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Here`s What I Think About...Season 5

I sometimes have people ask me which Xena season is my favourite - when Xena fans get together, it is a popular topic. For a while now I have said series three. For me, nothing has ever topped the magnificence of The Debt, which I think is just a total masterpiece.(Now there`s a future topic for this column!)We had the amazingly ambitious The Bitter Suite, the far simpler but wonderfully emotional One Against an Army, the superbly traumatic Maternal Instincts and that brilliant two part ending Sacrifice. However, I have always found it impossible to judge a season WHILE it is still airing. I am just *so* anxious to see the episodes and I think you do need to see the entire season before deciding how you view it as a whole.

I have only just seen the season ender for series 5, Motherhood. There has been much debate this year about the show. Some people have been unhappy, and loud about it. There have been petulant moans and public withdrawals this year, some people have even set up whiny websites! Here in the UK, we are a bit behind the USA. I get my episodes from a wonderful pal in San Diego, but TV viewers are only up to Seeds of Faith (aired today.) Yet quite a few friends have been puzzled by the moans and groans about this year. They have asked, `what is all the fuss about?` So is series 5 that bad? NO!! As a whole I have enjoyed S5 a lot. At the moment I am still too close to it to say whether it is on a par with the others, but the closing episodes in particular were excellent.

However, there HAS been a difference this year, and you would have to be blind to miss it! Lucy Lawless` pregancy has had a big effect on the season, but to my mind, the bigger effect was in the writing. Two of the most experienced of the writers were not around for a while. Steven L Sears left to develop his own tv show, while head writer RJ Stewart was focussing on Cleopatra 2525 for a while. Executive Producer Rob Tapert had 2 new shows to launch - Cleo and Jack of All Trades. To say nothing of becoming a parent for the first time and no doubt having to look after wife Lucy Lawless! Two writers were brought in who worked on Hercules, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzmann. This is where many fans perceive the problem to lie. Certainly there were some poor episodes this year, and SOMEONE definitely deserved the sack for the appallingly bad Married With Fishsticks. How this episode ever got to the screen is a mystery. The other deep, deep low, was the embarraing wrestling contest in Kindred Spirits, for which we know who to blame: director Josh Becker, and stars Lucy Lawless and Ted Raimi. Both Josh and Ted have spoken about how they improvised that cringeworthy piece of stupidity. For many of us, the sight of Lucy totally losing all dignity as Xena - something she has said before should never happen, was an awful sight.

Yet in an interview with the Official Xena magazine, we also had Lucy comment on the way things have not quite worked this year and how she is taking a more active interest. This is a huge change, as Lucy has always, always said in the past that she left everything to the writers. Hopefully the situation has been resolved. Head writer RJ Stewart is back and Kurtzmann and Orci have moved over to Jack of All Trades.

So, there have been some bad moments this year, however, while we have suffered, there have been more than enough wonderful episodes and great Xena moments. Fallen Angel was a dazzling episode. XENA has never been noted for special effects, but for this one episode it was brilliant, and the devils and angels were a lot of fun. One of my favourites was Anthony and Cleopatra, and visually stunning episode, and one that allowed Lucy Lawless to be sexy, had a dishy guest star and a strong storyline. Then there are the final few episodes, dealing with the twilight. I thought the character of Athena was the best baddie of the season. She was a great adversary for Xena, to say nothing of Kevin Smith, sexier than ever as Ares.

What HAS annoyed me this year is the carping and moaning from people who have been fans yet now feel "it`s not the show I feel in love with." (God I *hate* that phrase!!) If there is one thing that has defined Xena:Warrior Princess, it is change. Look at the way the characters, especially Gabrielle have grown and matured. We have seen them travelling to visit all sorts of different cultures, meeting so many different people. From episode to episode, the style can change from comedy to action to drama, sometimes all within ONE episode! The producers have never been afraid to take risks, kill people off, bring people back from the dead! Bend and alter history, play with the story telling narrative- you name it, it`s probably been done. That growth and change has kept the show fresh, in my opinion. You really never know what will be next for the characters. Anything IS possible.

Yet some fans seem to want the show to stand still. They seem to want to see just more of the same. Well OK, so I don`t watch *just* to see the changes. I watch mainly because I love the characters. I love Xena and Gabrielle, and the relationship between them. If the show was like series one still, with Gabrielle still perky and annoying, Xena still silent and stoic, I think the actors would be bored rigid and the show would probably have run out of stories and been cancelled. Yes there HAVE been changes in the Xena/Gabrielle dynamic this year, but then it has been different every year as the characters have developed. There haven`t been as many Xena/Gabrielle episodes, simply because of Lucy`s pregnancy and the storylines that have followed it. I haven`t always been 100% happy with the relationship, but I trust in Rob Tapert and the producers. It is every person`s right to express opinions, but sometimes I have had to defend the show against other FANS who are attacking it this year, and I get a bit tired of it. It`s a tired old answer, but if you don`t like a show any more, no one is forcing you to watch. Just turn over and watch something less challenging.

I think the main reason I have been bored and annoyed with the attacks on the show by its so-called fans this year, is that the fact is, there is probably only one more season left. Just 22 more episodes before Lucy hangs up her sword, Renee heads back to Texas and Argo is put out to pasture. The thought of that is so depressing to me and I think we should cherish every one of the episodes that is left, because before we know it, the show will be gone.

So Season 5, how was it? It was great as all Xena seasons are to a Xena fan! Sure, there were ups and downs, and if they do anything remotely like Married With Fishsticks again, or anything that MENTIONS wrestling I may need to reconsider!

That`s my opinion anyway....you may disagree.

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