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A Time of Change

BIRTH, DEATH & REBIRTH IN XENA'S FIFTH SEASON

Gabrielle, Xena and baby Eve

Spoiler Alert: This feature contains information about the fifth and sixth seasons of Xena: Warrior Princess.

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It began with a resurrection and ended with the twilight of the gods. For Xena: Warrior Princess, the fifth season was one of change, big change. There was the birth of Xena’s baby, a surprise visit by Hercules, and the death of a well-loved companion. The warrior princess and her sidekick Gabrielle were placed in suspended animation, awakening 25 years later to discover that Eve – now an adult – was a soldier in the Roman army.

By season’s end, a final show-down between mother and daughter resulted in the loss of another long-time friend, as well as most of the Olympians. Small wonder then, that fans of the series were left gasping for breath in the final minutes of Motherhood, the closing episode.

Needless to say, the biggest event of season five was the arrival of Xena’s baby, mirroring the real-life pregnancy of Lucy Lawless (who’s married to the show’s head honcho, Rob Tapert). “This has been the odd season because of Lucy’s pregnancy and having to work around that,” agrees executive producer RJ Stewart. “ I think we were able to do some terrific things in resolving how to deal with Xena’s daughter, and that drama became a major three-parter to end the season.”

Baby Boomers

Although Lawless’ pregnancy was eventually worked into the fifth-season storyline, not all of the writers knew about it right away. “Well, one of us did!” jokes former writer/producer Steve Sears. “Rob had often kidded us about it. I remember RJ and I were talking about it at one point, and I said, ‘I wonder if he’s kidding or telegraphing,’ and then he let us know. So we said, ‘Either we should decide what to do with that, or just hope the audience is not that observant!’”

Death Untangled

But first, there was a small matter of Xena and Gabrielle’s death to untangle. At the end of Season Four, both characters had been crucified by Caesar, leaving viewers hanging for the next several months about how the story would be resolved. The answer would be found in Fallen Angel, an FX-filled epic adventure in which Gabrielle and the forces of Heaven struggle to save Xena’s soul from being trapped in Hell for eternity.

The episode was a gamble, and Stewart admits there was some worry that it would all come together. “I recently went back to my alma mater, which is Arizona State University, they’re trying to get a film school going, so they had some film people from ASU who had gone on to other things. I brought Fallen Angel, and they projected it on a big screen to a couple of hundred students, and wow, did that look good up there! I’ve got to say, the reason that I and the other writers and Rob were able to conceive of episodes that were so ambitious is because our people could deliver. We certainly pushed them very hard with that one, but I think they really delivered.”

Joe Nazzaro

Also in this six-page feature...

RJ Stewart on how Amazon High became part of Lifeblood: "I don’t think the pilot worked well enough to justify re-shooting it with another lead, so we moved on..."

Visual FX supervisor Harrison Ellenshaw on Fallen Angel: "It’s still staggering to me, the number of shots that were accomplished within about that two-and-a-half week period...”

Composer Joe LoDuca on Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire: “Our basic premise,” explains , “was to use songs from the late ’60s and early ’70s in a way they really haven’t been heard before.

Xena images © Renaissance TV / Studios USA

Feature © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #109

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