Friday, 25 March 2016

Xena: Warrior Princess, Season 3 (1997)

This is a show that's never been afraid to "borrow" inspiration, as this season clearly shows when two of the first three episodes are Groundhog Day by way of Romeo and Juliet and an obvious pastiche of The Dirty Dozen.  There's also an episode inspired by the Poseidon Adventure adventure later in the series, in case we'd forgotten their fondness for such shenanigans.

(It must also be said that the Groundhog Day episode - named "Been There, Done That" - is one of my favourite episodes of the show.  Good stuff.)

But as I mentioned in my last Xena review, this is a show that refuses to confine itself to a niche.  It definitely continues that in season 3 - throwing out a bizarre combination of angsty drama, over the top action, and ludicrous farce that shouldn't work and yet somehow does - and even escalates the theme of experimentation by delivering the first truly extended story line in the show's history.  The "Dahok" arc involves the efforts of an evil deity to be born into the world so that it can destroy all life, and features in no less than nine of the episodes for the season.

Of course, this being Xena, said arc also involves Caesar, Boadicea and a wuxia-inspired trip to ancient China.  And when, partway through the arc, the traumatic consequences of Dahok's schemes drive a seemingly irreconcilable wedge between Xena and her sidekick/best friend/probably lover Gabrielle?  Well, that gets resolved in an Alice in Wonderland-esque musical episode.

I'm not even kidding.

Xena is consistently a show where everyone seems to be having a great time making it, and that makes it very easy for me to like as a viewer.

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