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Xena: Warrior Princess
Everything you'll ever need to know, and more...
The Premise:"In a time of ancient gods, warlords and kings, a land in turmoil cried out for a hero. She was Xena, a mighty princess forged in the heat of hat-tie..." Each week these words lead the viewer into the world of Xena: Warrior Princess, a bad girl turned good who travels across Ancient Greece battling evil and attempting to atone for her previous crimes.
Background: Writer John Schulian wanted to tell the tale of the woman who came between Hercules and Iolaus. Producer Robert Tapert wanted to create an uncompromising female character and bring the energy of the Hong Kong action movies to television. As a result, nasty Xena and her army were introduced in a three episode arc during the first season of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. When Universal cancelled Vanishing Son (the drama which followed Hercules), the now repentant Xena provided a ready-made replacement.
First Run: The pilot, Sins of the Past, aired in America on 4th September 1995. Sky 2 brought the series to Britain on 8th September 1996, with Channel 5 following on 12th July 1997.
Number of Episodes: The first season consisted of 24 one-hour episodes and the second season 22.
The Good- Guys: Xena, played by New Zealander Lucy Lawless, is accompanied on her travels by a young bard named Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor). They are occasionally joined by the clumsy but good-hearted Joxer (Ted Raimi of seaQuest fame). And not forgetting Hercules (Kevin Sorbo), Iolaus (Michael Hurst) and Salmoneus (Robert Trebor).
The Bad Guys: Ares, God of War (Kevin Smith, who also appeared in Hercules as the hero's half-brother Iphicles), and Callisto (Hudson Leick), the warrior woman driven mad by a lust for revenge against Xena, whose army was responsible for the deaths of her family.
And isn't that...? There are many familiar faces to be found during the course of the series. Of particular note are: Bruce Campbell (the Evil Dead films, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr, Lois & Clark and American Gothic) reprising his Hercules role as Autolycus -the King of Thieves, John D'Aquino (whose other credits include seaQuest and two appearances as the brother of Sam Beckett's mentally handicapped host, Jimmy, in Quantum Leap) as Ulysses, and Tony Todd (Kurn in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and an elderly Jake Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's The Visitor and, of course, Candyman) as Cecrops, the lost mariner.
Best of the Bunch:
For comedy, The Royal Couple of Thieves, a laugh riot thanks to the chemistry between Lawless and the irrepressible Bruce Campbell, as Xena and Autolycus join forces to recover a stolen artifact. Additionally, A Day in the Life, an episode which shows
just what the title says in a multitude of hilarious ways and is notable not only for the infamous bathtub scene but also for the rather ignominious fate suffered by one of Gabrielle's scrolls. For drama, Destiny, in which we learn more of Xena's murky past and of her encounter with Julius Caesar and, lastly, The Greater Good, which finally allows Gabrielle to come of age after Xena's apparent death.
Bottom of the Barrel: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, whose sole purpose seems to be to titillate by having a Bacchae-possessed Gabrielle bite Xena's neck.Also, A Solstice Carol, a by-the-numbers Christmas episode, bogged down with the inevitable American schmaltz. Yuck.