King For A Day
Episode:King For A Day
Michael Hurst as Iolaus & King Orestes
Lisa Ann Hadley as Princess Niobe
Will Kempe as Archias
Robert Pollock as Minos
Derek Payne as Hector
Ross McKellar as Linus
King For a Day has to be without a doubt my favorite Iolaus-centric episode. It also is the most memorable for me, even among such fun misadventures like The Apple and Love Takes A Holiday.
At the beginning we find Hercules leaving Iolaus' side with a man in need of help with his daughter, who turns out to be obsessed with him (who isn't?).
The hunter continues on and arrives in Attica, where people give him strange looks and double-takes (since he happens to look exactly like the prince) and stumbles upon his cousin, Prince Orestes.
But looks aren't everything - Iolaus and Orestes are complete opposites. Orestes has no reguard for his soon-to-be wife, Princess Niobe, and doesn't care about preparing for the coronation to become king. Turns out his annoying brother, Minos, is the one who wants to be on the throne (excellent job of annoying us, actor Robert Pollock, lol).
So when Archias (who later double-crosses Minos) drugs the prince's wine, Iolaus is forced to stand in for Orestes with the help of Hector (Derek Payne - another great casting choice)goes through with the coronation ceremony. When Niobe arrives, Iolaus doesn't even realize that he has to marry her (Iolaus:"What, are you crazy?! I've gotta date her or something!") but puts up with this, too, to pull off a believeable Orestes.
Archias and Minos stare at him in disbelief, thinking the prince should be sound asleep like a rock at the moment, and Archias discovers Orestes, taking him to to a dungeon called Draxus where Archias continues to drug him. Minos is a coward and can't save his brother, who is just about as stubborn as Iolaus can get (maybe they have a few things in common, lol).
Meanwhile, Iolaus continues to act as king, and Niobe still suspects nothing. As a matter of fact, the two start to fall for each other (the trademark of an Iolaus episode). There's great chemistry between Lisa Ann Hadley (Niobe) and Michael Hurst in each scene they share together. Even though she only plays Niobe twice (this episode has a sequel, Long Live the King ) she is still one of my favorites.
Niobe also joins up with Hector, Linus (Ross McKellar - I love the expressions this guy makes, he really was funny) and Iolaus (yep, she still doesn't know!) to make a dramatic rescue of Orestes. Iolaus sets Orestes free but is stopped by Archias from returning to safety immediately. Following this is one of the best choreographed, watchable fighting scenes H:TLJ has to offer. It is such a delight to watch Michael Hurst fence (he's a championship fencer) and it is also rare that we get to see him do anything like this on the show. Will Kempe (Archias) wasn't bad, either - his obsession with finding a challenging fencing opponent is great, especially when fighting Iolaus: "I just got that shirt!" Archais: (looks at Iolaus) - "It's nice!"
Prince Minos is killed in this battle aside his brother, Orestes, ("I never thought I'd see the day!") but at least he went down fighting instead of being a coward. When it's over, and Niobe realizes there's "two" Orestes, Iolaus has to tell the truth. Niobe: "You're not Orestes...are you?" Iolaus: "I wish I was."
The action of the episode winds down here, solving questions a fan could gather within watching it. Iolaus returns to normal life, and bids goodbye to King Orestes...and Niobe. She walks with him as he leaves. She asks Iolaus if it was all an act, what they shared. This scene, if you've never watched it, is such a great display of longing by Michael Hurst - the pain of leaving her is literally etched in his face - and they linger a bit, hand in hand. But Iolaus has to move on.
And of course, Hercules (conveniently again, lol) returns, only to be chased by this insane, wildly obsessed girl from Attica. She throws herself (literally!) on Hercules ("I love you!"). Iolaus gives this big dramatic speech about "seeking a man who loves you in return." The girl wanders off with a "yes, your lordship" amid Herc's obvious confusion. When asked how he did it, Iolaus looks up at him - "You've never seen my royal touch, have you?" and walks ahead.
This episode probably made a lot of H:TLJ fans Iolausians and won Michael Hurst an award from the New Zealand Film & T.V. Board for Best Actor. It also made me appreciate that both Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst could carry the show without each other all the time. Excellent performances all around. If you're an Iolausian, it's an adventure not to be missed.
Disclaimer:No slightly soused kings-to-be who finally pull themselves up by their bootstraps and realize the true meaning of leadership were harmed during the production of this moton picture.
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