GUEST STARS, CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
COMMENTARY 1 by Beth Gaynor
COMMENTARY 2 by KSZoneW
TAROT STUFF [commentary] by Jerri Andreasen
THEORIES AS TO WHAT ALL THE STUFF MEANS?
WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
EDITS/CUTS DONE ON USA & SCI-FI CHANNEL
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Danielle Cormack (Ephiny)
Karl Urban (Julius Caesar)
Marton Csokas (Khrafstar)
Willa O'Neill (Lila)
David Taylor (Solan)
Daniel Sing (Ming T'ien/The Torment)
Julie Moran (Gabrielle's pal)
Singing Warrior #1
Singing Warrior #2
Singing Warrior #3
Singing Warrior #4
Singing Villager #1
Singing Villager #2
Singing Villager #3
Singing Villager #4
Written by Steven L. Sears and Chris Manheim
Edited by Robert Field
Directed by Oley Sassone
Lyrics by Joseph LoDuca, Pamela Phillips Oland, Dennis Spiegel
Musical Staging by Jeff Calhoun
Supervising Music Editor: Philip Tallman
"What's Still Unwritten".
Lyrics: Pamela Phillips Oland.
Callisto: Michelle Nicastro,
Keith Black, Robert Bugar, Gia Warner
"Joxer the Mighty".
Lyrics: Steven L. Sears and Chris Manheim.
Joxer: Theodore "Ted" Raimi
"War & Piece".
Lyrics: Pamela Phillips Oland.
Ares: Kevin Smith;
Lila: Willa O'Neill;
Keith Black, Ron Coden, Judd Mather;
Keith Black, Julie Moran, April Arabian Tini, Gia Warner
"Hearts Are Hurting".
Lyrics: Dennis Spiegel.
Xena: Lucy Lawless,
Gabrielle: Susan Wood
"Hate is the Star".
Lyrics: Pamela Phillips Oland.
Xena: Lucy Lawless
"The Love of Your Love".
Lyrics: Joseph LoDuca.
Xena: Lucy Lawless
THE MOST TALKED ABOUT EPISODE OF THE SEASON
(Ares sits on a throne.) (Peasants sing, through flowers.)
IS FINALLY HERE.
(Gabrielle lays on a sacrificial altar, Xena raises a knife above her.)
AN ALL MUSICAL ADVENTURE OF XENA
(An electrical field or light covers Gabrielle.)
COMING NEXT WEEK.
(Men chanting "Xena")
Callisto: You came here for the truth.
THE WARRIOR PRINCESS WILL BE PUT TO THE ULTIMATE TEST
Xena: Alright, Callisto. Where are we?
(Callisto dressed as the Fool)
Callisto: Xena be warned. Xena beware. By closing you eyes, you can see what isn't there. Xena be calm, open your eyes. Lies may truth and truth may be lies.
(Gabrielle and Xena, dressed as the Emperess, fighting. Xena with sword over Gabreille on the ground)
(Xena dressed as the High Priestess)
(Ares dressed and the Emperer, throws Xena a helmet)
(Xena and Gabrielle walking through gauntlets)
THE MOST TALKED ABOUT EPISODE IS FINALLY HERE. YOU WON'T BELIEVE YOU EARS!
Villagers singing: We love peace. With the ducks and goats and geece.
Warriors singing: You and me love war! Doesn't matter what it's for!
XENA'S FIRST ALL MUSICAL ADVENTURE
(Ares on throne)
Warriors: War! (repeated)
(Xena in black cloak with knife over Gabrielle who's tied to an alter)
BATTLE ON, XENA
TV GUIDE PROMO
The conflict between Xena and Gabrielle comes to a head in this lavish musical-fantasy episode set in a tarot-card dreamworld called Illusia. Why a musical? "It allowed us to express emotions that were best said in this way," co-executive producer Rob Tapert says. And those emotions are raw: in last week's episode, Gabrielle's evil daughter Hope killed Xena's son Solan, and Xena blames Gabrielle. "Xena really wants to kill Gabrielle," Tapert notes. Their parallel, phantasmagorical journeys dominate the storyline, which won't die completely as long as Hope is alive. (She'll turn up soon on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.)
"The Bitter Suite". Xena and Gabrielle are bound by hatred in a dreamworld.
Xena and Gabrielle, now mortal enemies, tumble over a cliff while fighting and land in a dreamworld called Illusia in this musical-fantasy episode.
Xena and Gabrielle's bitter conflict reaches its climax when both are transported to the dream world of Illusia to settle their mutual differences.
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
1st RELEASE: 02-02-98
An AA average of 5.8
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 9th with 6.9
(2) XENA 11th with 5.8
(3) STAR TREK DS9 14th with 5.3
(4) HERCULES 16th with 4.7
2nd RELEASE: 07/13/98
An AA average of 3.7
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 9th with 5.0
(2) WALKER: TEXAS RANGER 15th with 4.0
(3) XENA/NYPD BLUE 18th with 3.7
(4) HERCULES with 3.3
3rd RELEASE: 12/28/98
An AA average of ??
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES/ER 11th with 5.1
(2) STAR TREK: DS9 19th with 4.3
(3) XENA ??? unknown
(4) HERCULES ??? unknown
This synopsis is by Bluesong.
Gabrielle is with the Ephiny and the Amazons. She is in a purging hut, trying to heal the emotional wounds created in "Maternal Instincts." Joxer is also there, speaking to Ephiny about the fact that Gabrielle has been in the hut for over three days. Joxer wants her out of the hut. Gabrielle has a vision of Callisto, who tells Gabrielle that everything is Xena's fault, for she created both of them. Gabrielle screams out "No!" and Joxer goes in the hut.
Xena stands alone atop a snow-covered mountain. Ares appears, and tells her everything is Gabrielle's fault, and her path of atonement for past sins is useless. She must go back to her old ways. She rides into the Amazon village. Ephiny and the other Amazon warriors try to stop her, to no avail. Joxer emerges from the hut with Gabrielle, and Xena pulls out her chakram. She throws it at Gabrielle, but Ephiny hits Xena's hand just as she throws and Xena misses. Ephiny tells Joxer to run. Gabrielle looks at Xena, says her name, climbs out of Joxer's arms, and then starts to run away. Xena pulls her whip from a horse's saddle (an Argo-lite episode!) and snags Gabrielle's ankles. She pulls her friend down, jumps on the horse, and the horse drags Gabrielle to a cliff. Gabrielle is bloody, battered, and unconscious. Xena picks her up and holds her high above her head to throw her over the cliff. Gabrielle regains consciousness and kicks Xena in the face with her heel. Xena falls backward. Gabrielle stands up and looks at Xena. "I hate you!" she screams. She runs at Xena and they both go over the cliff.
They land in water and look dead. Callisto's voice reads a poem about life and fish, among other things, and she pulls Xena from the water. She bends down and her lips touch Xena's lips, reviving her. She is dressed kind of like "Little Miss Muffet" in an "Alice in Wonderland" world. When Xena asks where they are she tells her (in song) that they are in the Land of Illusia, where "lies may be truth and truth may be lies." She picks up Xena's chakram and it turns into the wheel of fate. "Can you undo what you create?" Callisto asks. Callisto is Xena's "guide" through this strange land. She tells Xena that she isn't the one who betrayed her; Gabrielle is.
Gabrielle arrives in Illusia, coming through the water after Callisto talks about purity of life, etc. Joxer greets Gabrielle with a "Joxer the Mighty, Master of Geography" song. Gabrielle, like Xena, has no clothes on, but her nakedness is much more pronouced and obvious. Joxer gives her clothing.
Xena arrives at a castle, where worshipping soldiers welcome her back and proclaim themselves as her true friends. Ares greets Xena, too. Gabrielle finds herself in Poteidaia, where in song they say everybody vegetates and nothing changes. The townspeople remark about Gabrielle's blood innocence and how much it has cost her. Gabrielle's sister Lila says that "If your child had lived we would surely make her welcome too." Xena and Ares sing about war being Xena's destiny. Lila tells Gabrielle that "Xena was no friend, she worked to twist your mind" and gives Gabrielle a scythe. Gabrielle carries the scythe toward a door. Xena takes a sword and walks toward a door. The door opens as the soldiers sing "war" and the villagers sing "peace." Xena and Gabrielle look at each other and then Gabrielle goes after Xena with the scythe. Xena quickly disarms Gabrielle, holds the sword above her, and kills her.
Ares sings to Xena and tells her how now he is her "rock, strength and support" and asks her to "come melt into me." He tells her that "now that you've made the kill you're just like me with as evil a will." They dance around Gabrielle's body. Ares dips Xena, and she is beside Gabrielle. She drops to the ground beside the body. Callisto appears. "Did that ease your suffering? .... All of your anger will poison you yet," she says. Ares says, "Ding dong the bitch is dead." Everyone disappears.
Xena holds Gabrielle's body. The door opens again, and Gabrielle emerges. The body disappears. Gabrielle can't believe Xena killed "her" even as an illusion. Xena is greatly confused. Gabrielle sees the wheel of fate; it is broiling with fire and thunder. Suddenly Xena and Gabrielle are in a large building with pillars. It is dark and scary. When they speak loudly of the past everything echoes so much they cannot hear each other. Gabrielle accuses Xena of always making the decisions. Xena tells Gabrielle to tell her how she feels right now. Gabrielle says, "I hurt inside. Don't you?" Xena sings of her suffering. Gabrielle sings of her suffering. They have an argument about who is at fault. Gabrielle says that if Xena had never gone after Caesar (in "The Deliverer") none of the bad things would have happened; Xena says Gabrielle should have done what she was told. The wheel of fate begins to flame, and the arms of Dahak reach out and take Gabrielle. Xena grabs her and tries to save her, but Gabrielle goes through the wheel. Xena follows.
They end up in the temple of Dahak. "This is where it all started," Gabrielle says. She is frightened, but Xena says they have to go through whatever this is together. A dark spirit rises and swirls around, singing about sowing the seeds of anger and hatred without speaking about the problems, letting small things grow to become bigger problems, and Xena realizes that hatred is what they're fighting.
Gabrielle is suddenly chained to the altar, and Xena is tied to a cross (as in "Destiny") at Gabrielle's head. An illusion of Xena takes a knife and rises it above Gabrielle; an illusion of Gabrielle takes a hammer and swings it at Xena's legs. Xena screams for Gabrielle as she watches the image of herself attempting to stab Gabrielle. They sing to one another about how they never thought they would reach this point in their friendship, where there were barriers and problems. Then they know that they need to turn to love again. The images explode. The wheel disappears, revealing a nice, pleasant forest glen, and Solan is there. Water separates them from the temple and the glen, and Gabrielle runs through the water. She turns to Xena. Xena puts her hand through the water and it burns her. The dark spirit behind her laughs. Xena tells Gabrielle she can't come through. The spirit removes its hood; it is Ming T'ien. Xena tells Gabrielle she killed him. Xena sings to Gabrielle, "I thought I could protect you from the truth, protect your innocence and youth .... I'm sorry please help me forgive me." She turns to Solan and sings to him, apologizing for not being there. Gabrielle reaches through the water and takes Xena's hand, pulling her out of the temple. Ming T'ien explodes.
They embrace, then Xena goes to Solan. She hugs him as Gabrielle watches. Xena tells Solan she loves him and always will. Suddenly Xena and Gabrielle are back on the beach, and Xena is holding Gabrielle. They laugh and roll in the waves, happy to be friends again.
COMMENTARY 1 by Beth Gaynor
COMMENTARY 2 by KSZoneW
TAROT STUFF [commentary] by Jerri Andreasen
THEORIES AS TO WHAT ALL THIS STUFF MEANS
Question: How is it that Xena and Gabrielle wind up in Illusia?
02-17-98. From Bat Morda. I think that waterfall was centered over a funky vortex like they have all over the place in Sedona Az. Some sort of feedback loop was created when that INDESTRUCTABLE toga met in the rinse cycle with the vortextian forces. And I think the planets were aligned just so, AND somehow, somewhere a warp core was involved. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
WHIMPERS. MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
09-16-00. Willa (Lila) O'Neill was at the Panathenaea Convention in London, England September 2, 2000. She mentioned that she did her own singing in THE BITTER SUITE. She explained that she had to audition to Joseph LoDuca (the composer) in Detorit by telephone. Then when they recorded the songs, the singing was done in a sound studio in New Zealand, but the actual taping was done in Detroit. After taping it, they then played it back while filming the episode. She found it weird to hear her voice singing during the filming.
02-05-00. Steve Sears, a former co-executive producer of XENA, appeared on the NetForum under his Tyldus rubrick, and shared the following about the rift between Xena and Gabrielle:[question being responded to] ((I am more concerned about your interpretation of 'the rift' and whether you believe it's been handled appropriately. I would have to say it was not. A recent spoiler indicates that for "God Fearing Child" the rift may be healing. However, the audience was left too long in a daze after he abusiveness of the rift episodes. ))
I can't speak of God Fearing Child. I don't know how that ended up. But my interpretation of the Rift was that it's major flaw (on a series level) was to be too serialized. I believe that's why we lost a lot of casual viewers. Now, on the story level, it was another case of the tiger's tail. The series had changed incredibly because of that. It lost a lot of its innocence and became more hardened. At the last Xena con I spoke at, I asked the audience if they had seen the reruns on the USA channel. People cheered and applauded. I then said "What series is THAT?" And I meant it. We had changed so much that it was almost unrecognizeable as the same series. But once committed to the direction, we had to play it out. Was I happy with it? No, but because it went on too long. We should have seen that at the beginning, but with every dramatic corner we turned, we saw another crevice to explore. And we were greedy. Soon, we were so far in that getting back out would have taken a year's worth of depressing episodes. The musical was an attempt to short cut our way, but not to fix everything. It couldn't. As I have said in interviews, the musical only served to get us back to a point that we could rebuild. So, I look at the Rift as been a long deep tunnel that we are now seeing the light to. HOWEVER, one thing I was very proud of. And that was that, for the most part, the growth of Gabrielle was incredible. She was forced to grow and she adapted. She learned from her mistakes (and a few times, from ours) and became a stronger person. She truly started to become the hero that I saw in her a long time ago.
Interestingly enough, a lot of people have commented on how the comedies were more slapstick during this time. The reason for that is that we found it hard to do light comedy without, somehow, touching on the over arcing "rift" and dropping the episode into an introspective drama. So the comedies became more slapstick. Sillier, if you will.
01-31-99. Chris Manheim was interviewed by WHOOSH in the February 1999 issue. Here's what she said about HERE SHE COMES...
...People have literally written books on this episode. There's tons of symbolism, tarot imagery, and so forth.
 All of which you can credit to Rob [Tapert]. He wanted to do it in tarot, that was his vision of it all along. Steve [Sears] and I bought books on the tarot and we delved into it. It's confusing for people to follow. Musicals are difficult to follow. You rely so much on the lyrics to tell you what is normally said in dialogue. I think our lyricists did a great job, but I also think at times it's a confusing episode to follow.
 It is one of those episodes you don't mind seeing parts of several times and there's a lot to see and hear. I'm sure you've heard about debates regarding the so-called "Gab-Drag". I've heard Steve comment that the reason why that was done was to drive home a certain point, but originally, it wasn't thought people would get that point so quickly. He thought perhaps the Gab-Drag might have gone on a bit longer that he would have liked. I was curious to know how you felt about it.
 Having just seen it recently, I thought it was pretty intense. I understand it from an emotional point of view, but it's hard to watch. I don't like making TV that people find difficult to watch. I don't mind them getting churned up emotionally, but when you're cringing, I don't know that that's a good thing.
 Did you accomplish everything you set out to accomplish with that episode?
 I hope so. I honestly am not sure. In my mind, the rift arc is settled, but I don't know if others feel that the episode satisfactorily delivered that.
 It's kind of like getting a big electric shock. You're not sure if you approach that thing again you'll get zapped or not.
 Yeah, and there's so much to resolve and a matter of balance. Is her lie equal to what Gabrielle did, and so forth. I'm not sure we ended up with a balanced episode. It was very difficult, a tough assignment.
 Did you write some of the lyrics as well?
 I wrote a few. But mainly it was the lyricists that Joe [LoDuca] hired.
From Petra de Jong. I watched a the tape of today's episode on German television 'The Bitter Suite' (yes, it's entirely dubbed in German, even the songs, will report about that later today) and surprise, there's Lucy (in Xena garb) announcing the ep in German!! Just a couple of seconds of Lucy speaking German but it's fun (and quite understandable if I might add).
12-21-98. From R.J. Stewart's (the executive producer of XWP) RealHollywood 12-15-98 chat:
La Sainte asks "How closely do you, Steve Sears and Liz Friedman work with Joe LoDuca regarding the composition of his music for "Xena?""
R.J.Stewart says "Thank you. Not closely at all. For Crusader, Joe asked me what kind of music I imagined behind .. when the crusader is listening to the gin .. we had a discussion .. other than that, it's really the only input I have. Certainly during the making of "The Bittersweet" the writers communicated more with Joe than usual. Whenever there's a song that takes lyrics there's communication there.. but I'm pretty sure that Liz has more contact and I know Rob is talking to Joe all the time. So, the more interesting answer would come from Rob."
10-29-98. Sharon Delaney shared some info about BITTER SUITE at the Phoenix Creation Con (05-31-98):
Kevin Smith was unable to rehearse the tango sequence in THE BITTER SUITE (58/312) with Lucy Lawless because Lucy sprained her knee getting off Tilly (Argo). Kevin had to rehearse with a dance instructor a foot shorter than Lucy. All ended well as Lucy's knee healed in a week, and Lucy was much easier to dance with because of her height.
In Sharon's interview with Renee O'Connor, she told Renee that fans were calling the opening scene in THE BITTER SUITE "the Gab drag." Sharon said that Renee just dissolved into giggles. She said that Renee told her that she filmed the "vengeance" part of the scene where she was hoisted up in the air by Xena before the drag behind the horse scene, and consequently before she saw the footage of how badly she was hurt. She said that if she had seen what they had done to her, she would have acted a little more dead in the ending of the scene.
10-29-98. From Joanna. In the 3rd issue from the Xena club there were interviews with Lucy and all the writers involved in the rift. One common theme was that they were all surprised and a little regretful at how the 'gabdrag' turned out. Lucy had no idea at all (she mentioned that she was only in a couple shots and simply had no clue what had been filmed for the dragging). The writers, even Rob, all said that it was longer and harsher than they had expected.
10-29-98. From Beth Gaynor. During the Cherry Hill Creation Con ():
Danielle Cormack (Ephiny) joked that Ephiny is spending the summer rerun season putting a Mafia contract out on Xena in revenge for breaking her arm in BITTER SUITE.
Hudson Leick (Callisto) confirmed that the singing in Bitter Suite was not her own, although she did do the opening chant. She called singing for the public a "very bad idea." She was allowed to sit in on the taping of her songs, and said the Broadway actress who sang for her was a very sweet woman. In fact, she reported having to run into the recording studio a couple of times to coach "Too sweet! Badder! Evil!" She loved the final result, as did the crowd, judging by the applause.
05-29-98. In a TVGuide Chat (tvgen.com) on 05-11-98, Hudson Leick when asked "How much singing did you actually do in "Bitter Suite"?", she answered "Only the chanting".
05-29-98. In a RealHollywood Chat (nee Universal Chat) on 04-14-98, Steve Sears, the executive producer of XWP said that the "Gabdrag" from "The Bitter Suite", where Xena dragged Gabby to the edge of the cliff, probably would not be mentioned by Gabrielle to Xena; that it will be assumed that they dealt with it off camera.
02-17-98. From a 02-12-97 Austin Chronicle interview with Renee O'Connor.
Austin Chronicle: So, you all are still shooting episodes for the season?
Renee O'Connor: Right. We're shooting a big episode right now. We're shooting a musical. [Laughter all around] I know, I know! That was my reaction! Especially since I can't sing!
AC: Was this a result of Lucy Lawless' role as Rizzo in Grease? What's up with this??
RO: During fight scenes we used to joke around, "Wouldn't it be funny if we were singing: `I'm going to killllll yooooou!' as someone gets sliced?" Last August, our executive producer, Rob Tapert, starting talking about actually doing a musical, then making it an opera. He's a huge fan of opera and Lucy is an opera singer. Well, it's turned out to be sort of this rock & roll opera. It's set in a fantasy land called Illusia. Gabrielle and Xena go there because they're so full of hate for each other after everything they've been through. It's quite fascinating. I'm not singing.
AC: Does the character sing?
RO: Gabrielle does sing. They've hired a woman... [Laughs] I'm lip-synching! I feel like, y'know, I'm watching MTV video awards, singing along like... the Spice Girls! I was really intimidated by it to begin with. I thought, "Oh no, I've got to sing in front of the crew!" croaking away. But it's been so much fun.
AC: Is it loaded with a lot of opera in-jokes?
RO: There's no real opera singing. It's mostly songs that you might hear in an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. [Tittering] It sounds crazy cheesy. We're making fun of ourselves but then all of a sudden there's this element where you might relate to what the characters are going through and it might affect you in some way. It's more of a "rock" opera.
AC: A Xena rock opera! Xena is such a great show. I began watching because of a recommendation from a film buff I trust and because of Sam Raimi... and I'm not any sort of academic fan of his films, but I thought, oh cool, this might have some weird Harryhausen or Pal type of animation stuff or shots, you know? There's an intelligent following, above and beyond the clamoring fans....
RO: That's because of Sam and Rob. They like to deal with obscure characters, people fighting their dark side. That seems to be a theme running throughout most of their work. I think that this character, Xena, falls right into this. Rob's just having a ball. Especially with the musical. The musical is his baby. For him to just try something so bizarre for television.
02-17-98. From an AoL Xena Digital Words chat on 02-13-98 with Steven Sears, executive producer.
Question: ...are the Persians the source of Dahak?
Answer: Zoastarianism. But the sources are wide and varied. By any other name....
Question: ...how did Dahak get to Greece?
Answer: Through the ignorace and discontent of a few... Lofty, but Dahak has no bounds.
Question: Who did the singing for renee and Hudson?
Answer: Renee was Michelle Nicastro, who has done a lot of work including Les Miserable at the Schubert. The voice of Hudson was Sandy (...I forgot her last name!) who was in Ragtime, also at Schubert.
Question: Are you planning on bringing Solan or Hope back to life?
Answer: At the moment, anything is possible. But, I have to say, bringing Solan back to life would really dilute what he did for them. Oh, yeah.. to clear that up... Solan created Illusia.
Question: ...where did he get the power to create Illusia?
Answer: One of those mystical answers: His love for Xena. HIs recognition that the love between her and Gabby needed one more chance. He gave them that.
Question: ...how did Hope kill Solon?
Answer: I don't have a technical answer. It could be said that she made his heart stop. Her powers are defined (to us) and will become clearer as time goes on.
Question: Was the Gabby horse-dragging real or part of the dream?
Answer: Lots of talk about that, eh? Well, it was real.
Question: ...is Gaby in her village only part of Xena's illusion and not Gaby's?
Answer: Gabby is in her village. When she passes through the door, that's when the split took place.
Question: How did Gab's wounds heal by the end?
Answer: The magic of Illusia. Those wounds were minor compared to the ones inside.
Question: ...Last scene on the beach, ref to?
Answer: The water reference is a direct reference to rebirth. The water at the beginning and the water at the end. Lots of symbolism in that ep...
Question: [About the CD]
Answer: Don't know if music will be published, but the lyrics are supposed to be included with the CD.
Question: [About some dialogue]
Answer: Love of your Love is you... Refers to forgiving yourself and letting go.
Question: [About how the songs were done]
Answer: Songs are prerecorded, then played during the shooting to lip sync. ...Joe [LoDuca] wrote all the music. Chris [Manheim] and I wrote the script, which included the story, metaphors, the "lyricised" dialogue. We also wrote block paragraphs to describe what we needed to hear in the songs at certain places. Those were the places where the lyricists took over and worked with Joe.
Question: ...it's been suggested that the Illusion began when Xena dragged Gabby
Answer: It began after the drop into the waterfall. ...Oh, another question I can settle: Argo would not have let Xena drag Gabby. Hence the other horse.
Question: ...Were you a Tarot fan before this script?
Answer: I only dabbled in it from a social science aspect. Rob Tapert was the one who really wanted to use the Tarots.
Question: any idea why he wanted to??
Answer: He felt the symbolism was easy to understand and went directly to the heart. I have to say I agree.
Question: ...how long did it take to write the script?
Answer: Hard to say. This was something new. We were continually writing it even AFTER it had been filmed!
Question: ...was the scene with Xena (on cross) with gabby were Lucy and Renee there together or added later?
Answer: It was part of the script. Not filmed late.
Question: ...are Xena and Gabby gonna be OK??
Answer: Think of TBS as the first step. By necessity, it had to be the biggest step to bringing them back together. There are a few ragged threads to tie off, but they will be fine.
02-09-98. Jeff Calhoun, who did the musical staging for BITTER, was also the director/choreographer for the Lucy Lawless Broadway production of GREASE in September-October 1997.
02-09-98. Apparently all the voices were dubbed except for Lucy Lawless, Kevin Smith, Ted Raimi, and Erin Moran, oops, I mean Julie Moran. We are working day and night trying t5o find the names of the people that dubbed Leick and O'Connor.
01-31-98. The first question asked Kevin Smith (actor, Ares)at the Burbank II Con (01/18/98) was how long it took him to learn the songs from BITTER SUITE and whether it was more difficult to act in a musical than a regular episode. Smith answered that it was recorded in a studio in New Zealand and it was sent to Joe LoDuca. They were in the studio for about 3-4 hours. They had about 3 rehearsals for about 2-3 days then recorded it in one session. He enjoyed doing the musical, and felt that considering the nature of the show XWP, it seemed to fit very well because of the basic theatricality of it. He felt it was not anymore difficult, but it was a lot of fun -- except for the dancing, because he hates to dance.
01-31-98. XWP editor Robert Field at the Burbank II Con (01/17/98) stated that whereas a usual episode of XWP takes about two weeks to edit (which sometimes includes evenings and weekends), BITTER SUITE took four weeks. He also stated that all the edits are difficult but that BITTER SUITE with it's musical sequences was more difficult. Cutting a sequence with sound is much more difficult than cutting a normal dialogue scene. Field also mentioned that he usually edits the even production numbered shows (and the other XWP editor, Jim Prior, taking the odd numbered ones), but every now and then they'll switch assignments. BITTER SUITE was just such a switch.
01-31-98. Danielle Cormack at the Burbank II Con (01/17/98) stated that she thought she did a poor performance in BITTER as Ephiny. She also mentioned that she's her own worst critic. During the Q&A, XWP co-executive producer Steve Sears came up to the microphone and told her she'd done a wonderful job. .
01-31-98. Brad Carpenter, the out-going Director of Marketing at Renaissance Pictures, at the Burbank II Con (01/17/98) stated that Varese Sarabande is supposed to release the music from THE BITTER SUITE, about 30 minutes worth.
01-21-98. There's a kiss between Callisto and Xena which an informant said is "to die for". I guess we will find out what gets our informant hot in two weeks! [Which we did, it's a peck -- BIG DEAL!] And yet another informant (people are starting to sing like birds now that we are only two weeks from the release of this episode), stated that this episode is a gift from Robert Tapert to his future wife, Lucy Lawless. Hee hee. Yes, Xena dragging Gabrielle around behind a horse then tossing her down a waterfall and then later on skewering her, Gabrielle killing again, and Xena and Callisto rolling around in the hay all done in verse and song!!! Now, that's a gift! And yet another informant (like I said, they are all over the place with this episode), says that Callisto does not look like herself. What the heck is that supposed to mean? Are they bringing over the Hudson Leick Liz Friedman character from YES VIRGINIA THERE IS A HERCULES to plant one on Xena???? The HERCULES episodes are getting more and more bizarre (YES, MEN IN PINK, PORKULES, etc.), I guess it is no surprise that XWP might get a tad wacky as well. You know about that seepage that can happen between sets no matter how much "safe" filming they attempt. Then our final informant said that a lot of stuff between Callisto and Xena was cut because it was a tad too playful. It pays to go to conventions. That's all I am saying!!! [Actually we had a fifth informant who gave cryptic information that something said at the end of theBITTER is an eerie twist on something stated at the end of another episode. I won't tell you the name of that episode because it will give it away. Heck, we have to keep some suspense going.
12-30-97. Rumors abound on the net that the rift gets a physical working out in this episode. We get to see the gals "act out" some of the frustration that hard core nutballers have been experiencing since the beginning of the third season! Also, it looks like the next big kiss scene for Xena is not with Gabrielle. Maybe that adds to the "tension" between the ladies. Anyways, we got a convention to let off steam at until the big fortnight where we get the rift and then some!
12-30-97. Joxer is alledgedly going to play the "only true friend to Xena and Gabrielle" in this episode. Also, everyone seems to be hoping that the ratings will blast up higher than ever for this episode. I don;t know about that...it is a risky venture making a show into an operettea. Not only does it have to be hip and cool (in order not to look extremely stupid), but it has to pulled off with great aplomb. Do the happy campers on and off camera have the right stuff to pull something off like this? Tune in on the week of Feb. 2nd 1998, and find out!
12-17-97 Julie Moran's appearance on BITTER SUITE was covered over two ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHTS', including a weekend version. She also reported to a recent issue of TV GUIDE that Kevin Sorbo was ticked that she didn't appear on his show as well.
12-17-97. From ZENtertainment #89: "TV GUIDE reports ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT's Julie Moran will guest star, and sing, on a musical episode of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS that will air next February. She'll play a friend of Gabrielle's who welcomes Gaby home to her native village."
12-17-97. The buzz on the street is that the ONLY voices not dubbed in BITTER SUITE will be Kevin Smith and Lucy Lawless.
12-17-97. From "The Daily Dish": "Get ready for Xena, the musical episode. Xena: Warrior Princess star Lucy Lawless, who recently wowed audiences as Rizzo in Broadway's Grease, will display her musical chops in a future episode of the hit syndicated show. "We're actually doing a full-fledged Xena musical," says Joseph LoDuca, who composes all the music for both Xena and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. "There's a heavy five- or six-episode plot arc coming up where, at the end of it, Xena and Gabrielle hate each other," the Michigan-based composer explains. "Through a number of events that sort of tie together, Gabrielle essentially has "Rosemary's Baby" -- she gives birth to the devil's daughter. And Xena says, 'Kill the baby.' But she can't." The plot thickens as the baby, named Hope, grows up and commits a shocking murder. When Gabrielle finally realizes that she has to kill her own daughter, it doesn't bode well for her relationship with Xena. "At the beginning of the musical, they're at each other's throats and they fall off a waterfall and wake up in the land of Illusia. And that's where they work out all their stuff, which they do in song. It's the idea of blame and forgiveness, all set to music." The episode, which will air the first week of February, will feature Lawless doing her own vocals. At this point, LoDuca hasn't decided whether or not Renee O'Connor, who plays Gabrielle, will be dubbed or not. But executive producer Robert Tapert is so excited about the episode, which is currently filming, that there's talk of a sequel. "It seems entirely improbable, trying to do it in the context of a TV format and a TV schedule, but it's really coming together," LoDuca adds. "We brought in Jeff Calhoun, who's a big Broadway director and choreographer, and I collaborated with a couple of wonderful lyricists. It's got seven songs. I mean, it's a serious musical."
11-10-97. From "Lesbian News" vol. 23 no. 4 (November 1997) by Emma Hayes: "'We're doing a musical this year,' she [Lucy Lawless] squeals in laughter. 'A really wanky, Wagnerian type opera Xena. It's going to be great.' Will there be any lesbian subtext, or, better yet, any lesbian sex? 'Look, it's ambiguous. That way everyone can get from it what they want. Really, who cares anyway. Pretty nasty, dark stuff coming up this year, though, so, don't let your children watch. This season's really got to be screened.'"
11-09-97. It was over heard at the SF Convention (10-18-97) that the ladies finally reconcile (that is the rift is over) in this episode.
10-31-97. It has been heard that ET IS is thinking of flying a crew down to NZ to do a feature on the filming of BITTER SUITE.
10-26-97. At the Valley Gorge XenaCon (10-04-97) Hudson Leick said that there will be a singing Callisto [reference to the upcoming BITTER SUITE] and "You do *not* want to hear me sing." The crowd begged to differ. Ted Raimi also confirmed that he will sing in this episode as well.
From Laura Tyrrell (firstname.lastname@example.org): A small piece of info (nothing earth shattering, unfortunately) on the *Bitter Suite* show in your episode guide. According to Kevin Smith (Ares) at WarriorCon in DC on Sept 14, he is in the episode and will be singing. He said that Joe LoDuca had all of the actors go into a studio and record a song so he could get an idea of their capabilities and ranges for the songs they would sing. Despite being in a band in his youth, Kevin is a bit shy about singing in front of people (don't EVEN ask him to dance). So, he just closed his eyes and belted out a version of *Great Balls of Fire*. He gave us a small sample. He's got a nice voice. I must say that Kevin Smith is one of the nicest men I've ever met, not to mention extraordinarily good-looking.
The long awaited Xena operetta! Yes, a Xena musical! Has enough original music to fill up half a cd! The buzz is one song is so good that it may be released as a single.
Composer Joseph DoLuca is writing the score the month of August 1997.
Callisto sings! Heck, everyone sings. Using the amazing skills of deduction, we must conclude that this will be the Callisto comedy episode that RJ Stewart mentioned in his June 1997 WHOOSH interview.
Joe DoLuca at the Detroit Con on 08-17- 97 said that BITTER SUITE was the first musical he had ever wirtten! He also mentioned that there might be a CD released with would include the songs from BITTER SUITE.
EDITS/CUTS ON THE USA/SCI-FI CHANNELS
02-25-00. From KSZoneW. They censor Xena calling Ming Tien a bastard.
Highlights by Beth Gaynor.
Great squirming from Xena when Gabrielle accuses in disbelief "You killed me!" We've never seen Xena look so abashed.
That tango - ay caramba!
Ares wins the trophy for face-slappin'-cold-dissin' line of the year: "Nothing more need be said. Ding dong. The bitch is dead." That'll leave a mark.
Even in the middle of dark, heavy, trippy, bizarre musical episodes, Renee gets the great comedy lines! "Only heroes wind up here. (beat for realization) Dead heroes. (beat for another realization) Dead naked heroes."
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
06-24-01. From Kris. I recently bought the Xena CD 3, The Bitter Suite (my favorite ep of all time) and found something interesting in the libretto. During the Peace/War song, when both sides start overlapping, I found a mistake in the close-captioning. While the warriors sing "You've a son you must avenge, know you must extract revenge" the CC had the villagers singing "Know that she freed you." However, in the lyrics that came with the CD, The villagers are singing "You must know that when Hope died, she freed you." You can hear it on the CD and in the episode too, if you listen close.
05-29-98. From Dana. In "The Bitter Suite" (58/312), when they are showing the castle that Xena enters where all the warriors are, there is a rat scampering along the wall at the front of the scene. In "Royal Couple of Thieves" (17/117), same rat, same wall, different background - this time it's the seaport we're looking at. In HTJL: "Once A Hero" (H27/214), same rat, same wall, different background again - now it's the town where the 'party' is being held. I wonder how many other times this rat has shown up? Popular cast member...
05-29-98. From KSZoneW. That Egyptian Dog in "Callistos Playground" looked a little like the "Taco Bell Dog" on the recent "Taco Bell" ads. Taco Bell is a Mexican fast food chain in most areas of the USA. Sevral other countrys have also picked up resturants as of late.
05-29-98. From KSZoneW. Take this for whats it's worth but a possible reason for all the nudity in "The Bitter Suite" with Gabrielle and Xena could be because directer Oley Sassone, directed a film for Playboy in the past. It was called "Playback" and started Tawny Kitean, who played Hercules wife Dieanieria on Hercules the Legendary Journeys. Or it could just be for ratings and to get all the small hormone filled teens to watch the musical episode. You choose. Perhaps neither are true.
02-09-98. From Briareus. At the end of Xena and Ares' little dance number, when Callisto/Aleph appears, notice the balance worked into her outfit and the way she is holding that sword when she 'fades out.' An obvious reference to Nemesis, now the question is, why?
02-09-98. From Beth. Watch the long shots during the tango: Ares is in shoes, but Xena is in bare feet. I guess Lucy's juuust about the same height as Kevin Smith.
02-09-98. From Beth: Gabrielle stunt butt, or the real thing? There was a convenient cut in that first shot in the Amazon hut. Operators are standing by for your votes.
02-09-98. There were 170 separate effects shots in BITTER. Yowie wowie!
02-09-98. From Bret: The wig Lucy wears in the dance scene between her and Ares looks remarkably like (if not identical to) the same wig Willa O'Neill wore when she danced with HERC in ...AND FANCY FREE.
02-06-98. From Bluesong: From the cross-over props files. The little white dog in BITTER SUITE appears in HTLJ MEN IN PINK as well.
Click here to read a transcript of THE BITTER SUITE .
The musical genre was not harmed during the production of this motion picture. In fact, the Producers sincerely hope you were A-MUSE-D by this episode.
FAN DISCLAIMERS :
From Liz Sheppard: No evil reoccuring villains were harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, the singing and dancing janitor of Illusia got a piece of Khrafstar stuck on his shoe while cleaning up the temple.
WHOOSH! ARTICLES:The All-Bitter Suite Issue
Susan Wood interview.
MORE XENA TAROT DISCUSSION
"The Bitter Suite" Tarot Commentary
The Bitter Suite Tarot
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