Xena: Warrior Princess-Season 6 (1995)

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Released 27-Jul-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Menu Animation & Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 933:06 (Case: 924)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jace Alexander
Josh Becker
Mark Beesley
Eric Brevig
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Lucy Lawless
Renée O'Connor
Ted Raimi
Adrienne Wilkinson
Hudson Leick
Kevin Smith
Case ?
RPI $89.95 Music Velton Ray Bunch
Jared DePasquale
Joseph LoDuca


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Credits quite late into the episode

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    With season six of Xena we come to the end of the series. One big advantage the producers of this series had over many before and since is that they knew the ending was upon them. They finished the series properly, as opposed to leaving it hanging on a season cliffhanger due to an unscheduled cancellation.

    Of course any planned final episode is going to be the most difficult to write - just how do you finish a series that has this many ardent fans, each with their own likes and dislikes and favourites in the production? Personally I found the ending just a little predictable, although I had hoped that they would break the mould and end the series in an original way. However, they went with a fairly standard type exit.

    As for the rest of the season, there are some highs and lows, plus some rollicking great fun to be had in between episodes one and twenty two. I particularly liked the fact that many of the episodes here have a good back story, either from previous seasons or from Xena's dark past. The two episodes that leap into the future to our time are interesting, particularly the gentle ribbing of the archetypical 'series fan'. Having our two main actors play these fans is very funny; at first I did not recognise Xena in disguise.

    We left season five with a finale that left most of the old gods dead or reduced in stature to mortal. Of course the old Greek pantheon, while supplying most of the material for the previous seasons, were not the only ancient gods, and with a little travelling we have branched out to other ancient cultures.

Coming Home: Aries is not exactly happy being a mortal and is out to regain his godhood. Unfortunately the Furies are playing with him and he does not know which way to turn.

The Haunting of Amphipolis: We are definitely entering the age of the one god, as they have started burying people at the stake as witches. Xena and Gabrielle return to Amphipolis to find disaster and a haunting evil headed up by Mephistopheles, the king of Hell (a different mythology to Hades). The legends state that the person who kills Mephistopheles must take his place on the throne of Hell.

Heart of Darkness: Xena is supposed to take the throne of Hell but is obviously not enamoured with the idea. The problem arises in that someone must take the throne or there will be Hell on earth. An angel is sent down to encourage her to take the throne, one by the name of Lucifer.

Who's Gurkhan: Gabrielle's niece was kidnapped and shipped out to a harem. Xena and Gabrielle head out to rescue her from Gurkhan, a man with the very clever protective measure of being one in a group. Every one of the men in the group claims to be Gurkhan, making it hard to work out which is the right man to kill.

Legacy: While Xena has learnt much from Gabrielle, this is a two-way street, and Gabrielle discovers that she has learnt much from Xena, particularly how to kill. An accidental death leads to much soul searching.

The Abyss: A quite disturbing episode in which Xena and Gabrielle come up against some very nasty cannibal types. They have captured Virgil and are planning the usual for dinner when near-disaster lets Gabrielle fall into their hands as well. The legacy of Legacy is soon put into perspective.

The Rheingold: Here the producers of the show start to draw from the wonderful Norse mythology. A Viking warrior seeks out Xena to let her know about the consequences of part of her past. A monster, the legendary Grendel, is out of its cage and is causing havoc. (This is the first of a three-episode story arc.)

The Ring: Xena battles to put right what she did all those years ago. The ending combines Norse mythology with a lovely twist on the Snow White fairytale.

Return of the Valkyrie: Nothing can keep soul mates apart as Xena wakes up to her memories and sets out on the ultimate fairytale rescue.

Old Aries Had A Farm: The first of the comedy relief episodes for this season. Aries is being hunted by just about very warlord that ever had dealings with him, and they don't want to just talk over old times. Xena and Gabrielle try to convince Aries that he must hide. To do this he must become something that the searchers would never suspect the god of war to become, a common farmer. Our characters all dress up as hillbillies while trying to teach Aries how to till the land.

Dangerous Prey: Prince Morloch is in town and is looking for the ultimate opponent. He starts picking off Amazons in the hope that one of them will supply him with the challenge he seeks. Of course we know who the ultimate opponent is and just what his chances of surviving a battle with her are.

You Are There: The satire in this one actually seems to work quite well. A modern day foot in the door type reporter complete with microphone and camera crew is hassling Xena and all her friends while Xena is attempting to save the world (yet again). Aphrodite is slowly going crazy because her powers became unbalanced after the downgrading of Aries from God to human. He must be reinstated or the world will be a place without love.

The God You Know: Caligula, the Roman emperor, is slowly transferring the life force out of Aphrodite into himself, destroying her and making himself into a god. Xena is 'talked' into helping out by the archangel Michael.

Path of Vengeance: A bit of a repeat here when Eve is yet again on trial by the Amazons for her crimes against them when she was a Roman. A disappointing ending goes with a disappointing episode story, although the middle was as riveting as it was bloody, showing that the series has moved quite a distance from its slapstick roots - that is, until the ending.

To Helicon and Back: Bellerophon (who I think they have taken very much out of his mythical context) wants to wipe out the Amazons because they forsook his mother, the goddess Artemis. Gabrielle leads a disastrous charge against Bellerophon's castle in a very bloody episode. One in which Gabrielle takes a more forward and mature role.

Send In the Clones: The first of the two 'modern day' episodes that inhabit this season. Xena and Gabrielle have been cloned and their memories are being reanimated by playing back excerpts from the TV series Xena. The plan was to have been that the world needed some heroes in this time of darkness but things go awry when it turns out Alti is present as well.

The Last of the Centaurs: This episode continues the underlying theme that has been building, particularly in this season: the continued development and maturing of Gabrielle's character. Xena and Gabrielle end up on what is not quite the opposite sides of a battle between the last of the Centaurs and Lord Belach, who is the son of a previous lover of Xena's. A complex little tale of betrayal and love.

When Fates Collide: Caesar escapes from Hades - security there is not what it was since the demise of its God. He imprisons the Fates and reroutes the threads that control his and Xena's fate. An episode that tells a 'what if' story with the same characters: Caesar avoiding that famous knife in the back, Xena at his side as his bride, and Gabrielle, never having met Xena, is a playwright.

Many Happy Returns: They play with so many clichés in this episode that it is a riot and very enjoyable. A poor little virgin sacrifice must be shown that there is more to life than being sacrificed. Who better to introduce her to life at its best (along with a slightly underhanded play by Xena to show that the gods are, in the final analysis no better or worse than the humans that worship them) than Aphrodite, the ultimate party goddess.

Soul Possession: While I have not seen all of the previous seasons of Xena, this episode struck me as very disjointed and not fitting in with the story as we know it so far. The episode plays out in the modern day with a new scroll having been discovered that outlines some of the 'missing' pieces from somewhere about season three. Ignoring the lack of continuity with the established storylines, it is actually a bit of fun and it was great to see Ted Raimi back again as Joxer. I particularly liked the ending.

Friend In Need Parts 1 and 2: While saying as little as possible in case there is someone out there who has managed to avoid spoilers on this episode so far while not having actually watched it yet: we are in Japan where many years ago Xena ended up killing many people who now exist in torment. They have taken an interesting twist on the Japanese ghost story films that show in Australia on SBS late at night and produced an interesting episode.

Episode Name Time Disc
1 Coming Home 42:39 1
2 The Haunting of Amphipolis 42:27 1
3 Heart of Darkness 41:35 1
4 Who's Gurkhan? 42:34 1
5 Legacy 42:30 2
6 The Abyss 42:32 2
7 The Rheingold 42:06 2
8 The Ring 42:39 2
9 Return of the Valkyrie 42:38 3
10 Old Aries Had A Farm 42:33 (27:49) 3
11 Dangerous Prey 41:30 3
12 The God You Know 42:34 4
13 You Are There 42:34 4
14 Path of Vengeance 42:35 4
15 To Helicon and Back 42:35 4
16 Send In the Clones 41:34 5
17 The Last of the Centaurs 42:38 5
18 When Fates Collide 42:33 5
19 Many Happy Returns 42:34 5
20 Soul Possession 42:36 6
21 Friend In Need Part 1 42:36 (28:22) 6
22 Friend In Need Part 2 42:35 6

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Overall the transfer is the same as the previous season. Presented at its original 1.33:1, it is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is good overall with only the occasional scene not quite as sharp as it could be, although I don't think this is a transfer issue, more related to depth of field. Shadow detail is pretty good and there is only the smallest amount of low level noise present.

    Colours are good with nice saturation and little noise. Skin tones are accurate, too.

    There are no major MPEG artefacts, but there is the occasional very small amount of posterization present in a couple of faces, although you really need to be looking hard to find it. There are no film to video artefacts and while there is some low level grain present, there are no other film artefacts. One episode, To Helicon and Back, seems to have been filmed differently from the rest of the series. Perhaps hand-held cameras dominate or something, because the fight scenes and other fast action have a strobe-like appearance on the screen.

    There are no subtitles on these discs.

    Disc 3 and 6 have layer changes inhabiting the second episode on each disc. They are located at 27:49 on the 3rd disc and 28:22 on the 6th. Both appear to be within the fades to black that normally signal commercial breaks.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is a single Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack on all the discs.

    There are no problems with the dialogue quality nor with the audio sync.

    The music spans a great number of traditional themes dependent on the location of our heroes, mixed in with modern music. Overall a great musical accompaniment to the series.

    With surround decoding activated there is some good ambience present with the occasional effect playing out of the back speakers.

    Your bass management, if activated, will route some information to the subwoofer, enough so you know that it is working but nothing earth-shaking.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    This time the menu centrepiece is the chakra, in which scenes from the series play. The lower section of the screen remains as animated flames and the menu selections are in the middle. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Seasons one through four have been released in R1, as has the series finale (the final two episodes). The finale has been released in R1 as a director's cut. This has a running time of 99:51 in R1 (NTSC speed and time) and 85:11 here. Looks like there might be some extra footage in there but it can't be too much, allowing for PAL/NTSC run time differences. They also get a commentary on the season finale. So: Available in R1 are the last two episodes with unknown extras plus a commentary, and the other previous season releases are available including a re-mix to Dolby Digital 5.1 (the series finale is not remixed). Technically, as you can't yet buy this series in R1, I have to give R4 the nod... for the moment.

Summary

    This is a far darker, more serious season than any I have seen previously. The interplay between the characters is deeper, the fight scenes contain little slapstick, and death has become far more bloody. Up to the final episode I think this is a great season that caps the entire series with a very mature offering. The final episode is just a little predictable for me.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio is a nice surround effort.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Saturday, January 15, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 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 DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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