Whoosh! Issue 76 - March/April 2003

By Daniel Starr
Content © 2003 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 2003 held by Whoosh!
849 words

Cost (01)
What You Get (02)
Issues (03-11)



[01] US$99.95 plus shipping from http://www.xenahercules.com

What You Get

[02] Six DVDs with four episodes on each disc. One additional disc that is in CD-ROM format that includes a Xena Screensaver and The Xena Chronicles. The Xena Chronicles consists of lists of four areas including Humans, Gods, Monsters, and Scrolls. Clicking on a name in any list gets you a description of the topic you chose.



[03] The DVDs feature 5.1 surround sound, which when played on my way too expensive surround sound system, sounded great. The only gripe I had with the sound was that the bass was not sharp enough. It was too boomy. Maybe that comes from listening to movies with DTS sound? When played back into a "normal" analog TV, the sound was clear and without any artifacts. Overall, I was very satisfied with the sound. Let's give it a grade of B+.


Analog playback

[04] When played into an analog TV, the video was very good. Especially if you consider that there are no annoying channel logos or commercials. As one would expect, the DVDs looked better than the VHS tape set, also for sale at the same website. (Yes...I bought the VHS version when it first came out.) Grade - B+.

Digital playback

[05] When played into an HDTV (High Definition TV) or onto your computer screen, the video was significantly below par. Although the advertisement asserts that the DVDs were "remastered from studio-quality digital video", I see two areas where the video is less than expected:

[06] #1 - General areas of the picture, such as skin areas of facial closeups, show obvious artifacts of the digitizing process. Skin areas are not smooth, but are mottled. And this effect is not caused by motion on the screen. The more I watch it, the more it bugs me.

[07] #2 - Motion ghosting at the edges of moving objects is worse than normal. I can accept a certain amount of frayed edges due to rapid motion, but the abnormal amount I see on these DVDs combined with the mottling described above makes the digital viewing experience painful. Grade - C-.


[08] Praise the Gods! Each episode is broken into chapters. Each has a chapter menu from which you can skip to your desired starting point. When watching an episode on my computer, I can skip to any spot in the episode by clicking on the time bar at the bottom of the screen. Why do I even mention this, you may ask?. Because the frilling Hercules/Xena DVDs you had to play from start to finish without any chapters! Chapters in this series are better than the chapter method used in the Series Finale DVD [FRIEND IN NEED]. Grade - A-.


[09] Although the chapter feature and 5.1 surround sound distinguish this set from the Hercules/Xena DVDs, the image quality can't come close to the great video you see on the Xena Series Finale DVD. Perhaps the Season One DVDs will be the low point in the Season Sets. Only time will tell.


[10] A hundred bucks seems a bit high when comparing with the season sets of Buffy. But considering that there are 24 episodes in Xena Season One, and only 12 episodes in Buffy Season One, the price doesn't seem out of whack. I'll take 24 episodes at $4 per episode. [Editor's note: A different vendor will be offering Xena DVDs from a different mastered set for around $60 per season beginning in April 2003. Whoosh will review them if and when they are released. This set is currently available for pre-order at Amazon.com.]


[11] If the issues of digital playback do not pertain to you, then this set of DVDs is a must have. Even with my dissatisfaction with the video, I intend to get all six seasons. Heh! At least I won't have to wait for reruns!


Daniel Starr Daniel Starr
I was born at an early age. Went to school in southern California. Spent 11 years in the Navy as a Reactor Operator on a ballistic missile submarine. Married for 26 years with two boys for children. Have lived all around the USA. Currently reside in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Favorite episode: Jeez! I guess it would be WHO'S GURKHAN?
Favorite line: Xena and Gabrielle are sitting on a log. Xena has her armor off. They are having a discussion about Xena's leather costume. Xena: "Why does this always happen?" Gabrielle: "It's the blue eyes, the leather. Some guys just love leather." Xena: "I think a wardrobe change is in order." Gabrielle: "You could wear chain mail." Xena: "Yeah. But I think that would just attract a kinkier group!" Gabrielle: "Probably right!" A DAY IN THE LIFE
First episode seen: I don't remember, but it was during the second season.
Least favorite episode: The series finale. What a complete disappointment! [FRIEND IN NEED]



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