Xena: Warrior Princess-Season 2-Part 2 (1997)
Menu Animation & Audio
|Year Of Production||1997|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Universal Pictures Home Video
|RPI||$69.95||Music||Joseph Lo Duca|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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||Yes, watch for the No (...) Was Harmed lines.|
This second half is by far the stronger half of the series. It contains some excellent episodes, in both comedic and dramatic respects. For Him The Bell Tolls is one of the best comic episodes, while the season closer, A Comedy Of Eros, shows Xena at its strongest - quirky and humorous. There are also some good dramatic episodes in this half, with both A Necessary Evil and The Price showing exactly how good Xena can be. The stand-out episode, however, is definitely Lost Mariner - a dramatic episode that manages to not only get its point across very effectively, but does it in a way that is entertaining, and dramatically satisfying.
The following are the episode synopses for this second half of the series. As with the first half, they are difficult to write without creating some spoilers, so you have been warned.
This is possibly the strongest collection of Xena episodes there is. From here on in, the series became overly aware of itself and its status, and also decreased in dramatic effectiveness, although the third season is still very good. Bring it on!
Presented at 1.33:1, the original aspect ratio, this transfer is not 16x9 enhanced.
The episodes in this half are generally sharp, although there is often a constant presence of low level grain. The episode A Necessary Evil is the best of this collection, being almost entirely free from grain (is it coincidence that the technically most impressive episodes are the ones featuring Callisto?), and actually being quite sharp and clear. Shadow detail is also good throughout this second half, showing some very nice detail in the night scenes. As there are quite a number of night scenes, the good shadow detail is a bonus. There is no low-level noise present.
Colours are again good, and this half of the production does not seem to be as weather-affected as the first half. The lush green New Zealand forests are breathtaking in their beauty, while the snowy mountains are a bright contrast, and the highlights of costumes and sets are all rendered well.
The biggest problem with this second half of the series is the collection of encoding errors. The first occurs at 5:39 of episode The Quest, and is a small amount of obvious image break-up, possibly caused by a digital tape drop-out. There is some inconsistency in colour, with the image seeming to lose one of the colours entirely for a short period of time at 31:48 during episode The Execution (although this could well be source related). Also during that episode, at 38:20 and again at 38:39 there is some very obvious picture break-up (the first instance accompanied by a loud audio pop). Finally, during episode Ulysses the same strange break-up (it looks very much like a tape tracking error, although not quite) occurs at 16:30. Additionally, there are a few occasions, such as during episode Lost Mariner at 15:37, when the wires used for the stunts have not be correctly removed and flicker in and out of view (although this is obviously a source issue). While this may seem like a long list of problems, the few seconds for which they occur, when taken in the context of over seven hours of material means that they are only slightly annoying. There are a number of instances of aliasing during this second half - certainly more than the first, most likely due to the increased sharpness - but again in the context of the overall length they are infrequent and almost all minor. Only from 37:55 to 38:15 during episode The Execution does any aliasing really become evident. As with the first half of the season, there are a few small film artefacts, but none are really distracting.
There are no subtitles present on these discs.
The first two discs in this half are dual layered with two episodes per layer, while the third is RSDL formatted with the layer change taking place at 25:43 between Chapters 4 and 5 of episode Lost Mariner. The layer change is again well placed on an ad break fade-to-black.
This second half has the same solitary audio track as the first, being the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (at 224 Kbps).
Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. There are never any problems with hum as occurred in the first series, and there are never any problems with mixing. When the picture problems occur at 38:20 during episode The Execution, they are accompanied by a loud pop. While it is probably not enough to damage home-theatre equipment, it is still very distracting.
Audio sync is generally spot on, although there are a few occasions when it slips out, being from 2:39 to 2:42 in Destiny and at 1:54 of Lost Mariner. These are the only occasions where it is a problem, and out of the seven hours plus of material, it is only a very small part.
The score is provided by Joseph Lo Duca and is of high quality, belying the low-budget serial TV origins. It is well suited to the material, and in this second half suffers less from the repetitive nature of the series.
Again, this two channel soundtrack will provide extra information if set to surround decoding, including a few directional effects. Overall, however, the soundtrack is very frontal (although well spaced across the front soundstage).
The subwoofer has a decent amount of work to do from redirected bass, often backing up the score or the more aggressive effects noises, although there are occasions where some effects noises that should really have extended bass (explosions and the like) are strangely lacking.
|Surround Channel Use|
The video quality is good, and in general is better than the first half of the season. There are a few problems in the form of some rather obvious encoding errors, and bad visual effects work.
The audio quality is good - it gets the job done - but is not so good as to be spectacular.
The solitary extra is pitiful and really should be left off, as it is a total waste of space.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, 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||All 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)|