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XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS
Season Five

Review by Chastity Campbell

Starring: Lucy Lawless, Renee O’Connor, Kevin Smith, Ted Raimi
Director: Various
Video: 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Studio: Anchor Bay
Features: See Review
Length: 1040 Minutes
Release Date: October 19, 2004

Disclaimer For The Season 5 Episode: Motherhood:

All The Gods Were Harmed During The Production Of This Motion Picture!

Shows ****

I’m not sure what I love most about Xena!  Could it be beautiful women who know how to seriously kick butt?   Maybe it was the fact that not one, but two very intelligent women were chosen to play the lead roles?   Or maybe it was the fact that for the first time in a long time, there was a female driven action adventure show on TV that crossed the boundaries of every ratings demographic?  

I cannot pinpoint one aspect of this series that caused it to garner such devotion from its fans.  However, I can say with absolute certainty that Season 5 is, and will always be, my favorite season of all!  

The first episode of Season 5 is titled “Fallen Angel.”  This episode cost the studio a majority of their filming budget for the entire season.  However, the end result is an episode that breaks free of it’s earthly restraints, and takes you on a whirlwind ride through heaven and hell…literally!

Each successive episode in season 5 built seamlessly upon the last, bringing new life to the series, and creating a storyline that was hard to ignore.   Even people who were only a sometimes-fan of the show found themselves wrapped up in Xena and Gabrielle’s life and death struggle with the gods, mortality, and frozen ice caves!

Season 5 saw a return of the musical to ancient Greece.  Long before the hills were alive with sound of music, Xena was rocking & rolling in Melodia, the music capital of Ancient Greece.  It was kind of like L.A. without the neon lights!!   “Lyre, Lyre, Hearts On Fire” brings back some old familiar faces, as well as some new ones.   Gabrielle gets a Grecian Go Go Outfit, and Joxer’s flamboyant, identical twin Jace makes an entrance that even the hosts of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy could appreciate. 

Lucy Lawless is amazing.  I have never seen an actress with more flexibility than her, physically and mentally.   When I look back over season’s 1 – 5, I see a woman who not only took on a very challenging role and made it her own, but also a woman who grew with her character.  

Now, while I give Lucy major credit for her portrayal of Xena, I believe this entire series owes a lot to the character of Gabrielle, played by the very talented Renee O’Connor.  Renee breathed life into the character of Gabrielle in such a way that prevents me from believing anyone else could have pulled it off.  Like Lucy, Renee grew with her character.  However, I believe the difference between the two is that Renee was a true freshman actor when she landed this role.   You could literally see her development as an actress mirrored by her characters development from an innocent young farm girl to a lean, mean, Amazon Queen.

Over the course of season 5 Xena and Gabrielle died, and were reborn.  Xena became pregnant (despite her claims of being A LOVE FREE ZONE), and then ended up frozen for 25 years, while Ceaser raised her daughter Eve, no Livia, no wait, she’s Eve again!!  I tell ya, that girl has more personalities than Sybil!

Xena went through many changes throughout her syndicated TV reign.  However, none more prevalent than those during this next to the last season.   There was something for every single fan out there during this season.   If you have ever watched Xena, and even if you’ve never watched Xena, you can watch these episodes and find something to like.  Grab this box set before it becomes history!

Video ***

Anchor Bay, I am impressed with the quality of these DVD’s!  

The 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen was clean, with very little dirt or graininess visible.  The colors were very vibrant.  There was no visible hazing around the edges, nor were there any signs of artifacting, which is sometimes common on high compression discs. 

These DVDs are definitely on the higher end of the quality scale…good job, Anchor Bay!

Audio ***

Along the same vein as the video, the Dolby Digital 5.1 was very nicely done.  The audio levels were balanced evenly and properly among all channels.  

There were no dips or drop outs in the audio.   The musical episode is a good example of really well done audio.  The mixing of music with character dialogue and background sound effects was very nice.  I give these discs high praise in the audio quality department!

Features ***

By the gods, look at all these extras!

One of the things I love about these DVDs is the extra features.   Not only do you get cast and crew commentary for most of the episodes, you also get sit down interviews with Lucy and Renee and various other series regulars.  They watch their favorite episodes from throughout the season and give you details that you would never have known.

Alternative Director’s cuts and Deleted Scenes for various episodes are available for you to peruse, in addition to the 100th Episode B-Roll footage, Never Before Seen On Set Footage, Production Drawings and Sketches, as well as Photo Galleries!

The “Bringing Monsters To Life Featurette # 2” is wicked fun considering how creative and innovative this show had to be. 

Add to all that a DVD Rom featuring:

Now you tell me, with all those extras how can you go wrong?!

Summary:

Whether you’re a fan of the entire series, or just bits and pieces of it, you will definitely not go wrong picking up this box set on DVD! 

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