Review: Episode 808 - Foiled Plans
by: 41 Cyg
A reasonably good effort. I give it a 7.6 (1 to 10
scale). I tend to be harder on uber stories, since, being roughly in the
there are many more opportunities for me to notice differences between the
Xenaverse and the historical record (or present times).
I'm glad to see Melinda Pappas and Janice Covington
back in action. It's interesting to see how different their actions are from
those of Xena and Gabrielle, while at the same time time being eerily
A few general comments first.
This episode seemed somewhat shorter than average (This
is just an impression. I didn't do a page count.). It didn't feel like anything
was cut out or rushed, but I got the impression that if it had been filmed,
there would have been time for an extra commercial break.
About halfway through the script, I realized Clive Thomas,
the British intelligence agent had a Joxer-ish feel to him. He wasn't as clumsy
or inept as the original, but he did seem a bit naive and tended to be in the
wrong place at the wrong time. Can anyone else see Ted Raimi in a bowler with an
Oxford accent and maybe a small mustache?
Janice's hair seems to grow quite quickly. This episode directly follows VS7's A
Day in the Camp in which Janice's hair was cut short
enough for her to pass as a man. Now, as shown by the drawings for that episode,
it wasn't a particularly short man's cut, but this episode can't be more than a
month (See my comments just below.) after their eluding the American officials,
where Janice's hair was still quite short, and Gina's illustrations show her
with a season six Gabrielle look - quite a bit of hair growth for so short a
Now to some specifics.
Teaser: The opening scene gives the time as `1945', but I believe
this can be narrowed down much closer. As I noted in my comments on
A Day in the Camp, that episode had to have taken place around the
first week in March (no later than, say, March 10th) and Mel and Janice probably
got to Switzerland as soon as they could, since neither the Allies nor the Axis
(by then just Germany) were too pleased that the fragment of The Book of Ptah
was taken by them.
On the war front, Germany had not yet surrendered, but
the end and its nearness were apparent to anyone with any sense (Hitler may not
have accepted it, but no doubt most, if not all, of the other Nazi leaders were
making plans to avoid capture (either by escape or
suicide) or trying to get in a position where they could bargain with the Allies
for their lives and freedom.).
The henchmen who were trying to get to the Fountain of
Youth evidently still believed they could get the water back to Berlin, but they
too were probably making plans to come out of this ahead if things went bad (by
selling their secret to a government or the water to rich private citizens,
perhaps). These circumstances put the date at mid to late March, (maybe up to
mid April if Mel and Janice had an extended vacation, but I think that by then
the Nazis would have had no way of returning to Berlin).
Mel uses some interesting phrasing. One of the scrolls
`turned up missing'. Isn't that an oxymoron?
Act I: The German spy who obtains the map is `Herr Klaus'. Klaus
is a first name (short for Niklaus, I believe) and I don't think
`Herr' (=`Mister') would be used with that (unless you're someone like Mr.
Bill). Klaus might be a last name or an alias, but all of the other operatives
on the island are referred to by their first names. When Warner refers to Stalin
as being another possible buyer for the map, the tone of the conversation makes
sound much more true to life.
The phrasing in the
stage directions to scene 8 is just right where Janice is described as wearing
trousers rather than pants. That
would have been the proper term for a woman's garment at that time, if anything
other than a skirt would have been considered proper.
The newspaper Janice is reading in the
hotel room (the Times of London?) says the Xena Scrolls were found by Doctors
Pappas and Covington in 1942. Although the initial airing of The Xena Scrolls
gave the date as 1942, I believe it was changed to 1941 in subsequent airings,
which makes much more sense, as Greece was occupied by the Axis powers in
October 1941 and war with the U.S. started in December of that year. Is Melinda
a PhD? I know Janice is and Melinda's father was, but I don't remember Mel being
Of course, even a newspaper as good as the Times is not
immune from errors. Thomas describes their destination as `...just off Bimini....'
From the descriptions in Child's Play, the location of the Fountain of Youth
should be in the southern West Indies (Trinadad and Tobago or the Netherlands
Antilles), not the Bahamas. And if Thomas' location is correct, `off Bimini'
doesn't sound right; Bimini is a fairly small speck. `The Bahamas', as Thomas
says later, sounds much better.
Act II: Janice calls Mel `Miss Mouse'. I'll bet she knows Froggie
went a-courtin'. Even if Hitler got the Fountain of Youth water, I wonder if he
should trust his companions. If he appears to be a child, they could exercise
parental control over him and run things in his name. Also, if they don't have
the native shaman's reversal potion, he could be a child for a dozen years (or
more, if they regularly sneak more of the water into his meals). If Janice's
fedora is stuck on the door after she and Mel return from their own
break-in, why is she wearing it when they enter the room (Gina's drawing)?
Webmaster note: This has been
corrected in recoding.
Act III: Thomas mentions `Our embassy here', but, if they are in
Bahamas, that was a British colony and Thomas' agency would have made contact
directly, department to department within the same government. If they were on a
non-British island, except for Cuba
(which they obviously were not, since Janice wanted `Havana cigars' not `the
island special') or Hispaniola, the British would have a consulate, rather than
an embassy, since the island would not be an independent country, but a colony.
Act IV: Even if there were monkeys on the Fountain of Youth island
when Xena was there, I'm sure no Caribbean island has wild monkeys now. And, as
i said in my comments on Child's Play, they would not be apes.
I liked the scene where Janice flashed back to little Xena trapping Gabrielle,
but evidently Gabrielle didn't put everything in her
scroll, or the scene didn't make it from the scroll to the screenplay.
In scene 45, the Nazis come upon Janice and Clive's camp, but did they stop long
enough to make one? I didn't think so.
Again, Gina's illustrations are great, although I don't think I would call them
film noir style. I particularly liked the close up of Mel when she is on the
Nazis' boat. You can see Xena is behind those eyes!
I just read Chris S.'s comment and I have to agree. Diane Taubold did a great
job in the last scene. A beautiful humorous twist. Now I
have no doubt that Mel and Janice will be having adventures for many years to