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Xena: Warrior Princess - Season 1 Part 1

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 510 mins . M15+ . PAL


For the uninitiated, Xena: The Warrior Princess came to life as a spin-off of the hit television series Hercules. Xena is the ultimate woman, tender and caring with the ability to kick anyone's ass if the need arises. Filled with mythological figures and sword swinging bad guys, much in the same vein as Clash of the Titans or Conan the Barbarian, she travels from village to village encountering trouble wherever she goes, some may even say she is just bad luck! Whatever the sticky situation that arises is, whether it be a giant cyclops, a gang of war hungry tyrants or even simply a jilted lover, she has all the right moves and strategies to deal with it. Pitched battles are aplenty, with swords and other weaponry used, along with a quick wit.

To keep her company on these journeys is her lesbian lover Gabrielle, truth be know she isn't really her lesbian lover but popular opinion would definitely prove otherwise, and the lesbians out there see Xena as a perfect role model figure. A strong woman in a lead role, going round kicking men's asses? What more could they ask for?

Although based in Greece in mythological times, this series is entirely filmed in New Zealand. The scenery is stunning at times with panoramic views of rolling hills. The countryside truly looks wonderful and this show is a great advertisement for the NZ Tourism Board.

In this first box set Xena: The Warrior Princess - Season One Part One, there are three discs containing the first twelve episodes produced. Each episode runs for approximately 42 minutes and sadly contains the commercial fade-outs often associated with TV series'. There was a huge temptation to begin each episode synopsis with "Xena travels to a village, encounters some bad guys, fights them and saves the day" but this show is not as predictable as it may seem, with each episode offering something different to keep the viewer entertained.

Sins Of The Past
Xena returns to her home village in the attempt to settle down and give up her killing ways, but she doesn't get the reception she hoped for, especially from her mother. There is also a small matter of the army led by Draco (Jay Laga'aia) that wants to destroy the village. Xena is torn as to whether to leave, as per the wishes of the village, or stay and fight Draco. While all of this is happening, a young village girl is besotted by Xena, hence the introduction of Gabrielle.

Chariots Of War
Xena leaves Gabrielle behind while she goes ahead to check out a village. When she arrives, the locals are under attack from a gang of tyrants and Xena is injured in the process of helping them. A widower and his three young children take Xena in to help her recover against the villager's wishes. Xena may have saved them this time, but they are a peace loving community that want to try and negotiate with their attackers and avoid more bloodshed.

Gabrielle is captured by Morpheous and is destined to become a sacrifice, this can only happen once she has been killed and therefore lost her innocence. Xena must travel the dream passage in order to save the day.

Cradle Of Hope
The king discovers that a newborn baby is to take his throne. He orders the death of all newborns and a caring nursemaid sends a baby in a basket downriver. Xena and Gabrielle discover the baby and set about finding whom it belongs to.

The Path Not Taken
A young woman is kidnapped and her fiancee enlists the help of Xena to get her back safely. Xena discovers the kidnappers are those she once fought alongside and has to gain their trust in order to gain the release of the girl. One of the men is Xena’s old flame Marcus, who wishes to pick up where they left off.

The Reckoning
While trying to save villagers, the hooded warrior that is killing them disappears. As other villagers arrive, it looks as if it is in fact Xena that has caused the mayhem and they call for her death.

The Titans
Gabrielle frees three titans from their statue state and in return they worship her. When the titans discover Gabrielle is not in fact a goddess they decide they will no longer take orders from her. The only way to save the day is to return the titans to their stone prison and the only person that can do that is a virgin.

Hera captures Prometheus and Xena, Gabrielle, Iolus and Hercules must try to free him.

Death in Chains
Celesta has been captured and this causes a small problem - that nobody can die. Xena must free Celesta while Gabrielle becomes infatuated with a man named Talus. Sadly though, Talus is destined to die should Celesta be released.

Hooves and Harlots
A war begins between the Amazon and Centaur nations, started by the evil warlord Krykus. An Amazon princess is killed and on her deathbed grants Gabrielle rights for trying to save her life making Gabrielle an Amazon Princess. Xena must try to prove that the accused murderer is in fact innocent.

The Black Wolf
The evil warlord Xerxes is taxing villagers to the extreme and because of this the Black Wolf rises to help them. Xerxes threatens to destroy the village unless the Black Wolf surrenders. Xena must come to the aid of the villagers and try to save the Black Wolf.

Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts
Xena and Gabrielle must try to save Helen of Troy in this twist on the infamous Trojan horse tale.

As stated earlier, many episodes may seem to rely on a standard formula and to a degree they do, but with new characters introduced constantly and the growing relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, this is a very enjoyable series. Some of the special effects are a little basic, but the fight scenes are done very well. The humour in the series is also a high point.


Being a television series, this is presented in full frame and therefore it's not 16x9 enhanced. Picture is generally sharp throughout, but can vary on occasions dependent on grain and special effects content. As with a lot of filmed television series' though, grain is quite constant. Colours are reasonable throughout with some vibrant hues used. Shadow detail is also very good and blacks are generally deep. Pixelisation is a problem at times, but aliaising is not a concern. There are no major problems with film artefacts.

There are no subtitles supplied for this release, but dialogue is clear so the only need for subtitles really is to see the spelling of character names. There is no layer change on discs one and two and I would suggest it has been placed between episodes, but on disc three the layer change occurs at 1:52 on the episode The Black Wolf. It is surprising that the first two discs could conceal the layer change and yet this couldn’t be done on the third. It's assumed this is because of the photo gallery contained on disc three.


Audio is supplied in Dolby Digital 2.0 and sounds terrific. Dialogue is clear at all times as are the sound effects used throughout. Synch is generally good, but there are a couple of occasions where it is slightly out. These occasions don’t cause too much disruption and can easily be ignored. The music used for this series is very good and well suited and this audio track delivers that music very well. Overall the audio is very good for a television series.


For a three-disc set, all that is supplied in the way of extras is a simple Photo Gallery. This is a series of pictures that have simply been clipped from the series and amounts to nothing special at all. Quite frankly this extra is a complete waste of time.


Xena is a very enjoyable series and this presentation of the first 12 episodes of the first series is very good. As the series was a spin-off from Hercules there was not much time wasted in developing the character of Xena, so it is straight into the action from episode one. Fans will be pleased to finally see this series on DVD, but will be sorely disappointed by the lack of extras content.

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      And I quote...
    "Containing the first half of series one, this three disc box set should satisfy all the Xena lovers out there."
    - Adrian Turvey
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