Xena: Warrior Princess-Season 1 Volume 2 (1995)

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Released 4-Feb-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Animation & Audio
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 507:22
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (84:00)
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Josh Becker
John Cameron
Michael Levine
Garth Maxwell
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Lucy Lawless
Renee O'Connor
Case Slip Case
RPI $36.95 Music Joseph Lo Duca


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
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 No

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Plot Synopsis

    This is the second half of the first season of Xena: Warrior Princess. To read my background thoughts on the series, see my review of the first half of the first season. The episodes we have on this half of the season are as follows:

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The second half of season one features a generally clearer image than the first half, although this is blighted by the fact that the technically worst episode (both in terms of audio and video) is in this half of the series as well.

    As with the first half of the series, this volume is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is obviously not 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of the second half of the series is, on average, a little better than the first half - although this is almost entirely due to a much more contained level of grain. In fact, episodes 19 through 23 are almost grain free in comparison to earlier episodes. All this, however, is let down by episode 18 (The Prodigal) that is the consistently grainiest episode of the entire series. Shadow detail is the same in this second volume as the first, being very good, especially considering the restrictions of the source material. There are a number of darker scenes that are almost entirely consumed by grain, but when grain is not present the detail within the darkness is remarkable, and easily shows all information necessary.

    In a similar manner to shadow detail, colour is consistent across the volumes, with this half of the series exhibiting the same consistent and believable image as the first half. The only instances of strange colouration occur during episode 13 (Athens City Academy Of The Performing Bards) in footage taken from past efforts at Roman cinema, such as at 31:30.

    The greatly reduced grain and consequential improvement in sharpness present in this half of the series has lead to a reduction in the pixelization problems, although they do appear quite frequently during episode 18. There is a single instance of aliasing during this half of the series, at 15:54 during episode 16 (Mortal Beloved). Again, there were only two instances of film artefacts during this half of the series, both occurring during episode 21 (The Greater Good), at 8:13 and 12:31.

    There are no subtitles present on these DVDs.

    The first two discs of the series place two episodes on each layer, but the third disc, as with the first half of the series, is RSDL formatted with the layer change occurring at 41:30 during episode 22 (Callisto). This time, the change is very well placed, occurring just after the last scene fades, but before the credits start to roll. Again, it would appear that the inclusion of the photo gallery has caused the layer change to move into the episode, and again, it begs the question as to why the photo gallery was put on this set in the first place.

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

Audio

    This half of the series features audio that is of the same quality as that of the first half of the series, with the exception of episode 18 which presents the worst audio mix for the entire series.

    As with the first half of the series, there is only a single, English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack present on this half. It again does not have the surround flag set, but manually enabling ProLogic decoding works well.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, although this half of the series is not without its problems. During episode 15 (Warrior...Princess), there are a few instances (such as at 40:20) where dialogue is accompanied by a low hum. By far the worst audio example in the entire series however is episode 18, during which a large percentage of the dialogue, and practical effects noises, are hampered by considerable background buzz and hum. The level of buzz gets high enough to become annoying at times.

    Audio sync is not a problem during this half of the series.

    The music, as in the first half of the series, is provided by Joseph Lo Duca, and is well suited to the genre.

    While the soundtrack is not specifically flagged to be Dolby ProLogic, turning on decoding has numerous benefits, bringing the entire soundtrack to life. The opening theme song appears to surround the listener, and the way in which sounds play around the soundstage is extremely impressive, as is the high level of ambient noise. The soundtrack is also very effective in stereo only mode, displaying a nice open front soundstage that gives some of the best separation I have encountered out of a stereo only soundtrack.

    The subwoofer gets plenty of use from redirected bass, backing up the score, and many battle sounds.

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

Extras

    This half of the series comes with just as pitiful an extras package as the first half. In my opinion, a single photo gallery does not an extra make.

Menu

    The menu is animated, themed around the movie, and features a Dolby Digital 2.0 rendition of the theme song. The menus, while quite simple, are easy to navigate, and present easy access to each episode. Alternatively, all episodes on a disc can be played using a "play all" button, which is always a nice feature.

Photo Gallery

    This is comprised of 18 stills from the first season, cropped to fit a small circle within the middle of the screen. It would have looked far better for Universal had they simply left these off - at least then they are not even pretending to put in any effort.

R4 vs R1

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

    This set is not available in Region 1, however there is a Region 2 release. The only differences between the box sets are the packaging and the episode order. While the R2 gets fold-out cardboard casing, a mastering error lead to the episodes appearing out of order, such that Volume 2 contained episodes 20-23, 3-5, 24, and finally 6-9 (Volume 1 contained the remaining episodes). As our set contains the episodes in correct, broadcast order, I would have to say that our set is the clear winner.

Summary

    This second volume of Xena contains the stronger episodes of the first season, and finishes on a powerful, if not typical, season closer. It is good to finally have Xena presented on DVD as it always should have been.

    The video quality of this second half of the season is somewhat better than the first, and although it is still not great, it is really about as good as the source material could allow.

    The audio quality is extremely good, although it is no better or worse than the first half of the series.

    The extras are still pathetic. Not only that, they again cause the final disc to have a layer change. What were Universal thinking?

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Tuesday, March 05, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

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