Once Upon a Time... (01-04)
Personal Fouls (05-07)
Merchandise: More Money, More Distance (08-11)
Fan Clubs: More Distance (12-14)
The NetForum (15-18
The "Rift" Between Xena and Fandom (19-21)
Early XENA promo pic.
Once Upon a Time... I recently read a nice, friendly post by a loyal Xenite with, I am sure, good intentions. In that post, we were told that the Xenaverse is alive and well, that things are great, and that basically we are living blissful lives these days because of what Xena and the Xenites as a whole have done for all of us.
 Nice thoughts. No offense, but I simply do not share that view. I am a realist, and so I must ask the questions: Is the State of Xenadom better now than it was a few years ago? Are the episodes better? Are the Conventions better? Are we completely satisfied?
 Once upon a time, things were great in the land of Xenadom. The shows were good, the NetForum ran well, and we fans really liked one another. Sure, there was the occasional troll who slipped in, but usually people were polite to one another. Lucy Lawless might send us a message via Tyldus, and you never knew who might drop by to say "howdy".
 Boy, how things change.
Personal Fouls It was not so long ago (a couple of months) that many of us were worried about the direction the show was taking. Before that, we complained about "the Rift", and most of the Xena NetForum was split down the middle over whose fault the rift was. Gabrielle-haters were out in droves, and then we placed Xena on trial for crimes against humanity. If you were not around for that, you missed a great show, a real circus.
 Only Gabrielle's sacrifice [SACRIFICE II (68/322)] at the end of the third season seemed to quiet the furor over the Rift. Then when she returned, it was done in a weird, mysterious fashion. Gabrielle was acting strange, Xena was acting stranger, and we still have few clues as to why this was so. Writer/executive producer R. J. Stewart was no help either, saying that he wished that they had handled Gabrielle's return a bit differently. In short, they dropped the ball and have no intention of making up for it.
 In football terms, they committed a personal foul. "Ok, that's a loss of down and a 15 yard penalty for the team in Magenta". I do not think I am alone in thinking that the show is beginning to slide.
Merchandise: More Money, More Distance
A clearing house for all sorts of merchandise.
 Then we learned that Gold seating at the 1999 Santa Monica Convention would be $75, and, though Lucy Lawless and Kevin Sorbo would be there, neither would be signing autographs. I do not begrudge the actors taking some time off. I know that after working long hours for months on end, I would appreciate a break. Also, if they did not want to sign autographs (for whatever reason), I do not believe they should be forced to. However, does it seem like you are getting your money's worth if you are asked to pay this much for Gold seating? You must have Gold seating if you want any chance of getting an autograph, yet the major stars of the shows will not be signing?
 A casual glance over one of the mass marketing catalogues that Creation Entertainment sends out shows that the merchandise prices have risen to an all-time high. Reports from several Convention-goers have told us that most of what goes on there is an attempt to sell, sell, sell, with very few actual speeches from the cast and crew. "Buy the blooper tapes folks! Buy the mighty Chakram...it's a limited edition!" Yeah, right.
 How many "limited edition" chakrams have they sold now? I will bet they are turning these things out like there is no tomorrow. You will notice that what they do is sell these things until they run out. Then they repackage them another way and call them, again, a "Limited Edition". Whether the Chakram is framed or sticking in a rock, it is still the same old chakram, and they are charging you $500 bucks for it. Still, we will buy it because it is a "Limited Edition" and perhaps Lucy touched it. Raise your hand folks if you think Lucy even sees these things, much less handles them? Me, either.
 Also, have you looked at these god-forsaken Xena figurines that are supposed to be collector's items? They look like they took the heads off of the old "He-Man" action figures and stuck bad copies of Xena and Hercules on them, all in order to get your almighty dollar.
Fan Clubs: More Distance Back in the Golden Age of Xenamania, fans were given special treatment by "the powers that be". There was the old Lucy Lawless Fan Club, run by a group of loyal fans. No, it was not the slick production that the current fan clubs have. It was much more personal. Each issue of the newsletter contained letters to Lucy, poetry, commentaries on favorite episodes, Xena-Nyms, birthday wishes and interviews with the show's star. This small fan club really made us feel like we were a family and that Lucy and the stars of the show cared about each of us. Efforts were made to send gifts and cards to Lucy, and she truly seemed to appreciate our love of the work she did.
 However, that fan club is no more. I do not know the real reason behind its shutting down, but I remember hearing rumors that the actors had to sign strictly with Creation as it created its huge slick official fan club. This effectively destroyed our smaller fan club. It simply could not compete with the giant machine of Creation Entertainment. Now I understand that the Official Fan Club is filled with ads for merchandise and ploys to get the member to spend even more money.
 Renee O'Connor had a charming on-line fan club that was operated by her mom. There, we could send Renee our letters, and it made us feel very close to this talented actress. I was able to send her an electronic birthday card, and, though I never received a response from the actress herself, the people at that fan club were always nice, always friendly and always showed tremendous class. That fan club made us feel as if we fans had a way of getting just a little closer to the star that we loved so much. Sadly, it closed its doors a few months ago as well, and the fans are now cut off from Renee. We must now go through Creation if we wish to feel like we are part of the club.
One of the first gathering places for Xenite opinion.
 Now, after putting up with three and a half years of a troll-infested, sloth-like, broken down NetForum, we learn it is shutting its doors forever. Somebody has decided to go to a flashier, new and improved i-chat forum! Woo Hoo! Sorry, but is there anyone here that likes that new forum? At last check, there was only a handful of people posting over and over about how bad the place is, how ugly it is, and how their computers are crashing. I have been there, and I must say that sometimes the thing works and other times it does not. Usually when I write a detailed post about my thoughts on an episode, the thing tells me that my browser sent a message it could not understand. When I try to go back and retrieve my message, it is gone! It's probably a good thing I did not have my pistol handy or I would have blown a hole in my computer screen.
 Even the most loyal Xenites have become disillusioned by it all and are drifting to parts unknown. They can be found in half a dozen different forums and chatrooms that run ten times better than this "new and improved" site.
 What of the Xenite? I am what many refer to as an "Old-Timer", a guy who was around during the beginning of the Xena phenomenon. I can remember a time when there was a sense of family and unity. Once upon a time, we Xenites used to be very close friends. We spent most of the time talking about the show, writing fan fiction, complimenting one another on our latest poems, and wondering what Lucy was doing that day. We got very excited at the mere rumor that Steven Sears, Ted Raimi, or someone else connected with the show was going to post in the official NetForum. Lord help us if Lucy sent us a message via Tyldus. We went berserk!
 Now I hear that these people refuse to come to the site because of all the hate and flame wars that erupt on a weekly basis. Who can blame them? I understand that Ted Raimi became so disillusioned with all the "I hate Joxer" posts that he simply stopped coming to the NetForum. I would too! Who wants to read that sort of negative criticism about your work? Oddly enough, every time I read an article about Ted, I come away feeling that he is a genuinely nice guy who is fun to hang around.
The "Rift" Between Xena and Fandom I am sorry, but to me, it appears that Xenadom is beginning to fracture and come apart at the seams. We are no longer one big family. We are no longer united in one group. We are no longer loyal to the show, and we are becoming disillusioned about Conventions because we no longer respect one another, are getting inferior products, and are getting charged top-dollar prices for less.
 It is 1999. It is a new year and a time for new beginnings. Unfortunately, it appears that 1999 will be more of the same. It is great that there are some out there who are still fanatically loyal to the show. It is great that some people are willing to overlook the low-quality product that they have been shoveling at us and are willing to pay top-dollar to attend Conventions where prices are higher than ever and contact with the stars is more limited.
 Yeah, things are great. Things are just peachy.
ROCker is a writer/ guitarist / jack of all trades living in Birmingham, Alabama. Due to the bounty placed upon his noggin by several trolls out there, he prefers to remain pseudonymous. His interests include writing fantasy stories, playing guitar, AD&D, and longing for the day he can achieve world domination. Despite his reputation for criticizing the powers that be, ROCker truly loves the show. "I criticize, because I care". He is a devoted viewer of both XWP and HLJ and considers himself fanatically loyal to Gabrielle. "Gabrielle is the one who initially drew me to the show, and she keeps me returning week after week. I'm a hard-core ROCker."
Favorite episode: ATHENS CITY ACADEMY OF THE PERFORMING BARDS (13/113)
Favorite line: Xena to Joxer: "Are you suicidal?" WARRIOR...PRINCESS...TRAMP (30/206)
First episode seen: THE PATH NOT TAKEN (05/105)
Least favorite episode: IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404)