Xena and Hercules (5 Crossover Episodes) (1995)
|Year Of Production||1995|
|Running Time||212:34 (Case: 210)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Bruce Seth Green
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The second downside to this set, and a problem that affects most "best-of" episode collections, is that the episodes do end up seeming a little disjointed. There are only two episodes here that were actually aired back to back, while another was originally part of a large continuous arc in Hercules and has very limited impact on its own.
The episodes are:
These episodes are not too bad, but do feel quite disjointed. It would be nice to see Hercules: The Legendary Journeys come out as complete season box sets, a-la Xena (remembering of course that Xena is actually a Hercules spin-off), but that is not likely to happen, at least in the near future. In the wash-up, these episodes are probably strictly for die-hard Xena fans only, as Hercules fans will realise these are by far not the best episodes of that series. Also note the episodes are presented in the wrong order as chronologically speaking, disc two comes before disc one.
The transfer is presented in the shows original aspect ratios of 1.33:1, and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced.
The Hercules episodes display excellent sharpness and clarity of image - there is plenty of fine detail, while still appearing nicely smooth. There is little grain to mar these episodes, with only some light grain at 13:25 during The Warrior Princess, and from 5:11 to 5:14 during The Unchained Heart, showing up at all. Shadow detail is very good, with the darker scenes containing plenty of depth. The Xena episode is almost the complete opposite - the image is so far from clear as to be laughable. Grain is constantly high, and at times becomes so thick that it is difficult to make out the image for it, such as at 33:05. Shadow detail is almost non-existent, with any darkish areas disappearing into flat murkiness. The Hercules episodes contain no low-level noise, and presumably the Xena episode is the same, although the high level of grain makes it difficult to discern.
Colours are generally good, and once again the Hercules episodes win out here, although this time the Xena episode is not so clearly inferior. Both show good saturation, but the Hercules episodes just have a slightly better depth to their colours - the greens are richer, the highlights more vibrant, but overall, not by much.
Compression artefacts are a bit of a problem, which is strange, as this set fits five episodes onto two dual-layered discs, which should not really be a stretch. The Xena episode is obviously the worst affected, displaying a lot of pixelization on the high-grain areas. There are also a number of times when the image just seems to be a little "over-compressed", resulting in motion trails and other subtle side-effects, but these are not particularly common. There is virtually no aliasing, and only the occasional film artefact - neither will cause any real distraction.
In a first for Xena DVDs, these episodes do contain subtitles. They are relatively accurate, and are rendered in an attractive typeface.
This set features two Dual Layered discs. Disc one does not contain a layer change within an episode, while disc two is RSDL formatted with the layer change taking place at 21:54 of episode The Gauntlet, between chapters 3 and 4. It is exceptionally well placed right on a fade to black with no audio and is impossible to see or hear (I needed software assistance to find it).
There are three audio tracks present on this disc. They are the original English dialogue, and dubs in German and French, all presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround at 192Kbps. An interesting point to note here is that the Xena box-sets to this point have not had the surround flag enabled (although they clearly can benefit from it), so this is the first time the soundtrack has been correctly flagged, but also means that the episode Prometheus - which is the only Xena episode in this collection - carries a different soundtrack here to the one in the season one boxset of Xena.
Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times - there is no lack of clarity for only being a 2.0 soundtrack. Audio sync is spot on at all times, and never causes an issue.
The score is provided by Joseph LoDuca, and despite being a little repetitive, is generally well-matched to the action, and gives each show its own unique flavour.
Surround presence is not too bad for a TV series. While not constant, it does come in during action sequences, and to carry the score, and makes the viewing experience all the more immersive.
The subwoofer is not extensively used, only being fed by redirected bass, and there is not all that much there to redirect. It rumbles on occasion, but for the most part delivers only small volumes, or nothing at all.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
So what is the verdict? Basically, if you want all five of these episode, then the best bet is to grab them here. If you have no desire for the episodes on "Disc 1", then you could try to get just the other disc from overseas - although once exchange rates and shipping costs take their toll, it is probably cheaper to get both discs here than to import the one.
The video on the Hercules episodes is quite good, especially for an old, low-budget, TV show. The video quality for the one Xena episode is abominable - it is grainy, sports many compression artefacts, and is not all that pleasant to watch.
The audio quality from both sources is very good - an impressive listen.
There are no extras at all.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-555K, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||Rochester Audio Animato Series (2xSAF-02, SAC-02, 3xSAB-01) + 12" Sub (150WRMS)|