Xena: Warrior Princess-Season 5 (1995)
|Category||Adventure||Menu Animation & Audio|
|Year Of Production||1995|
|Running Time||935:50 (Case: 924)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (6)
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Universal Pictures Home Video
Velton Ray Bunch
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.29:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I have to admit to being very pleasantly surprised by season five of Xena. I have only seen a few episodes from the previous seasons and while I thought they were a bit of fun they did not have anywhere near the impact of several episodes in this series. There is some great drama in between some episodes that are more than just a little bit silly.
Xena appears to appeal to a number of divergent groups ranging from young teenagers, both male and female for obviously different reasons, along with those that come under the modern day religious umbrella of Pagan. Finally the series seems to have been adopted by a particular group of women who have adopted Xena and her companion as their heroes.
One thing that did surprise me was the amount of slapstick comedy that was present, real three stooges type material, particularly in some of the fight scenes. It has been a while since we have seen this type of comedy on screen and it is probably another reason why the series was so successful.
I love the mythology that the creators of the show have built up. Their portrayal of the Greek Gods/Goddesses is a lot of fun and may well in some cases be closer to how the original Greeks regarded their deities than we think. One slightly annoying trait is the inclusion of the Christian myth and propaganda that has been pumped out for centuries that Pagan Gods are bad and evil and must be overcome by the God of Love. It is interesting to see the revival of the Hellenic culture in Greece despite a law that states worshiping the old gods is punishable by up to five years in gaol. That aside, the Greek mythology is one of the richest in history and the stories surrounding the interaction between the gods and man is a very rich source of material for a show that thankfully sets out to have fun with the whole concept, something the original Greeks and their much loved Greek tragedies would probably have enjoyed as well.
I particularly like the mix of cultures that the writers have introduced to the show with the travels outside of Greece to such places as Rome and China. Our characters adopt the dress of the particular place that they are in which gives great variety to the costumes that we see. Another great thing about this show is the evolution of the characters. Despite the comical background, the story often focuses on the human characters and through the seasons they have evolved and grown, particularly Gabrielle.
It is going to be impossible to write even the most bare bones synopsis for some of these episodes, particularly the last few, without giving away major plot points so if you have not seen this series then please read no further and skip down to the video section.
Due to the delivery of the seasons out of order for review I have not yet seen season four but have to assume that as Xena and Gabrielle start out dead that they met their demise in the last episode of season four. Our clever writers do not jump in and revive our characters straight up but rather we spend the first episode in Heaven, complete with archangel warriors and a battle between Heaven and Hell. One in which Xena has to get involved as Gabrielle seems to have arrived at the wrong destination. Of course before she can get into the battle she has to earn her wings.
Episode two sees Xena and Gabrielle back on earth in their original bodies but something is not quite right with Xena who appears to have lost her warrior side, a bit of a problem when the Gods are stirring up trouble again.
Episode three is one of those episodes that simply takes a side step from the main thread of the series to tell a nice little story. Areas has a new champ and of course her one goal in life is to kill Xena. Areas sets up a battle but with a twist in a world of his creation it appears that he has separated Xena and Gabrielle for the duration, but appearances can be deceiving.
Episode four is one of the 'silly' episodes that are dotted throughout this series. Not that silly is bad, but if you are the sort of person that doesn't laugh at silly then this will disappoint. Here we reproduce the famous gunfight at the OK Corral but this time with female leads and of course swords, though the swords still give the bullet ricochet sound. A little surprise is in store for Xena's friends at the end of this episode, one that shapes the remainder of the season.
Episode five is quite a dark episode and brings back a character that Xena thought that she had finished with. The Amazons and their Shaman (who by the way don't use blood in their rituals, just some interesting plants like peyote), help Xena battle her adversary both in this world and the next. This episode typifies the contrast that the show has between slapstick comedy and some d*** good storytelling.
Episode six is a mystical episode set in China. Lao Ma`s twin daughters appear, both claiming the inheritance of Lao Ma`s book. Only one of them is the true inheritor and in between fights, mystical experiences and loud explosions we find out which.
Episode seven continues where episode six left off and proves yet again that killing someone in this series is no guarantee of seeing the last of them - in fact, it almost guarantees their return more powerful than ever. Xena must connect with her inner powers to defeat these enemies. A very nice comical historical revision rounds out this episode.
Episode eight involves Aphrodite, a blond Goddess and a recipe for disaster. A twitch of her fingers puts the soul of Xena into a young girl. The episodes around this number are obviously the result of the pregnancy of Lucy Lawless and her increasing size and decreasing athletic ability. Gabrielle and Aphrodite have until sundown to find a solution or Xena will be stuck forever. A comedy episode on the one hand but interesting when we follow through the story of the little girl.
Episode Nine is an episode with real impact - there is death and destruction and the discovery of why Xena is in the family way despite being (and I quote) "A love free zone".
Episode ten is right out there and managed to stretch even my ability to take silliness. It is a musical episode and the first few minutes are really great - I just didn't see anything like this coming. Xena and Gabrielle are organising a musical contest to decide who gets ownership of a lyre. Keep a close eye out during the credits where the dancing continues in an inset screen to see a very! pregnant Lucy dancing in a very small costume.
Episode eleven shows that the pie fight is not yet dead, it just smells that way (only joking). Xena is almost transparent in this episode as Gabrielle does battle with Lacrymose, the god of despair. Problem is that she has to battle from less than knee height.
Episode twelve starts the run that will take us through to the end of the season. The child is born and the gods are not impressed with a prophecy that indicates that the child will bring about the fall of the gods. A great story that sees Capt. Dylan Hunt out of uniform and back as Hercules in a battle with the Titans.
Episode thirteen shows how to go to battle while looking after a baby and has some great laughs as well as drama. Areas appears with an interesting offer for Xena as the armies of the gods all converge in an attempt to kill the child.
Episode fourteen has the gods, in particular Athena, taking a direct hand in the proceedings. Xena and Gabrielle have taken refuge in Amphiboles and are now surrounded by Athena's army. There appears to be only one way out of this - Xena must accept Areas' offer.
Episode fifteen should have its bits collected and expunged from this world into the eternal fires of Hades domain. What a shocker - Gabrielle knocked on the head and stuck in a fish world as a mermaid married to a wife bashing Joxer and mother of three strange half fish half human children.
Episode sixteen is apparently a mix of material from Xena and a pilot for a show called Amazon High. To be honest I did not know this before watching it and would not have known otherwise, possibly because I was mesmerized by the appearances of one of my favourite characters from Farscape, Claudia Black. Yakut is dead and the Amazons are out for revenge, but the ghost of Yakut enlists Xena's help in straightening out things before they go too far.
Episode seventeen is a slightly lighter episode in amongst all the tension that has been building. Zen and Gabrielle consider staying permanently with the Amazons where they appear to have escaped the notice of the gods for a while. The comic relief is supplied by Joxer being brought up on Amazon charges for perving on them at the local bathing stream. The ending amazed me in that the contrast between this and the deep drama that the show can produce is one of the widest chasms that I have ever seen.
Episode eighteen sees Xena and Gabrielle in Egypt after the murder of Cleopatra. They are caught between warring factions of the Roman empire looking to borrow the Egyptian fleet.
Episode nineteen contains a very clever little plot twist. I was wondering just how they were going to advance the story with the baby and the gods and I think their solution is a great idea. The gods are closing in and the only way forward seems for Xena to die; the things that a mother goes through for her children.
Episode twenty and onwards is the biggest problem with any sort of plot synopsis as it gives away what happens in the previous episode so be warned. Livia is the champion of Rome and is a character much like Xena was before her transformation to the side of good. Problem is we know who Livia really is and Xena and Gabrielle are in a twist trying to rescue her.
Episode twenty-one has Xena faced with the terrible choice of killing her own daughter or allowing the slaughter to continue. Xena and Gabrielle lose an old friend in this tear jerking episode.
Episode twenty-two came as a great surprise to me for two reasons. One is that I had misjudged where I was in the series while watching it and thought that I had another disc to watch so I was totally unawares that this was the final episode for the season. I think that this greatly increased the impact as I wasn't expecting the things that always happen in a last episode. Secondly, I knew that this show had gone another season so again I wasn't expecting the level of carnage that resulted. There is a final showdown with the old gods, lives in the balance, and a fantastic final episode.
|5||Them Bones, Them Bones||42:34||2|
|7||Back in the Bottle||42:35||2|
|9||Seeds of Faith||42:36||3|
|10||Lyre Lyre, Hearts on Fire||42:35||3|
|12||God Fearing Child||42:33||4|
|14||Amphipolis Under Siege||42:36||4|
|15||Married With Fishsticks||42:36||4|
|18||Antony and Cleopatra||42:35||5|
|19||Looking Death in the Eye||42:32||5|
I suspect that these discs were originally planed to be released as two separate packages, part one and part two, as the headings in the episode selection menus show disc one, two and three for each of the first three discs and the second three discs.
Presented at its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the image is quite good overall.
Sharpness varies a little but in general the image is reasonably sharp. Shadow detail also varies a little but again ispretty good overall. There is no low level noise.
Colours are well saturated and free from noise, and the skin tones are accurate.
There are no MPEG artefacts present in the transfer which is a big improvement on the first season. Film grain is also greatly improved and while still present does not detract from the overall image quality. I did not notice any film artefacts.
There are no subtitles on these discs.
Discs one, two, four and five are RSDL with no layer change during the episodes. Disc three has its layer change at 22:10 and disc six has its layer change at 29:05. Both appear to be during the fade to black where the ads would have been placed during transmission.
Dialogue quality is pretty good as is the audio sync.
The music varies depending on our location but rocks along and supports the storyline very well.
Surrounds occasionally burst into life and there is the occasional spilt surround effect decoded by Pro-Logic II. Otherwise there is a pretty good surround encoded ambience present.
While the subwoofer is there and supports the soundtrack with some depth, it does not rock the entire house.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is presented at 1.33:1 and contains a central motif of a curled whip in which scenes from the series play. Below this is a burning fire. There are two menu selections, the first of which plays all the episodes on the disc and the second of which takes you to a second menu where you can chose a particular episode. There is a Dolby Digital 2.0 sound track accompanying the menu.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
A comparison is not possible at this time as this series has not yet been released in Region 1. On past evidence we have probably at least missed out on the re-mix to Dolby Digital 5.1 that other seasons of Xena has been graced with in Region 1 and I can only speculate on the extras that might be included. Region 2 appears to have continued the release of each season in two separate sections but the content appears identical.
The video is good.
The audio is all right.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Skyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output|
|Display||Sony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||B&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)|