Whoosh! Issue 14 - November 1997

XENA DOES SHAKESPEARE:
THE CALLISTO EPISODE ARCS



Congratulations Are In Order (148-149)
Notes (150-155)
     Search Engines (150-154)
     Celeste's Guests (155)
     Shameless Plugs
     Quotes
Resources



Xena Does Shakespeare: The Callisto Episode Arcs




Congratulations Are In Order


[148] I cannot thank the Xena production staff enough for their rewrite of Shakespeare's Hamlet. It was cunning beyond all possible measure. Autolycus must be their patron saint for they begged, borrowed, and stole from Shakespeare with aplomb. I must especially thank them for Gabrielle's over-hasty marriage to Perdicus and Xena's "murder" of Callisto. The internet smoked like fire and brimstone at Gabrielle's betrayal of Xena.

[149] This was how Hamlet felt at Queen Gertrude's hasty remarriage to King Claudius. I never truly felt Hamlet's rage until now. The "murder" sparked several heated discussions about the moral imperative of dispatching Callisto. The Xena production staff masterfully projected both onto their audience. The use of a throne to restrain both Callisto and Xena really drove home the restraints suffered by Fortinbras and Hamlet due to their noble births. And Joxer is Yorick, Polonius and Osric combined. He is comic, he rambles, and he has no fashion sense. And while I have learned a little more about Hamlet from writing this article, I now also understand that when an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess goes in an unpredictable direction, Shakespeare is probably to blame.


Notes



Search Engines

[150] Writing this essay nearly drove me crazy. Then I discovered a Shakespearean search engine. Go to a "The Works of the Bard" at: http:// www.gh.cs.usyd.edu.au /~matty /Shakespeare/ index.html.

[151] Use the "new" search engine and type the name of a Greek or Roman god. Try Titan, satyr, cyclops, Hecate, Hercules and even lawless. What do you suppose is returned as a response? That's right Hamlet. If you do not get a "hit" when you know you should, realize that there are different versions of Shakespeare's plays adrift in the world. Troy should return a hit for Hamlet but it does not for example at this site. Troy, however, is very definitely in the Kevin Branaugh version of Hamlet (1996).

[152] Has the Hamlet well dried up? Possibly. But I have noticed that a great many characters in Xena: Warrior Princess have names from Shakespearean plays. Thersites for instance. The name appears in Troilus And Cressida [Editor's note: which, by the way, takes place during the Trojan War in Troy]. What's next plotwise in Xena: Warrior Princess? Grab a Shakespearean search engine. Type in new names, characters or places, and see what "Shakes" out.

[153] For an exercise in uselessness see the virtual simulation of monkeys typing Shakespeare at: http://bronte.cs.utas.edu.au/monkey/.

[154] If you like controversy -- the real identity of William Shakespeare is being questioned. Check out the "Shakespeare Oxford Society Home Page" at: http://www.shakespeare.oxford.com/


Celeste's Guests

[155] Celeste's guests were:

Hamlet: Polonius, Ophelia, Laertes, Queen Gertrude, King Claudius, and Hamlet.

Xena: Warrior Princess: Deiphobus, Perdicus, Gabrielle, Xena (twice), Callisto, and, in about ten years, Julius Caesar.


Shameless Plugs

1. Somehow, someway, at any cost, see the Kevin Branaugh version of Hamlet. Hamlet's first visitation by the ghost is worth the price of admission. The rest of the movie is even better. I understand that it is now out on video.

2. Rent and watch any version of Hamlet previously mentioned. Then, rent and watch Henry V. Finally, rent and watch Renaissance Man (Penney Marshall, 1994). All three together make Shakespeare accessible to 20th and 21st century groundlings.


Quotes

KING CLAUDIUS to POLONIUS:
Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.

HAMLET'S SOLILOQUY AFTER THE PLAYERS ARRIVE:
The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

HAMLET'S SOLILOQUY AFTER THE PLAY:
'Tis now the very witching time of the night
when church yards yawn and hell itself breathes
out contagion to this world. Now could I drink
hot blood and do such bitter business as the
day would quake to look on.

QUEEN GERTRUDE to HAMLET:
O Hamlet speak no more.
Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul,
And there I see such black and grained spots
As will not leave their tinct.

QUEEN GERTRUDE TO KING CLAUDIUS AFTER POLONIUS' DEATH:
[Hamlet] In his lawless fit hath killed the unseen good old man.

HAMLET AT OPHELIA'S GRAVE:
But it is no matter. Let Hercules himself do what he may.
The cat will mew and the dog will have his day.

OPHELIA IN HER MADNESS TO KING CLAUDIUS:
Lord, we know what we are but not what we may be.

KING CLAUDIUS TO LAERTES:
Revenge should have no bounds. That we would do we should do when we would do.

XENA to KING LIAS:
Oh, come on. We've all got that evil spot somewhere. [WARRIOR...PRINCESS (#15)]

XENA to GOLIATH:
I understand that a man's soul can be poisoned by hatred. I hope that's not happening to you. [GIANT KILLER (#27)]

XENA TO THEODORUS REGARDING CALLISTO:
Now remember to tell her this: She's right. I made her. And I'll be the one to destroy her. [CALLISTO (#22)]


Resources


Shakespeare's play Hamlet.

The Laurence Olivier film version of Hamlet (1948).

The Mel Gibson film version of Hamlet (Franco Zeffirelli , 1990).

The Kevin Branaugh film version of Hamlet (1996).

The movie Renaissance Man (Penny Marshall, 1994).

Isaac Asimov 's Robot series and Foundation series:
    Robots
    The Caves of Steel (1954)
    The Naked Sun (1957)
    The Robots of Dawn
    Robots and Empire (ties into Foundation series)
    I, Robot (1950)
    The Rest of the Robots (short story)
    Robot Dreams (short story)
    Foundation
    The Currents of Space (1952)
    Prelude to Foundation
    Foundation (1951)
    Foundation and Empire (1952)
    Second Foundation (1953)
    Foundation's Edge (1982)
    Foundation and Earth (1986)

The movie Robocop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987).

The play Antigone by Sophocles.

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