Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001)
Following on from the likes of Alias, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Dark Angel, this is another one of the few TV drama series that I really got into, and this is how I first came across this one. Xena: Warrior Princess is an imported series that was first shown in this country as part of the launch schedule of Channel 5 in 1997. When I watched the preview of what they were going to offer, this was one of the shows that definitely stood out to me.
The show was going to feature as a main part of the Saturday Night schedule, alongside the likes of Night Fever, when Channel 5’s image was aiming to be feisty, fresh, fun, and probably some other words beginning with F. While this is the kind of combination that for most people wasn’t going to lure them away from the likes of Blind Date or achieve huge ratings, I definitely thought that this one was worth giving a go.
Xena: Warrior Princess was related to the similar show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (it’s probably not a coincidence that this one was shown in the early days of Channel 5 too). Xena (Lucy Lawless) was a woman who travelled around the world to various places including Ancient Greece alongside her friend Gabrielle (although there were always rumours that Gabrielle was supposed to be more than just a friend), and they are the two main characters.
Xena encountered all kinds of enemies along the way, but because of her attitude and strength, she would simply whip out her sword, and accompanied by some spectacular stunts, she would finish all of them off with ease, this really was some exciting action-packed stuff. The show also usually featured some odd credits about how many people had or hadn’t been harmed in the making of the episode.
Another interesting thing about the show for me was that because it was made on location in New Zealand, a few episodes featured some people who would go on to be main cast members of The Tribe, a Channel 5 show that I was a big fan of, including Amy “Zandra” Morrison in a series 3 episode, and Beth “Amber” Allen in a series 4 episode.
There were 134 episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess in six series, and all of them have been released on DVD in a rather fancy 36-disc boxset. Other merchandise has included books, computer games, and a monthly magazine that ran for a few years. I do remember it being advertised, but I never had any myself. 25 years on, the show retains a big fanbase who still enjoy the thrilling action it has to offer.