To write to the editor regarding your comments, observations, and questions about Whoosh!, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and mark the subject "Letter to the Editor". All letters notated "to the editor" are subject to publication and may be edited for brevity and or clarity.
That Darn Episode Order
More on Why Gabrielle Does Not Ride
Kudos to Bret's Interviews
"Gabdrag": Did She Deserve It?
Third Season Disappointments
Last Issue's Editorial
That Darn Episode OrderSunday, July 05, 1998
Subject: Letter to the Editor
I just finished reading Judy Fisher's article, "Improving Season Two: Episode Order, Relationship Development and Continuity on Xena: Warrior Princess," and I just wanted to say how impressed I was with her thoughts. Season Two is my favorite season, but by changing the order of the shows in the way she suggests, the season is so much better. It all made sense. I kept saying to myself, "Isn't this how it was shown?" Judy's particular order better serves the 3rd season as well. "The Price" was the darkest we have seen Xena till this point. Xena and Gabrielle were at odds with each other. As we now know, Season 3 would even be darker and tear our girls even further apart. So it was especially fitting to put the dark episode as the season 2 finale. It is the proper "foreshadowing episode" for the rift, which is to come. Again, thanks to Judy for her well thought out article, and thanks to Whoosh! for giving me something to sink my teeth into each month, especially during these trying months between season 3 and 4.
More On Why Gabrielle Does Not RideWednesday, July 01, 1998 11:39 AM
Subject: Letters to Whoosh: One is the Loneliest Number
I'll like to answer this from my personal viewpoint [responding to Ms. McGhee's letter in Whoosh! #22 which was in response to Ms. Robinson's article "Horseless: Why Gabrielle Doesn't Ride".
I had not planned to reference any Season 3 episodes in my essay. Due to a "reader", it was suggested to include some for those not familiar with the first two seasons. It would've been possible to include GH with paragraph seven (7) "Necessity", although, my focus was along the lines of Seasons 1 and 2.
However, the main reason was due to my dissatisfaction with "The Rift". I was still reeling from it and wanted to make this essay easy and light. I couldn't do that while thinking of The Rift. The "Sacrifice II" picture was chosen by [Whoosh! staff] and I did not argue using it since it was from the last episode.
Kudos To Bret's InterviewsMon, 06 Jul 1998
Subject: Great interviews!
I've been enjoying [Bret Rudnick's] Whoosh! interviews for months now and I just thought I should drop you a note to say so! The one with Steve Sears was especially good. I'm glad you went into so much detail about all the episodes he's written -- the man is really a mine of information about XWP. But no matter who you're interviewing, you ask such good questions and you've obviously done your homework beforehand. No wonder the results are so great!
I kept thinking I would see a write-up of your adventures as an extra in Sacrifice, but if there's been one, I must have missed it. I don't get on the NetForum very often, so that could easily happen. Anyway, it must have been an incredibly fun experience.
Thanks again for all your good work!
Bret Rudnick Responded:
Thanks very much for your kind words. Any words of praise, however, should go to Steve Sears and not me. He's the guy who did all the talking, and like many, I am very grateful he took the time to do that -- he certainly didn't have to.
You haven't missed anything [about my extra adventures]. I just haven't done it yet. One of these days when I have some time I'll get to it, promise.
Sometime during the summer would probably be good to ease XWS.
Thu, 02 Jul 1998
Subject: Your Whoosh! interview with Steve Sears
Just thought I would say how much I enjoyed your interview with Steve Sears. It was very well done and quite informative. Thanks.
Wed, 01 Jul 1998
Subject: Sears Interview
Way to go Bret! Fantastic interview! You hit all the tough topics and got a few spoilers along the way.
"Gabdrag": Did She Deserve It?Friday, July 10, 1998
Subject: Letter to Editor.
Gabdrag: did she deserve it?
There has been an awful lot said about the, by now, infamous "Gabdrag". Why on earth should Xena drag her "best friend" over, into and through the most painful territory she could find? Assuming that Xena was going to kill Gabrielle at the start of BITTER SUITE, and she was, wouldn't that have been enough? No, it would not. Gab isn't too worried about dying. She's not only said so, she almost went for it herself, with same poison she used on Hope in MATERNAL INSTINCTS. No, death is not enough. Xena wants Gabrielle to suffer, she wants her to be punished. Now where've we heard a line like that? Right, Gab said that about Xena in FORGET ME NOT. It was what Gab thought about Xena, it was why she went to Chin, it was why she betrayed her and it may very well be why she kept quite about it even in Illusia, when all was explained, we may have hoped.
If Gabrielle can be thinking like that, how much more likely is it that the destroyer of nations would be thinking along the same lines?
Now it might be said (and to some extent it has been said) that Xena must take a share of the blame for the events leading up to the death of Solan and Hope. If this is the case then Xena is not entitled to put all the blame on Gab. Is it the case though? Let's take a look.
It has been said that the warrior princess is to blame for the events in THE DELIVER on the grounds that she ignored Gabrielle in Britannia. So what? The young bard has been left to her own devices before, probably the earliest example is in WARRIOR... PRINCESS (only the 16th episode made) where Gab is not only left alone outside the town, to be threatened by a menacing bandit, but also has to baby-sit a wimpy princess. We've seen the Bard on her own many times since and only a few episodes later, THE GREATER GOOD showed just how effective she could be. Has she lost it since? Not that I've noticed. No, you can't blame Xena for what happened in Britannia. You might be able to blame Gabrielle though. Either she lost or misused her ability to read people or she just wasn't thinking things through.
Now move on to GABRIELLE'S HOPE. When Hope is born, Xena wants to kill her, because Hope is nothing but evil. Gab disagrees, saying that Hope might become good if properly brought up. Well, she is Hope's mother so she is going to be biased, but she appears to have forgotten about Hope's father. This is a serious mistake on her part and one which firmly leaves her carrying all the blame. Xena is right. Dahak is an evil God and Gabrielle (and others right now who adopt the same point of view in her defence) seem to ignore that. It cannot be ignored. It is the sole reason for Hope being there. Any who wish to take further the idea that a child of evil could be raised to be good should see what that argument looks like in its mirror image. Would Jesus have been evil had He been raised by bandits and murderers, or would the son of the (good) God have been good anyway?
Think about that and then ask why evil, in the form of Dahak's daughter, should be different?
So, when Hope kills Solan, Gabrielle knows who is at fault. Herself. She had the chance to stop Dahak's evil daughter from day one and, not only did she refuse to take it, she lied about it.
No wonder Gabby isn't saying much about the Gabdrag, in her opinion she deserved it. In her opinion? Well, she must certainly be unable to complain about the idea of punishment. In fact, she believes in it. See again FORGET ME NOT and also see FORGIVEN for an example of "Tough Love". Given that she is in favour of punishment, she will be aware that she would not have much say in what it might be. Very painful, but if this is what Xena decides she deserves, then this is what she deserves. In fact, she does not believe she has suffered enough. Even after the Gabdrag, even after IIlusia, Gabrielle is still feeling guilty. Without looking all over for clues on this (they're there) let's go straight to the ending of SACRIFICE. Why did Gab throw herself over the edge. It certainly wasn't her only option. By the Gods, what does the Bard normally carry? A staff, close to six feet longs. One poke with that, while Hope was distracted by Xena, and its all over. OK, it certainly wouldn't have been anything like as dramatic but it would have worked.
No, Gabrielle not only wanted to kill Hope herself anyway, quite apart from the intervention of the Fates regarding Xena, she didn't mind dying to do it. In fact, when she told Aries that, she sounded as though she was positively looking forward to it. She was. The Gabdrag wasn't enough, nothing would have been enough, not even Xena taking her life. The only way was for Gabrielle to offer her life herself as the ultimate penance for her wrongdoing.
Want to bet that TPTB were ever going to leave the Bard alive at the end of this series?
For the record, and to keep the Clan MacGab from getting after me, I am a Gabfan, not even stopping short of Bardolatry. She did deserve it though.
Third Season DisappointmentsFriday, June 26, 1998 12:38 PM
Subject: Dear Kym
Thank you, for "The Gabrielle Year of Hell Souvenir Issue" of Whoosh! [June 1998, issue number #21]. It served to point out, at least to me, what a dire change the writers and producers made to a previously outstanding show in season 3.
The third season embarked on a flawed story line - based on the false premise that "evil must enter the world through good", thus Gabrielle HAD to give birth to evil. This is ridiculous, if there was no evil in the world then what in heaven's name is Xena atoning/fighting for? Wasn't she the embodiment of evil in the world? Isn't she back from the dead to fight evil? So just what/who was she fighting in seasons 1-2?
This "family show" - "with a moral to the story", (as its Producers and Stars have repeatedly referred to XWP), which has been heavily marketed to children with everything from its own toy line and comics to a Universal theme park attraction, saw fit to embark on a third season plot line that had Gabrielle, while in full control of her mental facilities (this was no demonic possession) forcibly raped and impregnated, by an evil fire god, right before Xena's (and our) eyes and later give birth to her "monster" demigod daughter.
Subsequent episodes saw Xena fail at her attempt at infanticide, only to have Gabrielle complete the job of killing her own daughter (twice), subsequent to Gabrielle's child killing Xena's son.
As if these ill conceived, repugnant and poorly executed "family show" plot lines weren't bad enough, the show then went on to crown its third season with a February Sweeps episode (which they have asked to be considered for an EMMY) that opened with a prolonged and brutal scene of Xena attacking a village of women, taking Gabrielle, whom Xena has repeatedly spoken of as her "best friend" and "family", tying Gabrielle by the ankles behind a horse and dragging her to her death across half of Greece, finally attempting to throw Gabrielle's bloody and brutalized body off a cliff. (an act that has since been "aped" twice in this country, by young men in the commission of hate crimes)
The previous two season's characterization of the bard, have been obliterated as the bard was "deconstructed" with repugnant episodes featuring theme's/morals to the story such as:
Obtaining adulthood, means losing ones "blood innocence" - making ones first kill;
People are "born good" or "born bad" and those "born bad" have no "Hope" of redemption but should be killed at birth;
"Tough love" means beating a child bloody with a large stick, until they "learn".
When the character wasn't being raped or abused, she became a brainless incompetent and the "brunt of the joke" - in a bevy of "comedic" episodes featuring crude and sexist humor complete with a brothel chorus, a naked male "kidnaper" asking Gabrielle for commentary on his "assets", jokes about masturbation, "fisting" fish, and three naked dancing Gabrielle's, just to mention a few.
This "family shows" ratings hemorrhaged profusely at February Sweeps, as the story line featured infanticide, and abuse directed by Xena at Gabrielle as plot devices, dropping the third season February Sweeps ratings by millions of viewers Nielsen Ratings:
Feb. 97- 6.3/ 7.7 / 7.8 / 7.0/ 6.3;
Feb. 98 -6.1/ 5.8/ 5.8/ 5.5/ 5.5
And as Gabrielle's character continued her fall from grace, to eventually spiral down into Dahak's fiery pit, so this "family shows" ratings, have continuously declined from Feb. through June, rating consistently behind those of the previous year or now even dipping below the ratings of the first season.
This "family show" "with a moral to the story" is now being marketed by Universal via:
Topps trading cards featuring the rape of Gabrielle where we are told: "The producers were concerned that the sequence not be too explicit" so we were 'dazzled with a Tour de Force sequence' with 'the demon - having undulating tentacles of fire that wrap around her' and CD jackets and Official magazines that feature Vengeful Xena holding the brutalized body of the bard over her head about to throw her over a cliff "
So what have "families" learned in season three, from this show with a "moral to the story" ?
Right after the BITTER SUITE aired - (where Xena rides into the Amazon camp and beats up the women who try and protect Gabrielle so she can take her revenge on the women who hurt her) - two young boys donned warrior clothing and went to a school and shot down a teacher and her female students so that one of the boys could take revenge on a girl that "dumped"/hurt him. coincidence?
Both ROC and LL have spoken of the prisoners that write them - and Xena nights being held in women's jails. Right after Xena Magazine #3 was released with its Vengeance cover (reprising the "Gabdrag") - three young white ex-cons, grabbed a black man off the street - beat him up, tied him by his ankles to the back of a truck and dragged him across the countryside to his death. (and now there has been a second incident of this nature). - coincidence?
In THE DELIVERER we learn that Growing Up/ loss of innocence = a first kill. According to what was reported on a recent talk show - a first kill -also happens to be the rite of passage into many gangs too. - coincidence?
Is it any wonder that media critics like Welton Jones, (The San Diego Union-Tribune, 'Blue's' pungent reality assures freshness; But 'Xena's' mythology is going stale fast, May 24, 1998) are taking a second look at XWP and observe that:
"Xena: Warrior Princess is like a complicated machine out of adjustment and banging itself to pieces";
"The 'Xena' brain trust has turned to gimmicks like a ponderous musical episode, tedious interference by gods and an endless family feud ignited when Gabrielle was raped by the Spirit of Evil or something" ;
and state in conclusion,
"Next season, I'll have Monday night free for reading. Xena will have to pursue her indecision without me".
Frankly, I have to wonder about the sense and sensibilities of those in charge, that would market season three as a "family show" complete with rape trading cards and vengeance magazines for kids.
Last Issue's EditorialTuesday, July 14, 1998
Subject: Letter to the Editor
Last issues' Editorial was, even with the addendum, misleading and made assumptions that need to be cleared up. First of all, your Editorial started with a quote from me which you then proceeded to dismiss as an example of misinformation. Amazingly, the quote was to clarify something that I thought would be misinterpreted. Your addendum did little to rectify that assumption which was, in fact, the premise that the entire article was based on. Obviously, if my quote had been accepted by you as the truth, then the rest of your editorial would have been meaningless or, at the least, have taken a different slant.
However, in your addendum, you try to clarify your position. To quote the addendum:
"My point was simply that if the TPTB are concerned about fan respect, they should be more careful to avoid apparent contradictions in what they say, or not act so surprised when these contradictions lead fans to make their own conclusions which are not beneficial to RenPic. This applies not just to the producers and TPTB, but also to those who are close enough to be considered 'insiders' by the fans."
Taken on face value, it seems you are concerned with the idea that anything coming out of the RenPic camp, no matter who the source, is considered an "insider" with full knowledge of the show. It should be obvious to anyone that nobody has control over who the fans consider to be "insiders". I've seen posts where people credit "knowledgeable sources on the set". Even if those "sources" truly are on the set, are they "insiders"? Would the word, say, of a lighting technician about a story idea be considered valid? The acronym "TPTB" gets thrown about quite a bit by people, letting it stick where it serves an argument and letting it fall away when it doesn't. There is a huge difference between XenaStaff and, say, Bruce Campbell or Ted Raimi and, yes, even Lucy and Renee. And, further, we have no control over what anyone associated with the show might say. They all have their personal opinions and ideas of where the show might go based on things we have no control over and, in fact, should have no control over. The idea that we would censor them is as ridiculous as the idea that we should manipulate the fans.
"RenPic holds the most power to form public opinion on the upcoming season and, in my opinion, whatever that is worth, they have apparently decided not to use this power to their best advantage. "
For precisely the reason I just stated. Forming someone's opinion runs a close parallel to manipulation. I understand your confusion, but you have to rethink where you are placing the blame. XenaStaff has remained hands off where the rumors and suspicions are concerned. If anything, I've violated that rule a couple of times to clarify things to the fans. But I am not going to chase down every rumor or every rumor of a rumor. It's not my job for one thing and it's an endless task once undertaken. Add to that there is a lot we can't say because we have to maintain some sort of secrecy where plots are concerned.
Still, probably the safest thing is to believe that everything coming from RenPic, no matter who says it, is a deliberate lie meant to mislead. With that, the rumors will become meaningless and people can watch the show for the answers. However your editorial points up the tendency of some people to pick and choose what they want to believe and become upset over the results. People who choose to do that should take responsibility for their own actions and not shift the blame to RenPic (even the assistants), TPTB (whoever that might be at the moment) or XenaStaff (those of us, including me, who are most associated with the course of Xena). Unfortunately, your editorial falls into that camp.
Steven L. Sears
Xena - Warrior Princess
Saturday, July 18, 1998 4:14 AM
Subject: To the Editor regarding Curiouser and Curiouser and the Steven Sears Interview
Thank you for giving voice to puzzlement I too have experienced. It does indeed seem that TPTB lack an assertive fan-friendly strategy to promote XWP and the feeling that the honeymoon is over began with the laissez-faire attitude about how the third season rift would be received by a significant number of hardcore fans way before the rift even aired on television. "Yeah well, we'll lose some old fans but we'll gain some new ones", was the message I got. A courageous move?
To TPTB, XWP is ultimately about business dollars. To many fans the show has been ultimately about joyfully discovering a wonderful, protective, loving relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. We haven't all packed up and left because of the way the rift was developed but the empowering dynamic that has been so unique to this show is forever less. After BITTER SUITE, ONE AGAINST AN ARMY had the best warrior princess fight scene ever and a saddlebag full of soulful statements, but the magic is gone. Gabrielle sacrificed herself in the season-ender and the wonderful acting is still there to enjoy but the honeymoon is over.
So what is the good news about the fourth season? Joxer has his moments, but he ain't necessarily good news. And if the magic is over, what's the best we can hope for? Maturity? Immaturity? Yes, we know Gabrielle will return because Renee has a contract. Good news would be TPTB giving us tangible reason to believe they haven't dismissed fans who are disappointed and that the upcoming season will not continue to deconstruct what was once the best show on television.
The Steven Sears interview (also in the July edition of Whoosh!) gave some mixed messages to fans. He says:
"...I know that the fans want to believe that we're listening and that we're paying attention to what they are saying. I can say, 'Yes, we are'. But I can also say it's not making us do anything in particular or follow any particular path."
And when we express negative reactions to a particular path what is the response? Are we really wrong to believe that Dahak raped Gabrielle, but right if we call it simply a violation? Can we agree to disagree and still respect the right we all have to our own opinions?
He goes on to say:
"...Other people, even fans, have pointed this out, but by the third season many fans "possess" the show. And, even though you might have created it or helmed it from the beginning, you become the outsider. I've seen several calls for the studio to get rid of the XenaStaff. Oh, well. I don't feel insecure about my job. The truth of the matter is I love our fans ... Anyway, the point is that I do listen to the fans, but we can't be led by them. Even the fans don't agree with themselves."
True, and it could also be the case with TPTB. It would explain an apparent lack of an assertive, fan-friendly promotion of the upcoming season. Is anyone at the helm? Perhaps whoever is in charge is concerned that to be truly fan-friendly is the same as being fan-possessed.
J. C. Wilder