.

    So why was it such a great day.  Because as I leaned back in the chair . . . you know the one I am talking about.  The La-Z-Boy Atomolounger, the chair recommended by doctors to recovering trauma patients because of its soothing effects on the human body, mostly due to the built in morphine self-injection system. Anyway, as I sat there, with Vince making margaritas, I was able to enjoy Hobgoblins because Aarron wouldn’t be able to post bail until after the show was over.
    “Push the button Frank.”

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