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Anchor Bay Entertainment presents
Xena Warrior Princess: Season Four (1998)

"Because whatever Gabrielle wants, Gabrielle gets. When's the next ship to Athens?"
- Xena (Lucy Lawless)

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: July 13, 2004

Stars: Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor, Ted Raimi
Other Stars: Karl Urban, Bruce Campbell, Hudson Leick
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Adult themes)
Run Time: 10h:36m:00s
Release Date: June 15, 2004
UPC: 013131276497
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BA-A A+

DVD Review

Syndicated television phenomenon Xena Warrior Princess was on a worldwide roll by Season Four and at a height of popularity. Once a spin-off of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, the mythic series threatened to eclipse its progenitor. This set features all 22 episodes of the season, including director's cuts of Between the Lines, A Good Day, Locked Up and Tied Down. Season Four featured appearances by old favorites Joxer (Ted Raimi), Autolycus (Bruce Campbell), Borias (Marton Csokas), Caesar (Karl Urban), and Pompey (Jeremy Callaghan). Two villians, Ares and Callisto (Kevin Smith and Hudson Leick), also show up late in the year. Alexandra Tydings reprises her role also seen on Hercules as Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. This season also features an intriguing, although too short arc of episodes that feature Indian locations and themes. Midway through the season, Gabrielle gets a new hairstyle and Xena continues her struggles against the dark sides of her soul. There are some points at which the series seems to be remaking episodes from past seasons, but there is usually enough differences to distract from the similar storylines. Xena goes off on a couple of solo trips and Gabrielle has her moments in the sun as well.

There is much to recommend Xena Warrior Princess and Season Four serves as an exemplar. The stories are imaginative and rich with characters and plotlines that include spirituality, history and philosophy. There is plenty of humor and action to balance of the seriousness of the show. The relationship between Xena and Gabrielle is rich and filled with humor.

Adventures in the Sin Trade (1 and 2)

Inteviews with RJ Stewart and Eric Gruendemann, Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor, and Rob Tapert

Kate Elliott (Yakut), Victoria Pratt (Cyane), Claire Stansfield (Alti)
Season Four doesn't pick up at the end of Season Three, exactly. The previous season ended with the cliff-hanger of Gabrielle sacrificing herself to stop her daughter, Hope, from bringing forth the domination of her father, Dahoc. Grief-stricken, Xena travels to the Amazon Land of the Dead to find Gabrielle, and Xena revisits various threads of her past in Asia including her relationship with the shamoness Alti and Amazon leader, Cyane. Look for a particularly sharp scene where Xena accidentally invades Cyane's privacy and the Amazon steals the Warrior Princess' clothes right off her body. At the Amazon Place of Rest, Xena must battle the shamoness Alti and the demons of her own past, before she can continue on to find Gabrielle. This two-parter is difficult to follow and extremely violent but sexy. It is as if the show is making a statement that this season of Xena is going to top all the previous. Not quite as rich as The Debt from Season Three, Sin Trade is still a powerful story as we learn more of the "bad things" that Xena did that she refers to when talking to Gabrielle.

A Family Affair

Interviews with Chris Manheim, Liz Friedman, Doug Lefler

Willa O'Neill (Lila), Ted Raimi (Joxer)
Now we continue then end of the previous season as Xena and Joxer travel to Potidaea, where they find the evil daughter of Gabrielle, Hope, posing as her mother. They must stop her and her "spike-skinned, beast-like, incredibly hungry offspring"from destroying the world. This episode demonstrates the remarkable consistency of the Xena producers in that it would fit just at the end of Season Three from the look and style.

In Sickness and in Hell

Audio Commentary (Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor), Video Commentary

Ted Raimi (Joxer), Timothy Lee (Acestus)
Xena and Gabrielle, plagued by a hilarious series of disgusting ailments as they search for Xena's horse and try to help Joxer defend a village, while trying to do damage to each other. Nice touches of that particular brand of Xena humor that stays just barely on this side of camp.

A Good Day

Interviews with Steve Sears, Rick Jacobson, Liz Friedman & Eric Gruendemann

Caleb Ross (Temecula), Karl Urban (Julius Caesar), Jeremy Callaghan (Pompey)
Appearing on the scene as the Romans are planning to murder an entire Greek village, Xena plots against Caesar and Pompey. Their civil war has spilled over from Rome to Greece, and Xena, with her hatred of both, plans to send them back. Terrific action sequences in this episode, including a sword-fighting ménage with Xena and the two generals and an all-out battle led by Gabrielle.

A Tale of Two Muses

Interviews with Rob Tapert and Michael Hurst

Bruce Campbell (Autolycus), Shiri Appleby (Tara), John Givens (Istafan),
Comedy is the order of the day as Xena and Gabrielle get "footloose" in helping their friend Tara to change an oppressed town where dancing is outlawed. Autolycus adds his special brand of action to their plans.

Locked Up and Tied Down

Interviews with Rick Jacobson, Rob Tapert

Katrina Browne (Thalassa), Chris Sherwood (Draxel)
This episode starts with a quintessential moment as Gabrielle is sensually massaging Xena's shoulders when they spot men sneaking up on all sides. A short battle ensues until Xena allows herself to be arrested the murder of an innocent woman, Thalassa, who she left to die in the past, Gabrielle struggles to uncover the truth about the past and free Xena from Shark Island Prison, where she encounters some severe difficulties. Another episode in which we see more intriguing glimpses of what a bad, bad girl our heroine was in the past.

Crusader

Interviews with RJ Stewart and Eric Gruendemann, Liz Friedman

Roy Snow (Dach), Kathryn Morris (Najara)
Religion is a constant theme in Xena Warrior Princess from the pagan rituals to the Greek gods to evil Dahoc and including a nascent type of Christianity. Xena and Gabrielle meet a woman who preaches "the way of the light", but her practices appear to be less than holy in the completion of her mission of "fighting evil." Najara turns up again later in the season in the episode, The Convert. Kathryn Morris can be seen in the television series, Cold Case as Lilly Rush, the lone female detective in the Philadelphia homicide squad who finds her niche when she's assigned to "cold cases," crimes that have never been solved.

Past Imperfect

Marton Csokas (Borias), Catherine Boniface (Satrina),
Mark Ferguson (Dagnine) Xena and Gabrielle are trapped in a village at the mercy of an army led by someone with knowledge of some of Xena's previous siege tactics. After being slammed into a wall, Xena flashes back to a parallel time in her life during which she was pregnant with her child and leading an army in Greece with Borias. It is always cool when the Centaurs are in the show.

The Key to the Kingdom

Craig Parker (King Cleades), Bruce Campbell (Autolycus), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Lucy Lawless (Meg)
Humor abounds when Joxer and Meg lure Autolycus into an attempt to steal the crown of Athena by obtaining an infamous "key" that leads to it. But, the joke is on good old Autolycus when he learns the key is really a baby and Meg wants to be his mother. Xena arrives, etc...

Daughter of Pomira

Watchman Rivers (Clrvik), Andrew Kovacevich (Garth), Bruce Hopkins (Rahl),
Xena and Gabrielle set out to recover a young girl who was kidnapped six years before from a "civilized" settlement by a savage tribe called the Horde. However, they don't count on the fact that the child has been raised as one of the Horde and is troubled by the decision to rejoin her original family or stay with the family she knows. Xena is also troubled by her past fights with the Horde and the need to fight them again.

If the Shoe Fits...

Interviews with Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor

Ted Raimi (Joxer), Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite), Olivia Tennet (Alesia)
A little princess, Alesia, has run away from her stepmother and father and ended up with Aphrodite. As Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer return the child, each and Aphrodite take turns regaling the her with their versions of a fairy tale with familiar faces and a familiar storyline. Good, colorful humor, if you like this type of Xena episode. A waste, otherwise except for Aphrodite.

Paradise Found

Audio Commentary (Rob Tapert, Chris Manheim), Video Commentary

Jeremy Roberts (Aidan), Mervyn Smith (Garr, the Caretaker)
In India, Xena and Gabrielle fall down a deep hole and end up in a mystical place inhabited by Aidan and Garr. Gabrielle, in her continuing spiritual search, becomes enamored with the meditation forms used by Aidan and convinces Xena to hang around a while, much to her chagrin.

Devi

Timothy Omundson (Eli), Monroe Reimers (Vikram), Alex Reekers (Maya)
While traveling in India, Xena and Gabrielle meet Eli, a magician. Suddenly Gabrielle appears to acquire healing powers and is deemed a deity known as a Devi, by the towns people.

Between The Lines

Interviews with Steve Sears, Rick Jacobson

Claire Stansfield (Alti), Tharini Mudiliar (Naiyima), Colin Mathura-Jeffree (Shakti)
Xena and Gabrielle save a woman from dying in the funeral pyre of her husband and she sends Xena's soul into her karmic future as a peacemaker. There the Warrior Princess encounters the reincarnation of the evil shamaness Alti. Excellent metaphysical tripping in this episode as Gabrielle and Xena must bring Alti to the past to defeat her.

The Way

Interviews with RJ Stewart, Eric Gruendemann

Timothy Omundson (Eli), Rajneel Singh (Indrajit/King of Demons), Rajiv Varma (Krishna)
Xena invokes the god Krishna, to aid in the rescue Gabrielle and Eli from the clutches of Indrajit, the King of the Demons. Top-notch bug-eyed monster action in this episode.

The Play's The Thing

Jennifer Ward-Lealand (Zehra), Peter Muller (Dustinus Hophmanus), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Alisha Wall (Minya), Polly Baigent (Paulina), Eduardo de Campos (Sophocles)
The Queen of Cons, Zera, convinces Gabrielle to base a play on her writings about her adventures with Xena, as a scam to steal the production's investment money. Xena shows up, etc. Humorous and typically good if you like comic Xena and abysmal if you don't.

The Convert

Interviews with RJ Stewart, Chris Manheim

Ted Raimi (Joxer), Mfundo Morrison (Arman), Kathryn Morris (Najara), Darryl Brown (Kryton)
Twin stories of peace as Joxer wrestles with the guilt of his first kill, (however accidental) and struggles with admitting his guilt to the son of the man he killed and Najara returns claiming a newfound mantra for nonviolence. Xena suspicious, as always, is wary of Najara's new outlook.

Takes One to Know One

Bruce Campbell (Autolycus), Darien Takle (Cyrene), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Meighan Desmond (Discord),
Family and friends gather for Gabrielle's surprise birthday party. A bounty hunter looking to capture Xena is murdered and everyone is a suspect in the murder investigation that Discord, the newly appointed goddess of retribution, forces Xena to conduct and find the killer, or everyone she loves will be taken to the underworld.

Endgame

Interviews with Steve Sears, Eric Gruendemann

Jennifer Sky (Amarice), Karl Urban (Julius Caesar), Jeremy Callaghan (Pompey), Jodie Dorday (Solari), Danielle Cormack (Ephiny), David Franklin (Brutus)
The season builds to a dramatic conclusion when Gabrielle temporarily becomes Queen of the Amazons after Ephiny dies at the hand of Brutus. Xena maneuvers in the power struggle between Caesar and Pompey. Great battle sequences and excellent Amazon ritual dancing in this episode.

The Ides of March

Interviews with RJ Stewart, Hudson Leick, Rob Field
Audio Commentary (Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor), Video Commentary

Karl Urban (Julius Caesar), Hudson Leick (Callisto), David Franklin (Brutus)
Callisto returns from Hell to attempt to corrupt Xena and help her enemy Caesar become emperor of Rome. However Xena has other plans and uses the multiple perfidies of Caesar's friend Brutus. But the haunting vision that Xena has seen over the entire season...

Deja Vu All Over Again

Audio commentary by Renee O'Connor
Interviews with Lucy Lawless & Renee O'Connor and Rob Tapert

Ted Raimi (Joxer), Robert Trebor (Salmoneus), Kevin Smith (Ares)
A last blast of humor for the season as a woman believing she's the reincarnation of Xena gets help from a past life expert and we see some familiar faces and shopworn clips. A low-level effort marks Renee O'Connor's directorial debut.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Xena Warrior Princess looks great and has a quality that bursts it out of the constraints of the typical 4:3 television format. The earth tones are faithful and the blues and green are luscious. What a lovely place New Zeland is!

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Great sound transfer for this series which is known for its grunts, groans, boinks, whooshes and "Kaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis!" No other series on DVD that I have heard manages to transcend the limits of the television format for sound and video to achieve a satisfying home theater experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
3 Documentaries
Packaging: Four fold case
10 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Bloopers & Outtakes
  2. "Director's Cuts" of the episodes Between the Lines, A Good Day
  3. CD-ROM Material: Chronicles, Series Trivia, Bios, Legends
Extras Review: Adventures in the Sin Trade Featurette: Shamans, Amazons and Kung Fu (21m:17s):Featuring Martial Arts Grandmaster Douglas Wang and Religion and Gender Studies Professor Sheila Griggs, this short but interesting documentary focuses on the two sides of Xena: the fighting and the spiritual quests, particular as they related to Season Four's opening two-part episode, Adventures in the Sin Trade.

Bloopers & Outtakes (9m:55s): The expected bits of rough footage featuring mistakes and breakups. It is always fascinating to see Lucy Lawless drop in and out of character as Xena.

Bring Monsters to Life at K.N.B. EFX Group (19m:26s): Behind-the-scenes special effects magic is revealed. One of the marks of Xena and Hercules are the consistently high quality (well, at least most of the time) of their special effects.

Cabin Fever Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell (26m:21s): Some funny bits from the two comedic male sidekicks of the warrior princess.

Also included are "Director's Cuts" of the episodes Between the Lines, A Good Day and Locked Up and Tied Down. Mildly interesting but I can't say they are really worth except to students of editing for television. The episodes are presented in a dual screen mode that is somewhat difficult to follow and the resulting revealations about the episodes are less than stunning.

As with previous releases, CD-ROM material is included such as, Chronicles, Series Trivia, Bios, Legends. Definitely for the hard-core fan.

Extras Grade: A+

 

Final Comments

Gabrielle's back and Xena's got her! Season Four kicks off with the return of Gabrielle and continues with trips to India and Rome, itself. Tons of action and humor in this 10-disc set.

 


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