Season 2, Volume 2
The appeal of this show is still a mystery to many people, it seems (could it be Xena's blue eyes, auburn hair, and that leather peplum outfit?), although it has a devoted and growing fan-base. I liked the astute blending of random Greek and Roman mythologies with genre clichés, the often knowingly comic-book style of dialogue, the broadly character-based humour, and those remarkably energetic stunts. The thing I found most irritating is when the heroine does this warbling Arabian type battle cry when she charges into a fight. It sets my teeth on edge. A more than adequate timewaster if you're in the right mood, then, Xena Warrior Princess offers plenty of campy fun, mostly decent special effects and, of course, lashings of superhuman kung fu (using trampolines, not wires).
To work around an injury the lead actress suffered, the first couple of episodes in this package - Destiny and The Quest, see the heroine get (temporarily) killed, before the right combination of time-passing subplots and magical incantations catch up with Lawless' convalescent R 'n' R. In Destiny's flashback, we return to the days when Xena was still a villainess and her marauding army has captured Julius Caesar. The follow-up sees Xena's spirit incarnated in the body of a thief, played by genre superstar Bruce Campbell, to delightfully wacky comic effect! In A Necessary Evil, there's a bunch of Amazon chicks in combat bikinis fighting with one of their own who has snacked on ambrosia (food of the gods) and gained sufficient superpowers to conquer the women's tribe. A Day In The Life tracks Xena's comedic attempts to save a peasant village from a huge giant, and features some lively banter between the two heroines - especially together in the hot tub!
Sam Raimi's younger brother Ted (who used to be a regular on the ill-fated TV sci-fi series, seaQuest DSV) gets to play the macho womanising hero in For Him The Bell Tolls, when Aphrodite's love-versus-lust spell breaks up a happy couple. One of the better stories this season, The Execution, sees Trancers star Tim Thomerson in a welcome guest role as an escaped convict who gets hunted by Xena. But is he an innocent man, or is demon alcohol to blame for the murder he's accused of? Blind Faith reinforces the idea of Xena's invincibility in combat, when she's still able to trounce all-comers even when she's rendered sightless after a duel. In Ulysses, Xena defies the wrath of sea god Poseidon to help the voyager of legend survive his long journey home. The sirens are diverting enough but guest star, John D'Aquino, has all the charisma of a telephone pole.
The Price is undoubtedly the standout episode of this boxset. A horror story on a minor-epic scale, this features a cannibal-tribe called the Horde, which attack a military outpost and crucify many of their victims along the riverbank where the heroines stop to fish. Inevitably, Xena takes command of the besieged garrison, but how can she motivate a defeated army to victory? The Lost Mariner features another distinguished guest star in the form of Tony Todd, playing the accursed character of the title with all the heavyweight tragedy he can muster. He sails into hell and high water with Xena aboard his ship, and the visual effects include an impressively generated whirlpool. The season ends on a happy note with A Comedy Of Eros. Love is in the air, magic arrows, too, as a heavenly cherub has all emotions running hot and cold, including Xena and a swarthy warlord.
DVD extras: just a photo gallery (on Disc three), and episode selection options on each.