Xena: Warrior Princess-Season 2-Part 2 (1997)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 3-Oct-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Animation & Audio
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 465:32
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (25:43)
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Michael Hurst
Gary Jones
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Lucy Lawless
Renee O'Connor
Ted Raimi
Hudson Leick
Case ?
RPI $69.95 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 Yes, watch for the No (...) Was Harmed lines.

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

Plot Synopsis

    This is the second half of Xena: The Warrior Princess season two on DVD. For my comments on the series as a whole, please see my review of the first half.

    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!

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfers presented for this second half of season two are consistent with the latter episodes of the first half, making this an overall better presentation video-wise. There are, however, more problems with this half, so it is not entirely home free.

    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.

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

Audio

    The audio presentation for the second half of the series is identical to that of the first half - being good without doing enough to receive special mention.

    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.

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

Extras

    The same complete lack of worthwhile extras present on the first half of this season is here as well.

Menu

    The menu is animated, themed around the show, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. It is presented at 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

Photo Gallery

    Just in case the photo gallery on the first half of the season was not boring enough, here it is again!

R4 vs R1

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

    There is no Region 1 version of this set, however an identically featured Region 2 set is available. As such, the comparison is a tie so get it where you find it cheapest.

Summary

    This second half of the season presents some very good episodes, and is much stronger than the first half.

    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.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Tuesday, September 24, 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)

Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - Lorraine A
DVD Net - Ben P

Comments (Add) NONE