From the Editor-in-Chief:
One Year After
From the Graphics Editor:
The Night Of The Ruminous Reflection
From the Editor-in-Chief:
ONE YEAR AFTER
Twelve Long Months
For the majority of viewers on the east and west coasts of the United States of America, the last first run episode of Xena: Warrior Princess was seen June 23, 2001. This month and next month we will ponder the question of what we had, what happened, and what we are doing now one year later as the fans of one of the most amazing and innovative shows ever to be on television.
We all have our stories of how the show affected us and made us do silly things, like, I don't know, maybe start a website that sucked up about 6 years of your life? Or perhaps made you shovel dollars into a convention steam engine that never really stopped? Or maybe made you forsake family, friends, career, and anything else just to get your Xena fix? Yes, we all have them and more.
Time gives us the distance that is necessary to evaluate our earlier loves and lusts. We discover that things that once were as important to us as life and death now seem silly and pointless, while other things we did not think twice about were actually more important and more profound than we ever could have imagined at the time. What we thought were chance encounters turned into life-altering events and what we thought were life-altering events, basically faded into the past and now are either best forgotten or lingering embarrassments or sad, sad memories.
But that is life. Life is always like that. It never ceases to surprise and it never ceases to bite you in the hinder. Xena and the sub-culture that grew around it affected many people. We are a community. It had its beginnings, its maturity, and now we are at that scary point in time where we are in the Undiscovered Country. We are expecting to wind down, but we are eager to grow as well. Will Xena fandom die? Or will it get smaller and stay at some critical mass? Or will the fandom grow like a virus? Who knows? I don't. I am curious though. And I hope to be around to find out.
Witchblade is still scheduled to start its 2nd season on June 16, 2002 on the TNT Cable Network, although the main actor of the series, Yancy Butler, has checked in indefinitely to a re-hab program midst the production. There are at least four episodes in the can on top of the two hour season opener. Seven more episodes need to be made. At this time, the assumption is that Butler will be able to resume filming once she has checked out. However, there are rumors that the producers are looking into other possibilities. This would not be that difficult since the Witchblade does choose its own owners. It is not inconceivable that the Witchblade could easily find a new host if needs be. Yet, it can be traumatic switching leads in the heat of production. I suspect that Butler will be back unless she is unable to for whatever reason. The nature of the production (half a season aired over the summer) makes it very easy to extend the season and just sit out and wait for Butler's return. Of course, the others on contract might have to bow out, but TNT has to decide what is more important, the production or the star. If the production is important, and Butler requires more time, then they will be forced to take Witchblade into terra incognita.
I was lucky enough to be sent a promo copy of the two hour second season opener and it was very interesting to see how the "re-wind" is going to work. The character of Irons is the most shocking. Of all the possible scenarios that I had considered for his character, the second season Irons never once got close to what happens to him in the first season Witchblade. And yet, it all still remains in character with the character. This second season is going to have fun with the audience by showing how fragile and how strong destiny can be. This ain't your father's predestination. It is a whole new dimension of seeing how there can be a plethora of variety in something that is destiny. The second most shocking part of the season opener, was a new heavy that looked like someone trying to look like Lucy Lawless for Halloween. The actor even had Lawless' blank stare and little pouts down pat.
The happy happy part of the viewing was seeing that Pez's partner Danny is not destined to bite the dust again, at least not in the season opener. I really like that character. The disappointing part was that the show still is going for the goth noire and trying too hard for that graphic novel too deep for its own good look. But, with the dearth of strong females coming this autumn, the return of Pez is greatly appreciated and looked forward to. Let us wish Ms. Butler gets what she needs and let us hope that no matter what happens, the story will continue to live on and grow.
Relic Hunter Fears
Here it is late May and still no word on whether Relic Hunter has been canceled or renewed. It is very late, campers, and I am now beginning to fear the worst. We few, we hearty few, who have come to look upon Relic Hunter as a steady weekend buddy, might have to smell the coffee. True, Relic Hunter is turning into the middle eastern baddies of the week kind of show, but still, I will miss the characters I have grown comfortable with. All they need is two more seasons. Just two more seasons! I am still hoping that someone up the food chain will get a brain and renew the program. Until then, we can only wait. Sniff. I am looking most forward to the DVDs. Those will kick hinder, so to speak, and highlight the first season where they were much more liberal in their adventures and relics and characters.
It is looking like we are going into a dark age when it comes to hinder kicking adventure type female lead characters. We will still have La femme nikita rip-offs such as Alias and too much cop grit Witchblades, but the lack of fun and adventure female oriented shows such as Xena, and Relic Hunter is glaring. Buffy will last at least another season, but that show has always been about an ensemble. Sheena and Queen of Swords were lucky to live in a time where female driven shows were not merely tolerated, but sought after. I usually just blame Tribune for this sorry state of affairs, but deep down I know that is simplifying it. So what is up? Maybe an iffy economy that is scared of innovation but just stupid enough to miss out on a very eager and wealthy demographic? Perhaps there really is a creative drain and the collective consciousness in TV land can only think in terms of what was before and not what could be. Or maybe there are no conspiracies after all -- it is just a big cycle and the hinder kicking females will be back, with a vengeance! Ah, I like that last idea. Until then, however, we must sup on the meal served to us. Let us hope that someone somewhere on the food chain gets a clue and starts feeding us better.
Kym Masera Taborn
May 25, 2002
From the Graphics Editor:
THE NIGHT OF THE RUMINOUS REFLECTION
A year after the transmission of the Xena finale, some feelings hold strong and others are less so. I still don't like the finale - my particular thoughts on it are largely unchanged from when I wrote an article about it shortly after I saw it. In short, it was an unfortunate end to what had been a promising series. Because of it, in my opinion, the series will not have as much staying power as it might have had.
Xena had its most fascination for me early on in its run. I liked the dark side of the heroine and I liked thinking about the "tough" questions as regards redemption and the wish/will for it. The plots were clever and the characters colourful. Early on we got one of the most wonderfully crafted villains of any series - Callisto. We saw a friendship deepen between the two main characters and we learned that each personality could be complimentary to the other. It was not good to fight one's way out of every situation and there were times when total peacemaking wouldn't work. The trick was to distinguish well.
For me, Xena was at its best in times of crisis. The "Destiny" trilogy would not have happened the way it did but for unfortunate tragedy. Yet out of necessity born of that tragedy came great creativity. Xena showed great strength in episodes like SINS OF THE PAST, DREAMWORKER, CALLISTO, THE QUEST, and many others. We saw not only the birth of the Xena/Gabrielle relationship, but we came to understand some of the dynamics and temptation of the Ares/Xena relationship.
In the third season, the series stumbled. There is just no other way to say it. The series never fully recovered from the "rift" or its attempted resolution. There were fine moments of high art such as THE DEBT. There were strong relationship moments such as in ONE AGAINST AN ARMY. But there were also sudden "course corrections" that, in the end, became virtually unmanageable. Experiments with bonehead comedy became formula. The main characters began to become more and more schizophrenic as they started to become more antagonistic to one another rather than complimentary.
Season Four continued the "dual personality" trend and wide swings in episode quality, which led to the near-disastrous Season Five. By the time we approached the end of Season Five the show seemed to have lost all sense of direction. We had more bonehead comedy and self-indulgent episodes and few episodes that retained any of the sense of what made the series popular in the first place. Season Four would give us thoughtful villains in the form of Najara in CRUSADER, and then take away all sense of that complexity by reducing the character to simple madness in THE CONVERT. In an effort to replace Callisto we got another recurring villain in Alti, but as a sustaining villain the character did not really have any sympathetic qualities and was not nearly as carefully developed. The notion of a recurring archnemesis was softened by the mention that the character would never be as powerful as when she was first defeated, which took a lot of the sting and suspense out of subsequent appearances. Xena was evolving into "Super Xena" rather than as complex character whose self-doubt and self-examination in conjunction with the conscience of Gabrielle carried the story forward.
Season Six tried to counteract some of the damage done by Season Five. But the mixing of the "modern" mythology of Christianity with the mythologies of older cultures and an increasing level of graphic violence/abuse was not received well by some fans and the season suffered somewhat accordingly. That said, however, there were some extremely fine moments in Season Six. Fans loved WHEN FATES COLLIDE, many preferring to think of that as the series finale. Personally, I enjoyed COMING HOME and OLD ARES HAD A FARM because I enjoyed the Ares character when challenged by mortality, such as way back when in TEN LITTLE WARLORDS.
Regardless of how right or wrong it may seem, I still feel the finale is as flat today as it was when I saw it a year ago. It was an inglorious end to a glorious series.
Whether you're one of those people who feel that you were robbed by the creators of the show or whether you're one of those people who sat and took it for what it was worth with no value judgement, the bottom line is most of you didn't like it, with varying degrees of emotion that run the gamut from sadness to rage.
I'm with you majority folks in this case, generally speaking. The needle on the meter that would read my emotional response to the finale would still hover closer to "disappointment" than anywhere else. I still recall saying to myself after seeing the finale "Hey, if they wanted to kill the franchise, mission accomplished." For those who invested six years of real time in following a series through thick and thin, I can see why many would be sad at the very least.
Like anything else we choose to spend our time with we can still learn from our experience. We can be grateful that a common interest in a show sparked many friendships and charted some of us on new courses. We can revel in the good work done for charity that fans of the show did and still do. We can take what we like from the experience and learn what not to do from the bad. We can move on to something new, a little older and wiser, and direct our own efforts more soundly from what we've learned. We can even let some more time go by with the notion that, over time, our opinions may yet change.
But I wouldn't bet on it.
Whoosh! Executive Committee
Hermosa Beach, CA.
May 30, 2002