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Xena is the leading example of a new genre that has sprung up over the last few years. The tongue-in-cheek Fantasy shows started with Hercules, really took off with Xena, and now include Robin Hood, Sinbad, Roar and even a Conan the Barbarian show!
Xena is a spin-off from Raimi & Tapert's Hercules series, and has actually become more popular. In this it has followed in the footsteps of Mork and Mindy, which was originally spun off from an episode of Happy Days. Yes, Robin Williams owes his entire career to the Fonz!
The character of Xena was originally cast in the Hercules episode Warrior Princess for Vanessa Angel [best known for Weird Science: the series]. However, when Ms Angel was unable to fulfil her commitment to the show the producers had to find a replacement. A New Zealand actress named Lucy Lawless , who had previously played a centaur's human lover, was selected for the part and thus began the meteoric rise of her career.
The character of the evil female warlord was brought back for a second Hercules episode, where she turned good, and when Hercules came back the next year for a second season it was joined by a new sister series, Xena: Warrior Princess.
The one episode of the first season that really stands out is Callisto, which introduces two of the most important recurring characters. Joxer the Mighty is a comic buffoon of the type that, post-TPM, can be described as a human Jar-Jar. The actor? Ted Raimi, of course - hey, his brother is the producer and always guarantees him a supporting role in everything he does. Remember Dark Man? American Gothic , anyone? And the real tragedy is, poor Ted's best performances have been in his non-brother-provided roles. He was the heart and soul of Seaquest DSV and his role in Baywatch [ Pamela Anderson 's Boyfriend - he got to massage her fingers on-screen!!!] was an eye-opener that this reviewer did not expect!
The second recurring character? Why, the title character, Callisto herself - an evil female warlord in the mould of Xena herself, but with different goals. Her family was killed in one of Xena's raids, and she wants revenge.
So what makes Xena better than its imitators? Well, in comparison with Robin Hood the real difference is the production values. Xena is filmed in sunny New Zealand, Robin Hood is shot in the former USSR. Xena has lots of SPFX and recognisable guest-stars; Robin Hood is blatantly shot on-the-cheap! But Robin Hood is still a brave effort, and rises above its failings. The real problem with an imitator is that by definition it cannot be a trend-setter, it merely follows in the footsteps of the true trailblazers.
Ares frames Xena for murder. Gabby is her defence lawyer. Xena is give a choice - join Ares or be executed.
Like most tales of female empowerment, this was written by a man - in this case, Steven L Sears . The show is
The ep starts when Gabby, ever the talkative comic relief, invents the walking stick. Xena points out that it would work better as a quarterstaff. Later, Gabby is appointed as Princess of the Amazons. Ephiny ( Danielle Cormack ) then trains Gabby in the use of the quarterstaff.
An Amazon hunting party is attacked by a group of unseen archers, using Centaur arrows. In revenge for the death of an Amazon princess, the Centaur chief's son is captured and due to be executed. Amazon law does not allow a trial, it seems. Xena realises the killing is an obvious frame-up, and tries to solve the original murder in order to prevent all-out war between the Amazons and the Centaurs.
Xena and Gabby are summoned by Helen of Troy. Yes, the entire Trojan War is dealt with by a single episode.
Gabby recognises one of the Trojan defenders. He is her former fiance, Perdicas. He is no longer a mere farmboy - he is now a bloodthirsty mercenary who sold out his homeland for Trojan gold. Naturally, Gabby is now attracted to him.
The Trojans are mistrustful of Xena, because they do not believe a Greek would fight for Troy. Well, they hired Perdicas.
Not to spoil the ending, but ... The Trojans flee to a colony in Italy. It is called Rome, and a young Roman named Caesar will be a recurring villain in later Seasons. Thanks to Xena's interference, Greece was badly affected and will not be able to resist Caesar's Roman (Trojan) army.
Xena teams up with the Good, the Murderous and the Untrustworthy. They must retrieve some Ambrosia before it falls into the wrong hands.
This ep contrasts slavery with arranged marriage. Xena is summoned to help a spoilt rich bimbo named Diana who is also her identical doppelganger. It is nice to see Lucy Lawless Stretch herself in different roles, although the result is reminiscent of I Dream of Jeannie Episodes where the female lead played her character's entire extended family.
Typically for Season one, the violence is quite cartoonish. For example, one man is set on fire TWICE using the fire-breathing trick Xena used to murderous effect in later Seasons.
The ending is pure subtext.
Xena is summoned by the ghost of Marcus, her former lover. A serial killer has stolen Hades' helmet of invisibility. Xena has to go to the Underworld and help Marcus restore Hades' godhood.
Conveniently for Xena, it turns out that Harpies can be killed by the fire-breathing trick Xena used to murderous effect in later Seasons. Strange for a couple of reasons - a couple of eps ago a human assassin could shrug it off with comedic effect, and also strange because hell-spawn should be flame-proof!
Xena gets Autolycus (Bruce Campbell - Evil Dead ) to help her steal the Ultimate Weapon. They go undercover in a Warlord's palace.
This ep seems to owe a lot to Raiders of the Lost Ark .
Gabby volunteers to defend a village. The villagers have hired Meleager the Mighty (Tim Thomerson - Trancers ), who is Gabrielle's favourite hero. Unfortunately, when she meets him she discovers he is less than perfect. He is a thief (like Autolycus) albeit not a very good one . In fact, he is a bit of a loser (like Joxer). In other words, he is the typical comedy male.
A young boy is to be sacrificed to the one god. This is a take on the legend of Abraham and Isaac. There is a twist ending that indicates the deity is real, Though it is not foreshadowed that it becomes the evil entity known as Dahawk the Destroyer.
The young Karl Urban ( Dredd ) appears, though he is apparently neither Cupid nor Caesar.
Xena's father makes an appearance. The quest is to rescue some slave girls from Ares' warlord.
Callisto is an evil female warlord in the mould of Xena herself, but with different goals. Her family was killed in one of Xena's raids, and she wants revenge. She destroys villages, and tells the survivors that she is Xena ...
Xena and Gabrielle are targeted by a bounty-hunter named Joxer the Mighty (Ted Raimi). Luckily for them, he is a comic buffoon of the type that, post-TPM, can be described as a human Jar-Jar.
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