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A TALE OF TWO MUSES


EPISODE NO. 74
Season 4, episode 6
Series 406
1st release: 11-02-98
2nd release: ----
1st strip release:
2nd strip release:
Production number: V0603
Script number: 405
Approximate shooting dates: May/June 1998
Last update: 03-15-00


GUEST STARS, CAST & CREDITS
PROMO TRANSCRIPTION
TV GUIDE PROMO
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
SYNOPSIS 1 by Bluesong
SYNOPSIS 2 by Missy Good
COMMENTARY 1 by Beth Gaynor
COMMENTARY 2 by Deb E McGhee
COMMENTARY 3 by Stryper
COMMENTARY 4 by Videnturr
COMMENTARY 5 by L.N. James
WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
WHAT THE HECK IS THIS FOOTLOOSE THING?
HIGHLIGHTS
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
TRANSCRIPT
DISCLAIMER
LINKS


GUEST STARS
Shiri Appleby (Tara)
Bruce Campbell (Autolycus)

CAST
John Givins (Istafan)
Bruce Campbell (Philipon the Reformer)
Hemi Rudolph (Telamon)
Michael Kupenga (Andros)
Campbell Cooley (Licinus)
Dennis Hally (Bootmaker)
Vicky Haughton (Old Lady)
referred to in dialogue: Pelios, Philipon, Calliope

CREDITS
Written by Gillian Horvath
Edited by Jim Prior
Directed by Michael Hurst


PROMO TRANSCRIPTION
ON AN ALL NEW XENA A CRIME SO SINFUL, SO SINISTER
[Tara dances with a man.]
Man: So insidious we must punish her quickly and severely.
[Tara is tied up. A hand with a whip.]
Gabrielle: Tara, what did you do?
Man: She danced.
Xena: Danced?
Man: Danced!
NOW TO DEFEND THEIR FOOTLOOSE FRIEND THE WARRIOR PRINCESS AND THE KING OF THIEVES CUT LOOSE WITH THEIR OWN FAST FOOTWORK.
[Xena hits somebody. Gabrielle and Tara dance. Xena dances. Autolycus dances.]
IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO.
[Xena and Autolycus dance. Xena and Gabrielle dance.]
ON AN ALL NEW XENA! COMING NEXT WEEK.


TV GUIDE PROMO
Xena, Gabrielle & Autolycus bring dancing to a town where it is banned.

In a town that bans dancing, Gabrielle gets happy feet and Autolycus poses as a self-righteous preacher.

Gabrielle's friend Tara is arrested for dancing in a town run by a puritanical magistrate.

Gabrielle and Xena stumble upon a town where dancing is not allowed.


AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
1st RELEASE: 11-02-98
An AA average of 4.5
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 12TH with 5.7
(2) STAR TREK DS9 13th with 4.8
(3) ER 16th with 4.7
(4) XENA 17th with 4.5
(5) HERCULES 20th with 4.0

2nd RELEASE: 05-24-99
An AA average of 3.0
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 10th 4.4
(2) STAR TREK DS9 14th 3.7
(3) ER 23rd 3.3
(4) HERCULES 25th 3.2
(5) XENA 3.0
(6) Stargate SG-1 2.5
(7) Mortal Kombat 2.4
(8) Outer Limits 2.3
(9) Earth: Final Conflict 2.2
(10) The Crow/Viper 1.8



SYNOPSIS 1:

This synopsis is by Bluesong.

Xena and Gabrielle walk across a desert as Gabrielle reads from a scroll. Her boots are falling apart and Argo needs shoes. In another place, Tara dances. She is captured by Istafan, the town Magistrate, and taken to the town square where she is tied to a post and is to receive 10 lashes. Xena steps in and stops the punishment before it is administered. She and Gabrielle fight the militia. They learn the woman they saved is Tara, and that she (gasp) danced! They also learn that somehow these people think the Muse Calliope disavows dancings.

Xena takes Tara and they leave, but Tara wants to go back because she likes Andros and his father. Gabrielle gets her boots repaired. She wants to dance because it's forbidden. They sleep. The town prepares itself for the arrival of Philapon the Reformer, who is Autolycus. Xena has sent for him via pigeon. "Philapon" gives a sermon about the horrors of dancing and art, etc., saying that "extremism in the name of piety is no vice." He decrees that Andros' father has painted a blasphemous painting because it has mountains and a tower (mounds of modified tissue and a phallic symbol).

Andros and Tara dance and kiss. Andros decides to leave and take Tara with him. Xena stops them. Xena and Gabrielle hold a "military" training for the kids, but this is really a way to teach them to dance out in the open. When she begins to talk of teaching them to kill, Andros' father declares his candidacy for magistrate, in opposition to Istafan.

During some political speeches, someone attempts to kill "Philapon". Xena stops the arrow. She reveals that Istafan had the arrow shot from its bow. She calls all the children out and everyone dances. Xena hugs Gabrielle.



SYNOPSIS 2:

This synopsis is by Missy Good.

I was ready for a bit of fluff. I got it. It's hot. The kids are crossing the desert. An extremely cute scene ensues. I'll let you all enjoy it. I did. It was the kind of drier humor I happen to like. Cut to a.. Bedouin dancing scene? Tara is there, sharing some nice footwork with her boyfriend. She gets stopped by Knute Rockne. Uh.. I mean I guess the Chief Magistrate. Sorry.. the helmet threw me. . He orders her whipped. Xena and Gabrielle object. Strenuously. Nice fight scene. They cut Tara loose and find out she's being disciplined for dancing. She has offended against Calliope, the town patron.

During the commercial break, I have come to the conclusion I really, really hate 10-10-321 commercials.

Okay, we're back. Xena decides to get them the heck out of Dodge.. and the townsfolk decide banishment was a fitting punishment for her crime. Tara says goodbye to her boyfriend and the guy who gave her a job.. and they go off. Tara explains that she wants to go back and help the town out.. she says she loves dancing, it's something she's always been good at, and she wants to change their ways. Gabrielle disagrees, says that she comes from a place just like that, and those people won't change. Xena says they're going back. They do. Tara apologizes and Xena says they're going to stick around for few days to make sure Tara settles down, then take off.

Xena and Gab take shelter in a cave? With a flush toilet. (I have to be laughing here.. it's funny) Did you know Xena's leathers have a zipper? Nice sound effect. Gabrielle, though, has had an uncontrollable desire to dance since she'd heard it was illegal there. She starts flowing around the cave. Finally, she lays down next to Xena, but she can't sleep. She starts to get up to dance, and Xena stops here with a quick but lingering hand to the chest. (laughing again)

Gab goes to get her boots repaired the next day, and learns a great Reformer is coming.. to preach the gospel to the town. He arrives, and it's Autolycus. AND WE FIND OUT HOW XENA GETS NEWS! Carrier pigeon. Auto tells her he got her pigeon, and it must be an express pigeon.. he came as soon as he got it. Auto is dismayed when he learns there's no reward here, and tells Xena he's going back to Thebes where he's got a scam going involving the crown jewels, and the king doesn't suspect. Xena tells him he does now. She sent two pigeons. He's upset, but then Knute insults the rep of the King of Thieves, and Auto asks Xena.. "Does your plan involve humiliating this horse's *ss?" Xena's grin is delicious. Auto's in.

Auto does a preaching job, convincing the crowd to get even more stringent in their beliefs. It's hilarious, but he could drop the Southern Baptist accent. He sounds like Jimmy Swaggart.. but I guess that would be the point. He describes a painting as obscene, noting 'rounded peaks' and 'thrusting towers'. A dancing scene with Tara and Andros, and I do believe we get Lucy singing in the background.. it's very nice, both the scene and the song. She and Andros decide to leave, to escape the town. Xena and Gabrielle find Andros' father who has realized they have left. Andros' brother had left years before, gone to Athens for an unspecified 'job.' Xena catches them, of course. She gives him a little speech on running away. She gives Tara a little speech on sticking with.

We now get Gabrielle and Autolycus.. Auto tells Gab he suspects she has some pent up energy she needs to release.. Gab starts dancing, Auto says.. that's not what he had in mind. He tells Knute military training is just what the kids need.. and Xena will lead it.

Xena tweaks her own image by having the kids chant 'focus' after her, and she demonstrates some fighting moves with Gab's staff. The kids follow her lead, and the adults are pleased, then Xena tells them she works better without an audience, so they chase the parents and Knute out, along with Auto. Sorry.. had to stop writing, this was one of the funnier scenes I've seen in XWP to date. PS, If you don't like subtext, block out hearing Xena call Gabrielle 'her lovely assistant'.. there's no real need for her to do that, there are no adults to impress here, she just does it.' They dance together, Gabrielle does a nice job of tap dancing, and Xena does a split she immediately regrets. (I'm still laughing at Lucy's expression) At the meeting after that, Auto tells the townsfolk how Xena will teach the kids how to use a sword and kill hand to hand next.. and finally they have had enough. Andros father steps in and says he's going to run against Knute for Mayor, but as the fade out comes, Knute obviously has nefarious ideas to the contrary.

Next Auto is making a speech.. and an arrow gets fired at him, which Xena of course stops. Knute says this is an example of what happens when change is going on, but Xena claims it was Knute's henchmen. The kids start dancing, they call the militia to arrest them, then Xena steps in, and says to come and get some. Then Auto has a revelation, and he and Xena start dancing. Then the militia attacks, and Xena and Auto kick them into kingdom come. Everyone starts dancing again, Xena and Gabrielle kinda dance off together, and Auto ends up dancing with a small child. Xena's standing there in the middle of the dance floor, and Gab's dancing around her, Xena rolls her eyes, then pulls Gab to a halt, and does a flip in the air, then she comes down and starts laughing, and she and Gabrielle smile and hug each other, and that's how we fade out.

Fluff. Total fluff, but I actually enjoyed this one after last week's intensity it was nice, and especially nice because we got to see glimpses of a relationship between the two leads that brought back good memories, instead of painful ones.



COMMENTARY 1:

This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.

This is a popcorn episode. It's light, it's fluffy, and it's easily forgettable ten minutes after it's gone. It's also pretty bland... unless you use some of that seasoned salt or valvoline butter on it, but then it gets bad for you, and... ummm, have I lost track of my metaphor?

Like all goofy dance movies, everyone in a town that doesn't allow dancing knows how to dance. I'm no expert, but I spotted Arabic (or maybe Gypsy) dance, Irish jigs and reels, ballroom dancing (including some serious stunts), tap, line dancing, Greek folk, a tango, a conga line, and the funky chicken. These people have some serious range. And the most astonishing of all - Gabrielle. This woman's come a long way from the girl in the Amazon village who couldn't keep a beat. Has she been taking a Fredagon Astarius correspondence course while she's been on the road?

These town residents shift their opinions faster than weather vanes. "Dancing is evil!" "RIGHT! " "No! We should dance for the sake of children!" "RIGHT! " "Oh, look, Gabrielle, another townful of villagewes." I guess that's what happens when you don't have enough budget to have both pro AND con townsfolk.

"Save some for me?" This from our usually fight-reluctant bard? But she does a nice leap into the fray... and then she almost manages to clock Xena with that staff. Whoops! Other lines of Gab's seemed harsh this episode, too: her pompous speech about poetry, her accusations of Tara, her brusque attitude with the leatherworker (who suddenly became a steelsmith for the sake of tap), and her defense of her new gig as speechwriter.

Great sneer from Xena when Istafan tried to bluster past her!

Dancing movie cliche #2: where there's a beat, there's a band. Gab starts gettin' down for the town, and suddenly has a whole orchestra backup. THEN the villagewes join in, and of course the town where there's no dancing also has darned fine musicians to play a snappy tune for the big finale.

Hey, look, kids, we got a toilet flush and a zipper sound effect for yuks, even though there's... no toilet and no zipper. Next.

I kept waiting to find out why Gabrielle was afflicted with severe happy feet this episode as she did the sneaky shimmies behind EVERYbody's back - and sometimes to their fronts. I expected to find out that maybe Calliope was trying to tell us something, but never did. Sure, whatever.

Bad choice to talk about Thebes and swindled kings before the line about the "King of Thieves." The first time I saw this scene I couldn't figure out why Autolycus was taking a dis at the King of Thebes so personally.

"Extremism in the defense of piety is no vice:" never knew that Barry Goldwater cribbed from the King of Thieves, did you?

Why does Xena cheese it up so much when she's instructing the "kids" in martial arts? If the idea is to plant the seed that this extremism may not be such a good idea, she should have been scaring the pants off the villagewes. And could have easily done so.

Xena's speech to Tara didn't make much sense to me: why did she keep harping on Tara about running away? Tara didn't run away from anything in the first episode when we met her, and Xena doesn't have much experience with turning tail, either. Why was she talking as if they're both experts on it?

Autolycus scurries away with the Line of the Episode award for his "I can tell: you need to get-" speech. Made me laugh out loud. He also wins style points for that great "get down and funky" gesture with his "Let's dance!" line.

A question: Calliope is the muse of poetry. What does dancing have to do with her? And if the villagewes were so extreme in their devotion, wouldn't a lot of the speeched and sermons be in rhyme? And wouldn't Gabrielle, the bard who was just composing poems on their way to the town, go through the roof with this notion that her muse would outlaw fun and expression of any sort?

Also a question: who is the second muse in this title? Obviously we're dealing with Calliope, but other than to copy a Dickens book title (which also has nothing to do with this episode), why mention two muses?

Gabrielle's the dancing queen in this episode. Xena only does some real dance a couple of times - she participates in a couple of others with war moves and some NICE staff work. But Gab boogies down like nobody's business - you go, Renee! She looked ready to join a Janet Jackson video in the dance number with all the villagewe's "kids." Xena finally gets a fed up with all the fancy footwork from her bard and does a "top THAT, twinkletoes" mid-air flip to put an end to the episode. Can't argue with gravity-defying leaps, Gab, don't even try. Give 'er a hug instead.



COMMENTARY 2:

This commentary is by Deb E McGhee.

SOUNDBYTE SUMMARY: XWP does yet another 'homage' episode. In the immortal words of Xena: "Yee Haw!" Rating: 1.5 quills (out of 5).

ANALYSIS-REVIEW:

Lucy Lawless was in _Peach_ with Don Selwyn; Don Selwyn was in _Mesmerized_ with John Lithgow; John Lithgow was in _Footloose_ with Kevin Bacon.

Renee O'Connor was in _Night Games_ with Roy Scheider; Roy Scheider was in _2010_ with John Lithgow; John Lithgow was in _Footloose_ with Kevin Bacon.

You've just been Baconed. At one time, we believed Kevin Bacon was the Centre of the Universe, owing to the fact that just about anyone who had ever acted in a publicly-released film could be linked back to Sir Kevin in 7 or fewer steps, the average number of steps being just over 2.6. Now we know that there are at least two others who are "better" centres, but I dismiss these claims of superiority on the grounds that Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, was just a simple carpenter, and yet....

In light of Kevin's Supreme Centreliness, it should come as no surprise that XWP would get around to making an episode that links directly to M. Bacon. What better way than to 'homage' _Footloose_, the movie that launched Bacon into the stars with its no fewer than 5 semi-known to well-known actors (Lori Singer, John Lithgow, Dianne Weist, Chris Penn, and Sarah Jessica Parker)?

In fact, if we weren't restricted to using only actors in film appearances, but instead could also use 'not-so-thinly-veiled plot ripoffs' then LL's and ROC's 'Bacon Numbers' (number of names to get to KB) would decrease from 3 to 2! That is, Renee O'Connor was in "A Tale of Two Muses", a ripoff _Footloose_; _Footloose_ starred Kevin Bacon.

All is not lost, however. Turns out that Renee O'Connor's TRUE Bacon Number IS 2, not 3. ROC was in _Night Games_ with Paul Gleason; Paul was in _She's Having a Baby_ with Kevin Bacon. The earlier Bacon linkage was simply to get into the _Footloose_ mood. Alas, LL's number cannot be decreased any further. In the mother of all ironies, LL's number is the highest of all four of the first-credited actors in Muses: Shiri Appleby's and Bruce Campbell's numbers are both 2. Shiri was in _The Killing Time_ with Kiefer Sutherland; Kiefer was in _Flatliners_ with KB. Bruce starred in _The Quick and the Dead_ with Sharon Stone; Sharon was in _He Said, She Said_ with KB.

Oh, now I'm getting into this. If I change the rules and allow 'theme advanced by particular plot' as a valid link, then: Lucy stars as Xena, a character with a Dark Past who is exceptionally skilled and fighting for justice and who happens to be female in a typically male genre; Sharon did the same thing in _The Quick and the Dead_; Sharon..._He Said_...Kevin. (Of course, there's the Raimi as Producer link, but that's much too mundane, don't you think?) Sadly, that's still 3 steps.

Then there's: RENee starred in "Muses"; "Muses"... ripoff... _Footloose_; REN MacCormack in _Footloose_ was played by Kevin Bacon.

Or: O'CONNOR is an Irish name yadda yadda; MAC CORMACK is the Irish name Kevin had in _Footloose_.

And the coup de grace: JOHN Givins played Istafan the Preacher Magistrate in "Muses"; "Muses"... ripoff... _Footloose_; the preacher in _Footloose_ was played by JOHN Lithgow; John... _Footloose_ ... Kevin.

This is turning out to be neither an analysis nor a review, isn't it? Let's try again.

A TALE OF TWO MUSES. Review Version Two: The Season

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness, it is the epoch of Very Deep Insights, it is the epoch of Extreme Disbelief Suspension, it is the season of Light, it is the season of Darkness, it is the fall of Hope, it is the winter of Gab-semilite episodes, we have everything before us, we have nothing before us, we are all going direct to Eternity, we are all going direct down the ancient flush toilet -- in short, the season is so far like the last season, that some of the most noisome episodes insist on being produced, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

One week Xena and Gabrielle are so in character it is both depressing and sublime; one week they are so far gone it is heartbreaking and ridiculous. Yesterday the plot was too thick to be contained in the space allotted; tomorrow we will search for turnips and dance tunes to fill the emptiness. On this day an hour will pass all too quickly; another day the minutes will swell to become hours unto themselves.

I haven't done any controlled timing, but I'm fairly certain that *both* LL and ROC had less screentime than average in this episode. That, combined with the poor characterisations, an underdeveloped yet meandering plot, and awkward direction (I have loved Hurst's work in the past, but I think even he was lost as to what to do with this script), made what could have been a nice, light, filler episode a source of deep personal frustration.

The portrayal of Gabrielle serves as a fairly representative object lesson. In the teaser she flippantly, even condescendingly, tells Xena she wishes Xena had an outlet for her innermost feelings. Now, the insight happens to have merit, but the delivery of that line made me cringe. The problem is, I don't know what to make of it. Because of XWP's history of willful disregard of character continuity between the dramatic episodes and the lighter ones, and because this theme is not explicitly explored vis-a-vis X&G in the remainder of the episode, it is unclear whether Gab's attitude indicates a fundamental change in her approach to life, a deep-seated fracture in X&G, anomalous scripting and/or directing, heat-induced pissiness, or some combo of the above. The moment dangles there as a bit of mystery.

There are plenty more moments of Gab oddities sprinkled throughout the episode, not the least of which was the berating of the leatherworker. Was there a scene missing explaining why she would approach the man with such aggression? I suppose one could chalk it up to the influence of past events and the bard's travelling companion, but again, XWP mainly refuses to get into the "turgid" areas of planful character development so one week Gabrielle is the hopeful but confused lover of humanity and the next she's bouncy but mean-spirited and just as exuberant as Xena about jumping in feet first to a situation about which they know nothing and bashing heads. Likewise, one week Xena is one who mainly eschews contemplation in favour of action, the next she is warrior... philosopher... psychotherapist. The script wavers between saying something 'real' about the main characters and being light fluff, and the confusion is increased by direction which focusses not at all on the former.

Also in the scene with the leatherworker, the man tells Gabrielle it will be three days to repair her boots and when she expresses incredulity, he relates that Phillipon is coming to town. Was the rest of his explanation, the part that would have been relevant to the 3-day wait, chopped because they had so much else to cover they hadn't the time for it? Indeed, there were so many dialogue fragments like that I finally had to give up trying to make sense of what anyone was saying.

The main failure of this episode, as I see it, is that practically no two people involved in its production were on the same page, and no one person stayed on the same page throughout production. ROC plays a Gabrielle who is becoming increasingly cynical and insensitive, but neither the script, nor the direction, nor LL were working from that angle. The script at one point wants to comment on religious fundamentalism (slapping us across the face with images evoking 'the Middle East' and 'Southern U.S. Conservative Christians' to which I say again, "XWP ought not be going there") and at another point doesn't give a damn. One minute Muses is a drama, complete with tight closeups of Very Serious Actors, and the next Xena is grunting on the toilet. Someone wanted to make a 'dancing' episode and then didn't have the wherewithal to develop the idea past the "do _Footloose_" stage. And finally, ROC and LL forgot to keep playing Gabrielle and Xena throughout all of the scenes. Sure, the gals may have been having fun, but I'm not about to believe the happy hugs at the end were at all relevant to X&G.

In fairness, though, just as Good Day isn't at the top of my all-time favourites list, Muses isn't at the bottom of the all-time most-hated. There were interesting and pleasant moments here and there.

Colophon: The writing of this analy-view was greatly aided by a nice, chilly screwdriver, the ghost of Charles Dickens, and The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia.



COMMENTARY 3:

This commentary is by Stryper.

Ancient Greece, meets "Footloose", meets "Riverdance", with just a shade of "Dirty Dancing" thrown in for good measure, is how Iíd describe this latest installment from the Xenaverse called, "A Tale Of Two Muses". Now the question is, do we really need a Xena "Fame" type, dance video like episode? Itís hard to believe that out of all the subject matter that the writers could deal with, this was the best they could come up with.

I find that the best Xena episodes are those that show character development and growth, or that give us a glimpse into the characters inner selves, but in "ATOTM" and other episodes like, "In Sickness And In Hell", nothing of any real value is learned. Now donít get me wrong, I like comedy episodes, "Been There, Done That" and "A Day In The Life" being two of my favorites, but a comedy episode can promote growth in the characters and/or insight into what makes them tick, and still be funny. I mean, what useful information did we get out of this episode? That Gabrielle invented Irish step dancing? That Tara, the scrappy little, teenage, Xena wanna be, street beggar, is somehow capable of doing dance steps that would give Ginger Rodgers and Paula Abdul a run for their money? That Autolycus was the fore father of Jimmy Swaggert, and Oral Roberts? That dilapidated ruins in the desert have better plumbing then Greece itself (having abandoned "Out Houses" in favor of flush water toilets)? Thereís just no real relevancy to our characters, in what takes place in this (and others like it) episode.

Also, hereís something that made me go, "HummmÖ"; Gabrielle seems totally obsessed with dancing in this episode, constantly bopping around to anything with a beat, but isnít this the same Gabrielle that had to be dragged, kicking and screaming (well, almost) into her own initiation dance when she became an Amazon Princess back in, "Hooves And Harlots" (Gabrielle: "They wouldnít let me dance at the crop festival because I brought a bad harvest")? Granted, itís been a few years since then, but exqueese me, what episode was it where she was given a crash course in Irish step dancing? I must have missed that one.

They also have Gabrielle sporting a pair of newly, metal patched boots. Gee, thatís practical. Especially in the dessert. I mean, because metalís SO noted for its cushiony characteristics and comfort, not to mention its ability to breathÖ, NOT!

Plus, Tara was wasted in this episode, having no real scenes where her spunky, rebellious attitude was utilized. She lets the Magistrate and his goons seize her, then tie her to a pole, without so much as uttering a contemptuous remark or attempt to get away (it sure looked like Tara, you know, the little scamp that beat up Gabrielle and tempted Xenaís wrath, but it sure didnít act like her. Maybe it was the heat).

Hereís another thing, Rob Trebor has stated that heíd like to do more Xena episodes, so why then didnít they give him the role that Autolycus plays in this episode? I think that Autoís talents were wasted on this episode and Salomoneus would have filled the role better. Who better to con the Magistrate then a used chariot salesman/con artist like Sal? Let Autolycus have the roles where riches and jewels have to be slyly swindled out from under the nose of deserving merchants or Kings, thatís where he shins, but when you need a con man to pull the wool over someoneís eyes, then Salís your man (at least, I think so).

I also found that the episodes choice of villain left something to be desired. He just didnít come off as scary or tough, but was more cartoonish in nature, over playing his roll till you felt more inclined to laugh, then sneer at him.

I think that one of the saddest parts though, is that it was Michael Hurst at the helm again, but where as his first effort brought us the classic, "A Day In The Life", this effort, Iím afraid, will be only vaguely remembered as season four filler, being nowhere close, to his first episodes caliber.

Or is it just me?



COMMENTARY 4:

This commentary is by Videntur.

This was an entertaining episode. It contained a great deal of fun and humor mixed with lessons of morality.

First let's look at some of the changes and/or consistencies in our characters.

Tara has definitely changed. She has softened. Tara has become very concerned with making life better for those she cares about. This is very different from the Tara that we first encountered in "Forgiven" who was irritating and well deserving of the punishment she finally received from Gabrielle. Tara has matured. Also, when Tara and Andros were in the process of running away and were in the cave, when Xena stated her disappointment in Tara - you could tell that this was the one person that Tara did not want to disappoint. Afterall, she was still copying Xena's style by trying to help those who were having trouble helping themselves.

Gabrielle seemed annoyed and irritated in this episode, not to mention her great deal of pinned up energy. When she found out that dancing was not permitted in the town, she became obsessed with dancing. It was as if all Gabrielle wanted to do was defy the laws. Subsequently, by being so focused on being so defiant, she at times lost focus of other important things happening in the town. Example: When Xena was walking with Gabrielle [who was dancing and practicing with her staff] - Gabrielle seemed unconcerned when Xena asked her where Tara was. Subsequently, Xena found out from Andros' father that Andros and Tara had run away. In fact, Gabrielle's defiance almost blew the cover of Autoylcus/Philipon when she kept dancing in the presence of Istafan. One might think that her wanting to defy the rules resulted from her coming from a Town like this one (a fact which she mentioned to Tara at the beginning of the episode). Another thing that was uncharacteristic of Gabrielle was when she threw her boots down at the repairman and said in an irritated voice: "I don't want some half-hearted patch job - I just want something that will last". Irritation (or was it independence) was again shown when everyone was raising their hands in praise and Xena asked Gabrielle to do it, to which she defiantly said no.

Xena was focused in this episode. She wanted to help Tara and the townspeople - that's what she did. She danced and had a good time but she remained focused. She also showed us that if you believe something is wrong, running away from it is not an answer - you must stand up and fight for your beliefs and realize that its not always easy. It was also interesting the way that Xena was able to read the people around her. If you notice, many times Xena stands, listens and looks at the people in her surroundings. She knew Autolycus would go back to the King's sister and the crown jewels - so she sent two pigeons -one which informed the King about Autolycus' intentions. Xena also knew that when she mentioned Philipon's effect on the King of Thieves, that in turn, Istafan would insult the King of Thieves and by doing so insult Philipon alias Autolycus (The King of Thieves). She received the reaction from Autolycus that she needed - his help. Another person that Xena read well was Andros' father, who Xena knew would be the one man in the town to stand up to Istafan.

Funniest scenes: When Xena with one hand pushed Gabrielle back to the ground when she was trying to sleep and Gabrielle wanted to dance; Philipon's interpretation of an innocent picture painted by Andros' father; Xena's unforgettable split while dancing in which she was having a hard time getting back up.

Coolest scenes: Gabrielle and Tara's dancing was good (as well as Andros'); however, Xena and Autolycus were the coolest. They were a presence on the dance floor. Xena's moves were awesome throughout the episode.

Best scene: When Xena grabbed Gabrielle and they both hugged each other. This one scene reminded us of what make this show great: the unique relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. Hat's off again to our two actresses. Note: the ending scene would make a fantastic poster - it truly shows the friendship that exists between the Warrior and the bard.



COMMENTARY 5:

This commentary is by L.N. James.

Yet again, a seemingly comedic episode of this week's Xena: Warrior Princess was a brilliant multi-layered psychological club sandwich (if you will) of deep meaning and profound implications for Xena's character. Oh, and for the bard's too.

Folks, 'A Tale of Two Muses' is a Character Study waiting to happen. Under the guise of a Footloosian premise, TPTB have once again managed to convey SO MUCH with SO LITTLE. Sure, one might dismiss this episode as fluffy feelgood Hero-Frees-the-People-from-Oppression fare with nary a hand-wave of 'whatevah', but to do that would be to overlook the METAMESSAGE of psychological angst underlying this ENTIRE SERIES! Oh, sure, the dancing looked like fun and games, but that is hardly the point of this episode. Afterall, Descartes didn't say 'I dance, therefore I am', did he? No, there is so much more under the SURFACE that is _not_ being said that makes this episode rich with metaphorical and allegorical import.

I would like to posit that foundation of the entire series--the character of Xena--has been encapsulated in the FIRST 30 SECONDS of this episode! In fact, the remaining 43 minutes and 30 seconds of 'Tale' are superfluous with regard to the fundamentals of WHO Xena is (and, by extension and afterthought, who that bardly one is). In those 30 seconds, we witness a scene that is so simple, yet so fraught with meaning that its significance can only be discovered by examining the complexities of the metaphysical. Indeed, those crucial 30 seconds necessitate a journey into the depths of existential philosophy never before imagined. It's not going to be pretty, my friends, I tell you that so that you may bail now if you so choose.

Please indulge me in a stream of consciousness approach as the linear restraints of discourse bind me unmercifully to reason and logic..this is a journey best given freedom, best expressed in free-form thought, best symbolized by the infamous shadow on a wall -- is it an illusion or reality? -- but see how wavy and ephemeral "I" am when "I" dance in front of candlelight and oh how profound that image is!

Xena: a solitary figure, too alone in this world, one free will searching for the point of its existence, moving toward action...but not, almost nihilisticly wandering the desert of life, wandering, searching for meaning, dry...hot..sandy, the Sun Shining Bright (next to her? or above her?), a horse and Her the only accoutrement her soul carries...but wait! Is that the call of her being asking for meaning? The bardly one, Her, voice adrift in this primordial landscape, talks of Her writing and survival and "I wish you had something like that, Xena", AND oh..here is the answer, here is the crux upon which the solitary woman's existence rests, here She defines herself, here She becomes, here are the words She has spoken "Are you kidding? I've got this."

This. This. This which defines Xena. Not That. Not Those. Not it. And Not Her. No, THIS! This forged of the world, this handled with control, this instrument, this THIS. And what of the meaning of This? What of She is This? And what is this This? A round killing thing? A chakram? Yes, but that is not This of which she speaks. This is Xena and Xena is This. And what of This does Her think?

"That's perfect."

Xena, Warrior Princess is not the sum of her parts. She does not see the complexity others see. She defines herself not by what she does, not by who she was, not by how others see her. Xena defines herself in the circular symbol of violence that she carries. And that is perfect.

What of this character? What of this metamessage? What of this quest? As Xena goes, so goes the world and thus, the world rests upon the chakram, rests upon the violence inherent in this self-definition. She Has Many Skills, but she sees only one when she looks inside. She sees herself in relation to world, in connection with the chakram, in terms of violence. THIS is the Only Way. And by extension, This way has become Her Way now. This is no longer defining only She, This now defines Her too.

And so goes the rest of the episode while We are left with This. Hero saves the village from oppression. Dancing, dancing, dancing. We are urged to cut, everybody cut, everybody cut footloose. How ironic. We are left with This, sitting in our proverbial laps, and yet we are urged to dance, dance like the wind and let our spirits free. In essence, to Forget This.

My friends, I have danced the lambada. I have danced the cha-cha. I have danced the Viginia Reel. I have squaredanced. I have vogued. And yes, I have even danced the hokey-pokey. And now, with Xena, Warrior Princess, I am being asked to dance the chakram shuffle. I ask you this, Who will lead This dance and where are We going?

Note 1: One tiny glimmer of hope remains as Xena journeys to her destiny. While attempting to redefine herself with the metaphorical 'splits', Xena both succeeds and is plagued by psychic 'pain'. It is clear that the road to Who Xena is will be paved with mental gymnastics of which superhuman acrobatic skill is necessary. We can only hope that Gabrielle remains true as Xena's 'spotter'.

Note 2: The question of who Gabrielle is, of what comprises her character, is at this time, too complex to examine. Indeed, if it were an easy answer like 'chakram', I could include it in this Note. However, given her secondary role in the series and her sidekick status, her character is only important in relation to Xena. Thus, for our purposes, her character may be simplified and reduced to the One Who Shines Xena's Chakram.

Note 3: Esoteric messages extracted from this episode. a). 'These boots were NOT made for walking' b). 'Boogie oogie oogie'



WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR

11-10-98. Sharon Delaney, president of the Official XENA Fanclub, stated on the Xenaverse mailing list on 11-09-98 that "Lucy is not doing the singing in this episode."

10-28-98. It looks like another episode which flaunts in our face that Argo uses horseshoes way before any other horse should. The gang visit the town Pelios to shoe that horse, but while in town they find a young woman, perhaps Tara, about to be beaten for the crime of...GASP...dancing (and dangerously treading the the ground of Herk's ...AND FANCY FREE). The hilarity never stops from that point, building such a tenure, that only the appearance of Autolycus can push them over the edge. Street talk says that Xena gets to do a rap number the likes of which no one has ever seen. Maybe they should have made this the Halloween episode?

10-28-98. Sharon Delaney discussed this episode while conducting a slide show at the Cherry Hill Convention (08-29/30-98). She stated that it was an homage to the movie FOOTLOOSE about a village that had outlawed dancing. Regarding the return appearance of Tara, the juvenile delinquent, she was reported to have said, "I don't know what she's doing there, but if dancing's been outlawed, she's probably dancing." She also mentioned that the dance, the limbo, is featured in the episode. Since ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT also showed clips from this episode, it became the most pre-promoted episode of the fourth season.

10-28-98. At the Dearborn Con (08-22-98), Sharon Delaney stated that Xena does the limbo in TALE OF TWO MUSES and "something that nobody would think Lucy would ever do." Mostly everyone's money is on that Lawless raps as Xena...perhaps adding verses to the already famous Xena Rap by Renee O'Connor?

08-21-98. The gang comes across FOOTLOOSE in ancient Greece in the episode A TALE OF TWO MUSES. Autolycus and the ladies find a town where they punish dancing by whipping! What a drag! This episode was featured in an Entertainment Tonight report with Xena and Gabrielle frollicking around.

07-29-98. Oh...where to start? Let's start with YET ANOTHER fascinating homage episode. A TALE OF TWO MUSES has been filmed. It was directed by Michael Hurst, has Autolycus in it, and homages that great cinematic classic, FOOTLOOSE. FOOTLOOSE was a jewel in Kevin Bacon's crown. Let's hope they do justice to it. Bruce "Just call me Auto" Campbell has some set shots up at his webpage, click here to check them out. TALE is scheduled for airing 01/04/99.

07-29-98. Bruce Campbell signed earlier this year to do 11 projects between XENA and HERK. What's the tally so far? Mr. Campbell has done seven out of the 11 so far. Three have aired (HERK's PORKULES, ONE FOWL DAY, and MY FAIR CUPCAKEE), and four are in the can (HERK'S JUST PASSING THROUGH and FOR THOSE OF YOU JUST JOINING US; and XENA's KEY TO THE KINGDOM and TALE OF TWO MUSES). That leaves four more before he has to renegoitate. Also, one of these was to be a pilot with RenPic. We have not heard much about it other than it might involve piracy or pirates. Also, there is a rumor that Ted Raimi would be a significant character in it...but then again, it might just be wishful thinking.



WHAT THE HECK IS THIS FOOTLOOSE THING?

This insight is by Shelley Sullivan.

FOOTLOOSE [Herbert Ross, 1984] was a movie way back when, with Kevin Bacon in it. He played some teenager who moved with his mom to this straitlaced town that didn't allow teenage type stuff. Naturally he set out to reform things, together with a new girlfriend and a couple of friends, vying against the town teenage baddies. Or something. The title track was called FOOTLOOSE, and Bonnie somebody sang this song called "Lookin' Out For A Hero". I think. That song was also used as the theme song for a tv show (short-lived) called COVERUP (TV, 1988), if I'm not mistaken, about a fashion photog and female models (and the token guy...ex Seal or something) which was a cover for government spying.

Anyway, at the end of Footloose, there was this big school dance where the town fathers realized that dancing and singing was a good thing. Naturally the town father most against it in the beginning was the father of the girl friend. That's about all I remember.

THE TWO MUSES is reported on Campbell's site, and described as a FOOTLOOSE homage where Xena and Gab recruit Auto to help free a town that oppresses expression.

ADDENDUM TO THIS POST:

Believe it or not (and I barely do), I've had several mails gently correcting me about the title track to the FOOTLOOSE writeup in the MUSES ep guide.

Jeanne Hedge was the first to inform me of the following:



"Thought you might like to correct your essay about the movie "Footloose" on the Whoosh site. The song you mentioned was actually titled "Holding Out for a Hero", performed by Bonnie Tyler, written by Jim Steinman (who wrote several songs performed by MeatLoaf). Hero went as high as #34 in 1984."



Unsurprisingly, absolutely no one remembers any details about the movie itself, and in fact, one woman asked me if I was sure it *had* a plot. Fortunately she was joking, although she's seen MUSES and says that the Xena ep is gonna be remembered in a similar manner. According to her, it makes TSUNAMI look like Tolstoy. [G] I suspect that, like Kevin Bacon, this is *not* gonna be one of LL's finest hours. :)



HIGHLIGHTS:

Highlights by Beth Gaynor.

NEAT camera work and effects during Philipon the Southern Baptist's sermon, complete with organ music and thunder in the background. The silhouette dance was also a gorgeous number - and a great song. It's too bad Xena and Gab were nowhere to be seen for the two best scenes of the episode.



THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR

These things are by Beth Gaynor.

Xena is apparently a regular customer at the Pigeon Express office.

Watch as Xena fills in Autolycus on what's going on - between their heads and behind them, you can see Gabrielle filling in Tara at the same time.



TRANSCRIPT

Click here to read a transcript of TALE OF TWO MUSES.



DISCLAIMER:

No Self-Righteous Magistrates intent on surpressing the basic human right of freedom of expression were harmed during the production of this motion picture.



LINKS:

Shiri Appleby
E! Fact Sheet

Bruce Campbell
The Official Bruce Campbell Website

Gillian Horvath
Official Gillian Horvath Website

Michael Hurst
Articles about Michael Hurst
Mindy's Michael Hurst Page






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