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Anchor Bay Entertainment presents
Xena Warrior Princess: Season Five (2000)

"If you ask me, Gabrielle is the lucky one... having Xena as a best friend."
- Amazon Warrior

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: October 21, 2004

Stars: Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor, Ted Raimi, Timothy Omundson, Kevin Smith, Jennifer Sky, Adrienne Wilkinson
Other Stars: Alexandra Tydings, Kevin Sorbo, Meg Foster, Morgan Fairhead, Josephine Davison, Jon Bennett
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Violence, Adult Material)
Run Time: 10h:36m:00s
Release Date: October 19, 2004
UPC: 013131276596
Genre: television


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

DVD Review

One the amazing things about Xena The Warrior Princess, as it moves into its fifth year, is the consistency of all aspects of the production. The acting is steady and reliable, despite the wide-ranging and imaginative story turns that keep the energy fresh. The plot lines and constantly building on past events and forging new directions of creativity and invention. The production values are beautifully realized and regularly exceed what might be expected of a syndicated television show. And the humor continues to keep the show from being crushed under the weight of too much seriousness.

Likewise, this newest DVD set adheres to the high standard marked by the entire Xena series. The discs are chock full of audio and video commentaries, along with extensive interviews with cast and crew, offering many crucial aspects of how and why story choices were made, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, and other thoughts and ideas.

Season Four ended with the Xena-Gabriel crucifixion by arch-enemy Caesar and Season Five hits the ground running as their friends mourn their deaths, while the spirits of Xena and Gabrielle find themselves in the "afterlife." The over-riding story arcs are Xena's pregnancy, the birth of her daughter Eve, and the "twilight of the gods" brought on by prophecy involving Xena and her child. It is all very imaginative and there are some great action scenes, as well as the humor and sexuality that makes Xena The Warrior Princess the show it is. Over the length of the season, there are some slow points and some weak episodes that either recycle material or fall flat. But for the most part, this season is a winner.

Fallen Angel
audio commentary/video commentary: Eric Gruendemann, RJ Stewart
interviews: Hudson Leick, Jane Holland, RJ Stewart
Jennifer Sky (Amarice), Charles Mesure (Archangel Michael), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Timothy Omundson (Eli)

While Joxer, Amarice, and Eli try to recover Xena and Gabrielle's bodies, a war over their souls is waged with angels and demons, which includes Callisto in their ranks. Gabrielle falls to Hell, because of an error by a "young" angel. Xena gets purified and leads an assault to save Gabrielle. Upon encountering Callisto, Xena trades her soul to save the woman who became evil when Xena killed her family. However, this puts Xena in position to lead the demons against the angels and perhaps tilt the result of the epic battle between good and evil.

Chakram
interviews: Doug Lefler, Chris Manheim, Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor
Jennifer Sky (Amarice), Kevin Smith (Ares), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Timothy Omundson (Eli)

After her resurrection, Xena has lost all memory of the violence in her life and struggles with wanting to remain without it. Gabrielle convinces her that her "darker side" is necessary. In order to recover her self, she must join her broken chakram with its counterpart. There is a hilarious scene when Joxer is determined to tell Gabrielle that he loves her and says, "I just didn't want you to die again without knowing." This episode is somewhat of a part-two of the season opener, Fallen Angel.

Succession
Jenya Lano (Mavican), Kevin Smith (Ares)

Back to more normal Xena action as a female warrior named Mavican challenges Xena to battle in order to replace her in the affections of Ares. Despite the factor that Xena and Gabrielle have no interest in Ares affections, he sends them into another realm where Xena and Mavican must battle to the death. Hot girl-versus-girl battle action as Mavican tries to live up to her boasts of superiority and Ares continues his manipulations of the lives of Xena and Gabrielle.

Animal Attraction
interviews: Rick Jacobson, Chris Manheim, Donald Duncan
Jennifer Sky (Amarice), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Mfundo Morrison (Arman), Alison Bruce (Talia) David Te Rare (Darcon), Ric Chan (Healer)

It's the good, the bad, and the ugly as Gabrielle tries to train her new horse while Amarice makes a love connection with Joxer's friend, Arman. Meanwhile Joxer pines for Gabrielle and Xena attempts to solve an old friend's warlord problem. In a surprise development, Xena seems to be pregnant and doesn't know who the father is! Still this episode doesn't have much to recommend, except for the strangeness of it all.

Them Bones, Them Bones
interviews: Eric Gruendemann, Donald Duncan, Rob Field
Jennifer Sky (Amarice), Claire Stansfield (Alti), Donogh Rees (Chi'ah), Kate Elliott (Yakut) Rachel Hayward (Amazon)

Xena's pregnancy immediately assumes a central position of Season Five as she feels that her baby is under attack from some evil force. She and Gabrielle cross over to the spirit realm to stop her ancient enemy, Alti, from draining the baby's lifeforce and re-enter the physical world in the child's body. Alti is always a terrific villian and Claire Stansfield plays her re-emergence to the hilt, giving the season a second kickstart.

Purity
Ted Raimi (Joxer), Marie Matiko (Pao Ssu/K'ao Hsin), Andy Choi (Go Kun), William Kwan (Vendor)

In another dip into the multiple past of Xena, she and Gabrielle take Joxer on a journey to Chin. Pao Ssu, Lao Mao's daughter, has summoned Xena to help protect her mother's Book of Wisdom from her evil sister. This episode evokes a great story arc of Xena, both her distant past as a warrior determine to kill and deominate her enemies and the round where she fell under the influence of Lao Ma in Season Four.

Back in the Bottle
interviews: Rick Jacobson, Jane Holland, John Cavill
Ted Raimi (Joxer), Marie Matiko (Pao Ssu/K'ao Hsin), George Kee Chung (Khan), Daniel Sing (Ming Tien)

This episode is a continuation of Purity. After a vision Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer return to Chin, where they are reunited with K'ao Hsin. They must defeat the warlord Khan, who has joined forces with the evil spirits of Pao Ssu and The Green Dragon, Ming Ten. The battling is epic and the magic flies fast, furious, and wildly in this one.

Little Problems
Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite), Rose McIver (Daphane), Ted Raimi (Joxer)

Aphrodite is back and in her usual lingerie. She mistakenly traps Xena in the body of a little girl named Daphane, and Xena must must help Daphane deal with her her father's grief over her mother's death. Gabrielle and Aphrodite are joined-at-the-hip German twins named Brun and Hilda as they seek help from Castor and Pollux in reversing the spell that trapped Xena. Swordfighting featuring Daphane is reminiscent of Yoda in Attack of the Clones.

Seeds of Faith
audio commentary/video commentary: Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor
interviews: Hudson Leick, Robert Tapert, Donald Duncan
Kevin Smith (Ares), Timothy Omundson (Eli), Peter Rowley (Milos), Albert Heimuli (Head Soldier)

This represents episode #100 for Xena The Warrior Princess and things are chainging in Greece. When Eli preaches of the death of the Olympian gods, Xena and Gabrielle attempt to protect him from Ares. Angel Callisto provides guidance and reveals the secret of Xena's pregnancy.

Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire
interviews: Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor, Ted Raimi, Adam Armus, Kay Foster
Ted Raimi (Joxer), Ted Raimi (Jace), Darien Takle (Cyrene)

Oh. My. God. All singing. All dancing. All just too too much. Xena organizes a battle of the bands in Melodia, the music capital of Greece, with Terpsichore's lyre as the prize. It's just nuts, I tell ya, with equal parts Moulin Rouge and Grease 2.

Punch Lines
interviews: Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor, Phillip Sgriccia, Donald Duncan
Rose McIver (Daphane), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite), John Gadsby (Lachrymose)

The season limps along with a show featuring Gabrielle telling Aphrodite about how she and Argo were shrunk by a morose Lacyurymose. She and Joxer attempt to deal with it and avoid Xena's hair-trigger temper. Nice to see Aprodite but she adds little to this episode.

God Fearing Child
interviews: Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor, Phillip Sgriccia, Donald Duncan
Kevin Sorbo (Hercules), Kevin Smith (Ares), Charles Keating (Zeus), Meg Foster (Hera) Stephen Lovatt (Hades)

Soap legend Charles Keating is Zeus and he declares that Xena's unborn child must die to avoid the prophecy. Hercules appears and believes in the new concept of the death of the Olympians and tries to find the bones of Chronos. Xena travels to the underworld to retrieve Hade's helmet of invisiblity to allow her and her baby to hide, and runs into her son, Solan. Effective episode redeems the season and delivers powerul shocks with a strong conclusion.

Eternal Bonds
interview: Chris Manheim)
Kevin Smith (Ares), Ted Raimi (Joxer)

After the birth, Xena and Gabrielle must protect the infant from the Olympian gods who want to kill her. Gabrielle tries to retrieve the antidote for the poison that is slowly killing Joxer when he is stabbed in an attempt on Eve's life. Not much plot or action and a bit too much useless conversation. Lays some foundation for the next episode, so suffers from incomplete-story-arc syndrome.

Amphipolis Under Siege
Darien Takle (Cyrene), Kevin Smith (Ares), Paris Jefferson (Athena), Musetta Vander (Ilainus), Renee Kelly (Archer)

Xena brings her baby home to visit her mother and they are trapped in Amphipolis by Athena and her army. During the siege, Xena must deal with the amorous attentions of Ares and the strategic manipulations of his sister, Athena. As Xena advances in motherhood, Gabrielle's warrior nature seem ascendant.

Married with Fishsticks
interviews: Rob Tapert, Eric Gruendemann, Donald Duncan, Jane Holland
Ted Raimi (Joxer), Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite/Crabella), Meighan Desmond (Discord/Sturgina), Joseph Main (Urchin)

Warning! Fantasy episode ahead! Gabrielle hits her head (grows long hair) and falls into the ocean. Severe fishiness with a fantasy Joxer and his attempts to convince her that she is his children's mother. Discord and Aphrodite turn up as fantasy friends and provide some excellent cheesecake.

Lifeblood
interviews: Rob Tapert, Michael Hurst, RJ Stewart, Jane Holland
Monica McSwain (Olan), Selma Blair (Cyane), Karl Urban (Kor) Kate Elliott (Yakut)

Xena and Gabrielle travel to the Amazon village to make baby Eve an Amazon princess, only to find that Yakut has been killed. Her spirit returns and speaks to Xena of danger to the Amazons. These Amazon episodes always feature some trippy ceremonial stuff, and here, we also flash back into the Amazon past and the story of a warrior from the future, who comes to save the tribe.

Kindred Spirits

Ted Raimi (Joxer), Shelley Edwards (Cyane), Morgan Fairhead (Eris), Joy van Uden (Rhea)

This episode begins with some warriors bathing near the Amazon village and a man caught peeking at them who is brought to justice from the Queen, Gabrielle, who is torn about staying as Queen of the Amazons. Later there is a series wrestling smackdown. This episode is pretty lightweight and seems a bit of a time filler till we head into the final story arcs.

Antony and Cleopatra
audio commentary/video commentary: Renee O'Connor, Rob Tapert, Lucy Lawless, Michael Hurst
interviews: Josephine Davison, RJ Stewart, Donald Duncan
Josephine Davison (Cleopatra), Jon Bennett (Marc Antony), David Franklin (Brutus), Mark Warren (Octavius Caesar)

This episode opens with the murder of Cleopatra in her bath, but she send a message to Xena who is indebited Egypt's queen. With Eve safely stashed at Grandma's house, Xena races to Egypt to pose as the Cleopatra in order to find out the identity of the killer. The famous scene of Cleopatra being smuggled into Caesar's presence in a rug is re-enacted here with Cleo/Xena arriving naked in a carpet at the feet of Antony. Roman and Egyptian nobility, nubility, and intrigue abound.

Looking Death in the Eye
Kevin Smith (Ares), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Paris Jefferson (Athena), Stephen Lovatt (Hades)

In the future, an old Joxer obtains the final scroll written by Gabrielle and describing the last adventure of Xena, Warrior Princess. Xena and Gabrielle take on Athena and Hades in a bitter battle to save Eve's life, before taking refuge with Octavius. Meanwhile, the gods conspire to eliminate those who would bring about their end, by bringing about the end of Xena.

Livia
interviews: Adrienne Wilkinson, William Gregory Lee, Rick Jacobson, Chris Manheim
William Gregory Lee (Virgil), Adrienne Wilkinson (Livia/Eve), Kevin Smith (Ares), Ted Raimi (Joxer)

Difficult to give much story line without giving spoilers to the season finale story arc that began with the death of Cleopatra. Not the most original ending to the season as it somewhat rehashes a story line that will be familiar to longtime Xena watchers. Sometimes series just have to do that, I guess. However, the creative forces of Xena carry it off with great aplomb. Adrienne Wilkinson as Livia is as dynamic a character as the Xena series produced.

Eve
interviews: William Gregory Lee, Adrienne Wilkinson, RJ Stewart, Chris Manheim
Hudson Leick (Callisto) Ted Raimi (Joxer), Kevin Smith (Ares), Adrienne Wilkinson (Livia/Eve), William Gregory Lee (Virgil)

No spoilers from me, but this episode contains more action in the final story arc.

Motherhood
audio commentary/video commentary: Rob Tapert, Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor
interviews: Josephine Davison, Rick Jacobson, Adrienne Wilkinson, Rob Field, William Gregory Lee
Ted Raimi (Joxer), Adrienne Wilkinson (Eve), Meighan Desmond (Discord), Josephine Davison (Artemis), Kevin Smith (Ares), William Gregory Lee (Virgil), Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite)

Once again, no spoilers from me as Xena The Warrior Princess: Season Five culminates in battles of the gods.

Xena is great, fun television and the episodes provide many levels of entertainment with dollops of action, humor, and sexuality. Fans will find this an essential set with Xena giving birth to a startling daughter that brings about changes to the world as it has been known in the series. Non-Xena fans might consider an earlier season for a potential entry into this fantasy world.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: The good transfer for this set adheres to the high standards in audio and video that Xena The Warrior Princess has set for its DVD incarnation. The video is clear and nicely toned despite the wide range of settings and scenery on the show. There are more earth tones to be seen in Xena than almost any other show.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Dynamic audio transfer keeps the thuds, clangs and kais whirling in the surround. Xena consistently provides one of the best soundtracks for a television show to DVD.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 120 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
3 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Four fold case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: As has become the standard for the Xena sets, almost discs full of extra features in addition to the interviews and video and audio commentaries.

Gabrielle Wardrobe: Renee O'Connor costume fitting (5m).

Bringing Monsters to Life at K.N.B. EFX Group: The special effects make-up house takes us on a trip through the monsters, blood, and makeup secrets (10m).

100th Episode B-Roll: Behind-the-scenes raw footage of all the cast and crew while shooting Seeds of Faith (30m).

Alternate Cuts: Director's and editor's cuts of the episodes Motherhood and Animal Attraction (30m).

DVD-ROM material includes chronicles, trivia bios, and extensive mythology about the Greek gods.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Marvelous action, humor, and sexuality abound in this next-to-last season for Xena Warrior Princess. Xena gives birth to a daughter who turns the fantasy world upside down and the show shifts through time and space to keep things fresh. Despite some flaws, Season Five is a good collection of entertaining shows.

 


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