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Anchor Bay Entertainment presents
Xena: Warrior Princess—Season Six (2000-2001)

"I know what I must do, but I'm afraid that this day, what's done may not be undone."
- Xena (Lucy Lawless)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: May 13, 2005

Stars: Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor
Other Stars: Ted Raimi, Adrienne Wilkinson, Kevin Smith, Karl Urban, Martin Csockas, Tsianini Joelson, Charles Mesure, William Gregory Lee, Alexandra Tydings, Claire Stansfield
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (contains violence, but is suitable for most audiences)
Run Time: 17h:36m:00s
Release Date: March 08, 2005
UPC: 013131276695
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B BC+B+ A

DVD Review

During the mid-'90s, my tastes veered strongly towards the adventure genre, and I quickly grew fond of the silly action and tongue-in-cheek humor of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Following a successful three-story arc during the series' first season, Lucy Lawless received her own show as Xena: Warrior Princess. This spin-off was darker and offered rougher edges, which complemented the other series nicely. I rarely missed episodes of both series, and bgean to notice that Xena often surpassed Hercules' "monster of the week" stories. By the time the Warrior Princess reached her sixth season in 2000, my interest had disappeared, but the writers continued to try and place our conflicted hero into new situations.

The fifth season of Xena: Warrior Princess was possibly its craziest one to date, as the writers sent Xena (Lucy Lawless) and Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor) through all types of odd situations. After being crucified in Rome at the end of Season 4, they return to life and must deal with Xena's pregnancy. The result of this birth was Eve (Adrienne Wilkinson), who conveniently becomes an adult when our heroes are frozen for 25 years. Eve will play a significant role as an ally during many of the sixth season episodes. The most drastic event occurred in the season finale, which basically wiped out all the gods of Olympus. It seems that the writers finally grew weary of the typical enemies and tried to move forward during the final season. The change did alienate some fans of the series, but the hardcore viewers remained loyal to the end.

The major changes immediately play a role in the season premiere Coming Home, which depicts Ares' new difficulties as a mortal man. Still masquerading as a god, his plight becomes more difficult when the Furies use him in hopes of destroying Xena. With the Olympian gods vanquished, the writers must now search for different enemies to combat the Warrior Princess. This episode introduces the stunning Amazon warrior Varia (Tsianina Jolson), who would appear in four episodes of the season. It also conveyed the odd mother-daughter connection between Xena and the adult Eve, who must face the consequences of her past crimes. Eve's fate mirrors that of Xena from the early seasons, who constantly faced reminders of her cruel actions.

Even without the gods, this season places Xena into conflict with a wide array of enemies, including Lucifer and other minions from Hell. Familiar names from modern-day religion appear often early in the season, including the archangel Michael (Charles Mesure), who returns for several episodes. The early stories are a mixed bag, but the energy really takes a jump during the three-part Norse tale at mid-season. While Hercules battled Thor and other famed gods, Xena enters the Beowulf tale and learns about her past history as a valkyrie. While the entire story is ridiculous, it does offer plenty of interesting situations, including battles with Grendel and its mother. Of course, as stated in the credits disclaimer, "Any similarity between our story and the classic children's fairy tale is purely coincidental."

One of the season's best episodes is When Fates Collide, a time-shifting tale that includes the return of Caesar (Karl Urban), Joxer (Ted Raimi), and Alti (Claire Stansfield) in much-different roles. With Hades departed, Caesar is able to escape his original fate and change the fabric of time. Xena is now his Empress and Gabrielle is a famous playwright, but this alternate universe is not the right one. This episode brings into play many of the larger themes that move across the entire series, while utilizing one of its best villains in Caesar. Karl Urban recently appeared in The Bourne Supremacy and appears primed for a major film career.

Xena: Warrior Princess—Season Six includes the following episodes:
Coming Home
The Haunting of Amphipolis
Heart of Darkness
Who's Gurkhan
Legacy
The Abyss
The Rheingold
The Ring
Return of the Valkyrie
Old Ares Had a Farm
Dangerous Prey
The God You Know
You Are There
Path of Vengeance
To Helicon and Back
Send in the Clones
The Last of the Centaurs
When Fates Collide
Many Happy Returns
Soul Possession
A Friend in Need, Parts 1 and 2

The series concludes with A Friend in Need—a two-part episode that has sharply divided fans on Xena's ultimate destination. The first half is basically the setup for the big finale, which cancels any doubts viewers might have about the nature of the Xena/Gabrielle relationship. I'm guessing that it won't be a major surprise to devoted viewers, but the final scenes could offer a jolt. This story occurs in Japan as Xena returns to help an old friend battle a soul-sucking demon. The production values are higher, but it doesn't really have the feel of a typical series finale. Supporting characters do not return for one last appearance, and the focus remains on the two heroes.

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 television release offers an acceptable full-frame transfer that matches the show's original format, but it's not really exceptional in any way. Some minor grain and a lack of sharpness do appear intermittently, which leads me to believe that proper care was not really given to this set. The episodes are all watchable, but they lack the usual digital enhancements that are expected even from television releases. A few scenes also contain surprising defects, which is disappointing compared to past collections.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital audio transfer does represent a significant improvement over the visual side, though it falls short of being a top-notch track. The rear speakers are utilized a few times, but the overall sound field is not overly complex. This is almost certainly due to the limits of the original soundtrack on television. That said, this presentation still deserves credit for offering considerable energy and at least a few noteworthy DVD enhancements.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 110 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Xena Season One Original Series Promo
3 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Storyboard
4 Feature/Episode commentaries by Joel Metzger on The Ring; Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor, and Rob Tapert on Audio and Video for To Helicon and Back (with Michael Hurst), When Fates Collide, and A Friend in Need, Part 2
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
10 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Bonus CD-ROM with chronicles, series trivia, bios, and legends
  2. Bloopers
  3. Photo Gallery
  4. Alternate Cuts
Extras Review: Similar to the previous Xena boxed sets, this release includes a significant collection of interviews and commentaries from the cast and crew. I actually prefer the interview segments, which offer an effective overview without the scene-specific plot summaries. Creator Rob Tapert, Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor, Adrienne Wilkinson, and others provide comments on the individual episodes concerning the themes and characters presented. The interview segments appear on 14 episodes and offer plenty of background material on each tale. Three of the four commentaries are offered in both the feature-length audio and a shorter video version, which shows the actors sitting on the couch and watching the entry. Tapert, Lawless, and O'Connor discuss three of the most noteworthy episodes and offer their impressions of the finished products.

This release also includes Part 3 of Bringing Monsters to Life a K.N.B. EFX Group, which continues the tour with Howard Berger of his facilities. The feature provides us with some tricks of the trade concerning the creation of the odd monsters in the series. The dailies from To Helicon and Back contain about 19 minutes of the Amazon girls running across a beach and dodging explosions. This extra is not as interesting as you might expect. Three alternate "rough cut to final cut" comparisons exist for Dangerous Prey, To Helicon and Back, and Legacy. The combined running time is about an hour for these extras, which presents numerous deleted scenes and moments without the CGI effects.

The Final Episode B-Roll offers a 30-minute behind-the-scenes documentary of the concluding two-part episode A Friend in Need. It includes production footage and interviews with Lawless, O'Connor, and Tapert concerning their feeling about the big finale. They aimed to treat it like a feature film instead of a typical episode of a television series. This collection also includes the 95-minute Director's Cut of this story, which seems to offer a better visual transfer. About six minutes of extra footage appears and helps to add depth to the emotional tale.

This collection also includes several enjoyable features, with the primary one showcasing Xena fans at a 2004 convention. The 16-minute feature includes interviews with a group of nearly all women explaining why they love the series and continue to attend its conventions. Some of them are a bit scary, especially one middle-aged woman from New Jersey and another one in a Xena costume. But most of them seem like regular people who just really love this show. Nearly all of them agree that the finale was a major disappointment. The other humorous entry is a five-minute blooper reel, which contains the typical line flubs and people falling down. The final supplements include a promo and some behind-the-scenes interviews from Season One that were recently discovered. These pieces are not great quality and just give some basic information, but the inclusion is worthwhile.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Xena: Warrior Princess—Season Six is an uneven collection of episodes that shows the writers struggling with the absence of the Greek gods. A few make appearances as mortal figures and inject some refreshing energy, but many of the stories focuses on the Amazons and new enemies. The season succeeds as a whole and remains consistent with past years, which is a positive aspect.

 


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