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Athens City Academy for the Performing Bards Reviewed

Gabrielle goes it alone as she decides to try out for the Academy and so leaves Xena and meets up with the other young bards. There is a competition on, and after bluffing her way in, she soon entrances everyone with her stories about Xena. After her deception is uncovered, Gabrielle is disqualified, but the other bards rally to her cause. Gabrielle realizes that while she loves telling stories, with Xena she is living them.

Clip shows are a staple of many TV series, and XENA`s are often quite innovative. This was the first one.

The rather thin story is padded out quite extensively but effectively with clips from earlier episodes and also from epic movies like Spartacus as the bards tell their stories. For a group of performers they are pretty imcompetant - a pompous boring one, a rowdy unintelligible one, a stutterer and a mumbling shy one. And these are supposed to be the best! No wonder Gabrielle is held in high esteem. Frankly, this one looks like they were running behind schedule and had to get an episode shot quickly, and also they wanted to give Lucy Lawless some time off. Apart from a nice little scene between Gabrielle and Xena as they prepare to separate, this episode has little of real note, although it is nice to see Gabrielle at teh centre of an episode. The idea of seeing Gabrielle as more than just Xena`s sidekick is a good one, but this episode doesn`t give Renee O`Connor enough to get her teeth into. It is a bit alarming to see a bottle show as episode 13. Were they running out of material already? Also, RJ Stewart and Steven Sears are two if the main, and best writers. You have to wonder if this was one they cobbled together over lunch. As with all Xena episodes, it is well made enough, and for once Gabrielle DOESN`T fall for one of the young men, but this isn't one of the series best hours. The chap who played Homer, Dean O'Gorman was Hercules' young cousin who chases Xena with him in The Gauntlet.

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