XENA: The Arc That Almost Was

Welcome to another Wildcard Wednesday! I promised one of my readers back when the Xena: Warrior Princess Opinionated Episode Guide was a regular fixture on this blog that I would feature an article with George Strayton from the 15th edition of The Chakram Newsletter. In the interview, he discusses the original plan for the Twilight of the Gods saga, which would comprise the second half of the fifth season and move into the sixth. Frankly, I’ve never put much stock into Strayton’s rudimentary plan because a) it’s not better than what actually happened and b) I’ve always doubted whether or not Tapert, the caller of the show’s metaphorical shots, genuinely considered most of the ideas, especially given how quickly Orci and Kurtzman were replaced by the returning R.J. Stewart (thankfully). But for curious parties, here are scans of the interview. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments of this section — and to all my fellow Xenites out there, those both excited and non-excited for the potential NBC reboot in development, “battle on!”

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Come back next Wednesday for another Wildcard post! And tune in on Monday for another forgotten musical!

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4 thoughts on “XENA: The Arc That Almost Was

  1. Lol. I *think* that might have been me! Personally, I think aspects of the proposed storyline are significantly better than what we received. It’s interesting that the new Dark Horse comic book series seems to be taking inspiration from this proposed storyline since it will feature an alternate season 6 with Xena and Gabrielle battling the forces of Rome.
    I’ll be excited for the Xena reboot when NBC Universal pulls its head out of its azz and realises that they can easily allow the original and iconic Xena and Gabrielle to have one last grand adventure while also introducing new leads / characters to headline an ongoing TV series. Time travel, parallel dimensions, alternate realities and other sci-fi and fantasy tropes could be utilised to please the hardcore, nutball Xenites like myself while still attracting new fans.

    • Hi, Agent86! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I would actually prefer more mythology and less sci-fi, but I have a feeling we will get more of the latter anyway — it’s an easier audience. Regarding the casting of the upcoming project, desperate NBC goes where the money is, so you would think they’d be a little more receptive to the idea of having Lawless and O’Connor return, as that would guarantee a larger base. However, they’ve never viewed XENA as anything other than a television property, and a longterm series with the original cast members is a harder sell than a one-off TV movie. Ideally, there should have been a push ten years ago to get a limited series on, but if THE X-FILES finally gets a limited run revival over a decade after concluding, why not XENA?

      • I agree that NBC has wasted the marketing power of the Xena: Warrior Princess brand. Similarly iconic 90s TV shows have had steady merchandising since they ended (e.g. Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Charmed, X-Files, etc), yet Xena has received almost nothing. Heck, Funko are making POP figures of The Golden Girls, yet there is no new Xena merchandise on the horizon with the exception of the comic book and a trilogy of novels.
        Given that Lucy Lawless is happy to reprise her role as Xena on at least a limited basis, it seems foolish for NBC to ignore that opportunity. But, NBC has also been behind some truly terrible “reboots”, particularly the Wonder Woman TV series which thankfully didn’t proceed beyond a pilot, so I guess it’s not that surprising.

        • Well, when XENA trended on Facebook for perhaps the first time since the site’s invention, NBC got a little preview of the kind of sensation that this series engenders. I think it was a big wakeup call for them. But there’s little reverence for the past in this business, except where there’s a clear profit motive. There’s a problem: XENA is still regarded as niche; NBC needs to un-niche the series to make it work for them. In their eyes, that means going for youth.

          Although I am prejudiced by a heavy involvement within the XENA fandom, I believe there is also a mainstream outpouring (not just the dedicated Xenites) of support for the original cast members recreating their roles. This would certainly be my preference as well, but I’m torn about the viability of the idea, because I do think the network waited too long to use the original duo in a longterm capacity, and I seriously doubt that the women actually want to return — no matter what they say to the fans (to whom they cater, simply because they know the chances are so unlikely). And no matter what the fans say, I think NBC is already moving forward without them.

          Ultimately, as you noted, any new XENA project requires our diminished expectations. It’s not going to be the original series. The question now is: will they succeed in honoring it (during the reboot’s likely brief existence)?

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