Whoosh! Issue 79 - July 2003


By Mil Toro
Content copyright © 2003 held by author
WHOOSH! edition copyright © 2003 held by Whoosh!
0000 words

Review (01-11)



[01] I have been watching movies and TV series on DVDs for more than a year now. I LOVE DVDS! So far, I own numerous movies and the season series DVD sets for Buffy Vampire Slayer seasons 1-3, Angel season 1, Babylon 5 seasons 1-2, X-Files seasons 1-2, Dark Shadows seasons 1-4 (yeah I know, don't ask) and now Xena: Warrior Princess. By far, Xena is the worst of the lot. It's not even close. Sheer garbage in terms of overall quality and what you're paying for.

[02] Let me explain. I have been anxiously waiting for the Xena DVD sets to come out for a few years now. I expected the quality to be half-way decent and consistent. I expected the picture to be that much greater than a video, not by a bare increment like these discs are. The picture isn't all that great even when considering they were using 16mm instead of 35mm. The color is washed out in the outdoor scenes, something I didn't expect. I was expecting to see the lush green New Zealand countryside. But instead it sometimes looks like a copy of a video. In other words, sometimes the quality is there and sometimes it isn't. The quality is uneven and I didn't expect that from a DVD.

[03] I also expected that there would be some extras worth buying, and don't tell me that a screensaver is really an "extra" or that a cheesy worthless coin is too. Oh wait, they did produce an extra disc with some behind the scenes "extras", but you have to go hunt down this special limited DVD set because it is only sold in certain stores. And what is so "valuable" that I have to go hunting all over town for, if it is even available in Canada? It's Josh Becker's "words of wisdom". Like I really care. I don't see any other TV shows doing this. They may have "special editions", but there is a standard set with excellent extras already, available to buy at any DVD store. But if Xena: Warrior Princess is going to have me stalking all over town to get these "precious" extras, they could have at least had the decency to include the main stars (oh, I don't know, maybe Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor?) plus some of the guest stars, main writers and producers, not some obscure directors and production people. I don't see why that would have been too much to ask. How expensive could it be? Every other show has somehow managed to do it. It's just obvious to me that the studio has no interest in putting any kind of money whatsoever into the Xena DVD sets.

[04] But getting back to the production quality. I understand that the first season was filmed on 16mm rather than the higher quality, but more expensive 35mm. That I can actually live with, but what I find to be inexcusable and unforgivable is that the DVDs themselves were re-produced extremely on the cheap. Watching SINS OF THE PAST, I had no problems, but then during CHARIOTS OF WAR, the disc skipped a chapter and it took me three times fiddling with it to get it to work. I finished watching that episode but stopped watching any more, I was so disgusted. Under normal circumstances, I would have taken it back to the store, but I have heard numerous stories from fans that this is happening on their sets as well, and on different episodes. In other words, the problem lies not in some fluke error with my particular DVD set or player, but with the point of origin i.e. how they originally re-produced the DVDs in the first place.

[05] I am assuming it is the studio's fault, (who didn't even have the decency to hire a real reproduction company), who hired Davis-Panzer and they did a woefully incompetent job of transferring the masters or whatever they did to screw up dubbing the DVDs. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they used the copies of the videos to make the DVDs. But whatever they did, it's inexcusable. How hard or expensive can it be to dub a simple DVD from the masters? The Xenaverse is well familiar with the shoddy re-production "skills" of Davis-Panzer when we were ordering videos from them, but for the studio to continue to use these pathetic incompetents for the DVDs as well is just unforgivable. I don't care if a contract was signed years ago, the results are still the same. Crappy. It just shows me how low on the totem pole Xena: Warrior Princess is for the studio to allow this ineptitude to continue.

[06] In any case, I think if you just enjoy the episodes for what they were worth and don't think about them being on DVD where the quality is supposed to be that much greater than a video, it might be okay.

[07] I think most fans who are left in the Xenaverse are just accepting what's been given to them and forgive all because it's Xena. The fans have a long history of doing this for Xena: Warrior Princess, anything Xena-related is excepted from the rule. The usual standards for anything and everyone else don't apply. I suppose it's because the fandom was so in love with the show at one point or another, but hey, my Love has limits . In this case, I'm not that forgiving because I know what's possible technically if they had only spent the d--- money.

[08] So with the standard set being shoddily reproduced the way it was, and the picture being less than pristine, and no extras to speak of, we should be paying no more than 30 bucks for this crap, even if they included the possibly interesting stuff on an extra disc. And I mean, 30 bucks CANADIAN, which these days is equal to about 5 bucks American. It just p----- me off that they have the GALL to sell us this crap, never mind how much they're charging. This might sound like I'm merely ranting for the sake of it. Not true. One of the reasons for buying the DVD sets is for the storage convenience. It's unbelievable how little space they take up in comparison to videos. I love that and it makes it well worth buying. But the main reason I buy the DVDs is for the vastly greater quality over video, not just a slight improvement. I also expect the physical production values to be equal to the rest of the industry.

[09] So will I be watching the rest of my Xena DVDs any time soon? Maybe. I'll have to be in the right mood. I notice that the 3rd season of Babylon 5 will be coming out in August and I can't wait to get it! On the other hand, I could care less that Xena's 2nd season is now available, although I will probably end up getting it anyway. Maybe. Anyway, I heard that the quality is a bit better in 2nd season because they switched to 35mm about mid-way through so at least that's something. Still no real extras though. And who knows what factory they used to re-produce them? The same as season 1? Grrrrr....

[10] In any case, it's just so obvious to me that Xenna: Warrior Princess is the dregs of Hollywood if we go by the crappy quality of the DVDs they're asking us to pay a fortune for. I really can't think of another series that's been mistreated/mishandled so badly. Not that my collection of series DVDs is all that plentiful, but I have enough of them to know what's complete garbage and what isn't.

[11] Anyway, I'm so disgusted with this whole franchise. The only person I'm vaguely remotely interested in is Lucy Lawless, who may or may not have a future career. But this whole DVD thing just p----- me off and as far as I can tell, it's unprecedented in the industry. Thanks for nothing, Studios-USA or RenPics or Davis-Panzer or whomever.

[12] Final rating: One out of five chakrams


Mil Toro, LYRE LYRE, HEARTS ON FIRE Music CD. Whoosh #49 (10/2000)

Mil Toro, Convention Thoughts. Whoosh #57 (06/2001)

Mil Toro, A FRIEND IN NEED Is Not A Friend In Deed. Whoosh! #59 (08/2001)

Mil Toro, Whoosh! Film Reviews: Signs (M. Night Shyamalan, 2002) (08/05/2002)

Mil Toro, Whoosh! Film Reviews: Star Trek: Nemesis (Stuart Baird, 2002) (01/25/2003)

Amy Murphy, Inside the Head of Mil Toro (Lucyfer). Whoosh! #63 (12/2001)


Mil Toro Mil Toro

I am a converted Canuck. I was born in New York City, raised in Philadelphia, lived in Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco and now for the last 15 years, in Toronto Canada. My job as a banker pays my bills, but writing is my true love, and I have written a few Xena stories and skits. They can be found through my website at - One in A Mil Xena Page http://webhome.idirect.com/~lucyfer/index.html
Favorite episode: THE DEBT (52-53/306-307)
Favorite line: Xena: "I like to be creative in a fight, it gets my juices going" Gabrielle: "Can we cook with your juices?" A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215)
First episode seen: THE PRODIGAL (18/118), but the one that got me hooked was IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (24/124)
Least favorite episode: FRIEND IN NEED (133/134-621/622)

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