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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Posts Tagged ‘xena’

Makes Tartarus Look Like The Elysian Fields [Xena Rewatch Season 4 Overview]

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

elysian fieldsSeason Four of Xena is… not very good. This is especially noticeable because the okay to mediocre to terrible episodes are loaded up quite heavily in the first half of the season, while the best episodes are left teetering right at the end, which is not very helpful when most of your audience has strained their eyeballs due to rolling them too hard.

Mostly, I found this one a slog. The India episodes are mostly not that bad, but I was well and truly over the spiritual quest by the time we got there.

Having said that, I admire the fact that Gabrielle’s trauma from Season 3 is addressed rather than swept under the rug. Her relationship with Xena may have been healed with a song back in The Bitter Suite, but the tragedy of Hope and the after-effects of Gabrielle’s repeated sacrifices have taken a toll on her.

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And You, Brutus? [Xena Rewatch 4.20-22]

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

1-Endgame4.20 Endgame

And just when it looked like the season was going to be mostly a write off… Xena got good again. Really, really good.

Some of the most interesting stories have been those involving the complex Amazon warrior culture (and Gabrielle’s ongoing ties to them), and the encroachment of the Romans into Xena’s Ancient Greece. In this story, those two plotpoints collide with devastating results.

Ephiny the Amazon Queen, Gabrielle’s dearest friend besides Xena herself, falls in battle against Brutus and the Romans. This isn’t the first time that the death of a queen has led her tribe to demand Gabrielle give up her wandering life to take up the role of Amazon Queen, but this time it’s very, very personal.

Danielle McCormack’s recurring role as Ephiny was one of the most memorable star turns in the series, and it hurts to lose her. But it’s a sign of the changes that will be coming in the season that follows this one – in Xena, we can take nothing for granted.

As Xena herself notes, change is in the wind. She has seen the Amazons go from a mighty nation to “a handful of scattered tribes,” and it feels like the end of an era is coming. But she’s not willing to bow down in submission before the Romans, or to allow the tribes to disappear.

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Blood, Sex and a Hot Tub [Xena Rewatch 4.16-4.19]

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

preachAnother long gap between Xena posts – it’s not a coincidence that this season has been the main thing stopping me from pushing on through my Big Chronological Rewatch. But the light is at the end of the tunnel, the show is about to get seriously good again, and Season 5 brings with it the exciting potential of a handful of episodes I’ve never actually seen…

But in the meantime, there’s peace, love, the way of the warrior and a whole lot of meta involving hot tubs.

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She’s Responsible For Your Death! [Xena Rewatch 4.12-4.15]

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

check out his social skills4.12 If the Shoe Fits

You can tell this one is a comedy, because the camp factor is dialled up to 150% which with Xena seems somewhat unnecessary. There’s also an extra layer of Extreme Comedy Sound Effects. While it’s less scatological than In Sickness and in Health, If The Shoe Fits does continue the running joke about Gabrielle and Xena misusing each other’s belongings. In this case, Xena steals Gabrielle’s “favourite top” to tie up a warlord in the absence of rope, and um. That top, which Gabrielle has been wearing for more than a year? I LIKED THAT TOP. Proving that she has no other clothes, she wears a sack for the rest of the episode. But there’s a new costume change coming on the horizon…

Oh, and Aphrodite is officially Miss Piggy now. “Moi?” But I’m okay with that.

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Mr Stinky, I Presume [Xena Rewatch 4.9-4.11]

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

B-PI_854.9 Past Imperfect

While I haven’t loved many of the episodes so far in Season 4, I do appreciate that there’s more of a sense of an ongoing arc than ever before – and not just over a couple episodes. At the very beginning of this one, we see Gabrielle and Xena actually have the conversation they need to have about the vision Xena had of their deaths (and has been keeping secret from Gabrielle since they were reunited).

The conversation doesn’t actually solve the problem, but discussing the issue makes their relationship feel more equal. Gabrielle is very much Xena’s partner now, not her junior sidekick.

“Xena is challenged by an opponent who represents a reflection of herself” is certainly looking like the main theme of this season, as the plot is once again about a female antagonist who once learned destructive lessons from Bad Hair Xena and now uses them against her present, Awesome Hair self. As Xena battles her past and people who represent that version of herself, over and over again, Gabrielle’s own theme for this season is her growing realisation that she might have learned all she can from Xena. It’s time she stepped up as an adult to figure what OTHER things she wants from the world.

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Virtue is Its Own Reward [Xena Rewatch 4.5-4.8]

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

4.5 A Good Day

Any episode with Caesar and Pompey is worth watching. Right? This one also has the bonus appearance of Max from Neighbours who would later take on the role of Hades, but for now is playing a random deserter soldier with a family to protect. The “filthy civil war” of the Romans has come to Greek territory (repeat after me, “anything BC is good”), and a lone village has to muster the troops to defend their own land, with the help of Xena and Gabrielle.

There are plenty of dull bits in the first half of this one but Karl Urban’s Caesar more than makes up for it – and while it feels like we have to wade through a lot before we get to enjoy him on screen against Jeremy Callaghan’s Pompey Magnus and Xena herself, it is worth it.

It looks like a by the numbers story right up to the point where Xena, Pompey and Caesar all fall into their own bottle episode down a deep dark well, leaving the armies to fight without them.

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My Fungus is Spreading [Xena Rewatch 4.1-4.4]

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

4.1 Adventures in the Sin Trade Part 1

Ahh, those same old opening credits from Season 1, becoming less and less relevant.

Season 4 is the one I liked least of the entire Xena run, but given how long it took me to make my way through Season 3, previously my favourite, I am hoping to have my preconceptions challenged a little!

This episode is off to a good start, with an angry Xena chasing down the distracted and overworked god of the Underworld, Hades, across a battlefield which looks remarkably vivid for a single scene. The visuals of this season certainly have kicked it up a notch!

When she realises that Gabrielle’s dead spirit has almost certainly been filed with the Amazons, Xena ditches her beloved horse Argo and rides off across the Steppes (their ancestral land, apparently), burying her grief in a series of flashbacks about the last time she had anything to do with the Amazon afterlife…

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You Killed Me? [Xena Rewatch Season 3 Overview]

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

Let’s just say I meant to make this a separate post, and didn’t completely forget to add it to the end of Rolling Around Like Weasels.

Season 3 was always my favourite season of Xena, the one where the concept for the show really came together with some brilliant, epic stories. It’s also the season where the production team seemed to relax into trusting just how good their main actors were at handling comedy, drama, fight scenes and sometimes all three at once.

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Rolling Around Like Weasels [Xena Rewatch 3.20-3.22]

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

3.20 – Vanishing Act

“Somewhere in this castle he is chained up with two hundred locks… it’s going to take him at least an hour to get out of them.”

Another Autolycus episode! OK it’s been nearly a year for me because for some reason Season 3 got the better of me, but it does seem odd to have two apparently unlinked episodes with the same guest star right next to each other. Even odder that the only reference to previous episodes is that time Xena borrowed his body, and not the time they saw each other just last week. But of course as I keep reminding myself, this is the 90’s model of television, before season-long arcs were officially encouraged, when the ideal was to have episodes that could be shown in random order.

I especially shouldn’t complain about this because thanks to the marvels of Australian television, I did indeed watch most of Xena in entirely the wrong order. As of this rewatch there are still a couple of essential episodes I am yet to see!

In any case, this is a good old fashioned Autolycus romp, in which he is taking one of his rare tourist trips to the right side of Xena’s moral line, which means she has an excuse to enjoy a mad heist with him. (And indeed the whole question of moral lines is explored further, as it turns out that Auto is firmly in the ‘no killing people’ camp while Xena only draws the line at profiting from crime (okay, and cold-blooded execution).

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Armageddon When?? [Xena Rewatch Interlude]

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

It’s been a while again! Apparently I don’t have the stamina to watch my way through all six seasons of Xena in one go. Before I move on to finish off the last disc of Season 3, though, there’s a crossover I need to discuss from Xena’s parent/brother show, Hercules the Legendary Journeys.

Hercules had got pretty awesome by its Season 4 (concurrent with Xena’s Season 3), moving away from dull monster-or-god-of-the-week stories to make the most of its adaptable, talented New Zealand cast and crew. Season 4 was when they really started having fun and experimenting with the format, not only in the outrageous comedy and musical episodes, but also with some audacious and epic drama. Yes, really, Hercules.

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