Xena: Warrior Princess 10th Anniversary Collection (1995-2001) – DVD Review
Directed by Doug Lefler, T.J. Scott, Robert Tapert, Michael Hurst, et al. Screenplay by R.J. Stewart, Patricia Manney, Adam Armus, Noreen Tobin, et al. Music by Joseph LoDuca, et al.
Cast and crew interviews out the wazoo
Several episode audio and/or video commentaries with cast and crew
2005 10th Anniversary Xena Convention featurette
Xena Fanatic fan contest
Xena Reenactments fan contest
Salmonius/Robert Trebor featurette
Xena’s Hong Kong Origins featurette
Aphrodite/Alexandra Tidings featurette
Xena stunt double featurette with Zoe Bell
Featurette on the life of an extra on the set
Bruce Campbell featurette
Deleted scenes from one episode
Final episode two-parter, director’s cut
Released by: Anchor Bay Region: 1 Rating: NR Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: For cheesecake, for action, for adventure, for romance, for luxuriant scenery, costuming, and sets, for the fight choreographyâ€¦ Oh, just get it. You know you want to.
The Xena: Warrior Princess 10th Anniversary Collection DVD set begins with the series opener, “Sins of the Past,” and continues through Xena’s remarkable career, concluding with the two-part “A Friend in Need.” The intervening fourteen episodes were chosen as fan favorites and represent the strengths of Xena and her inimitable companion Gabrielle as they battle gods, humans, devils, and their own darker sides, finally arriving as TV legends.
The video and audio quality are comparable to TV in the later 1990s, but some effort has been made to make the visuals and audio even crisper. You should have no problem at all enjoying the fantastic music and the lush scenery of New Zealand, even if you’re less than thrilled with the show or the acting.
The special features are almost an embarrassment of riches. Each disc has at least one episode with an audio/video commentary with Lawless and O’Connor, and some have two. In addition, some commentaries are with producer Rob Tapert, writer R.J. Stewart, or other important, interesting people. Several discs also have interviews with assorted cast and crew, such as the leads, Ted Raimi, R.J. Stewart, and many more. Disc four also includes a selection of deleted scenes that in some cases were wisely deleted, and in some cases provide more looks at the characters you love.
Discs 6 and 7 have the bulk of the additional, non-interview features. Disc 6 has a film of the 2005 10th Anniversary Xena Convention that demonstrates how wide-reaching Xena’s appeal is/was and two Fan Contests: “Xena Fanatic” presents some videos submitted by fans seeking to prove they are the biggest fan, and these will appeal mostly to gay/lesbian fans seeking validation for their emotional investment in the show. Heterosexual male or female fans may feel under-represented there. “Xena Reenactments” gives fans the chance to show off their best Xena moves and range from frankly embarrassing to moving and at the very least amusing. Disc 6 closes with “Comic Relief,” which allows actor Robert Trebor to talk about his character, Salmoneus; some Xena fans have complained that this feature demonstrates the actor’s arrogance more than the importance of the character, but the character’s worth as comic relief cannot be denied.
Disc 7 solely consists of features: we get “Xena’s Hong Kong Origins,” a featurette that gives some talking heads a chance to talk about the influence that Hong Kong action flicks had on the show; “Mythology vs. Xena,” which gives the delightful and refreshing Alexandra Tidings and few others the chance to talk about her portrayal of Aphrodite; “Seeing Double,” a featurette with Zoe Bell, Lawless’ stunt double; “Extras: A Documentary” that is exactly what it sounds likeâ€”a docu about what life was like for extras on the show and in New Zealand sets; and “‘B’ is for Bruce,” a touching, hysterical, and all too short docu about the much beloved and yet desperately underrated Bruce Campbell. This last is worth the price of admission alone if you’re a Bruce fan, and you know you are.
The slipcase is even a cool, animal-friendly but attractive faux leatherette with spiffy silver lettering and logo. What more could you ask for? PDFs of the scripts maybe, but shame on you for even thinking of wanting more.
If you are a fan of the show and for whatever reason cannot afford to buy all six season sets, then do yourself a favor and at least buy this sampler. Fans of high fantasy and epic adventure will want to have this too, even if they aren’t (yet) fans of the show. If you do already have the individual season sets, then you may still want this for its portability and the quality of the features, but if not, at least give it a rental and see the extra information for yourself. You’ll be glad you spent the several hours perusing the bonus documentaries. All in all, this set may not contain your personal favorite episodes or reflect what you think was most important about the show, but it does a great job of showing why people defend the show to entertainment snobs (as if such a concept wasn’t ludicrous anyway) or those who decry the show’s acting, having seen only one or two of the early season episodes. Shove this set in their faces, make them watch it, and they’ll get it. And if by some freak they still don’t get what makes this show so great and they want you to apologize for loving it, the set is heavy enough to bludgeon the fools with, so there you go.