Whoosh! Issue 27 - December 1998
Letters to the Editor

To write to the editor regarding your comments, observations, and questions about Whoosh!, send an e-mail to ktaborn@lightspeed.net and mark the subject "Letter to the Editor". All letters with the subject "Letter to the editor" are subject to publication and may be edited. Due to the volume received, some letters may not be answered individually or receipt acknowledged.

Can't Stop Dissing Dahak: Pondering The Third Season
Gruendemann and Renee O'Connor
How Do We Solve A Problem Like Joxer?
The Problem With Anachronism
Love In The XenaVerse
Sex Lives In The XenaVerse
Fan Fiction Issue
More On The Shakespeare Debate
Thoughts On CRUSADER
Thoughts On A GOOD DAY
Lauda Whoosh!
Violence In XWP
Love That Herk
Haiku Apppreciation
Origins Of The Name Xena
That Darn USA!
Episode Guide Lows And Highs

Letters To The Editor

Can't Stop Dissing Dahak: Pondering The Third Season

Subject: Thanks for the articles on Whoosh
Saturday, November 14, 1998

My name is Macaria. I have really been enjoying the November issue of Whoosh. What delights me is that not everyone who contributes here laud XWP excessively in showing that they're fans. Instead, they show insight in analyzing the show. The contributors are not reluctant in revealing some of XWP's biggest problems in the process, and this truly impresses me.

Like many people, I am extremely vexed at the redundancy and inconsistencies on XWP. I'm also provoked by some of the saccharine, over-sentimental, and downright pathetic moments between Xena and Gabrielle. There has been good potential in developing the Xena-Gab friendship. However, making the friendship mushy, corny and implausible does not help getting the message about true friendship across to the audience.

What is more, Xena and Gabrielle are not always depicted as "friends", but as "hero" and "sidekick". Gabrielle is clearly the less important of the two characters. Joxer calls Gabrielle "Xena's sidekick". Gabrielle is used to obeying Xena. If she doesn't do what Xena says, bad things happen [Gabrielle's Hope, Maternal Instincts, The Return of Callisto]. Such depiction is appalling. There shouldn't be a distinction between a "hero" and a "sidekick" between friends. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys sees this. Hercules and Iolaus love each other [Faith, Descent, and many others] just like Xena and Gabrielle, but Iolaus is never the less important of the two friends as far as friendship is concerned. Hercules respects Iolaus' opinions, and doesn't restrict Iolaus' decisions. Iolaus is often the hero of Hercules [Armageddon, Faith]. Hercules and Iolaus never get over-sentimental about things, either. Instead, they support each other as real friends would.

The "Xena is the center of the world and all the supporting cast members are merely cheerleaders" message on the show has also bothered me considerably. Reading E.A. Week's "Dissing Dahak: What went wrong with XWP in the third season" has been a very memorable experience for me because I identify most of the problems she had mentioned about XWP. I agree with her 100% when she pointed out that the cheapening the wonderful supporting cast members like Ares and Callisto is unforgivable.

In addition, I personally long to see some development of the Xena-Ares relationship. Giving both Xena and Ares a chance to grow is crucial, because Ares is not only a nemesis of Xena; he's her influence and temptation-- physically, intellectually, and morally. Severing Xena's bond from Ares in order to emphasize the much less logical and plausible Xena-Gabby relationship in Season Three is nothing short of criminal in cheapening Xena's unique, dynamic character that was presented initially. What is worse, in Season Three, Xena suddenly develops the physical ability to defeat Ares, a full-fledged god, in a fight [The Furies].

Season four so far has also proved to be disappointing. The stories are still overwhelmingly repetitive. The Xena- Gab relationship is more sentimental than ever. What is worse, the best re-occurring character, Ares, magically disappeared without explanation after he was degraded into a turn-coat and a prostitute in the season finale. This leaves the viewers hanging, pondering what really happened to such a initially wonderful character.

...Being able to enjoy XWP again will make me very happy, but that will not be possible unless something positive is done about the current bad writing. Extravagant sets, beautiful costumes, wonderful special effects, and even great actors like Kevin Smith and Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor and Hudson Leick will never make up for the XWP stories that don't make sense. Like Kevin Sorbo once said about the writing problems HTLJ once had in its second season: "Certainly it [the bad writing] does [bother the fans]. The fans aren't stupid! Don't treat them that way."

Again, I enjoyed the November issue of Whoosh and hope such good articles will keep on appearing in future issues. Thank you!


Editor-in-Chief Kym Taborn Responds:
Whoosh! tries to represent as many fan positions as possible. One of the delightful things about Xena fandom is the overwhelming desire of the fans to discuss, argue, commiserate, and bond about all things Xena. Every fan has an opinion, and thankfully, most do not have much inhibition about sharing it. At Whoosh!, of course, we try to make it not deteriorate into a mudslinging contest, though on occasion it has been difficult to avoid just that. The fans of Xena are involved not just intellectually but emotionally as well. They represent many backgrounds. They process and express information and views differently. We try to capture that diversity in Whoosh!. I personally feel that diversity is good. At times, I may allow things to go to more extremes than some readers are comfortable with, but over all I trust I am doing the right thing.

My personal theory about why the beginning of the 4th season was so dark was because the first four episodes were a debriefing from the third season. They shared a part of the angst and fabric of the third season. I am most curious about what they will do from there. A GOOD DAY was a good sign and although MUSES was a bit of a sidestep, I anticipate they might outdo themselves with CRUSADER. CRUSADER's concept is fascinating, and one hopes that the execution will meet the potential of the concept. Heck, even if they only make it half way there, it will still be better than 90% of what is on television now.

I agree with you about how they missed the boat with Ares. He started out such a strong and menacing figure in the first season, then he became Callisto's gamepiece in season 2, and finally Hope's boytoy in season 3. Now Ares' time seems to be spent in Young Hercules. They began an interesting undercurrent between him and Gabrielle in FORGET ME NOT and in various other moments in other episodes. That was something I was not expecting. All through the 1st season I kept on hitting the TV and saying, "Ares, get a clue! The control of Gabrielle is the key to Xena!" I felt sorry for him when Callisto figured that one out in ten minutes, while poor Ares remains apparently clueless into season 4.

The foundation and theme of Whoosh! is indeed that the fans are not stupid. In fact, Whoosh! would have been a one-issue wonder had it not been for the lack of stupidity in the Xenaverse.

In addition, thank you for your kind words about Whoosh!.

Sun, 1 Nov 1998
Subject: Dissing Dahak

Thank you for that fine article in the newest Whoosh. Overall, I generally agree that the Dahak/Hope storyline- ark was poorly organized, and will regrettably taint this franchise depending on how long the series lasts.

You pretty well summed up what I had been thinking for sometime, that during the 1st two seasons, XWP sold itself by its ability to 'do more with less'. Always with emphasis on story and characters and not on 'gimmicks' like pretty costumes, musicals, and cynicism just for the hell of it.

To be fair, there were some glaring inconsistencies and if you look at the Star Treks and X-Files, you can see how inconsistency can be glossed over with plausible storytelling. But from the very start, inconsistencies in Xena and Herc are as commonplace as jumping the B.C. timeline. So, I can tolerate it to some degree.

Comparing a low budget syndicated show to "deep pocket" supported network programs like X-files and Buffy are somewhat not fair. But I can't say Rob Tapert, just from what bit's and pieces of interviews of read of him, won't be mistaken for a Gene Roddenberry, Chris Carter, or Josh Whedon. With all due respect to LL's spouse, only time will tell if even he will say he should have thought twice about what was done in season 3.

Daniel Abundis

Mon, 02 Nov 1998
Subject: re your article in Whoosh

I can't agree with you more [with the article "Dissing Dahak"]! You've described everything that's been annoying me for the last year.

A few weeks ago, I sent the following e-mail to Barron after reading his rant:

"I've got even more complaints about the twisting of these characters, and it's spilling over into the new season. I've hated the whole Dahak story line from the beginning, and now it's infecting Herc, as well. I'm sick of demon child Hope, hooded priests, blood sacrifices, stupid sheeplike peasantry, and what's with the crucifixion obsession? It seems every other episode, we're treated to a crucifixion. I'm also sick of the stupidities written for Gabrielle based on pretty thin motivation beyond the desire to manipulate the characters into conflict. I'm sick of the mush. Enough of the "I love you's." Xena was a lot more fun when she was tough. The endless sheep eyes and trembly-chinned confessions we get these days are making both characters flabby and destroying the tension that kept things interesting. What was great as the rare, unexpected insight has become the overworked routine. And what was the point of showing us the twin-crucifixion deaths predicted by Alti? I don't want to know about their future deaths, however melodramatic. So it was used as a quickie plot device to energize Xena to defeat the hag?

"Bad idea; more was lost than gained, including the pleasures of speculation about the future. When you know the climax, everything else is anticlimactic. Interesting plot lines last season were taken up, dropped and never seen again, while the whole dreary demon-child crap dragged on and on. The most beautiful episodes, both production-wise and in ideas, were The Debt I & II. I'd like to know more about Lao Ma. I'd like to see Xena try to regain that power, even sporadically. And what happened to Boadicea and the Britons who, when we last saw them, were facing down Caesar's armies while Xena was running off for a good ol' Dahak confrontation? Pah! And the spectacle of Ares kneeling before another open-pit Dahak barbecue? Phooey! What threat can this jerk Ares be now? And now we've got Dahak on Herc, too? What, did Kevin Sorbo complain that he wanted some Xena-style sturm-und- drang scenes to boost his ratings? I liked Herc as a nice guy. And I liked Iolaus alive, not mummified. What's with these producers? They seem out of control, with story-lines careening across an X-Files landscape...Next stop, aliens in ancient Greece."

Thanks for a solid explanation of the mystery of Season 3.

Suzanne Goodman

Tue, 03 Nov 1998
Subject: article comments

WOW! That ["Dissing Dahak"] was a fantastic article that articulated perfectly a lot of the problems I had with season three. I liked the references to the X-Files and Buffy too.

Keep up the good work!

Sara K. Ellis

Subject: Letter to the Editor
Thursday, October 29, 1998

I have been a fan of XWP since Xena's initial introduction on HTLJ and I love the show dearly, but I only recently acquired access to the internet and imagine my surprise at discovering some great heated debate among the fans over season three! I personally really enjoyed season three so I can't quite understand the nature of the debate.

After looking through your site I was able to get a vague impression of what all the hoopla is about, but I would still appreciate it immensely if you could let me know in some detail why the fiery arm of Dahak seems to have reached into the hearts of Xenites everywhere. Thank you. (And just so you don't misunderstand me, my high regard for season three does not mean I think that the fans who disliked it are wrong. I'm just confused and curious).

Andrea Creel

Editor-in-Chief Responded:
A lot of heated discussion has to do with the denial that Gabrielle experienced what many viewers felt amounted to a rape. It is a rather complex issue. Some did not like how the entire demon seed storyline overpowered the other storylines of Gabrielle's loss of blood innocence and Callisto's realization that her life was empty. Then, the dragging of Gabrielle shocked many viewers. This has added up to a lot of viewer anger and confusion. I suggest that you read E.A. Week's "Dissing Dahak: What Went Wrong with XWP in the Third Season" in Whoosh! #26, for further discussion of this fan reaction.

Gruendemann and Renee O'Connor

Wed, 18 Nov 1998
Subject: Letter to the Editor

Many thanks to Whoosh staffer Bret Rudnick and to XWP Producer Eric Gruendemann for a behind-the-scenes view of television production [Whoosh, November 98]. Most of us really have only the sketchiest concept of the responsibilities that fall within the job description of "producer", and I thought this piece was very interesting and informative.

I must take issue, however, with the following statement by Mr. Gruendemann:

"...But it's also a testament to the supporting cast, Michael Hurst, Bruce Campbell, Renee O'Connor. If they can carry a few shows you're fine. You do want to see Lucy Lawless and you do want to see Kevin Sorbo, that's why people tune in."

Although I'm certain that Ms Lawless is considered the primary draw of XWP, particularly among the press, I think Mr. Gruendemann is underestimating not only Ms O'Connor's vast fan base and appeal, but the critical role she has played in the success of XWP. I dare say that Ms O'Connor's popularity now rivals even that of Ms Lawless, and that there is a large portion of the fan following for whom Ms O'Connor & Gabrielle are the major draw of the series. For others, Gabrielle is not just a "supporting" role; it is Gabrielle and Xena as a team who form the heart and soul of the show.

Those associated with the production of XWP should be thanking their lucky stars for Renee O'Connor. She is capable of much more than just "carrying a few shows", and I must say that I am baffled that her contributions to the success of XWP are continually undervalued and underappreciated.

Kate Maynard

How Do We Solve A Problem Like Joxer?

Subject: Joxer as threat and problem
Monday, November 02, 1998

I don't usually do this but I did want to write you and commend you on your thoughtful and insightful article in "Whoosh" ["Why Joxer Is Seen As A Threat And Other Problems" by Jennifer Waldeau, Whoosh! #26 (11/98)]. I think you really nailed it and only wish TPTB would read it and take some of your suggestions.

Thanks for [a] worthy contribution to a great net publication!

Melody S. Chartier
Providence, RI

Subject: Letter To The Editor
Monday, November 02, 1998

Re: Why Joxer Is Seen As A Threat And Other Problems (Jennifer Waldeau)

I enjoyed reading this article and I congratulate Ms. Waldeau for her courage in stepping out into the morass that is the "Joxer Debate". There are a few comments I would like to add in response to her article.

Joxer's characterization as "Everyman" is not one I would necessarily agree with, although I certainly take the Ms. Waldeau's point in respect of his flaws. Gabrielle is much more indicative of "Everyman", I believe, and in an early Starlog interview, RJ Stewart stated that the character of Gabrielle (paraphrasing) was the viewer, travelling around with this great hero.

Another aspect of fan reaction to Joxer is, I believe, the type of humour which appeals to each viewer. Joxer typifies broad, slapstick physical humour for the most part, and for those viewers whose funny bones remain unstruck by slamming into trees and doors, or falling out of trees, this sort of humour grows tiresome very quickly. Those who enjoy it, want more, more, more...those of us who dislike it want less, less, less, and it's naturally not the fault of a fictional character written to be the vehicle of the laugh that he should suffer the slings and arrows of the dislike. It's also facile in the extreme for fans of the character to say "blame the writers, not Joxer"...Joxer being a fictional character, who else is responsible for him? Nevertheless, an appearance by Joxer is symbolic of banana slippage and if I (or others) didn't laugh when the Three Stooges were doing it, why should we think it's funny just because it's a character on Xena?

Aside from the differing types of humour which viewers enjoy (Xena and Gabrielle themselves make a formidable comic duo in A DAY IN THE LIFE), there is the question of just how large the country is that Xena and Gabrielle inhabit and where they have their adventures. Apparently, the only inhabitants are a variety of nebulous peasants, villagers, some assorted bad guys, Xena, Gabrielle...and Joxer. We've seen a number of characters appear more than once over the course of the series, but they appear to have moved to other climes. Or died, of course. Several times, in some cases.

From SINS OF THE PAST onwards, the following characters have appeared more than once:

Hades (4),
Ares (13),
Marcus (2) [yes, I know he's dead...so what?],
Perdicus/Perdicas (3) [dead],
Myzentius (2)[another dead one],
Iolaus (2) {current status unknown, but dead as of this writing},
Ephiny (6),
Salmoneous (3),
Diana (2)[hey, she's a character],
Philemon (2),
Autolycus (6),
Herodotus (2),
Hecuba (2) [both versions],
Lila (3),
Meleager The Mighty (2),
Callisto (10) [one of these appearances is as Xena -10LW, and one is her arm in GG],
Cyrene (3),
Solan (3) [dead],
Kaliepus (2) [dead],
The Fates (2),
Meg (2),
Caesar (4),
Pompey (2),
Velasca (2),
Minya (2),
Aphrodite (3),
Dahak (2) [a pillar of flame, but not for long],
Hope (5) [as of this writing],
Lao Ma (2),
Borias (3) [yeah, dead, I know...so what],
The Green Dragon (2) [dead],
Tara (2),
Poseidon (2) {or a reasonable facsimile),
Cyane (2) [also dead, no big deal]
and a few young Amazons we'll hopefully see more than twice.

There are also intriguing characters we've only seen once: Palaemon, Vidalis, Homer, Cecrops, General Marmax (IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE), Orpheus, Glaphyra and the surviving members of THE DIRTY HALF DOZEN, Boudicea, Vercinex and Cleopatra (rumoured to be coming back, as is Cecrops). There are Gods we haven't seen, such as Athena or Artemis, or the Muses, for that matter.

Since his first appearance in CALLISTO, Joxer has appeared in 19 episodes. That's more than any other character, with the exceptions of Xena and Gabrielle. I haven't counted Argo's appearances, either. In fact, if you don't consider TEN LITTLE WARLORDS, where it was Callisto's body inhabited by Xena, or GREATER GOOD, where only Callisto's arm was seen, Joxer has only two fewer appearances than the God of War and Pyscho Barbie together. For those of us who enjoy a variety of new and recurring characters, Joxer is a far too familiar face. I don't mind familiar faces, and I certainly don't mind seeing Xena and Gabrielle every week (that's why I watch, afterall), but I want to see other recurring characters interacting with Xena and Gabrielle too, other than Autolycus and Meg, that is. Actor availability aside, there must be more than 30 odd people inhabiting Greece that can turn up from time to time. I'm rather tired of Joxer.

And Joxer has no story to tell me. He's incidental to Xena and Gabrielle's lives, but they seem central to his story. It's almost impossible to imagine him having a life "outside" the episode, IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL notwithstanding. The problem is...that I don't want to watch Joxer's story. If I did, I'd be writing RenPic and asking for a show entitled Joxer:The Once And Future Warrior. Or something. I watch for Xena and Gabrielle's story, and how that affects the people and the world around them, including Joxer. Certainly, he's their friend, but so are many others, both ones we've met and those we have yet to meet. Certainly, he has a degree of courage, but so does Salmoneous, for example, as we saw in BLACK WOLF. And how about Ephiny, Minya (who stood up to Xena!), Palaemon, and most of the others? A good heart? Sure, but unless the character is a villain, everyone in the Xenaverse has a good heart. A loyal friend? What's Ephiny, chopped liver?

There's little point in blaming the writers...it's their show, and they present what they think we'll enjoy watching and what they enjoy writing. And far more often than not, they succeed, at least where I'm sitting. Where I do think they fail, purely from my own personal enjoyment standards, is so frequently presenting a character which, to me, has become the invisible man. He doesn't draw my attention on the screen because there's no reason for me to see him, he's simply "there". And "there" is fine, to a certain extent, but I'd like to see other characters too, ones with problems for Xena and Gabrielle to solve, people to teach and to learn from, people to laugh and to cry with. That's why I watch this show. And the people of the Xenaverse *include Joxer, but it has room for many others, too.

How to fix the problem for those of us who believe that there is one? I'm not sure, really. Since I don't personally find Joxer funny, I can't really address the comedy aspect of his appearances. Since I don't see that he has a story, a purpose for being there (contrasted with Salmoneous, who's probably working a deal, or Autolycus who's likely casing a target, or Ephiny on Amazon business or Ares who's up to no good), most of the time I see his appearances as purely for "prop" purposes. And prop characters don't need development. I don't think it's strange that most of the episodes where I believe he works well as a character are the ones that have less screen time for him. There's no time for a pratfall, there's a story to tell, Joxer has a job to do, and he does it. And since I don't see Joxer as a character of much substance at all, it works for me. So perhaps the answer, for me, is as simple as that: fewer appearances to cut down the boredom factor, decide whether Joxer is a "funny" character or a "prop" character (the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but it's very frustrating for both Joxer's fans and detractors when Joxer is competent one episode and not in the next), and determine the number of appearances from there.

Shelley Sullivan

Subject: LOVED your article!
Tuesday, November 03, 1998

I just read your article today [Waldeau article] --in fact, about five minutes ago!--and I just had to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I am a member of the extreme anti-Joxer faction of Xenites, but by a strange quirk of fate, one of my best friends--and a fellow Xenite--is a big fan of Joxer (and Ted Raimi in general).

Jennifer (yes, that's her name--strange, no?) has defended Joxer since the moment we met (on-line, at it turned out). In a recent e-mail to me (RE: "In Sickness and In Hell"), she said...

"I was all amazed at how progressive Joxer was, and figured it would only be a matter of time before he embraced his true calling of cooking and realised he would never be a macho warrior. It really made lots of SENSE, then-- he was trying to overcompensate, and the like. But nooooo... ruin that nice little image for me."

I replied...

"Hey, lousy warrior, lousy cook...just all-around lousy (although he managed to stay healthy through most of the episode; no lice on him!). What did you expect, character development?"

A swift reply to that remark was to be expected...

"You don't think Joxer's good at SOMETHING? My god. I am shocked. I resemble Joxer a lot, you know... Sheesh."

My response was sharp:

"Look, I gave Joxer the benefit of the doubt for 3 seasons, hoping against hope that he might actually *learn something from hanging around Xena & Gabby so much. At least learn how to swing a sword, for Gaia's sake! But here we are, Season Four, and he hasn't changed a bit since we saw him in "Callisto" Way Back When. Sure, he's got that "unrequited love" thing for Gabby, but how often have we seen it? 3 episodes, "A Comedy of Eros", "Been There Done That", and "Warrior... Priestess...Tramp"--that's it! I've said it before, and I'll say it again...Ted Raimi ought to sue."

Snappy comeback:

"You ought not consider progress to be measured in sword swings, you know! I think the 3rd season was largely an entire waste of Joxer screentime, as you know. With exceptions like "Been There, Done That" and "Sacrifice II".

"HOWEVER, I think that Joxer, if he ever realised his goal to be a macho warrior like Xena or Hercules was silly, could be an incredibly talented guy. He likes to steal (and fish), therefore, he could probably be a delightful scout-type, and he OUGHT to have been good at cooking. It would have been perfect-- Joxer has skills, but he's too afraid to use them because they're not macho, just like his skills with the lyre. Duh!"

Anyhoo, that should give you some idea of where I stand, and why I liked your article so much; it's high time that Joxer "Got A Life", and developed somewhat as a character.

Anthony Santomenno
perdicus98@yahoo.com http://www.angelfire.com/ct/ams/index.html

Subject: Thank you
Sunday, November 01, 1998

My point exactly [about the Waldeau article on Joxer in issue #26 (11/98)]..


Lubomir Vassilev

Subject: Joxer in Whoosh! 26
Tuesday, November 03, 1998

BRILLIANT. You have given words to my febble thoughts.

Instead, we are watching a man who, despite his gifts, still cannot make anything of himself. A very significant distinction. The former compels us to root for him, the atter is someone for whom we can feel contempt.

YES. In too many eps we have him standing around when Gab or Xena are fighting to save the day. Given his physical type he should be helping not failing. I hope TPTB read this and redeem this character.

Carolyn Marie Gravlin

Subject: Joxer's problems
Tuesday, November 03, 1998

Please let me compliment you on your excellent article in Whoosh! 26 [Waldeau's Joxer article]. I must admit I was expecting the usual Joxerphobia, but was pleasantly surprised by your analysis. Joxer is badly handled as a character, and all too often used for cheap laughs (as Xena and Gabrielle were in the unfunny "In Sickness and in Hell").

While I disagree with your conclusions, that is merely a disagreement based on a different viewpoint. I have heard the Meg/Joxer pairing mooted before, but have been puzzled by it and need to review the pertinent episodes again.

I can't comment on the Wallace Shawn material other than to say your argument is well-considered, though of course I have seen him around. However, if that is what Joxer was intended to be, I would never have gone beyond becoming a casual viewer had Shawn appeared in the role. Joxer as presently constituted touches a chord within me. To each his own, I guess.

I feel there has been deterioration in Joxer's intelligence from his first introduction. The Joxer of "Fins, Femmes and Gems" and "In Sickness and in Hell" is nowhere near as smart as the one we saw in "A Comedy of Eros" and "The Quill Is Mightier." Part of this is due to inconsistencies among writers, of course, and he has been all over the map: consider his actions in the beginning of "The Bitter Suite." He failed, but did nothing stupid (contrary to what was said in another article, he was following Ephiny's orders and was trying to get Gabrielle out of the Amazon village - Xena intercepted him).

For myself, I think Joxer can be used not merely as a contrast between the ideals represented by Xena and Gabrielle and the reality that is most people, but as a challenge to their own further development. What would it take to get Joxer to listen, to learn and to grow up? I think Our Heroines are up to it, as long as this doesn't dominate the story. It would give him some focus and develop the talents he already has inside (as established by Xena's dialogue with him at the end of "For Him the Bell Tolls").

Joxer's love for Gabrielle can also be used to test the Xena/Gabrielle relationship in a manner much more lighthearted and ultimately more heartwarming than the rift ever could. Supposing in the course of Joxer's increasing maturity Gabrielle does fall for him? What problems does this introduce between Xena and Gabrielle (not to mention Joxer and Gabrielle)? Since such a romantic relationship cannot continue indefinitely within the context of the broadcast series - fan fiction is another matter - eventually it would run its short course and they would both get over it. This provides both an interesting challenge and the solution one of the original problems. Of course, the subtext fans would throw fits, but then again XWP cannot come down solidly on the side of subtext either, as this would also limit the types of stories that can be done.

Interesting enough, it was established in "Sacrifice II" that Joxer does not feel threatened by the Xena/Gabrielle relationship. He accepts it as fact, and why not? It has become clearer with recent episodes that despite his obvious immaturity even Xena is relatively comfortable with him around, and there is a special kind of friendship there. If he thought for one minute that winning Gabrielle would put him between her and Xena, he would seek Xena's help in falling out of love. While Gabrielle persists in ignoring the obvious, Xena is well aware of Joxer's feelings and has not yet attempted to discourage him (she can't be relying on Gabrielle to do that; Gabrielle is clueless in the matter and Joxer knows it).

Joxer might be more successful as a wandering minstrel (a cook seems rather limited to me, and Salmoneus, while sticking to the same basic premise, does display a lot of ingenuity). An episode where Gabrielle teaches him to sing and polishes up his songwriting skills as a subplot could be a lot of fun.

I have found that developing Joxer as a full-blown character in his own right to be extremely challenging, and have been working on my own stories in which the romantic relationship with Gabrielle is first established, then developed and eventually blossoms into full-blown love, with all the complications that entails. An important part of this is developing Xena, curiously enough. I feel that she has grown too dependent on Gabrielle, and that this dependence manifests itself in various unhealthy manners, as in her repeated attempts to abandon her delaying tactics against the Persians in "One Against an Army" in favor of a forlorn hope of saving Gabrielle's life. Only when she finally accepts Gabrielle's sacrifice does she come up with the plan that does save her. Much more satisfying than the overlong "Adventures in the Sin Trade."

So where some may see annoyance, like you I see a challenge and have made my own response to it. After all, even Joxer fans have gotten mightily upset with his lack of character development!

Thanks for letting me ramble. Open thinking like this really gets the creative juices flowing. It remains to be seen if I can cook with them!

Again, thank you for your insightful article!

Phil D. Hernandez

Subject: Joxer article
Saturday, November 07, 1998

Many thanks for the Joxer article. I found Jennifer Waldeau's analysis of the problem very illuminating.

On the subject of the writers finding a focus for this character: During the second season I hoped they would build on the Hermes-like figure we saw glimpses of - the courier who brings Xena the head of Orpheus, the messenger who alerts Xena to Callisto's escape.

Less given to boasting and drawing attention to himself, a deceptively ineffectual man could slip past defences, trick warlords, find vital items and information... play his part in the plot and the struggle.

Perhaps Joxer's retrieval of the hind's blood dagger shows a move towards this type of role. If so, better late than never.


Subject: Response to "Why Joxer is seen as a threat...
Friday, November 20, 1998

I think the big reason why Joxer is such a controversial character is because he is exactly the kind of guy that Gabrielle will eventually go for, once Gab totally frees herself from all the gender-based identities she has. Joxer would certainly die for Gabrielle, and be happy doing it. Once Gabrielle sees this, and once she finishes the transition out of the whole "damsel-in-distress" angle, all hopes of subtext vanish. And this is why everybody hates Joxer - because eventually Gabrielle will leave Xena to be with him.

This fits in with the whole Gab-as-Amazon idea too - at some point I see Gabrielle totally toughening up. Actually this trend is progressing fast as we speak. In the few episodes I've caught this season, Xena doesn't spend as much time during fight scenes bailing out Gabrielle. It makes sense that a "xenafied" Gabrielle wouldn't need a man that's macho, and Joxer has what Xena doesn't - some degree of innocence.

Maybe Gabrielle, after actualizing herself in terms of her Amazon status, and becoming a big bruiser like Xena, will need Joxer to save her just like Xena needs/needed Gabrielle. And then: a spin off of a spin off? Besides, don't Amazons usually take submissive men?

Anyway, I read [the] article in Whoosh, thought it was mucho perceptive, and I thought I'd throw in my opinions. As for whoosh - keep up the good work.

Matthew Wilson

Thursday, November 19, 1998 11:46 AM

I tend to disagree with your analysis of Joxer. His character has become a welcome ingredient to the show. It's good to see a character with no skills ambition or god-like powers. He's a simple innocent persona with a good heart who adds spice and further character development to the main pair. Not everyone wants to fantasize about two women always turning to each other. Only the dimwitted need to see the same two episode after episode. I enjoy all the characters and I believe Joxer adds flavor. His great strength is his boyhood charm. If he were driven like Salmoneus to do his own thing he would be shallower than others perceive him to be now.

Wes Young

Subject: Joxer
Saturday, November 21, 1998

Thank you...for your insightful article about the Joxer problem. I personally am a fan of Ted Raimi (I loved Seaquest DSV), and have been very frustrated at his character's lack of development these past few seasons. I read with interest your solution to this problem, and it is my sincerest hope that TPTB could see the wisdom of such a proposal. Well spoken, indeed.

Mary Tisera

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