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Is There a Doctor in the House? Reviewed

The finale to the first season was one episode that had a difficult evolution, as it had to be severely edited due to the scenes of injury and death as Xena and Gabrielle become ER or MASH-like medics. The episode opens with Xena and Gabrielle getting caught up in a civil war between the Thessalians and the Mitoans. They come across Ephiny, who is heavily pregnant and her husband Phantes, the centaur from Hooves and Harlots, is dead. Xena helps a passing soldier, and takes prisoner a Mitoan General named Marmax(Ray Woolf). The group then make their way to a Thessalonian healing temple where Xena demonstrates her skills to, amongst others, a young Hippocrates. Medical dramas unfold until Gabrielle is badly injured and a shaken Xena must try and save her while delivering Ephiny`s baby and stopping a war! Well if anyone can do it all Xena can!

This episode is fondly remembered by fans, chiefly for the scene near the end when Xena invents CPR while bringing Gabrielle back to life. Lucy Lawless does brilliantly, showing Xena`s grief and desperation to save her friend. We have never seen Xena acting like this, but then this whole episode is quite a departure from the standard Xena ep. For a start there is very little fighting, although there is a lot of blood. Once again Xena shows her versatility by being a better healer than anyone else. She brings her strength of character to a job that is a hard one, and is not afraid to make life or death decisions. The resuscitation scene is an emotional one, but this is a dramatic episode all round.

For once the guest stars are excellent. I am a big fan of the Amazons, and particularly Danielle Cormack who plays Ephiny, and Ray Wolf is a gruff but effective Marmax, who Xena gradually makes realize that the war is a destuctive and futile one.

I did think Gabrielle`s injury, while providing the dramatic highlight, was unlikely, in that, why would a man, who looked OK ask a young girl to go out into a war zone to resue his son. Why her? She isn`t your typical saviour of young children, unless that man thought she would ask Xena. I did like the idea that the great Hippocrates, father of medicine, was a student of Xena`s. But it was amazing that no one had any clue how to treat injured people apart from praying to the gods.

I would love to know what this episode looked like before having the enforced edits imposed. Lucy Lawless has been quoted as saying it was one of the most exhausting episodes. I think there was quite a bit more of Ephiny`s labour and I bet there was lot of extra blood and gore. Still, an atypical but highly dramatic episode that worked well, and showed once again the special bond between Xena and Gabrielle.

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