Created by Rob Tapert
Starring Lucy Lawless, Renee O’Connor, Michael Hurst, Ted Raimi, Adrienne Wilkinson, Karl Urban, Alexandra Tidings, Kevin Smith, Michelle Ang
- Series trivia
- Season six photo gallery
- Interviews with cast and crew
- Audio commentaries with cast and crew
- Creature effects featurette
- Xena Convention featurette
- New on-set footage
- Alternate director’s cuts and deleted scenes
- Cast and crew bios
- Character profiles
- Production drawings and sketches
Released by: Anchor Bay.
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Get it if you’re a fan, and check it out even if you aren’t.
[ad#longpost]Xena: Warrior Princess was a television phenomenon, not the least of which because never before had a female-led show ruled the ratings so completely and for so long. The chosen of the war-god Ares with a sordid, violent past, Xena (Lawless) was rehabilitated by Hercules during his show and branched out on her own with a bardic side-kick named Gabrielle (O’Connor), who would become a warrior in her own right. This sixth and final season would tie up many loose threads and send Xena and Gabrielle out with a bang; you must admit it’s suitably dramatic, even if you resent the brutality and suddenness of it. While there is a great deal of pain and suffering in this final season, as befits the end of an epic of redemption, there is also a healthy dose of comedy and joy.
The twenty-two episode season opens with an episode called “Coming Home.” Ares is hunting Amazons in search of the ambrosia that will restore his divinity and end his stint as a mortal; the Fates show up in disguise and trick him, pretending to be Xena, Gabrielle, and Eve. Xena and Ares in mortal one-on-one combat and the Amazon army ready to face off against the vaster Ares army are high points. Further episodes in the season have the ladies reenacting their own version of the Norse Ring Saga, installing Ares on a farm in hiding, killing the king of Hell and fighting for Lucifer as the new king, and even dealing with their own clones in an alternate real-world future. The quality of the episodes is, as always, a mixed bag, but they are in general quite good. Of particular quality is “Who’s Gurkhan?”, an episode that not only provides lots of fan service in the form of harem dancing, but also should please those fans constantly seeking out the lesbian subtexts. “Path of Vengeance,” which puts Eve on trial for her wrongs against the Amazons, and “The God You Know”, where Archangel Michael tells Xena about a new danger from the undead Caligula, are also strong episodes.
The highlight of this collection, however, is of course the final two-part episode, “A Friend in Need.” It seems that long ago, when Xena was an evil warlord, she became involved with the quest for vengeance of a young Japanese girl named Akemi. Akemi’s father, Yodoshi, a murderer, was killed by Akemi and Xena, and is now an evil ghost, controlling 40,000 souls, for whom Xena feels responsible, since she sees herself as “creating” Yodoshi. Japan is on stylish display as Xena, Gabrielle, and a group of ghosts fight, die, live, and love in order to defeat Yodoshi and his samurai hoard.
Anachronisms are the rule of the day on this show, so you need to leave your pedantry behind as you enjoy the series. Sure, at the time of ancient Greece, mystical katanas were a little unheard-of, and it’s a little disorienting to have one ancient Greek duo travel back and forth across the known world (and beyond), meeting samurai, hungry ghosts, gods, demons, angels, Beowulf, and more, but that’s part of the fun of the show. It’s a kind of archeo-cultural wish fulfillment. You want to meet Cleopatra? Done. You want to have dinner with a samurai or rescue young virgins from sacrifices? Done and done. You can even make a god of war milk a cow like some reject from a Harvest Moon game if you want to. You can even be a brave, wise, and beautiful warrior princess, and show the boys how it’s done.
As an additional note, many Christian fans have complained about the overall very negative way in which Christianity is frequently portrayed in this show, including an archangel who acts in a very evil way, and the re-writing and softening of the character of Lucifer. If you are sensitive about such depictions in your pan-theological fictional shows, then be forewarned that this season will annoy you. If, on the other hand, you don’t expect Christianity to be treated any differently than the other religions on the day, such as Buddhism or Norse Paganism, then you won’t let it bother you.
The features are thick and heavy on this release. We get a lovely season six photo gallery that screams out to be made into a screensaver. We get a huge passel of interviews with cast and crew, including Lawless, O’Connor, Michael Hurst, writers such as R.J. Stewart, designers, costumers, and many more. These interviews alone will keep fans busy for some time to come and many of them delightfully reference specific episodes and elements that fans might be curious about. We also get audio commentaries on several episodes that go above the “it sure was fun to work with you” level and actually discuss mechanics, mystical elements, symbolism, continuity, historical perspective, and more. Quality.
There’s also a very good SFX featurette that discusses the monsters and creatures in depth and is interesting even to non-technical types. There is a selection of bloopers, which are oddly mostly from season one, and some deleted scenes–most of which should have been deleted, but fans who aren’t quite ready to let go will appreciate the bonus time. The deluge continues with another featurette, this one on the Xena Convention 2004. Assorted other features include production drawings and sketches, on-set footage, and some alternate director’s cuts of various scenes from the show. All in all, there’s really nothing more one could ask, except maybe scripts.
Fans of the show will of course already want this, but you aren’t yet a fan of the show, then the season and the DVD set just might convince you. While no ending for a beloved series could really be said to end “well,” this one ends at least dramatically and in a way that uses many of the important aspects of Xena’s personality, especially her need for redemption. O’Connor and Lawless are skilled actresses–at least now if they weren’t in the beginning–and their work on these final episodes is by turns heartrending, sweet, powerful, and strong. They have become people with real foibles and skills, as well as back-stories that flesh out their personalities and make you cry for them when they suffer, and suffer they will.