from the Editor-in-Chief: Gabrielle. O, Gabrielle
Also from the Editor-in-Chief: Last Month's Issue And A Haiku
from the Graphics Editor: The Night Of The Edited Episodes
From the Editor in Chief: Gabrielle. O, GabrielleThe new season has started and we have been exposed to yet more people from Xena's past whom have tried to influence her, both for evil and for good. The fans, not easily confused, have reacted by debating, most laboriously, the topic of exactly who should be given the badge of honor for making Xena into such a good citizen. Out of this, however, another point arises. One that might even render the initial debate moot. It is clear that the others (and there seem to have been so many others), including Hercules, apparently all failed.
This is a tangent but what the hey? It is also apparent that Xena attracts these people like a bear to honey. They all want to tap her power. They all recognize her as being special and they all want a piece of her. Now back to the monologue.
Gabrielle appears to be the most successful in keeping Xena "on focus". Although after the third season, there is a valid question as to whether Gabrielle can sustain doing that. I believe, however, TPTB are anticipating that Gabrielle will be the successful one.
This is another tangent. As to Hercules, he was most likely the first to make her reconsider evil as a profession and not have her immediately falling off the wagon thereafter, but he did not make her want to continue to live as SINS OF THE PAST showed. What is the use of redemption if you are only going to kill yourself? With Gabrielle, Xena not only wants Gabrielle to live, but herself as well. Now back to the monologue.
If Gabrielle is indeed then most successful at keeping Xena nice, that begs the question of what makes Gabrielle so special. Why is Gabrielle, a young naive peasant from Poteidaia, apparently successful (or the most successful yet) when all these other people, who are some of the most powerful, intelligent, cosmopolitan, educated, skilled, sophisticated, ruthless, and canny people in history, have failed?
One thing the writers seem too do too well in XWP, is to create a wonderful foundation for some incredible profound potentialities and then they drop the ball, so to speak. It is as if they can set up this incredibly amazing story line and then just lose it at the last minute, reducing it to banal or maudlin sentimentalism or tried and true stereotypes and/or something equally predictable and unfulfilling.
I wonder about this thing they are doing to the character of Gabrielle. Are they mature enough, are they secure enough, and are they bold enough to explore the ramifications of what they have done in the third season and what they are apparently doing in the fourth season?
If we use the example of "the relationship", it could go either way. One way it would, of course, enhance the relationship and deepen the show even more; another way it would slide further into this current crisis of identity mode which was showcased in the third season.
After all that, I have to admit I am looking forward to the 4th season and the optimist I am, I think the show will turn around. I believe it will rediscover its focus (or at least the focus which is the reason I enjoy the show so much), and move on to an interesting season. We merely have to get through the first four episodes. These first four episodes I see as the purging of the dark cloud that remains after the third season. After SICKNESS is over, we will see if they have learned anything from the audience reaction to season three. The subsequent episodes will show what the rest of the season will be like.
Personally, I am not a fan of the mystical blood/sacrifice/ultimate evil/demon baby/etc stuff which was introduced in the third season and continued in ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE. True, that stuff does make the big story, the Tapert influenced "So goes Xena so goes the world" story line. I am hoping the traveling to India mini-series will allow the ladies to just get back in touch with themselves again and not worry about this big story which so easily falls into melodrama and unintentional parody. I miss the little stories in which great ideas sprung forth as opposed to great stories where it is more fantasy and medieval allegories than understanding what make Xena and Gabrielle tick...in other words, why the heck are they still together? With this entire spectacle going on, it makes me wonder. Nevertheless, when they have time for some small moments, I am confident I will remember.
Also From the Editor in Chief: Last Month's Issue And A HaikuGetting out the Fan Fiction edition of Whoosh! took a lot out of me, but in retrospect, I can see that it was worth it. I am very proud of that issue and look upon it as the apex of my tenure here at Whoosh! so far. It will have to be a doozy to top that. The special issues for 1999 we have planned include the "Xena's Girlfriends" issue for January 1999 (if you are aching to write about the other ladies in XWP, feel free to submit an article; the deadline is November 15, 1998); the "Myth and Religion" issue for April 1999 (again, please submit away, deadline is February 1, 1999); the "Popular Culture" issue for July 1999 (deadline May 1, 1999); and the "All-Subtext' issue for October 1999 (deadline August 1, 1999).
Some readers have asked me if I have ever written any fan fiction and I must admit I have tried but never have written anything complete, except for one single haiku. It was written after watching GABRIELLE'S HOPE.
A [Canadian] Dahak HaikuKym Masera Taborn
Dahak, evil guy
Impregnate Gabrielle, eh?
Some bad mojo there
October 8, 1998
From the Graphics Editor: The Night Of The Edited EpisodesTelevision can be an artistic medium, but commercial television is still bound by commercial considerations. Specifically, each episode of Xena must fit into a 42 minute or so period. The bottom line: tell whatever story you are going to tell in a precise amount of time, including titles, act divisions, and a host of other constraints both written and unwritten.
Despite all of the limitations, episodes are produced. We must still enjoy watching them, or we wouldn't keep it up. Because we watch, more are made.
But even knowing all this, there's a hopelessly old-fashioned part of me that feels that a story should take as long as it takes, whether it fits neatly into a time frame or not.
When I was a kid, growing up in East Anglia in a tiny little English village, we got two channels on our black-and-white-BBC-licensed set. Programmes started at odd times and lasted for odd times. It was not unusual to see something advertised to begin at 15:04 and end at 15:56 or 16:13. Why? Because not all programmes were bound by a fixed length of time. They fit into an approximate schedule, but were given the latitude of several minutes one way or the other to tell a story more completely.
This habit, I think, came directly from books. A chapter in a book is not a clinically fixed length. A chapter will convey something, and will take the amount of space necessary so to do. Some chapters are long, others are short, and depending on what it is the chapter in question is trying to convey. Should stories on television be any different?
I'm not being critical of any of the people who ensure Xena is cut to fit a proscribed length of time. Frankly, I think they do a very good job of that, and many stories won't suffer from being trimmed a little here and there.
Nevertheless, there are special cases where, I think, exceptions could and should be made for the sake of art. Yes, Xena is a commercial venture, but it is also a work of art. So many fine people contribute to it and make it something to be proud of, from the talent in front of the camera to the people in post-production and everyone in between and beyond. Who cannot notice the craftsmanship in set design, the carefully constructed lighting, the beautifully made costumes, the skillfully applied makeup, the care taken in setup of camera angles (first and second unit), and much, much more. Some stories are so vital and so intense that they could not hope to fit into a mere hour, or even two. Some dialogue is so fabulous that to trim any of it would be the moral equivalent of hacking pieces out of Michaelangelo's "David".
Some may argue that we do not suffer in leaving things on the cutting room floor. Indeed, there is much cut out that is better for being absent. But there is also much we will not be able to see for no other reason than the artificial limit of time.
Since the tapes available for purchase are no different from the original broadcast episodes, we will not see the moving Gabrielle/Argo scene from THE GREATER GOOD. We will not hear some of Salmoneus' moving speeches. We will not get some of the backstory in SACRIFICE or SIN TRADE. We will miss some pieces in QUEST dialogue between Gabrielle and Xena at a very crucial time. We will never see Autolycus and the naked Amazons hot tub scene. There is much we will be denied.
It would be nice if, even in a commercial world, we might be allowed some artistic latitude from time to time above and beyond the limits artificially set, for no other reason than artistically, it would be the correct thing to do. Yeah, right. And for my birthday this month I'd also like Peace on Earth, good will to all.
October 6, 1998