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REVIEWS  801 - Child's Play

If you would like to send in a review of this Virtual Episode, please submit it to:  theofficialxwpvs@hotmail.com

Ah, another Virtual Season! I didn't realize how much I missed Xena and Gabrielle over the summer until I read this one. And strong, female action-adventure leads seem to be on the wane in both over-the-air and cable TV, so I'm glad my weekly Xena fix is back.

I believe rating the episodes is valuable feedback for the individual authors and artists and the VS team so I'll continue to put a rating in my comments.

Of course, you'll know exactly who gave you this rating and why, but a critic should be just as much fair game for criticism as those he (or she) criticizes. Neither author nor critic should be able to claim perfection unchallenged.

An undefendable good rating is just as bad as an undefendable bad one - it's just sneakier. So here goes.

I'm giving this episode an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. Though not without a few disagreements (see below), I think it's a fun, interesting and, within the XWP context, totally believable story.

The artwork deserves a special compliment. Good job, gina and Trish. I particularly liked your renderings of little Xena. I could easily see the mature-woman-to-be within the child.

I also agree with Trish that the two styles of artwork blend together well.

Now to details.

Teaser: Good description of the balloon ride through the tropical storm (I assume that a full blown hurricane would be too much for even Xena's well made craft.) and eye. The balloon is a neat idea, but it does look awfully modern and many of the present day details were developed the hard way - as in very hard landings! The kiln burner makes sense, but I don't know if the balloon could carry enough fuel to keep it aloft more than a few hours at a time (Modern hot-air balloons use natural gas tanks which can carry a lot more heating capacity per unit of weight than any natural material, and even then most flights are only a few hours long. Llama dung mixed with straw is right, though. I believe it was the common fuel in the high, treeless areas of central Peru.

When I first saw the `balloon rip' picture, I thought `Why is it ripping across the seams?", but then I realized it was one of Trish's split screen drawings. It did confuse me for a while, though. Xena's face looked bloated, too, in this drawing.


Act I: In the sea rescue picture the small waves make it look like just a breezy day, rather than the middle of a storm. What's the deal with the gorilla? They are strictly African. South America does have monkeys (not apes) but none are anywhere near a gorilla's size. It is a good drawing, though. What are the yellow fruits Xena and Gabrielle found (Though maybe you didn't have anything specific in mind.)? At first I was thinking bananas, which fits in with what sounds very much like a banana cream pie Gabrielle says later she could make with them, but then they are described as orbs. Gabrielle's comment about their adventure at Ma'chu Pi'chu is interesting. I guess there are still some gaps in the Warrior Princess-Battling Bard story. Or is it just that no one has written a good screenplay for this one yet? I wonder about Ma'chu Pi'chu, though.

My impression is that is was of no great importance until the Spanish conquest when, due to it's inaccessibility and invisibility (It took the invention of the airplane for us to discover it. it became an Incan point of resistance to the conquerors. When I read the playing porpoise scene, my script revision neurons started firing. I imagined Xena spearing a fish and one of the porpoises grabbing it right off the spear. After Xena yells at him, he disappears. About a half hour later he returns and tosses a good-sized tuna onto her spear as payment (He gets a shallow water fish that is hard for him to catch, while Xena gets a good tasting deep water fish that she can't get to.

Rubber tree - I know the rubber tree is native to the Amazon jungle, but I don't think it's found on Caribbean islands. The hill Xena and Gabrielle climb sounds like one of those steep-sided plateaus found in central Venezuela (I forget the name.), which do have the right aura of mystery for containing a fountain of youth, but I'm sure you don't find those on the Caribbean islands.

Act IV: Very good `Xena growing' pictures - except on day four the balloon should be on the ground (which agrees with the screenplay), not floating, as they take it to the hilltop. What game did Xena teach her young playmates that would get her in trouble with their parents?

The kids probably loved it since they surround Xena before she leaves. It's nice to know Gabrielle doesn't like to be called Gabby. I always had that impression, but I don't think they ever said it directly in the series and it could have been because it was usually Joxer using it.

The disclaimer is a bit too wordy (Short and tart is best.), but I couldn't come up with a better one.





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