Whoosh! Issue 21 - June 1998
Editor's Page

From the Editor-in-Chief: What A Year!
From the Webmaster: The Palace, Again
From the Graphics Editor: The Night Of Our Departed Callisto

From the Editor in Chief: What A Year

If the third season of Xena: Warrior Princess could be summed up in four words or less, is would have to be GABRIELLE'S YEAR OF HELL. The poor gal
  1. was non-consensually impregnated by demon spawn (none dare call it rape; well, no one at RenPic at least);
  2. was dragged a mile or so by her so-called bestfriend/soulmate;
  3. was knifed, kidnapped, poisoned, tied up, and beaten up;
  4. was called mean names like, "pissant";
  5. accidentally lost her blood innocence;
  6. tried to kill her daughter several times and may have been successful the last time - stay tuned;
  7. forgot how to construct sensible sentences (obviously she forgot about Greek 101 at the Bard Academy);
  8. sprained her ankles several times, (once even in the same episode);
  9. was forced to sing, and not just Joxer's song;
  10. was lusted after by Joxer;
  11. was unjustly accused of the death of Solan;
and then she fell into a flaming lava pit! Some years it just does not pay to get out of bed!

This month's Whoosh! is dedicated to spunky Gabrielle, the most unsinkable character since Molly Brown. In the following articles, we will see what Gabrielle was in the three seasons past and what she may yet become to be. She went from an annoying tagalong fangirl to become a hypercompetent partner for Xena. Is she a successful character or flawed? Should her character have any continuity? How important is the character to the show? These questions and many more are brought to the table, discussed, and discussed again. It seems no one tires of the subject of Gabrielle.

And now for something completely different.

WHOOSH was greatly assisted by the talents of the following people for their contributions of alt tags for this month's issue. Let's give them all a big hand!

  • Amber Newsum (ThunderRoad@door.net)
  • Beth Gaynor (bgaynor@compuserve.com)
  • Bret Rudnick (brudnick@head-cfa.harvard.edu)
  • Candice O Tokarczyk (frenchbri@juno.com)
  • Constare (jadamson@cadvision.com)
  • Danielle Walther (lessa@accessatlanta.com)
  • geekgrrl (geekgrrl@ix.netcom.com)
  • Jana Peterson (jpete@u.washington.edu)
  • JSandsmark@aol.com
  • Kym Masera Taborn (ktaborn@lightspeed.net)
  • Leslie Richardson (leslier@direct.ca)
  • Marian Pappaceno (errorlog@cris.com)
  • Matt Regnier (techsupport@mail.xvi.net)
  • ruffell (ruffell@home.com)
  • Shaych3@aol.com
  • Silk (silkscatapult@yahoo.com)
  • Terri Dorothy (tdorothy@mddc.com)
  • Zeus (zoharl@kalel.com)

    Kym Masera Taborn
    Executive Committee
    Bakersfield, California
    May 26, 1998

    From the WebMaster: The Palace, Again

    Yes, I am going to talk about the Palace...again. I know that I have been promoting it relentlessly for over a month now and you are probably totally sick of hearing about it, but you know what? I can't stop! This is the coolest project I have worked on since the founding of Whoosh! back in the olden days. But don't worry, I won't chew your ear off about various parties, events, and whatnot this time. No, boys and girls, this time get ready for some good old-fashioned philosophical analysis.

    As some of you may know, in Real Life (yes, we Whoosh! staffers do have them) I work for an Internet company called iVillage. What most of you probably don't know is that iVillage is a company based on the creation, fostering, and promotion of online communities. As someone who has been involved in the creation, fostering, and promotion of the online Xenite community, my Real Life dovetails quite nicely with my Xenite Life.

    This general notion of "online community" has fascinated me for many years. I have watched the Xenaverse virtually explode with creativity in the form of Web sites, chat rooms, fan fiction, listservers, XenaFests, and various combinations of each of these items. A subculture as complicated as the Xenaverse could never have developed so quickly without the help of things like e-mail and the Web. E-mail and the Web are indeed proven community-building tools.

    What blows me away about the Palace software is its similar potential for online community-building. Technically, it combines the visual elements of the Web with the immediacy of text-based chat communication. You can literally "see" someone while you are chatting with them -- or at least see a representation of them. This may not sound like such a big deal right off the bat, but think about the old adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words." It streamlines the flow of communication and lets you interact with others in a manner that is somewhere in between e-mail and Real Life. It's a very powerful experience in many ways.

    The Palace is a highly imaginative space. It is a fantasy world that encourages participants to "play" and to interact with each other in a playful manner. This makes the space a lot of fun and highly addictive as well. It is one of those things, sort of like the TV show itself, that you either "get" or you don't. And if you "get" it, you are hooked.

    Although our little Xena-themed "Palace" has only been up for a month now, it has developed a substantial base of "regulars" as well as a steady stream of new visitors and passersby. We are getting many more visitors, in fact, than I ever expected during the first month. I guess it shouldn't be such a surprise that Xenites would take to the Palace like a fish to water. Here you have an already-well-established online community known for two things: an obsession with Xena: Warrior Princess and an obsession with the Internet...and you give them a spiffy new playground.

    If you build it, they will come. I knew that the Xena Palace was going to be a success when one of our Palace regulars sent me the URL to a Web site that she and some others had created that listed a whole slew of Xena Palace-specific slang terms . She sent this to me only 8 days after the Palace opened! That's when I realized what a powerful community-building tool this was going to be. On the Eighth day, the Palace created...community! I am in awe. It's going to be a fascinating ride.

    Betsy Book Webmaster
    Executive Committee
    Brooklyn, New York
    May 23, 1998

    From the Graphics Editor: The Night Of Our Departed Callisto

    Callisto is no more.

    Hudson Leick tells us she believes Callisto has breathed her last breath. Producers and writers from the show have publicly echoed that as well. If there is such a thing as true death in the Xenaverse, then, as a local radio talk show host likes to put it, Callisto won't be down for breakfast.

    This seems to be quite the month for popular characters, on a number of shows, to peg out in one form or another. Alcmene, on Hercules, passed into the Elysian Fields. Duncan McLeod, on Highlander, walked off into the sunset (until he runs out of money or lucrative film deals are struck). Buffy's former-boyfriend-turned-mortal-enemy-then-boyfriend-again- for-ten-seconds Angel got skewered in the season finale, while the Slayer-in-Waiting bought it as well (this town ain't big enough for two slayers apparently). We won't even discuss the literal cliffhanger of Gabrielle and her daughter falling into an abyss of some sort.

    No doubt there are a number of reasons Callisto has left the building. Perhaps there were temporal issues involved, such as money or other contract negotiations that didn't quite pan out to everyone's mutual satisfaction. Perhaps story arcs upcoming require the removal of the character permanently. Maybe it's all a big publicity stunt and part of a larger disinformation campaign (although my heart wishes most for this option, my head tells me forget it). Occam's Razor tells us that the simplest, most likely possibility is usually the correct one. Perhaps it's a combination of several factors, including desires of the actress, lack of story motivation, future possibilities for the actress in a different series, professional rivalries, and the root of many problems, money. In any case, it seems safe to conclude that for the foreseeable future, if not for good, Callisto is gone.

    This is sad for many reasons. Apart from Xena and Gabrielle, Callisto has been the most consistently popular character on the show. For me, Callisto represented all the heavy issues that had been tap-danced around with the Xena character. Initially, Xena had been portrayed more evil in her bad old days, but as the series went on, history seemed to have been revised to make her less bad than the character appeared at first blush. Not so Callisto. Callisto was a magnet for all the weighty issues that didn't want to stick to the Xena character. From her first appearance in CALLISTO those words from Callisto's mouth stabbed like daggers when I heard them -- when Callisto was accusing Xena of all the terrible things in her past. To me, these issues were important, serious, and worthy of being explored. This excellent opportunity was ground that failed to be explored (or exploited) later.

    The most common argument I heard for Callisto leaving the show was that the writers couldn't think of ways to keep bringing her back. Hudson Leick, herself, said what would Callisto do, Get Xena? Kill Xena? Get Xena? and so forth?

    Well, at the risk of sounding stupid, what's wrong with that?

    I will draw upon my favourite example from television history to illustrate how such a thing can be done, and done effectively. Look at the 1960's sci-fi/western The Wild, Wild West and the rivalry between Dr. Loveless and James West. Loveless was West's Callisto. That show ran for five years, and in that time, Dr. Loveless appeared less than a dozen times but was consistently, after the hero and his sidekick, the most popular character of the series. A couple of times each season the writers found ways of bringing this arch-villain back that were, admittedly, good and not so good. Yet, to see the chemistry of the actors who played those characters at work was, for me, worth tuning in for alone.

    Who could fail to get chills up and down their spine as Dr. Loveless, for the second, fifth, or eighth time, would explain to West what he was going to do and then see West figure a way out of the scheme. Who can fail to get similar chills when Callisto wrinkles her nose at Xena, or delivers a line like "Here comes trouble"? Sure, there are people who might like to see Callisto develop as a character in this or that way, but for me, I'm just happy to see the character. Sure, some Callisto scripts have been better than others have, but Hudson Leick as Callisto just hasn't put in a bad performance yet.

    From that very first shadowy silhouette in THE GREATER GOOD (although it was a body double) I was hooked. CALLISTO landed me completely. R.J. Stewart's creation and portrayal of that character was nothing short of masterful in that script. RETURN OF CALLISTO didn't disappoint either. The choice of using Hudson Leick as Xena in Callisto's body for TEN LITTLE WARLORDS was pure genius in my opinion -- Hudson performed masterfully. INTIMATE STRANGER added more delicious layers of depth and complexity. A NECESSARY EVIL kept the heat on. Even Callisto's appearances on Hercules were enjoyable. While I might like some episodes better than others might, I cannot think of a single bad Callisto performance.

    If the most heard reason for Callisto being written out is the truthful one, that the writers could not think of ways to credibly bring the character back to the show, then I would respectfully suggest this be reassessed. Personally, I think R.J. Stewart, Steve Sears, and Chris Manheim can write every bit as well as those who kept The Wild, Wild West going in the 1960's. I would hope that a storyteller could be challenged by such a task, rather than just give up. If they can't do it, no doubt many competent freelancers out there could.

    The departure of Callisto has affected many people, perhaps more so than what happened to Gabrielle in SACRIFICE II. After all, we know Gabrielle is coming back. But we are told Callisto is not.

    There is a new area for Xena fans that Whoosh!, Tom's Xena Page, and SRT created called The Xena Palace. It's a hyped-up chat environment where fans can go to talk about the show, meet other fans on-line, and so forth. A detailed explanation of it is found elsewhere in Whoosh! so, I shan't repeat that here. It is important to note, however, that this chat environment contains a number of themed rooms, or chat areas. One of them is a room called "Callisto's Cave." The background art for this chat room is very like the inside of Callisto's Cave from the show. It's a dark place, a cavern, with a boulder or two for decoration.

    One of my self-appointed duties in this arena is to go from room to room and "clean up" the environment. This chat area allows members to make and use "props," little decorations, and pictures that are left behind when a member signs off until they are cleaned up. After a number of users have been in a room, it can get pretty clogged and messy with old props, so from time to time I'll swing through and clean them up - kind of like erasing a filled-up blackboard so it can be written on once again.

    A few days ago, I noticed a single "prop" rose on a boulder in Callisto's Cave. Then, more single roses. Then, entire bouquets of flowers. I was drawn to a similar image of the gates around Buckingham Palace after Princess Diana was killed. Fans were paying homage to the departure of a beloved character.

    I just don't have the heart to "clean" that room any more.

    Bret Rudnick
    Graphics Editor
    Executive Committee
    Boston, Massachusetts
    May 24, 1998

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