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Anchor Bay presents
Xena Warrior Princess: Season Three (1997)

"I don't play safe!"
- Xena (Lucy Lawless)

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: February 17, 2004

Stars: Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor, Ted Raimi, Kevin Smith
Other Stars: Hudson, Leick, Karl Urban, Marton Csokas, Gina Torres, Bruce Campbell, Alexandra Tydings, Amy Morrison
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes, violence)
Run Time: 17h:40m:00s
Release Date: February 10, 2004
UPC: 013131261790
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-AA B+

DVD Review

Calling all Xena fans! This set is for you! Xena Warrior Princess Season Three features 22 episodes on eight discs and is jam-packed with stand-alone episodes and continuing storylines, leading up to a dramatic cliff-hanger.

In Season Three, the Xena phenomenon was in full swing and the creators were under pressure to take the series in new and interesting directions. Plot twists that tested relationships, complex story arcs, and comedic turns are all part of the confidence of a show that has survived into its third season and is now ready to take some chances. With anything possible, it is great to see a show pushing the boundaries it has outlined for itself without losing the integrity of character and action that got it to where it is.

The season starts with three stand-alone episodes that emphasize the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. Things take a turn when they travel to Britannia and soon Gabrielle is embroiled in the central story arc here in a relationship with the evil god, Dahuk. Following incidents related to their respective children, the pair travel to the mysterious kingdom of Chin to pay off a debt from Xena's past. Another three episode interlude that feature Aphrodite, Autolycus, and Joxer. A return to the Dahuk storyline finds Xena and Gabrielle at odds over the way to deal with the situation. This is followed by a series of episodes in which Xena fights Persians, thieves, and Romans in a very strong mixture of action and comedy. Then the return of Callisto and the cliffhanger conclusion of the Dahuk story line.

Lucy Lawless is simply an awesome figure of a woman. There is no doubt that Xena Warrior Princess could not have survived without her way of providing us with "just enough" of Xena. Lawless never overplays the Warrior Princess, even in her most outlandish situations. The dry humor and twinkle in her eye is balanced with a lovely sense of caring behind all the "kill 'em all" bravado. Xena exhibits the loyalty and honesty of a true hero. Lawless shows a fine range in her turns as look-alike Xenas and those times when Xena finds herself in unusual situations that require her to test her assumptions. The commentaries and interviews with Lawless reveal a serious professional who enjoyed the efforts made in making Xena the successful show it is and is extremely proud of the product. There is nothing quite like when Xena gets angry and squints at the camera.

Co-star Renee O'Connor is an interesting contrast as perennial sidekick Gabrielle who accompanies Xena on her journeys. Sometimes she is a little hard to take, although this is certainly not the fault of the actress, who shows some fine chops in several episodes that take Gabrielle a little further out from under Xena's wing. Recurring as Joxer, Ted Raimi is a much needed comic element that keeps the camp of Xena in full swing. Two other recurring characters of the third season are Kevin Smith's Ares and Karl Urban's Caesar, who are continually causing our girls all kinds of trouble. Both bring an oily urbanity to their roles that contrasts wonderfully with the outdoor freshness of Xena and Gabrielle.

Bruce Campbell was the star of a very interesting series back in early 1990s called The Adventures of Brisco County, which sadly has not made it yet to DVD. He is also known for his roles in The Evil Dead films and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. A unique actor, Campbell has also taken turns behind the camera for Xena and Hercules. His character of Autolycus, the King of Thieves, turns up in three episodes here and adds an ironic touch in his wise-cracking relationship with Xena and tendency toward physical humor. Look for him in a cameo in Spider-Man as a ring announcer.

The Furies
Interview
Video Commentary
Audio Commentary
Darien Takle (Cyrene), Kevin Smith (Ares), Asa Lindh (Alceto)

Lucy Lawless' acting is on display when Xena is judged by the Furies, punished by persecution and madness. Plucky Gabrielle must try figure out the answer and reverse Xena's insanity.

Been There, Done That
Interview
Ted Raimi (Joxer), John McKee (Lord Menos), Joseph Murray (Neron), Rebekah Davies (Hermia), Deverik Williams (Tybelus), Norman Fairley (Lord Lycost)

It's Bill Murray's brand of Groundhog Day for Xena when Joxer is killed, but then the day begins again and Gabrielle is killed...and again...and again....until Xena figures out how to escape the time loop.

The Dirty Half Dozen
Interview
Roy Snow (Arthenian Captain), Kevin Smith (Ares), Charles Mesure (Darnelle), Katrina Hobbs (Glaphyra), Jon Brazier (Walsim)

Xena and Gabrielle recruit four warrior criminals to go up against Ares' new army, which cannot be harmed by any mortal weapons because of armor and weapons forged by the god Hephaestus.

The Deliverer
Interview
Marton Csokas (Krafstar), Jennifer Ward-Leland (Bodacia), Meighan Desmond (Discord), Karl Urban (Julius Caesar), Kevin Smith (Ares)

Xena and Gabrielle travel to Brittania to aid Bodacia against Caesar's invasion of the island. Gabrielle is tricked by a fake priest into losing her blood innocence by taking the life of an innocent and she has an ominous encounter with the dark god Dahuk.

Gabrielle's Hope
Interview
Robert Harte (Goewin), Mark Clare (Eochaid), Peter Feeney (Caswallawn), David Mitchell (Tavernkeeper)

Gabrielle gives birth to a baby girl she names Hope that was conceived in her encounter with Dahuk. Xena cannot decide what do with the child conceived in evil.

The Debt (1)
Interview
Video Commentary
Audio Commentary
Grant McFarland (Ming Tzu), Jacqueline Kim (Lao Ma), Marton Csokas (Borias)

Xena tells Gabrielle about her past as a wild warrior in the kingdom of Chin. She is trying to justify why she must return there to kill an old enemy. This episode and its conclusion contains some fantastic epic footage and a marvelous performance by Lawless.

The Debt (2)
Interview
Kevin Smith (Ares), Jacqueline Kim (Lao Ma), Marton Csokas (Borias)

Xena is imprisoned by her enemy and sentenced to die. She explains further the impact of Lao Ma on her life.

The King of Assassins
Interview
Video Commentary
Audio Commentary
Gina Torres (Cleopatra), Bruce Campbell (Autolycus), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Ted Raimi (Jett)

Xena is busy while Gabrielle, Autolycus, and Joxer try to stop Joxer's lookalike brother, Jett, a deadly assassin, from killing Queen Cleopatra.

Warrior... Priestess... Tramp
Interview
Lucy Lawless (Meg), Lucy Lawless (Leah), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Macgregor Cameron (Balius)

It's now Xena lookalike time with a virgin priestess named Leah. Gabrielle and Joxer have to figure out who's plotting against Leah and keep Meg and Joxer safe at the same time.

The Quill Is Mightier
Interview
Alisha Wall (Minya), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite), Allison Wall (Minya), Kevin Smith (Ares)

Aphrodite is jealous of Xena's legendary deeds and puts a spell on Gabrielle's scroll, which causes everything written on it to become real.

Maternal Instincts
Interview
Amy Morrison (Hope), David Taylor (Solan), Hudson Leick (Callisto)

Callisto has been freed by Gabrielle's daughter, Hope, and they plot to kill Xena's son Solan and destroy the friendship of Xena and Gabrielle forever. Centaur alert!

The Bitter Suite
Interview
Video Commentary
Audio Commentary
David Taylor (Solan), Hudson Leick (Callisto), Kevin Smith (Ares), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Karl Urban (Julius Caesar)

In a continuation and resolution of the previous episode, Xena and Gabrielle awake in a strange land called Illusia. They face the difficult pain and anger together and must forgive one another in order to live. Singing and dancing warning.

One Against An Army
Interview
Video Commentary
Audio Commentary

Heavy Xena battle action as she fights alone against the ruthless Persian army and delays them in their march on Greece. She must also save a dying Gabrielle, who has been shot with a poison arrow.

Forgiven
Interview
Shiri Appleby (Tara)

Xena and Gabrielle attempt to retrieve the stolen urn of Apollo from thieves and are both helped and hindered by a young girl looking to take Gabrielle's place as Xena's partner.

King Con
Interview
Ted Raimi (Joxer), Patrick Fabian (Rafe)

Xena teams up with two con artists against a ruthless gaming-house owner and his son, who were involved in beating Joxer nearly to death. Xena must also avoid the romantic intentions of one of the con men.

When in Rome...
Karl Urban (Julius Caesar), Grant Triplow (Brutus), Jeremy Callaghan (Pompey), Katrina Browne (Mendala), Matthew Chamberlain (Crassus)
Xena must deal with Caesar and the politics of Rome by trading Caesar's partner Crass for the leader of the Gauls. As always with Caesar, Xena would prefer to kill him first but she has to be more subtle... and better dressed.

Forget Me Not
Interview
Kevin Smith (Ares), Ted Raimi (Joxer)

Joxer must protect Gabrielle's body while her mind is travelling through her past in an effort to live with her memories or erase them forever.

Fins, Femmes, and Gems
Interview
Ted Raimi (Joxer), Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite)

Aphrodite's tries some distracting obsession spells on the Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer.

Tsunami
Interview

Angela Dotchin (Soraya), Bruce Campbell (Autolycus)
Xena, Gabrielle, and Autolycus have their own Poseidon Adventure as their boat turns upside down after a tidal wave following a volcanic eruption.

Vanishing Act
Interview
Bruce Campbell (Autolycus), John Brazier (Tarsus)

Xena and Gabrielle team up to help Autolycus regain his reputation as King of Thieves by retrieving a stolen statue.

Sacrifice (1)
Interview
Video Commentary
Audio Commentary
Hudson Leick (Callisto), Kevin Smith (Ares), Renee O'Connor (Hope), Jodie Rimmer (Seraphin), Stephen Ure (Werfner)

In the first part of the season finale, Xena and Gabrielle battle Callisto and Ares.

Sacrifice (2)
Interview
Video Commentary
Audio Commentary
Hudson Leick (Callisto), Kevin Smith (Ares), Renee O'Connor (Hope), Ted Raimi (Joxer)

Here in the finale's second half, Gabrielle's evil daughter, Hope, takes the form of her mother and joins with Ares to give birth to a race of super beings. Somehow, Xena and Gabrielle must stop her.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: This set has one of the best television to DVD video transfers that I have scene. There is a richness to the video quality that is hard to match with crisp details and faithfully rendered earth and skintones. So much of Xena is outdoors and there is an airiness to the video that is nicely captured on the DVD.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Outstanding audio quality in the Dolby Digital 5.1 transfer. The home theater speakers get a workout that is rarely received from a television transfer. Every whoosh, boink, bonk, bang, thud, clunk, grunt, groan, smack, pop, swish, clank, ker-plunk, and Xena's patented "yeahhhh" are faithfully rendered. Great listening!

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 110 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
18 Deleted Scenes
0 Alternate Endings
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Storyboard
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Digipak
Picture Disc
9 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Blooper Reel
  2. Series Trivia
  3. Chronicles
Extras Review: Very attractive set with some great pictures of Lucy Lawless as Xena and other characters. The set is also chock full of extras including never-before-seen footage—deleted, alternate, and recently discovered, featurettes, interviews, and copious character and story details.

The Sacrifice Alternate Cuts: Eighteen extended or alternate scenes with comparisons to what is in the actual episodes amount to 41 minutes and 10 seconds of material. Interesting to see the decisions, as usual.

Interviews with actors, producers, editors, writers, and set designers including Donald Duncan, Robert Gillies, Lucy Lawless, Hudson Leick, Renee O'Connor, Ted Raimi, Oley Sassone Steven L. Sears, R.J. Stewart, and Alexandra Tydings.

Video and Audio Commentary from Elizabeth Friedman, Lucy Lawless, Hudson Leick, Renee O'Connor, Ted Raimi, Steven L. Sears, R.J. Stewart, and Robert Tapert. No holds are barred in the interview and commentary segments as all involved enjoy frank discussions of the who, what, why, and how of Xena's third season.

Retrospective Featurette on Sacrifice I & II (30m:00s): Interviews with writer Steven Sears, writer Paul Robert Coyle, director Rick Jacobson ("It's a little cheeseball, but tells the story"), actress Hudson Leick ("a serious rock obsession"), editor Rob Field, and sound designer Jason Schmid. It includes discussions on the Sacrifice episodes, how they hid the cliffhanger from prying eyes, production and editing trivia, and insight into aspects of the story itself and its place in the overall Xena storyline. The Callisto (Leick) character is examined and there is a short tribute to Kevin Smith (Ares).

Blooper Reel (8m:25s) includes screw-ups and practical jokes. Lucy and Renee are a wacky couple of kids.

CD-ROM

Kudos for the creation of CD-ROM content that is equally playable on Macintosh and PC. There is extended information about mortals, gods, creatures, the episodes, the writers, the directors, et al.

Actor, Director and Writer Bios
Series Trivia
Chronicles: Episode Information
Original Production Designs and Sketches
Director's Notes and Storyboards

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Fans of Xena and Gabrielle will rejoice with this release of Xena Warrior Princess: Season Three. Those who have not seen the series or only caught brief glimpses on television might find their investment in this set paid off with an outstanding amount of unique content with a ton of action, comedy, and drama.

 


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