AUSXIP - Australian Xena Information Page - XenaMedia: Articles

MCA hopes Xena has strength of Hercules

Broadcasting & Cable

8 May 1995

MCA TV has decided to replace the television drama 'Vanishing Son' with a new superhero show called 'Xena: Warrior Princess.' 'Xena' will air after 'Hercules,' which skews toward a younger demographic than 'Vanishing Son.' Stations said that the lead-in provided by 'Hercules' would be likely to provide an audience for 'Xena,' which is a spin-off from 'Hercules.' 'Vanishing Son' will be offered to cable and broadcast networks.

'Vanishing Son' will disappear to make way for spin-off series

MCA TV is set to begin production on a syndicated action hour spin-off of its hit Hercules series that, on Sept. 4, will replace Hercules' companion action hour, Vanishing Son.

Xena: Warrior Princess will be produced by Hercules: The Legendary Journeys producers Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert and seeks to deliver the high-action, highproduction value elements that have made Hercules the most successful new action hour of the 1994-95 season. The show has averaged a 6.2 Nielsen household gross average audience rating since launching in January and already has been renewed for fall.

Most stations currently air in tandem the campy Hercules superhero saga and serious Chinese-American-themed drama Vanishing Son, which has earned strong though lower ratings. However, Xena is thought by MCA officials to be a more compatible complement to Hercules.

"This is a highly unusual situation where we are replacing a hit show," says MCA TV President Shelly Schwab. "In many markets, Hercules is the lead-in to Vanishing Son, and it became obvious that the two shows appeal to different audiences and that people watching Hercules didn't stay for Vanishing Son, which was more of an adult show. Stations said we were not taking advantage of that huge lead-in."

A total of 22 episodes of Xena will be produced by Renaissance Pictures in New Zealand beginning in June. Title character Xena appeared in Hercules as the superhero's nemesis, but the new show will see her mend her wicked ways and dedicate herself to helping mankind. New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless will reprise the role of Xena, which she originated in three episodes of Hercules.

MCA said that Vanishing Son, which has earned a solid 4.5 Nielsen household gross average audience since launching in January, is being shopped to cable and broadcast networks for a possible run there.

Although some industry sources were surprised that MCA TV would risk killing off a successful show like Vanishing Son in favor of a new show, others were not. One station representative executive said that with 13 one-hour episodes of the show to have been produced by fall and 4 two-hour Vanishing Son movies produced last season when the series was part of MCA TV's Action Pack wheel of first-run syndicated movies, the syndicator already may have enough hours to sell to a cable network, even if the show is not picked up for further production.

"I think replacing Vanishing Son with Xena makes a lot of sense." says Blair Television Director of Programing Lou Dennig. "They could well have more success with a mythic show than with Vanishing Son."


Return to AUSXIP XenaMedia