From the Editor-in-Chief: Grrlfriends and Santa Monica
From the Graphics Editor: The Night of the New Year
From the Editor in Chief: Grrlfriends and Santa MonicaLast January we unveiled the Men of XENA special issue. The response was so encouraging that we decided to offer a Grrlfriends of XENA issue. What you see before you is the fruit of our labor brought about by the dedication and hard work of WHOOSH staff and IAXS members. The directory of women alone covers 288 characters and actors appearing in the first 76 episodes of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS. The articles cover an eclectic mix of opinions covering various aspects about Xena and her relationships with Gabrielle, Lao Ma, Callisto, Najara, Princess Diana, Velasca, and Boadicea. This issue also includes a calendar highlighting the top 12 grrlfriends as voted by IAXS membership.
This is also the month of the Annual LA area XENA Convention hosted by Creation Entertainment. This is the third anniversary of what used to be lovingly referred to as the Burbank Con. It has now been uprooted and moved to Santa Monica for space considerations. WHOOSH will not have a convention table, but ALL of the WHOOSH Executive Committee will be there: Betsy Book, Bret Rudnick, Beth Gaynor, and me, Kym Taborn. If you see us, be sure to say hello. We always welcome comments and ideas on how to make this a better website.
Kym Masera Taborn
December 17, 1998
From the Graphics Editor: The Night of the New YearA dear mentor once said something to me that's become a maxim in my book: "Life is not Burger King -- you can't always have it your way." So it is with many things, and Xena is no exception.
More than a few people have been cheesed off because the show has taken a path they don't like. Season Three is often cited as a source of discontent, whether it's something specific such as the "Gab-Drag", or more generally, something like "Gab-buse" (forced pregnancy, Gabrielle killed symbolically or otherwise by Xena, Xena's perceived schizophrenia, an anti-climatic return of Gabrielle after the Season Three cliffhanger, and so forth).
Indeed, if ratings are the measure by which all is judged, more than a few people have found fault with Xena since Season Three. Ratings today are off (on average) at least 20% from their all-time Season Two heyday (up to 40% in extreme individual cases). Whether it's just a general weariness (or in my more tired frame of mind I might say "fickleness") or a deliberate protest or discontent, the simple fact is fewer people are watching than there were two years ago.
Some people have been rather vitriolic in their expression of discontent. This month alone there have been several websites brought to my attention where a "less than polite" expression of displeasure has been voiced. Obviously some people take their Xena quite seriously, and don't mince words about articulating their diversity. Frankly, rudeness never won any points with me.
As I sit here typing my editorial contribution for this month, Hanukah has just begun. Christmas, Kwanzaa, and my own observance, Solstice, are all still days away. It is at this time of year one often is reminded of fellowship, good will, and peacefulness more than at other times of year (though such qualities should never really go out of fashion due to a season). There was a time when I thought Xena fans would not have to be reminded to be civil at any time of year, but the evidence suggests that for some, that time has passed, if indeed it ever existed beyond the bounds of my perception.
Of course, not all things please all people. We all like and dislike different things. Some people like the comedy episodes better, some lean to the dramatic, while others like both equally. Even a strong opinion doesn't mean it's a bad one -- indeed, one wonders if there is really a "bad" opinion. There are, however, qualities and degrees of civility, and reproach (in some extremes, carping) will get a better reception if presented in a more palatable way. That doesn't mean the opinion has to be watered down or modified, rather I would suggest it's more of an intellectual challenge to present a point of view in a non-offensive way rather than an offensive one. And in no case are personal attacks justified.
For myself, still in this limbo between old year and new, I shall focus on what appears (to me at least) to be a most promising Season Four.
With slightly more than a third of the season behind us, what I've seen so far makes me far more hopeful than disheartened.
ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE, both parts (and especially part 2) were episodes I found very encouraging. Although I felt at first that some vital parts of the story were left out, repeated viewings have made me appreciate the artistry and assemblage of these tales. There is much here to be liked (and some things to laugh at, perhaps unintentionally). I shan't complain about seeing Marton Csokas as Borias again -- his character is always welcome with me. Vicky Pratt was a very competent Cyane. Claire Stansfield as Alti was a very capable villain. And the new characters of Otere and Yakut reminded me a lot of a younger Xena and Gabrielle.
A FAMILY AFFAIR left me a little dissatisfied with the "return with little or no explanation" of Gabrielle, and at first blush I wondered how I'd react to a "rubber monster" tale, but the story was very powerful, and the The Destroyer came off as a compellingly tragic character for me. The whole milieu of family relations turned out to appeal to me much more than I would have thought. The repeated use of the windmill imagery had me making comparisons with SEVEN SAMURAI and other Japanese films I have immensely enjoyed.
I shall take my own advice as regards expressions of discontent and say only that I saw A TALE OF TWO MUSES and IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL once and don't feel a need to repeat viewings of these episodes.
LOCKED UP AND TIED DOWN was another episode I enjoyed quite a lot, and was especially taken with Katrina Browne's portrayal of Thalassa/The Commandant. Indeed, both this episode and ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE showed me that rather than continue the earlier trend of watering down "Evil Xena's" past, it underscored the fact that "Evil Xena" was NOT a pleasant person. I was very glad to see these contrasts in Xena's character, and am very encouraged by it.
I'll also say right now that A GOOD DAY and CRUSADER are by far my favourite episodes so far this season. I think that R.J. Stewart and Steve Sears have a "Lennon/Mcartney" thing going with their scripts. They are both strong and imaginative writers, and their stories are rich in character and action, each having different but complimentary strengths. A GOOD DAY and CRUSADER also highlighted what have become my two favourite "minor" characters, the recurring Caesar, Julius Caesar, and the new and enigmatic Najara. Steve Sears continues to take up the challenge of writing a historic figure and placing real events in the context of the Xenaverse (handling those two challenges quite well in my opinion) and just when you think it's safe to form an opinion about a character or come to some philosophical conclusion, R.J. Stewart tosses in the ringer of the "villain/not villain" Najara and knocks everything for six.
No, I can't say that all of Season Four so far has been "my way", but it has been interesting, entertaining, amusing, and rather satisfying. Come to think of it, I wouldn't want it any *other* way.
December December 16, 1998