Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 3

Starring: Lucy Lawless
Universal Playback
RRP: 34.99
Certificate: 15
Available 20 August 2007

In this the third season of the series, things take a dark turn for the Warrior Princess and her bard friend. Continuing the battle with Aries and new evil forces intent on ending their lives, Xena and Gabrielle must also battle with madness, and an ever growing rift between the travelling companions, that threatens never to heal...

Xena: Warrior Princess was a historical fantasy show which was based on a spin-off character from the equally successful show Hercules: The Legendary Journey. Staring Lucy Lawless, in the title role, the show ran from 1995 to 2001 for a total of eight seasons.

The show often played fast and loose with matters of history often mixing fact with fiction and even pitting characters from differing time periods against those that were wholly fictional. With such a loose format the show could at times successfully lurch from slapstick to drama.

This box set contains all the stories from season three spread across six discs. This season we find in The Deliverer Xena travelling to Britannia to help rebuff Julius Caesar's invasion. She faces him again in When in Rome. Twisting historical truth further, in One Against an Army she travels to Greece to single handily turn back the Persian hordes.

Although Lucy Lawless's character, of Xena, was the backbone of the series, a number of characters became just as important to the show's success. Ted Raimi had a recurring role as Joxer, but it was Xena's relationship with Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor) that would drive much of the show and eventually lead it to be accused of having elements of homoeroticism - an accusation that the show not only didn't deny, but seemed to go out of its way to imply.

It was this season that many fans felt that both the show and the characters grew away from the cleavage and thigh silliness that had driven the first two seasons. The Deliverer was also the genesis of the split between Xena and her long time companion Gabrielle, when Gabrielle is seduced by a cult into giving birth to a child which Xena disposes of. Though she tells Gabrielle that she has killed the child, she in fact sends the child down the river. The rift and the subsequent story would last past the end of Season Three, with its conclusion in Season Four. One of the strengths of the show was its overall story arcs which were used to drive the improbable narrative.

As well as some good writing, the show also had a number of impressive guest stars - my favourite being Bruce Campbell. If you don't know who he is you ought to hang your head in shame. Bruce played Autolycus and even directed the story The King of Assassins, in which he makes the first of three appearances that year.

The show is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio and the picture is okay. The discs contain no extras and, more unforgivable, no options for subtitles for the hard of hearing. I'm not sure how it will finally be packaged, so I'll assume that the fact that the discs are numbered one to three twice, rather than one to six will have a logical explanation.

Although it gathered a large fan base, I can't say that it was a show I either watched much or particularly looked forward to reviewing. True it has many strengths, the cast give it their all with much gusto. But in the end the show has a somewhat cheap look to it, which detracts from an otherwise enjoyable series.

Charles Packer

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