Welcome to another Xena Thursday! Today, we’re continuing our chronological coverage of every single episode of Xena: Warrior Princess — both the episodes that I have previously highlighted AND the episodes I’ve yet to feature. Complementing my thoughts are the thoughts of those who worked on the series: mostly actors, writers, directors, and producers. I have done months of research for the acquisition of the quotes you’ll see over these next 67 weeks (as there are 134 episodes and I’ll be covering two episodes per week). They come from a variety of sources, including the original special feature-laden DVD releases, The Chakram Official Newsletters, both the Topps and Titans Official Xena Magazines, the fan kits, and other assorted print and video interviews. So in addition to sharing my thoughts, these posts will also contain information and musings from the Xenites that matter most — the ones who brought this exciting series to the small screen.
45. Season 2, Episode 21: “Lost Mariner” (Aired: 05/05/97 | Filmed: 03/06 – 03/18/97)
After a shipwreck, Gabrielle finds herself aboard the cursed vessel of the lost mariner Cecrops. Soon, she and Xena are confronted by pirates and the nasty god Poseidon.
Written by Steven L. Sears | Directed by Garth Maxwell | Production No. V0226
I featured this episode as #56 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here.
CAST & CREW COMMENTARY:
Lucy Lawless (Actor, Xena): “The director, Garth Maxwell, is a New Zealander and he’s such a delight for us to work with. And [this is] the episode we filmed with a cyclone… No, not Charybdis, an actual cyclone! That day where you see us being washed up on the shore there was a tropical cyclone at the time. And the normally placid little beach was washing up over the edge of the bank and there were gale force winds out… Yeah, [we were on] a real ship. Rob [Tapert] had a thing built on it, and it’s called ‘Rob’s Folly.’ He’s always wanted a boat. He cares so much about fishing, really. It’s where his heart is. And so they built this big boat. It’s on a barge and they can just change the uppermost construction to make it a Phoenician sailing yacht, a pirate ship, or whatever it has to be… Well, it doesn’t sail, and it’s under motor. And we go out in the harbor [to film] and have to battle sun position and wind, and just about every single line in that episode had to be looped… [But this episode] was great fun. [This] was the one where Renee ate [raw] squid… Yeah, actual squid. It absolutely was. [And] Tony [Todd] is terrific. Yeah, he’s a good, strong actor and he had an awful lot of dialogue to carry. He has a lot of charisma, a lot of presence on the screen.” (The Official Guide To The Xenaverse by Robert Weisbrot – 1998)
Renee O’Connor (Actor, Gabrielle): “They marinated [the squid] for me. It was the worst! It was so bad. It took me months to try to eat calamari after that. I am not kidding.” (The Singapore Press – October 1997)
Steven L. Sears (Writer/Producer): “…From [the myth of Athena vs. Poseidon for patronage of Athens] I came up with the story of Cecrops and his dilemma, that originally Poseidon had captured him and wouldn’t allow him to go. After I had that background then I explored a little of the background of the Flying Dutchman. The hinge on the entire thing, of course, was the interpretation of the curse: what is love and how is it supposed to be directed? But I didn’t want Cecrops to become a totally pathetic person or a person who became a pirate. I had to straddle that line, and of course with Tony Todd, bingo. He brought off all those emotions, he was majestic, incredible. You saw the pain he was going through. The same thing with his crew. His crew was just tired. They wanted to die. That was their whole point. With all of those elements in place, and placing our characters on there, it gave Xena the ultimate challenge of solving this mystery. Then at the end, of course, it was, ‘What do I do with Cecrops?’ I didn’t want to kill him. I figured, ‘You know something, the gift that Athena gave him is still in place.’ Immortality. This is one of those episodes that ultimately had a really happy ending. Normally on those really happy endings I want to say, ‘Let’s give it a little bit of darkness so there’s some sort of reality here.’ But in this one I truly wanted it to be a happy ending, because he was such a good person.” (Whoosh! Interview – July 1998)
Garth Maxwell (Director): “[This] was quite an interesting shoot, because you try and keep your backlight very dominant to give an interesting shape to an actor’s face. The lighting on Xena is fairly critical, and when you’re on a boat this is even more difficult because sunlight becomes your backlight. The boat we had was a converted barge, with motors and drives in all four corners, and I had to keep it where I wanted it to be for the backlight no matter which direction we were shooting from. So it was difficult to keep the boat turned the way we were shooting to keep the sun behind it…. We had an enormous number of hands throwing water out of buckets onto guest star Tony Todd’s face with the wind machine turned on and him screaming as though it was a major gale, even though the water was actually calm during that sequence. Working with water and being at sea certainly presents interesting challenges!” (Titan: The Official XENA Magazine, Issue #18 – May 2001)
46. Season 2, Episode 22: “A Comedy Of Eros” (Aired: 05/12/97 | Filmed: 03/19 – 03/27/97)
Even the warlord Draco becomes a comedic victim of Cupid’s son, Bliss, when the mischievous boy creates unlikely romantic pairings among Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer and Draco.
Written by Chris Manheim | Directed by Charles Siebert | Production No. V0225
I featured this episode as #54 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here.
CAST & CREW COMMENTARY:
Lucy Lawless (Actor, Xena): “[This] episode [featured] a whole lot of silliness and running around. It was a delight to shoot. Charlie Siebert is a marvelous director and I will do anything for him, because on two separate occasions I have gotten horribly ill on his episodes: one was the time when I hurt my back (“Ties That Bind”) and another time when I broke my pelvis (“Ten Little Warlords”)… So I will never say no to Charlie Siebert. Anything he wants me to say or do, I will do.” (The Official Guide To The Xenaverse by Robert Weisbrot – 1998)
Chris Manheim (Writer): “It started off very light, but got a little darker because of Draco, who was introduced way back in [the first episode]. He was a very strong, formidable character, and I think the chemistry between Draco and Xena was so good that everybody thought, ‘Let’s bring Draco back,’ and the actor was available, so we want for it. I come from the stage, so I deliberately made it like the bedroom farces, with the closing doors and stuff like that. It helped that we had an actor/director, because he has certainly done his share of farces and knew exactly where to go with it.” (Starlog Magazine Yearbook – August 1998)
Renee O’Connor (Actor, Gabrielle): “[This episode] was a take-off of on the Shakespearean A Comedy Of Errors. Ted came over for it, and it was non-stop entertainment and laughs, so [this] was another highlight for me. There’s a mix-up of love interests and it was a nice way of taking the characters into an element they’re not used to.” (Starburst Magazine #228 – July 1997)
Ted Raimi (Actor, Joxer): “Frankly, when I was making it, I thought, ‘This is a standard, kooky Joxer episode,’ but the response to it was tremendous. I sat down and took another look at the episode, thinking maybe I was a little too rough on it, and it was pretty damn good. It’s very tight, well-written, and maybe the fans are starting to like Joxer a little bit and maybe they sort of like to see him and Gabrielle together. They’re like brother and sister now.” (Starlog Magazine Yearbook – August 1998)
Come back next Thursday for more Xena! And tune in tomorrow for another Miriam Hopkins Pre-Code!