Whoosh! Issue 56 - May 2001

MEMO TO ROBERT TAPERT AND COMPANY:
UNSOLICITED ADVICE FROM ARMCHAIR CRITICS

By Kate Goodman and Spring Nguyen
Content copyright ©2001 held by authors
Whoosh! Edition copyright ©2001 held by Whoosh!
2539 words



The Problems (01-04)
The Solutions (05-16)
The Conclusions (17-18)
Notes
Biographies



Memo to Robert Tapert and Company:
Unsolicited Advice From Armchair Critics




The Problems




Rob Tapert is dismayed his contract for XENA isn't several years longer
The Big Kahuna himself, Rob Tapert, is seen in THE XENA SCROLLS.


[1] For several years now, XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS has been attacked by some of its most loyal fans for the way it has strayed from its original conception and sailed willy-nilly into uncharted waters. Many fans believe the producers have altered the direction of the show and ruined its original magic. At one point or another, every group who has watched this show has been offended: Gabrielle fans by the tragic loss of her long flowing hair and her staff; oxer fans for the loss of Joxer's innate dignity and by his seemingly non-mourned demise; Subtext fans for the lack of sexual clarity; and others are severely disappointed by Xena's use of seduction as a tactic to achieve her ends.

[2] Clearly, very few fans are completely happy. There are even some fans who religiously watch and critically review the show every week who insist that all intelligent viewers stopped viewing the show some time ago.

[3] After a careful analysis of the numerous criticisms leveled at the television show XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, my colleague and I concluded that something constructive could be done about these serious complaints. We formed a committee of two and engaged in intensive study and consultation in order to come up with a plan of action. This article is a result of our work, and if these suggestions are followed carefully, the television show will become the show it was always meant to be. This achieved perfection alone will be ample compensation for our sweat and toil.

[4] We have broken down the problems we need to fix into categories, followed by the only logical solution for each major flaw.


The Solutions

1) Doing Things For The Sake Of Ratings

[5] Many have complained that Robert Tapert and company make many of their decisions based on the desire to achieve higher ratings. The Creative committee believes this has to stop. Nothing should be done to entice the viewer to tune in week after week. Beautifully clad actors, compelling storylines and characters, and all that dramatic Emmy award-winning music must go. There should be no surprises and no unfinished plot lines to spark viewer interest. High viewer interest clearly cheapens the show.

2) Conflict

[6] Ever since the "rift" in the third season, there has been much talk about the conflicts between the characters. The Chin incident, the "Gabdrag", and the chakram attack on Gabrielle (the "Gabchak"), have created endless emotional anxiety for fans of the show. While some have blamed scenes like the Chakram toss on length and editing problems, this is analyzing the problem at its most shallow level. The real solution is to eliminate all conflict. Frankly, the idea of conflicts between characters in a story is a disturbing one anyway. Everyone should be treated with respect at all times, and there should be no issues to resolve during the course of the episode. Not only will we avoid another "Gabdrag", but also removing all conflict avoids the danger of increasing viewer interest and the continued cheapening of the show (see solution number 1 above).

3) Comic Relief

[7] Characters who are introduced into episodes for comic relief should still be treated with respect at all times and no jokes about them should be made. To introduce an inept uncoordinated warrior-wannabe, dress him in an armor made of garbage can lids, and THEN to make jokes about him in order to generate laughter illustrates the work of a truly twisted mind. We have nothing against humor per se, we are not curmudgeons, but mocking others causes the committee pain. So that viewers are not blindsided by any hilarity at the expense of their beloved characters, we propose that areas be created within the program and designated as "humor safe zones". The disclaimers during the credits are one such place.

4) The Subtext Issue




Eating squid again, I see
With a kiss like that, it's hard to be ambiguous.


[8] Obviously, there is no more highly charged issue in the Xenaverse. Are Xena and Gabrielle more than friends? How many contentious and divisive discussions have begun as a result of this open question? How many friendships need to be broken and families torn apart before someone does something about this madness? The fence sitting position the producers have chosen to take regarding the nature of Xena and Gabrielle's sexuality must stop now. However, it is also essential that no particular group of fans should be offended. The rather brilliant solution the committee has hatched to eliminate this problem is to make Xena and Gabrielle gay one week and straight the next. To add variety, Xena could be gay on a week that Gabrielle was straight and vice versa [Note 01], though it is important to remember that no conflict should arise out of their differences in sexual preferences (see solution number 2 above).

5) Violence

[9] The endless violence on this show about a warrior princess is very disturbing. We have to stop the madness now, especially since children are watching this show right after their tranquil Roadrunner cartoons. Xena should spend a lot more time explaining her position and the power of the greater good to her adversaries. She should use the concept of "time out" when a warlord is particularly bad. The committee suggests that Xena adopt the universally accepted hand signal of "time out" to indicate her displeasure with poor behavior [Note 02]. This is not to be confused with the more strident universally accepted sign for STOP—where Xena faces her enemy and puts one hand out in front of her, palm facing the attackers. This should be used only on rare occasions, as it is quite forward and denotes finality instead of reasoning.

6) Dehumanizing the Enemy

[10] Many fans have been concerned about the way the villains have been portrayed. The fact is, there needs to be greater respect shown to the evil warlords, vicious slave traders, and hellspawn demons. Though he may be the King of Hell, we should not subject such characters to both physical and personal attacks as these people are obviously only doing their jobs. We must all remember that cannibals are people too, and everyone deserves to eat out occasionally. Let us not stereotype or make judgments about alternative lifestyle or cuisine choices. Xena should also desist from attacking people on a personal level, citing their poor hygiene, unattractiveness, or carriage. As noted by Ares himself, sometimes Xena is just "mean". Let us be a little civil, as children are watching and manners do count.

7) Physics

[11] We think everyone will agree that a scientist should be hired immediately to make sure that no more scientific laws are broken in those unnaturally long leaps or complicated chakram throws. Sure, the committee admits that Xena might lose a few more battles, and might at some point have to sacrifice Gabrielle to some evil warlord without these talents, but at least no one will be able to dismiss this show as fantasy anymore.

8) Realism

[12] Obviously, all the stories explored on the show are unrealistic in terms of day-to-day existence. How do these two women alone make money? The economics of ancient culture needs to be more carefully researched and incorporated into the stories. The women should stick to the basics: hunting, gathering, and dealing with serious health and hygiene problems. Every episode should have some of the qualities of IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404), but this time without engaging in any of the acts as cited in solutions numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 above. Let us get real, people.

9) Dancing and Other Seductive Behavior

[13] On this issue the committee is firm. There should be no more sexy dancing, which is clearly a ploy used to improve ratings. It is degrading to women and insulting to fans when they are forced to watch all that hot gyrating, Renee O'Connor's rock-firm stomach, and/or Lucy Lawless' writhing on the floor in orgasmic ecstasy. Watching the dances repeatedly made this creative consulting committee feel ashamed. To make matters worse, rewinding tapes causes loss of magnetic cohesion after 200 viewings, rendering the video tape useless, wearing out our VCRs, and resulting in the loss of money for millions of viewers who engage in this same activity. [Note 04]

10) The Later Seasons




Callisto is unaware Xena has placed itching powder in her armour
Callisto and Xena always made for big ratings numbers, especially in early seasons.


[14] Many viewers have pointed out that XENA was far superior in the 2nd and early 3rd seasons. This problem actually provides its own solution. The producers of XENA should revisit the beloved old themes from these seasons once again, rather than trying to do anything unique, intriguing, and/or different. For the rest of the year, Mr. Tapert and company should scrap any ideas for upcoming episodes, especially if they involve travel to exotic locales like Japan. Instead, we should be exposed to more of the same long ship scenes on "Rob's Folly", the same Greek villages, and many scenes on the same beach.

[15] Furthermore, without any contemplated compensation, the committee has come up with some show saving episode ideas for the remainder of the season:

Re-Quest
Xena and Gabrielle are both almost dead and briefly inhabit the bodies of Argo II and a stallion, who engage in a non-sexual kiss of "life". Whether Argo and the stallion will go out together or never see each other again will be the unresolved question.[Note 04]
A Night in the Life
How do Xena and Gabrielle spend their nights together? This might dangerously improve ratings if it is on a week they are both gay (see solution number 4 above). It will be much better to wait until a week they are straight, to make sure the episode is a snore. We also encourage more sleeping fully clothed, with both boots and weapons on, while in separate beds that are 90 degrees to each other [see THE RHEINGOLD (119/607)].
Been There, Done That, Done it Again
In this episode Xena and Gabrielle are hopelessly trapped in Season 2 and early Season 3 and are forced to relive the same experiences over and over. Some variation in word usage and scenes may be allowed, but these episodes should replay the same themes, characters, and plot lines that endeared us to them in the first place. The committee remembers someone once saying that change is constant, but the committee feels that this person was obviously deluded.

11) Stress Levels

[16] For ease of viewing, the committee strongly suggests that there be helpful titles before every scene to describe exactly what is going to occur. This way, viewers will no longer have to deal with the emotional stress and worry about what will happen next. The stress and resulting health problems created by wondering about what was going to happen to Gabrielle after she jumped into the pit, for example, probably raised hospital bills for many a Xenite. One quick word at the end of the episode promising that Gabrielle was not dead after all, but that she would soon be a grandmother, would have saved us all a lot of trouble. Stress-related health costs combined with the cost of the tapes ruined by rewinds mean one thing: those bills are piling up.

The Conclusions

[17] These suggestions will help make XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS what it should be and are certain to end all of the controversies surrounding the show. We hate to be so blunt, but the committee has been aware for quite some time that Robert Tapert and the producers have been running a business: a business that makes money from their creative work. These suggestions will most certainly nip that in the bud. After all, none of us signed on to be ATMs for TPTB. The committee also believes that they need to cease and desist from those enticing XENA/HERCULES catalog commercials during the closing credits, but that issue will likely be the focus of a more in depth article at a later time.

[18] Until then, Battle On (using passive nonviolence only).

Notes

Note 01
TPTB [the powers that be] are already apparently putting this plan into effect, having anticipated our suggestion in Season 5. In some episodes, Xena and Gabrielle did seem to alternate sexual orientation. We also suggest a familiar and repetitive pattern similar to this: boy toy, gay, boy toy, gay, ad nauseum.
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Note 02
The universal signal for a "Time Out" is the placement of the one hand vertical and one hand horizontal intersecting at a right angle in the palm of the vertical hand.
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Note 03
Even at conservative estimates, one million fans ruining a single one-dollar videotape would put the costs at one million dollars worth of damage per episode that involved sexy dancing. Costs of damage, in the United States alone, could skyrocket to 15 million dollars per year, as both Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor are in perfect physical condition. Their combined dangerous physical states could be lethal to many VCRs.
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Note 04
It is essential, by the way, to make sure the lighting is good during the kiss, or viewers may ruin VCRs trying to determine if that really was Argo II because the snout looked different. Argo or a stand-in?
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Biographies

Kate Goodman

Goodman A native San Franciscan, I received an undergraduate degree in History and added a Masters in English literature ten years later, specializing in 18th and 19th-century fiction. I started and currently co-moderate the Xena and Gab egroup list with Spring, and I am also the list owner of an egroup devoted to the Classic 19th-century ghost stories genre. In my spare time, I write short fiction and poetry and brood about the nature of existence.

Favorite episode: ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313), Norse Trilogy
Favorite line: Xena: "You don't know how much I love...that", THE PRICE (44/220)
First episode seen: IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? (24/124)
Least favorite episode: KING CON (61/315), MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS (105/515)

Spring Nguyen

Nguyen Spring's life is a meaningless void. Sort of like a black hole—but not that heavy. If you meet her in real life you would not get sucked into her stronger than light gravity and the immense specific density of her personality. But online she is a black hole of a presence. Not only does no light of life escape, but it will suck you in. But don't worry, the black hole that is Spring's meaningless void is well furnished, comes with a big kitchen, high speed internet access, and free cable.

Favorite episode: LAST CHANCE (132/620)
Favorite line: Xena: "Gabrielle, the love that we have, it's stronger than Heaven or Hell. It transcends Good or Evil. It's an end in itself. Our souls are destined to be together." FALLEN ANGEL (91/501)
First episode seen: ORPHAN OF WAR (25/201)
Least favorite episode: Too many to name. I do not want to single one out and upset the others.

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