Whoosh! Issue 33 - June 1999
Editor's Page

From the Graphics Editor: THE NIGHT OF ABSENT FRIENDS

From the Graphics Editor: THE NIGHT OF ABSENT FRIENDS

As spring moves closer to summer, several issues are becoming public that before were not. Tops on the "obvious" list is the final episodes of HERCULES are being filmed as I type this editorial. I've really enjoyed this last season of HERCULES -- we've gotten some very memorable stories and characters. Maybe it's just me, but it seems very sad to see a show emerge from a perceived "slump" with a strong season of episodes only to come to its finality with what seems like harsh abruptness.

Like many, I was very upset when Iolaus was killed off at the start of the season. In smaller company, the character of Iolaus2 grew on me over time, and I was genuinely sorry to see *that* character move on (though that was achieved under uncharacteristically positive circumstances for such a character). I was delighted by the addition of the Morrigan character, and wish she could have stuck around. It was always a peasure to see Nebula and Autolycus, and I missed Salmoneus and Falafel. The comedies were funny. The dramas were moving. My heart broke as Hercules was denied the love of his life once more. My heart soared at the reuniting of Hercules and Iolaus. All in all, it was a spectacular season.

But all things move to an inevitable conclusion sooner or later. We got some of this "sooner" with the loss of Paul Coyle. I think Paul's influence on HERCULES has been very positive, and both the Xenaverse and Hercaverse will be less impressive places without his presence. Fortunately, we will get a hint of his skill early on in both shows next fall. It would be great if he could still write an occasional script for XENA from time to time.

With the closure of HERCULES we also have some consolidation and we continue the theme of "loss". We have already lost some key production people (such as costume designer N'gila Dickson) and others whose names are not public. This affects the XENA side as well, since some of that work is shared. But XENA too has or will suffer losses. It's pretty well known by this time that Liz Friedman has moved on. It's also become known that Steve Sears has been able to step up to even greater responsibility on a different show being produced by a different company. Others equally important will be leaving soon.

I won't mention any other names at this point, but to single out Steve Sears, it was particularly troubling for me to hear about his impending departure from XENA. While Steve has written an ep or two that might not be on my "top ten" list, he has been responsible for themes, stories, and characters that are among my absolute favourite in the Xenaverse. Steve wrote HOOVES AND HARLOTS, and created the whole Amazon milieu in the Xenaverse, along with the outstanding characters of Ephiny, Eponin, Solari, Melosa, and various and sundry centaurs. He wrote DREAMWORKER, a pivotal episode for Gabrielle's future. Steve was critical in guiding the show through Lucy Laweless' injury period (e.g., THE QUEST). Most recently, he wrote BETWEEN THE LINES, which, along with IDES OF MARCH, are two of the finest hours of genre television I have ever seen. He's been the most "in the trenches" person at high level as regards fandom. Not least of which, he's just a nice person and pleasant to talk to. On the one hand, I can't help but wish him the best of luck and success in his new endeavour. But on the other hand, his departure will be keenly felt. Fortunately, he'll still be around long enough to make a smoother transition.

The above paragraph applies as much or more to any others who might be moving on as well.

These are volitile times for Renaissance. One series was not renewed, another is ending, and ratings are down for the remaining show. XENA has long been a focus for some groups who perceive the show promotes or condones values different from theirs, and this was most publicly evident in an attack that resulted in THE WAY being removed from broadcast. Fans responded with a campaign of massive support, which it is hoped will not go unnoticed by the studio.

I'm told the Chinese character for "crisis" also means "opportunity". Those taking over the creative and production reigns for XENA have proved themselves in the crucible of last season's HERCULES. We have every expectation that the next season of XENA will rise to the challenge set by the last few episodes of Season Four. For my money, Season Four has had the highest highs and lowest lows of any XENA season to date, and it will be interesting to see what a new crew does with it.

So I raise a glass to those who have served so well, and offer a blessing to them and those who follow in their stead. May they and we find opportunity in this crisis, as we settle into a long summer of anticipation, in hope of renewed spleandour in the fall.

Bret Rudnick
Graphics Editor
Executive Committee
Boston, Massachusetts
18 May 1999

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