At first glance, one would assume that Xana is a copy of its sister show, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, but with more breasts. That’s a part of it, to be sure, but if you look closer, you will find that Xena has somewhat more interesting than its predecessor.
Xena was once a warlord. She and the army she lead killed countless people in her quest for power. That ended when she ran in to Hercules, and decided to change her ways. Thus, she now travels the world doing good, and seeking redemption.
That’s not to say that it’s a complex character study; but compared to the faultless do-gooder Hercules, Xena has far more depth as a person. She has a reason to fight, she gets discouraged, she falls back into her old ways, etc.
Xena, played by Lucy Lawless, is joined by her companion Gabrielle, played by Renee O’Connor. This too is departure from Hercules’ rotating stable of companions. Also, unlike Iolaus (Hercules’ normal partner, who is essentially a weaker version of him), Gabrielle is the opposite of what Xena used to be, and the finish line of what she longs to be.
Xena seems to have a little more variance in story lines than Hercules. Season Two included A Solstice Carol, a version of a Christmas Carol; The Xena Scrolls, about the reincarnated Xena and Gabrielle in 1940; and various run-ins with gods, amazons, and other heroes of Greek mythology. Comedy still plays a large roll in the series, but there is a slightly stronger dramatic edge to Xena. This is increased by the fact that Xena has an actual stake in the fight. She isn’t nigh-invulnerable, like Hercules, and she has something real to fight for, not just goodness in itself.
Despite the slightly more serious tone, and a more complicated protagonist, Xena does not lose the fun factor that made Hercules enjoyable. It’s still a Saturday afternoon adventure show; and a good one at that.
The DVD set from Universal contains 22 episodes on 5 discs. This was a low budget show, and the video reflects that; but this is probably as good as it will ever get, and at least as good as it was when it first aired. Unlike the previous release from Anchor Bay, this one is completely devoid of extras.