Saturday, June 23, 2007

Xena: Warrior Princess – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – review – TV Episode


Director: TJ Scott

First aired: 1996

Contains spoilers

I like Xena, and I’m not afraid to admit it. The series had the right mix of comedy, action, camp appeal, kitsch and Lucy Lawless looking statuesque in leather. It was inevitable, of course, that Xena (Lucy Lawless) and her sidekick Gabrielle (Renée O'Connor) would face off against vampires and in this season 2 episode they did. In typical Xena fashion all you know about Greek mythology could be happily thrown out of the window.

Xena and GabrielleThe episode starts with someone running through woods from wolves. Elsewhere Xena is talking to a villager who tells her that three young maidens are missing, meaning 6 have vanished in total. Xena recognises the woods as the bacchae woods and points out to Gabrielle that there is no music – the songs of Orpheus can soothe such creatures.

Gabrielle reveals her knowledge of the bacchae. Their bite can turn an innocent maiden into one of them: blood crazed, fanged harridans. When they drink of the blood of the God Bacchus (Anthony Ray Parker) they can never turn back. They can change form, often into wolves.

Ted Raimi as JoxerJust then the chased figure bursts from the trees and bowls Gabrielle over. It is recurring character and useless warrior Joxer (Ted Raimi). Xena scares the wolves off with her whip and Joxer reveals that he is on a mission to save the world. He has a package for Xena from Orpheus (Matthew Chamberlain).

Xena with OrpheusThe package is the disembodied head of Orpheus. He has been cursed by Bacchus, loosing his body. His lyre is with his friend Melodius, Xena must guide them to Bacchus were Melodius will play as Orpheus sings. However when they get to the village Melodius is dead.

Anthony Ray Parker as BacchusIn the meantime the bacchae have reported Xena’s presence to Bacchus – who looks like Tim Curry in Legend, but stockier. It appears that Xena, Bacchus and Orpheus have history. Xena’s army fought that of Bacchus and Orpheus’ wife was caught in the middle and died. Orpheus blames Xena.

attaking BacchaeXena goes after the lyre, fighting the two bacchae who have it but failing to retrieve the instrument. During the fight it appears as though Xena is bitten and later Joxer notices blood on her neck. The little ruse of 'is Xena going to turn' is a little obvious as one watches.

Dancing with BacchaeDuring this time Gabrielle has walked down to a dance (complete with ancient Greek dance/rap music) and ended up dancing with two women – obviously bacchae – who seem to have her entranced. She is saved by Joxer who pulls her away from the women.

DryadOn they go, with a stop at a dryad graveyard as, in this, the only thing that can kill a bacchae is staking through the heart with a dryad bone. Of course, you have to get one first which means defeating the skeletal flying dryads. As the fight draws to a close Gabrielle turns.

It is up to the others to retrieve the lyre, stop Bacchus and prevent Gabrielle from drinking his blood and becoming a bacchae forever. Of course, no one told them that only a bacchae can kill Bacchus…

Quick nipAs out with mythology as Xena is, it is good fun and does not at any time take itself too seriously. Throughout the series there was a fantastic chemistry between Lawless and O’Connor, and Raimi made for great comedy relief as Joxer.

The effects are nothing to write home about, but they are not overly shabby. The bacchae seem to explode into a point of life on death. The soundtrack that throws a purely modern sound into a classical Greek programme works in a funky and unusual way.

Xena fangedAs a vampire episode this has its moments but offers nothing really new – except for the altered lore that would never be reused, I am sure, as it only really fit into the Xena-verse. That said it is an above average way to spend 40-45 minutes, and both O’Connor and Lawless look fantastic with fangs.

5.5 out of 10, with the caveat that I am a sucker for Xena episodes anyway.

Thanks to Neil for lending me the VHS for this review.

The imdb page is here.


Ben said...

There was also an episode of the Young Hercules series that featured the Bacchae. Herc's girlfriend is turned into one I think.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers for that BE=en, I'll do some checking and see what I can find.