Monday, March 26, 2007


I've long suspected that I'd enjoy the "Xena" TV series, but I've never actually seen any episodes. The ever generous Team Toronto Daily Muffy (Jason & Craig) loaned me the first two seasons so I can give them a taste and...well, I'm not sure what to think yet.

First off, it's not meant to be significant or monumental, and I'm still getting over that. It's a flippant, ironic, action-adventure series made for...who?

Disregarding the people who use their DVD's zoom and Step features to find out if Lucy Lawless has a meticulous wax job (she appears to), I'm trying to figure out who this show is aimed at. I've watched the first two episodes and they veer between sly adult jokes and little-kid moralizing. The best I can gather is that it's meant to be a "family show" with something for everybody, and it certainly excels at that.

I'm not hooked yet, but I'm going to watch a few more episodes to see how much it grabs me. It certainly is fun, and every episode has its exciting moments, but I tend to get easily bored by chariot races. I'm hoping they give Lawless some more substantial material, because she is a superb actress, and she waxes meticulously.

Incidentally my trip to Toronto reaped other rewards as well. On my way back to the bus station I decided on a whim to check out a used bookstore (because I'm looking for textbooks on object-oriented design, but more on that later). Since the aisles were small and I was lugging a huge suitcase I quickly realized my search was doomed, but I was too embarassed to just turn around and walk out. The only section accessible to me was the VHS tape collection, containing -- wonder of wonders! -- every videotape for the first six seasons of Doctor Who...for $2.99 each!

So now I've rounded out my Hartnell/Troughton collection, though I really don't know if I can sit through "The Gunslingers" a second time.


by chance said...

I don't know where you're at in the show, but it most definitely gets better.

Personally, I was hooked by the first episode but by season two (specifically th episode 'Destiny') you should definitely be hooked. It was the first Xena episode that made me think, WOW and thoroughly impress me. I don't want to give away any spoilers so you'll see for yourself when you get there. lol ;-) And of course Lucy Lawless is always good. She is the best actor in the far. She's a little shabby in the beginning, what with different accents/tone of voice and uncertainty of how to play the Xena character, but by the end of the first season she has it down to near perfection.

Adam Thornton said...

It's certainly all about Lawless, though the Gabrielle character is shaping up to be fun. And for sure there's a LOT of shabby secondary actors, but I guess that's typical (and it can't be easy to find good union actors in New Zealand who can credibly fake an American accent).

I've just finished the second episode of the first season, and though I'm not hooked it's still fun to watch, so I'll keep with it.

BTW, is Xena's past supposed to be a mystery, or do they assume you watched the Hercules series (which I didn't)?

VanillaJ said...

For a period in my life, Xena was the only show that didn't aggravate my deep depression. Don't ask me if I remember anything about the characters or plot line, I only know the show didn't make me more depressed. Subsequent watches have suggested this show in not really my taste, at least with mental health restored. However, I am forever grateful to Xena handling me gently while kicking the asses of her foes!

Adam Thornton said...

Xena sounds like good therapy. Children's TV shows got me through my long, deep, depressed period, but "The Addams Family" and "Animaniacs" helped the most.

Archie comics also got me through the first two years of the Iraq war.

by chance said...

Technically, no not really. But if you like to be thorough you can buy the "Xena trilogy" on (or wherever you can find it) that contains just the 3 episodes the Xena character first appears on Hercules (which in the overall time line, is at the end of her time as a villain; the back story is lengthier over time although they overdid it much to my dismay in season six). You'll be warned though; the character is slightly undeveloped and so is Lucy's acting. lol Its incredible how much she's improved since than, even just by the first season of her own show.

She also played 2 other characters in the Hercules show before Xena (the NZ acting pool is rather small...) which you can see in Hercules' first season box set...but I wouldn't necessarily recommend looking into it unless you're a pretty enthusiastic fan of LL...or just for the sake of seeing her with different hair colors, I don't know.

Personally I'm not too fond of Gabrielle, I find her rather useless besides being Xena's sidekick and cooch-worshipping lover...and in general I barely even acknowledge her presence most of the time anyway. lol

Adam Thornton said...

Well, I just finished "Cradle of Hope" (the fourth episode), and I'm starting to enjoy it. I'm not at the point where I'm eagerly looking forward to the next one, but I think I'm getting there.

The writing is excellent. For every dud (Xena reveals the blatantly obvious true meaning of the infant prophecy, and the king says "I was SO BLIND!") there's a dozen witty, surprising moments. It helps that the show doesn't take itself too seriously.

And for all her cooch-worshipping, I DO like Gabrielle. I think she's a good Xena-foil and she DOES possess skills that Xena lacks.

Either Lucy Lawless has REALLY perfect teeth, or they're putting some kind of whitener on them. And I find myself wondering if SHE is really doing the "ai-yiy-yiy-yiy-yiy!" thing, or if she has a "stunt ululator."

Anonymous said...

Not only is that her going "ai-yiy-yiy-yiy-yiy!", she also sings in later episodes.

If you can make it through season one, it really does get better.

I, for one, loved the camp value. And the fact that no matter how broad MY shoulders looked in a dress, Lucy had broader ones!

I think we have the Xena trilogy somewhere on the shelves if you want backstory :)

Adam Thornton said...

The shoulders! I know! They REALLY struck me in the "nautch dancer" scene of "Cradle of Hope." How does a woman end up with shoulders like that, yet still have hips? It's a mystery!

But it also means WE're not so freakish. :)

The camp is appealing, and so is the self-aware, "wink-wink" quality of the scripts. I'm gonna keep watching...

Speaking of her singing, I watched a clip of her performing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" on "Celebrity Duets." Either she was nervous or the song didn't suit her range, because golly, it was just so bad.

Liked her in "Battlestar Galactica," though.

Anonymous said...

If "Xena" doesn't satisfy your bad-television-habit, wait until we lend you "Cleopatra 2525".

On the upside, "Xena" and "Hercules" did wonders for the fetish shops in NZ. All the old stock made it's way on camera.

Warning - stay away from the animated Xena/Hercules movie. It's REALLY bad

Adam Thornton said...

I'm enjoying Xena more and more...I'll make a more detailed post soon!

And oh yeah, I see what you mean about the fetish gear, and the camp!