Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six follows the warrior Xena as she travels the countryside with her companion Gabrielle. Along the way they have had many adventures and have fought various evil forces. This in a nutshell is the easiest way to begin this review. I say this because Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six is such a comprehensive DVD pack that to try and get very in-depth, or focus only on one of the facets of the show would be to the detriment of the entire box set.
In all my time reviewing box sets, I don’t think I have EVER found one to have this many bells and whistles. It is almost laughable how much stuff this thing has. And it makes sense because this is the final season. Xena’s adventures will be coming to end. I don’t want to give to much away to the uninitiated, but to the fans who are reading this, you know what happens to her and I must say everything seems to be keeping in order with the overall theme and scope of the show.
Sadly, for you fans, you are getting someone, who until he was given this box set to review had not seen a single piece of Xena footage, save for maybe a commercial here and there, as well as a quick blip as I was flipping through the channels. So I knew nothing about this show. This isn’t to say that I think I am expert now, but after rummaging through this thoroughly designed box set, I feel that I know eons more then when I started. My favorite episodes were “The Rheingold” and “To Helicon and Back”. There was just something about these episodes that were a cut above the pack for me. Maybe it was the writing, the visual execution, or just the overall tones of the show...but I found that at the end of the day, these two episodes stuck with me much more then the others. I just found that I really got engrossed by the missions of these episodes. I also liked how the shows didn’t shy away from the battles or the graphicness of those sequences.
Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six is a grand scale, epic DVD release. It makes no apologies and is very much a fans collectors item. I am not that big a fan of these “fantasy”-type shows, even when they are able to deal with issues that are in the here and now. However, I will say that of the shows like this that I have reviewed on DVD, I am the most impressed with Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six. Maybe it was how comprehensive it was, (although Highlander was pretty packed), overall I found that this show did work for me, even if it isn’t something that I would normally have in my collection. Although, I will say that I wouldn’t mind screening some of the other seasons of this show, simply because of how well Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six was executed.
Season Six Photo Gallery
Now, the outside box says Season 5 Photo Gallery and the inside disc covering says Season 6. Hey, with the amount of material crammed into these DVDs, a mistake can be made, right? This gallery contains stills from the actual show. They don’t look like they were candidly shot or taken when any of the actors had broken character. You can either press play all the way through it to skip around to the different pictures, or you can just let the gallery sort of run on it’s own.
Interviews with Cast and Crew
Sadly, these interviews were where I really found myself out of my element. Because these DVDs are so full with material, and you’re watching 22 episodes of a show with so much history and back story along with it, I found myself confused a lot of the time because I wasn’t sure if I really knew which character Rob Tapert, Lucy Lawless, Renee O’Connor etc., might be referencing. So I watched the interviews, which are very descriptive and actually go into great depth, it seems, about the shows, the reasoning behind certain decisions for the Xena character and I did my best to keep up. What I do like about this DVD box set is that it really seems like it’s for the fans. It seems like the last hurrah of this show and rather then try and tone things down so that it doesn’t look like such a daunting viewing endeavor, the creators went out of their way to give people more information then they may or may not want.
Audio Commentaries from Cast and Crew
Not only are there audio commentaries on selected shows like “To Helicon and Back”, “When Fates Collide”, etc. but a lot of the these commentaries even come with video commentaries. The audio is obviously the same for both of these tracks(I think there actually is a level at which the creators of these DVD know when to stop adding stuff), but this is really a cool addition to the DVDs. The cast and crew talk about the shows and they usually don’t take themselves too seriously. They explain how the stories were structured all while at the same time not wanting to give anything away. Chances are however, that the viewer watching or listening to these commentaries will have already screened the episode in question. These pieces are all very well done and informed by the cast and crew who want nothing more then to transport the viewer into the world of Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six so they can experience what they did.
Special Featurette - Bringing monsters to life at K.N.B. EFX Group
This quite comprehensive look with Howard Berger takes us behind the scenes of what goes into creating the FX and creatures that populate this show. We see foam rubber being injected into molds, how the mermaid costumes were created, multi-piece molds and much, much more. If I was ever inclined to go into creature feature FX-work, this would be a great starting point. I never think about how much work goes into all this stuff. How much attention to detail needs to be there because if the FX people aren’t buying one of their creations, you can bet that the viewer will not buy it either.
Alternative Directors Cuts and Deleted Scenes and Bloopers
Directors Cut for “A Friend in Need”, scenes that didn’t make the cut and actors messing up lines and having fun are all on display here. I am consistently impressed with how this box set ups the ante from disc to disc. “A Friend in Need” first shown in two parts and then after that one can watch a Director’s Cut!! This is insane. I mean, I expected deleted scenes, I expected bloopers but I think that it’s incredible the way that DVDs allow directors, actors and everyone involved to improve on their work. More importantly, it allows the viewer to judge that improvement by having the original cut and the director’s cut viewable side by side. It’s also a risky choice because you’re exposing your work to the eyes of critics, and they can readily evaluate your progress. Then again, at least it gives the creators a chance to show the many facets of the material, and get across the point of their original intent if it was maligned in any way.
Inside a “Xena Convention” Featurette
I didn’t know what to expect before I put this on but as soon as the fans start talking a smile came to my face. Whether it was someone dressed up exactly like Zena, someone talking about “women power”, or whatever..., this was just plain fascinating. We get to hear peoples motivations for attending the conventions, why they like a certain character and what it is about the show that has made them such fans. It’s funny, because if you’re not a huge fan of something you can watch it with some detachment, but I know that for instance, if these people were at a Daryl Hall and John Oates convention(I would probably have been there myself), I would have been completely engrossed in their every word. Fans, while sometimes they get a bad rap, are the true reasons why these shows continue to exist. I mean, some of them move from convention to convention!!! What better way to show your appreciation, right?
This contains actor, writer and director bios, series trivia, chronicles and extensive original production designs and sketches. I got a little scared at first, but when I saw that this disc was compatible with Mac OS X, my heart felt better. This is a nice piece of fandom, in that it is a pleasing touch to this already packed DVD, and the thing is this CD is even MORE packed. It breaks down the shows, their plots, the characters, gives production sketches, storyboards, I mean...it’s never ending. I cannot imagine the amount of people who probably worked on this CD-ROM alone. It is so comprehensive that if I was someone following this show, and I owned all the other 5 seasons, I don’t know if I would even need any other DVDs. These are the kinds of box sets that can keep you busy for the rest of your life.
Full Screen. I am actually somewhat surprised simply because it would seem that a show like Xena: Warrior Princess would be begging for the widescreen touch. You have shows that are literally epic in their scope, ideas and storyline. It would seem that this show could certainly have merited that, but I guess the powers that be felt that the full screen format was appropriate. All the transfers are amazingly clear. In fact, the credits for the various shows almost leap off the screen. I am only surprised because with the amount of material on these discs, one might think that certain qualities would be overlooked. I would have to think that a box set like Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six, would take forever to create. Yet, these companies churn this stuff out like it’s nothing. Not in a cheap way either. This box set is more extensive then many of the others I’ve had to review for much more popular shows. It is just amazing to me how well put together something like this is. None of the discs had any pixilation in the episodes, at least none that I saw anyway. A fine, impressive job for a TV show that had a nice, healthy run.
Dolby Surround 5.1. Sure movies like The Lord of the Rings have more money, more of a budget and more time in which to be created, but I didn’t notice a huge difference in not only the quality of the audio on these disks, but the scope of it. This may be a TV show but the music isn’t confined to the TV set. It very capably evokes many of the same emotions, feelings and ideas that I experienced watching the other films that were made. It also is very good at evoking the mood of specific places within the context of the show. Whether Xena is riding on horseback through a forrest, doing battle on a mountain top, or whether the show is just establishing some specific place, the music all serves the purpose for which it was intended. I am also impressed with considering how much content there is on these DVDs, how well the sound design holds up. I never had to skip back to parts because I missed something, and I am also quite grateful for how this was mixed. The audio never competed within the structure of the voices and the underlying music. Also, I have noticed on a lot of DVDs that when you watch them you oftentimes have to turn up the dialogue around the music. Then when the music comes in you have to turn it down again. This wasn’t the case here. The levels were pitch perfect.
As this is a 10 disc box set for the 6th and final season, the DVDs creators have pulled out every conceivable stop. Akin to The Lord of the Rings releases, these discs slide out of a dark, maroonish/brown colored box. The cover features the warrior princess herself, Lucy Lawless, holding a sword in full battle mode. The back features another photo of her(getting ready to fight something I am sure) as well a small description of season 6, and a very detailed description of all these discs special features. Inside, the discs unfold with more pictures of different characters from the show, and the layout of the discs, while nothing we haven’t seen before, is certainly interesting to look at. This is 10 DVDs for crying out loud. Each disk has a different picture as well as a listing of what’s on each disc. I always feel a sense of regret when I am given these DVDs to review, because it always seems like it’s the shows I didn’t watch that get the best treatment. The Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six box set is a superb looking piece of DVD product and surprisingly with all the discs, it doesn’t even feel that heavy.
Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six is a fans dream. Having never seen the show before this and not really knowing much about characters like Xena, Gabrielle, Eve, etc..., I was truly surprised not only at this shows depth, but at it’s attention to detail. This show doesn’t look cheap in any way. It looks as big and bold as the lead actress. Sadly, I just wish that shows and movies like Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six, were more up my alley. I just find them hard to get into them. Yes, I know that I came into this DVD box set during the 6th and final season, but man, I was just expecting this to hold my interest a little bit more. While I do think the acting is very good, I also think that in pieces like Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six, Beastmaster, et al, the acting is too formulaic. The actors, knowing they are playing easily identifiable types(good girl, bad guy, warrior, etc...) seem to all play the roles the same. If one is playing someone who is good and noble, the lines are delivered good and noble. The same goes for those actors playing bad characters. While I feel that Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six, deviated from this at times, for the most part the acting and the plots were pretty much by the numbers.
Don’t misunderstand, it’s not that I didn’t like Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six, it’s just that if I was in a place like Fry’s, and I had a choice between Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six or Curb Your Enthusiasm, I would take the much smaller, much more lacking DVDs of Larry David instead of this behemoth of a DVD collection. And yes, I am calling Xena: Warrior Princess - Season Six, a DVD collection, because with something as well put together and comprehensive as this piece of work is, it is more then a box set.
It is a collection.
Xena: Warrior Princess was released .