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Season 2, episode 01
Series 201
1st release: 09/04/95
2nd release: 12/04/95
3rd release: 12/16/96
1st USA strip release: 08-28-98
2nd USA strip release: 11-26-98
3rd USA strip release: 12-10-98
Production number:
Approximate shooting dates:
Last update: 12-24-98

SYNOPSIS 1 by Liz Sheppard

Michael Hurst (Iolaus)
Bruce Campbell (Autolycus)

Lisa Chappell (Dirce)
Martyn Sanderson (King Menelaus)
Peter Rowley (Guard)
John O'Leary (Judge)
Ross Campbell (Thug in Bar)
Margaret Campbell (Scribe)
John Watson (Constable)
Vicky Burrett (Old Woman)

Edited by David Blewitt
Written by Doug Lefler
Directed by Doug Lefler

Autolycus: This is going to put a strain on our friendship.
Hercules: What friendship?
Autolycus: The people love me.
Autolycus: After all I am the King of Thieves.
Hercules: You're really starting to annoy me.

When Iolaus is falsely accused of robbery, Hercules races against time to apprehend the real thief before his friend is executed.

While Iolaus is about to be beheaded for a robbery he didn't commit, Herc and the real culprit are playing cat-and-mouse with each other-- and a gigantic serpent is playing cat-and-mouse with them.

Hercules must capture the ever evasive 'King of Thieves' to save Iolaus' life.

Hercules must prove that the about-to-be-beheaded Iolaus didn't commit a theft. It was actually the work of Autolycus, the self-styled "King of Thieves."

1st RELEASE: 09/04/95
An AA average of 5.4
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) HERCULES 7th with 5.4
(2) STAR TREK DS9 11th with 4.9
(3) XENA 16th with 4.5
(4) BAYWATCH 17th with 4.4

2nd RELEASE: 12/04/95
An AA average of 5.4
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) STAR TREK DS9 9th with 5.9
(2) HERCUES 15th with 5.4
(3) XENA 4.7

3rd RELEASE: 12/16/96
An AA average of 5.1
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) HERCULES 10th with 5.1
(2) XENA 14th with 4.6
(3) BAYWATCH 16th with 4.3
(4) STAR TREK DS9 21st with 4.1


Synopsis by Liz Sheppard.

Iolaus is traveling to Cyros when he runs into a man with a chest being beaten up by a bunch of thugs. He fights the thugs and the man reveals himself as Autolycus. The thugs return and Autolycus secretly takes a red jewel, hands Iolaus the chest, takes a grappling hook and swings away. Iolaus is then arrested for stealing the chest full of valuables. His punishment is death.

Hercules visits King Menelaus of Cyros, who's playing with his inventions, and tells the king that Iolaus couldn't have stolen the ruby that is now missing. Iolaus' lawyer, Dirce, tells Herc and Iolaus that the tradition in Cyros is that innocent people often die if the guilty aren't brought to justice. Iolaus tells her that it was Autolycus and Dirce explains that he the "king of thieves" to the people and that he's uncatchable and refuses to be brought to justice. Dirce tries to give three days for Herc to find Autolycus but she could only succeed in two, by having Iolaus go through three traditional but barbaric tests.

Herc ends up finding Autolycus, but he gets away and Herc finds out that it's going to be harder than he thought to catch him. He chases the King of Thieves into an old deserted castle. Autolycus starts fighting with Herc and the floor caves in. Herc finds the ruby on Autolycus and Autolycus tells him that he thought that Iolaus could take care of himself.

The first test for Iolaus is for him to be tied to a big rock and thrown into the lake and survive. Iolaus just barely survived. The second test is for Iolaus is to have a big board with stones piled on top, on his back, and to hold it for a hour and not let any stones fall. Dirce tells Iolaus that her father is the king.

Herc and Auto find a huge room filled with tons of valuables, and a big snake. The serpent has the duo trapped in a cell. Autolycus frees himself from his bindings and unlocks the door. While Herc removes rocks to get to the wheel that opens the main door, Autolycus tells him that he became an outlaw because of a merchant he robbed because the merchant killed his brother. He also tells him that if Iolaus lives, then he'll die.

Dirce tells Menelaus that is he cared about people as much as he did his inventions, then the city would be better. The third test is for Iolaus to be put in a pit with a giant wild boar for three hours and not lose any blood. Small sparks fly between Iolaus and Dirce before he goes in. Iolaus survives by putting the boar in a trance, old hunter's trick, but pricks his finger coming out and since he drew blood, he's guilty. The execution will be at dusk.

Herc and Auto find the wheel and open the door and while Autolycus is looking for something to brace the wheel, he finds the serpent. Herc tells him to go and he tries to fight the serpent. The brace for the wheel starts to brake and Autolycus helps Herc fight the serpent. They defeat it, but Autolycus gets wounded and Herc carries him to Cyros.

Dirce tries to save Iolaus by putting her head on the cutting block, but the king orders her off and for Iolaus' execution to continue. Iolaus' last words were that he was innocent and that Menelaus should be nicer to his daughter. Herc and the wounded Autolycus arrive just in time and Auto gives the king his ruby back; Auto then falls to the floor and dies and Iolaus is saved. Menelaus and Dirce team up to rewrite some laws in Cyros. They also plan to give Autolycus a funeral, but find him and several money pouches gone.

Iolaus plans to visit Dirce when things are back in order in Cyros. Herc and Iolaus run into an old cloaked man, but Herc lets him go. The cloaked man laughs and runs away.


Synopsis by CR.

Iolaus is walking through the woods when he sees a man being set upon by a gang of men. Iolaus helps the man (Autolycus) drive the gang off. Soldiers arrive and surround the pair; Autolycus makes his escape, leaving Iolaus holding stolen treasure.

Herc pleads with King Menelaus, who is busy fiddling with mechanical gadgets, to free Iolaus.

H: There's a man in your jail named Iolaus. He's my friend.
M: Oh yes, the thief. We're trying him tomorrow. He'll be executed shortly afterwards.

H: Iolaus didn't take it.
M: I'll be the judge of that. Literally.
(Dierce enters, bumping into things.)
M: That's Dierce. She's famous for her entrances.
H: Wonderful.
M: Yes, you'd better say that. She's your friend's lawyer.

Dierce tells Herc and Iolaus that, unless they catch the real thief, Iolaus' goose is cooked. She tells them Autolycus is known as the 'King of Thieves' and is uncatchable. The trial is due to start the next day. Herc asks how good Dierce is at stalling.

D: I may be able to get you three days.
I: What if it takes more than three days to catch him?
D: Then I'll make sure the King feels guilty about beheading the wrong man.

Autolycus is lurking in the woods when he is found by Herc. After a confrontation he escapes from Herc using his trusty grapnel and flees towards an abandoned castle. After a bit of hide-and-seek and fisticuffs in the castle, the floor gives way under them and they crash through the floor into a cell.

The trial:

Dierce asks for Provision 99, a review of evidence by outside audit. Unfortunately, the King retired the only outside auditor the day before.

D (frantically consulting scrolls): Provision 46
M: That's strictly for maritime insurrections
D: Amendment 12K to Provision 7
M: Applies only to politicians with records of hereditary insanity
D (in desparation): I propose the court enact the Erebus test, the ancient test of innocence
M: But that could take days. And besides, it's barbaric. (After conferring with his legal adviser): Well Dierce, the court will indulge you. Though personally I think it would be more humane to let us execute the defendant.

The first test: they are ready to throw Iolaus, bound and weighted, into a pond.

M: You're only prolonging your client's agony.
D (with hauteur): I'm looking after his rights.
(Splash offscreen)
M: Hmmph. Strange way of doing it.

Much later, they fish Iolaus out. He says he managed to slow down his heartbeat so he could hold his breath - a trick he learned in the East.

D: You passed the first test!
I: The first test?
D (encouragingly): There's just two more.

The next test is called 'Pressing'. They place a timber platform on Iolaus' back and load it with stones. All he has to do is stand for an hour and not drop any.

Back in the castle, Herc breaks out of the cell, into a huge hidden room, crammed full of treasure. Suddenly, an enormous snake appears, with evident designs on Herc and Autolycus. Herc smashes a hole in the wall, they climb through into another cell. Herc fights off the snake while Autolycus opens the locked door with one of his gadgets.

Back at the palace, Menelaus confronts Dierce, his daughter. He clings to tradition because he is trying to preserve their way of life. Dierce says she wishes he would care about people as much as he cares about his inventions.

Iolaus is brought in, having survived the 'pressing' by making himself 'one with the rocks'.

M: Listen to the poor devil, he's ranting. We should put him out of his misery right now.

The next test is three hours in a pit with a wild boar, during which he must stay alive and not lose any blood.

I: Three hours. I can do that.
M (resigned): In with him then.
I: That boar's bigger than a horse.
M: We're waiting
I: (jumping into the pit) See you in three hours
Offscreen (yelling): This pig is huge!

In the castle, Herc and Autolycus find a door, with an old winch to raise it. While clearing the winch, Autolycus tells how he took up thieving to avenge his brother, who was cheated and killed by a rich merchant. Autolycus stole every dinar the merchant had and left him a pauper. He points out that, if Herc takes him back to save Iolaus' life, then Autolycus will die. Herc looks thoughful - this little point obviously had not occurred to him before.

Back in court, Iolaus is released from the pit, having put the pig into a trance, but cuts himself on a nail as he climbs out. Menelaus sees the blood on his finger and sentences him to be executed at dusk.

In the castle, Herc and Auto are trying to secure the winch to keep the door open when the snake appears behind Autolycus. Herc fights the snake and yells at Autolycus to get out, but Auto comes back to help battle the snake. After an epic battle, in which Auto is knocked out, Herc throws him under the door and escapes himself just as the door crashes down.

Outside, Autolycus can't move; he says Herc will have to carry him to town.

In court, they are preparing to guillotine Iolaus. Dierce protests frantically but in vain. Menelaus assures Iolaus in a fatherly way that with the new device his inventors have perfected, there'll be no more sloppy work with an axe. Iolaus does not seem to find this reassuring.

Just as the executioner starts to cut the rope to release the blade, Herc bursts in carrying Autolycus and yells 'Stop!', which the executioner does. Autolycus tells the king that he robbed the Royal vault and produces the missing ruby, then collapses unconscious on the floor. Meanwhile the rope is fraying; Herc makes it to the machine just in time to stop the blade. Meanwhile, Autolycus has disappeared, with everyone's money pouches.

Understandably, Herc and Iolaus decided to leave the kingdom at this point, notwithstanding Dierce's invitation to stay longer.


This commentary is by --.

in preparation


Hercules: The Legendary Journeys - Original Television Soundtrack. Joseph LoDuca. Uni/Varese Sarabande; ASIN: B0000014XJ.

(9) Monster Fight


Bruce Campbell said at the Origins Gaming Con in July 1997 that the character of Autolycus was created by the PRINCES OF THIEVES writer, Doug Leffel, without him in mind, but that Robert Tapert called him up for the part, saying he thought it was a good match.

At the same convention a couple of people asked him whether Autolycus might ever get a spinoff series of his own. One comment Bruce dropped sounded as if it has been considered, but Campbell said he doesn't have any interest in making Autolycus into a series hero - the character would have to become too boring, he says, and made into a Robin Hood-ish guy with a sad past who only steals from the rich. He said Autolycus is much more interesting as just a recurring character who, according to him, lives for tormenting Hercules and "trying to get into Xena's pants."


12-24-98. From CR. King Menelaus - expertly played, with a humour so dry and deadpan it's hard to be sure if it's there. Not evil, not sadistic, but the law requires that someone be executed for stealing the royal jewels and Iolaus' feelings in the matter don't really count.

12-24-98. From CR. Dirce (with the weirdest hairstyle) started out as a caricature of the social-conscience save-the-whales activist, more interested in making a protest against legal injustice than in what happens to her client. But of course by the end of the episode she's fallen for the guy.

12-24-98. From CR. Iolaus - why does he spend so much time in jail in this series? Still, he's good at it, and quite funny.

12-24-98. From CR. Autolycus - first sight of the King of Thieves. Autolycus has always been fun to watch, and he was in good form in this, his first appearance.

12-24-98. From CR. The executioner who stopped cutting the rope on the guillotine when Herc yelled "Stop" - this must be the first time ever in an action series that an executioner actually stopped proceedings when told to.


Click here to read a transcript of THE KING OF THIEVES.


No Subterranean Serpents were harmed during the production of this motion picture.


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