Friday, 10 July 2015

Conan: Heart of the Elephant (1997)

Successful TV shows often spawn imitations, and so it was with Hercules and Xena.  These included a science fiction show from the same production company (the wonderfully campy Cleopatra 2525, which I will have the pleasure of reviewing here one day), as well as a couple of efforts from other parties.  The one I was aware of at the time was the execrable Sinbad (the 1996 one; not to be confused with the actually not terrible 2012 show of the same name).

I was not aware of Conan the Adventurer, which lasted one season, and is flagrantly a cheap knock-off of Hercules: the Legendary Journeys.  If you've ever seen old Herc, you're probably bloggling at the idea of a "cheap" version of its already shoestring antics, but trust me, it is possible.

Apparently taking a leaf from 1982's big screen Conan film, the makers of the show cast a former bodybuilder with a thick accent as their titular character.  They apparently did not consider the fact that they'd written their Conan to be a personable, jovial fellow when making this choice.  It means that the role really needs someone a bit more comfortable with delivering lines.

Mind you, 'comfortable with delivering lines' is a quality that is short on the ground even among the cast members for whom English is their native tongue.  I'd be tempted to make some comment about the producers obviously saving their money in the casting stakes, but frankly they also seem to have been more than a little frugal in the 'everything else' stakes as well.

I'm talking about this TV show because Heart of the Elephant is a "movie" put together from the first two episodes of the series.  In it, a wicked Sorcerer-King has a prophetic dream that Conan will slay him.  After discussing this with his chief advisor, The Skull That Talks --

Trust me, it looks even goofier when it is moving

-- said Sorcerer decides that the barbarian must die.  Which of course is exactly what causes Conan to swear to kill him.  Evil is dumb.

This is a badly acted, clunkily written, cheaply made production.  And being the first two episodes of a show means that it ends in a very "to be continued" state.  So I definitely wouldn't recommend it even though I rather enjoyed it in a Hawk the Slayer kind of way.

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