>From the Managing Editor: The Bitter and Suite Of It
>From the Graphics Editor: The Night of the Sudden Blackout
>From the Editor-in-Chief: Cheers and Jeers
From the Managing Editor: The Bitter and Suite Of ItI have to state off the bat that I loved THE BITTER SUITE. I have watched this episode over 50 times (insert Stacey needs to get a life comments here). The songs, the scenes, the costumes -- it ALL amazed and impressed me.
That said, I have to admit that the 'drop and drag' of Gabrielle at the beginning of the episode is my least favorite thing XWP has ever done. I cringe whenever I think about it, and in my 50 odd viewing always start when our ladies go over the cliff. In my mind, this brilliant episode does not include those first five minutes.
But from the moment Callisto retrieves Xena from the water, this episode had a hold on me and didn't let go till the very end. This episode moved me deeply and that for me always signifies quality television.
Joe LoDuca deserves massive kudos for pulling off the music. Along with the incredible singing talents of Kevin Smith and Lucy Lawless. The person who dubbed Hudson Leick was perfect. On the other hand, I did have a minor problem with the person who sang for Gabrielle. A little too Broadway belter for me. (The voice reminded me of every woman I've ever heard sing the character of 'Eponine' from Les Miserables...and that's not how I envision Gabrielle).
All and all a stunning achievement for XWP.
I do have one final issue with the show though - What the heck was Joxer doing in the Amazon village?!?
March 26, 1998
From the Graphics Editor: The Night of the Sudden Blackout
Auckland, New Zealand at night.
Recently, I returned from a trip to New Zealand.
A couple of days before I got there, Auckland's CBD (Central Business District) was hit by a sudden blackout. It seems as though a series of cables that fed the area with electricity had begun to fail, one by one, over several months time, until one day when the last cable finally succumbed to overload. A major business, financial, and tourist section of Auckland found itself suddenly with little or no power. Traffic lights failed to operate. Major buildings, office blocks, businesses, and hotels (mine included) were without power. The University shut down completely. A major hospital was finding it difficult to cope, but was given priority for what little power was still leaking into the area from various sources.
Mercury Power suddenly found itself simultaneously apologising for the problem and planning strategy to fix it.
More than one Aucklander, while assuring me that New Zealand was not a Third World country, said such things were typical these days. Auckland has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, far beyond and away from what little infrastructure planning had been done. Like a child in a growth spurt, Auckland suddenly found that its shoes no longer fit. A local helicopter pilot told me that a similar disaster involving Auckland's water supply loomed several months ago. It was only averted by an Act of Nature which filled all the reservoirs to overflowing, narrowly saving Auckland from being as dry as it was dark. Plans were made for an emergency aqueduct, then shelved when the threat evaporated (no pun intended).
While Mercury plotted strategies to restore permanent power "within several weeks" by constructing new power lines and attempting repairs on old ones, the local populace mobilised. Within a couple of days of the blackout, there wasn't a spare generator to be found in virtually the entire country. All available generators were hired out or purchased, and some large spares were flown in from all over the country and even Australia. Elton John, who along with Billy Joel was giving a concert in town at the time, offered to fly in extra generators for the city.
As I walked along Queen Street, a major artery of the CBD, I saw dozens of diesel generators in front of businesses large and small, and the downtown area echoed with the cacophony (and smell) of that equipment. Those few businesses lucky enough to get a generator or feed off the pathetically small amount of power getting to the area stayed open, although the streets were virtually empty of shoppers who were encouraged to stay away from the area due to the problems (and people who worked in the CBD were also encouraged to stay away).
I remember thinking quite clearly that although my holiday had been slightly inconvenienced, hundreds of people were going to be out of business and unemployed because of this. Indeed, many businesses folded just in the time I was there.
But Aucklanders are a plucky bunch, and where Mercury Power failed, individual ingenuity was able to accomplish something. By the end of my two week stay, things were beginning to look a little better than they did at first. The streets had more shoppers. More and larger generators were brought to the area. A large ship pumped power from the harbour with the promise of more to come. Workers carried signs and placards to assure people their shops were open. At the few traffic lights still without power, early blackout caution and courtesy gave way to honking and aggressive driving.
Things were by no means back to normal, but people had begun to find a way to cope. Even though many people were still unable to return to their homes in buildings with no electricity, a long, slow process to restore things was under way. It would be several weeks before power was again 100% restored to previous levels, but life in Auckland continued to go on. There was no looting, no major crime wave. Even the University made plans to reopen after the first two weeks of crisis.
The CBD power problems even affected Xena and Hercules to a certain extent. Although the studios were far enough out of town to avoid the troubles (and location shots had their own generators) the labs used to process film were still without electricity, forcing the dailies to be routed elsewhere and delaying things at the back end for a day or so.
And yet, throughout the whole ordeal, Aucklanders kept going. They may have been unhappy, upset, fearful for their jobs and businesses, but they stuck it out and kept going as best they could. Shops without power stayed open via candlelight in some cases. Many held "blackout sales". My hotel acquired a generator and despite the quirks of failover from the main supply to the auxiliary, the staff and guests figured out how to make things work by improvising, trial and error, or brute force.
All of us who were there at the time came together and helped out as best we could. I made a number of new friends doing that, just as I've seen Xenites pull together and unite for one cause or another.
Human nature has its ugly side, but it also has very pleasant and reassuring features too. Although I'm sorry it had to be put to such a test, it was good to see the "Be Nice" philosophy win out. How appropriate, coming from the land where such shows are made.
Ever wonder what a New Zealand phone card looks like?
Wonder no more!
March 25, 1998
From the Editor in Chief: Cheers and JeersCheers!
The development of the character Caesar, Julius Caesar has been a delightful and satisfying surprise. While Xena has been duking away with gods, giants, and errant warlords, the historic personage of Caesar has crept into Xena's short list of worthy opponents. Caesar's ego is just large enough to make an actual dent on Xena's equally mythic ego. These two play like the classic divorced couple who always are trying to top the other in snideness. We all know that Xena will always come out on top, but still, we also know that Caesar irks her just enough to make us wonder what Xena will have to put herself through to get there. Kudos to Caesar and here are cheers for bringing him back for the fourth season.
The problems with sharing continuity with another show are no longer easy to ignore. Having Hope and Callisto visit the Hercules set has harmed what little continuity XWP had set up for these characters. Hope is the genetic off-spring of both Gabrielle and Dahak on XWP, but only of Dahak in HTLJ (Gabrielle, in this Herk alternative timeline, was the surrogate mother, not the contributor of DNA); and, in XWP, Callisto suddenly realized, albeit extremely briefly (and many may have missed it on the first viewing of MATERNAL INSTINCTS), that revenge is not so sweet, but in HTLJ, there she is, being exploited by Dahak over and over again in. But then this should be no surprise, even within its own show, HERK's continuity is non-existent: to wit, Strife was killed last season only to reappear with no explanation this season. Although that makes the Hope and Callisto boo-boos seem minuscule, it is still a disappointment.
The swing towards more gratuitous graphic violence continues! KING CON allowed Joxer to be beaten to a pulp this time. Whatever dramatic reason it was deemed necessary to have Gabrielle beaten by a teen punk, Gabrielle dragged across Greece by her pal, Joxer beaten to a pulp, and various draggings of doomed characters and Xena, it could have been represented on screen in a less prurient, less vivid way. True, the violence never stops in XWP, but the use of the genre-required-violence was done in less blunt and more interesting and abstract ways in the past (in other words, although the violence level is still practically the same, the expression of it has changed). Let's hope this is a phase that has run its course.
Kym Masera Taborn
March 27, 1998