frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (Xena: Xena Gab Argo)
[personal profile] frayadjacent
It's no secret that I adore Xena, but I also recognize that it isn't super, um, accessible? Especially to audiences used to higher production value and less camp. So I've put together a set of "curricula" -- episodes to watch -- for varying levels of commitment. A number of people on my reading list have remarked in the last year or so that you'd like to watch or re-watch Xena. Well, now you can just watch the best if you want.

First things first: if you really don't like camp, you probably shouldn't watch Xena. You could maybe try my Top 5, but it probably just won't be for you.

On the other hand, if you loooooove camp but don't want to commit to the longest curriculum, feel free to comment and I can write up another list of favorite funny/campy episodes. My orientation is more toward a few of the dramatic plot arcs, Gabrielle's pacifism arc, and Xena/Gabrielle. Obviously this is a YMMV situation.

Also -- some of you probably know Xena better than me! If you see any lapses in good judgement, please let me know and if I agree I'll change it!

I've included content notes of a kind for some of these -- please feel free to ask for more details about specific episodes:

*r: racism of some sort. Included in this is depictions of groups coded as "primitive" or indigenous, generally played by a mix of indigenous, non-indigenous POC, and white actors -- however, this applies to any episode that the Amazons appear in, and I haven't noted it for all of those episodes, only the ones where I find it most egregious. I also note *r for orientalization of Middle Eastern or Asian characters.

However, it is common for Xena to disproportionately cast Maori actors to play "dumb" villains of the week (as opposed to epic antagonists like Caesar or Ares). I haven't noted this as it is very common and I haven't watched all of these episodes recently.

*dv: partner violence

*c: episodes that are particularly campy *and* not essential to an ongoing plot or character arc.

Lowest commitment: Top 5 episodes for non (or not-yet)-fans

Season 2
    A Day in the Life

Season 3
    The Debt I *r
    The Debt II *r
    One Against an Army
 
Season 6
    When Fates Collide
 
Low commitment: the highlights

Season 1
    Sins of the Past
    Hooves and Harlots
    Callisto

Season 2
    Return of Callisto
    Destiny *r (in the teaser)
    A Day in the Life

Season 3
    The Debt I  *r
    The Debt II *r
    Maternal Instincts
    One Against an Army
    When in Rome
 
Season 4
    A Good Day
    Crusader
    Endgame
    Ides of March
   
Season 6
    Who`s Gurkhan? *r
    The Abyss *r
    The Rheingold
    The Ring
    Return of the Valkyrie
    To Helicon and Back
    When Fates Collide
Maaaaayybe
    A Friend in Need 1 *r
    A Friend in Need 2 *r
 
Higher commitment: most of the important plot and character arcs, as well as the best stand-alone episodes

Season 1
    Sins of the Past
    Hooves and Harlots
    The Black Wolf
    Callisto

Season 2
    Remember Nothing
    Girls Just Wanna Have Fun *c
    Return of Callisto
    Destiny *r (in the teaser)
    A Day in the Life
    The Price *r

Season 3
    The Deliverer
    Gabrielle`s Hope
    The Debt I
    The Debt II
    Maternal Instincts
    The Bitter Suite *dv
    One Against an Army
    When in Rome
    Sacrifice I
    Sacrifice II

Season 4
    Adventures in the Sin Trade I  *r
    Adventures in the Sin Trade II *r
    A Family Affair
    A Good Day
    Crusader
    Past Imperfect
    Between the Lines *r
    The Way *r
    The Convert
    Endgame
    Ides of March

Season 5
    Fallen Angel
    Chakram
    Antony and Cleopatra
   
Season 6
    Coming Home
    Who`s Gurkhan? *r
    Legacy
    The Abyss *r
    The Rheingold
    The Ring
    Return of the Valkyrie
    To Helicon and Back
    When Fates Collide
Maaaaayybe
    A Friend in Need 1 *r
    A Friend in Need 2 *r
 
High commitment: roughly 75% of the show. If you watch these you'll see all the major plotlines and character arcs; I've just removed what I consider the worst episodes. There are a few episodes here that I don't care for much, but haven't removed because they're relevant to an ongoing plot or character arc.

Season 1
    Sins of the Past
    Dreamworker
    The Reckoning
    Hooves and Harlots
    The Black Wolf
     Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts
     Athens City Academy of the Performing Bards
    The Royal Couple of Thieves *c
    The Prodigal
    Ties That Bind
    The Greater Good
    Callisto
    Is There a Doctor in the House...?

Season 2
    Orphan of War
    Remember Nothing
    Girls Just Wanna Have Fun *c
    Return of Callisto
    Warrior..Princess..Tramp *c
    Intimate Stranger
    Ten Little Warlords
    The Xena Scrolls *c
    Here She Comes..Miss Amphipolis *c
    Destiny *r
    The Quest
    A Necessary Evil
    A Day in the Life
    For Him the Bell Tolls *c
    The Price *r
    Lost Mariner
    A Comedy of Eros *c

Season 3
    The Furies
    Been There, Done That *c
    The Deliverer
    Gabrielle`s Hope
    The Debt I
    The Debt II
    King of Assassins *c
    Warrior..Priestess..Tramp *c
    The Quill is Mightier *c
    Maternal Instincts
    The Bitter Suite *dv
    One Against an Army
    When in Rome
    Forget Me Not
    Fins, Femmes and Gems *c
    Vanishing Act *c
    Sacrifice I
    Sacrifice II

Season 4
    Adventures in the Sin Trade I  *r
    Adventures in the Sin Trade II *r
    A Family Affair
    In Sickness and in Hell *c
    A Good Day
    A Tale of Two Muses *c
    Locked Up and Tied Down
    Crusader
    Past Imperfect
    If the Shoe Fits *c
    Paradise Found
    Devi *r
    Between the Lines *r
    The Way *r
    The Play`s The Thing *c
    The Convert
    Takes One To Know One
    Endgame
    Ides of March

Season 5
    Fallen Angel
    Chakram
    Succession
    Animal Attraction
    Them Bones, Them Bones *r
    Little Problems *c
    Seeds of Faith
    Lyre Lyre, Hearts on Fire *c
    God Fearing Child
    Eternal Bonds
    Amphipolis Under Siege
    Kindred Spirits
    Antony and Cleopatra
    Looking Death in the Eye
    Livia
    Eve
    Motherhood

Season 6
    Coming Home
    The Haunting of Amphipolis
    Heart of Darkness
    Who`s Gurkhan? *r
    Legacy
    The Abyss *r
    The Rheingold
    The Ring
    Return of the Valkyrie
    Old Ares Had a Farm *c
    Dangerous Prey
    The God You Know
    You Are There *c
    Path of Vengeance
    To Helicon and Back
    When Fates Collide
    Many Happy Returns *c
Maaaaayybe
    A Friend in Need 1 *r
    A Friend in Need 2 *r

on 25/10/14 07:27 am (UTC)
calvinahobbes: The Scooby Gang (btvs-scoobies)
Posted by [personal profile] calvinahobbes
OMG, Fray, this is amazing! I've been idly thinking about watching more Xena lately (well, when don't I?), and this looks perfect! I really appreciate that the first few episodes are roughly the same, so I can skip through s1 quickly and then decide which strategy I want to use for the remaining seasons.

Such service! Very wow! Thank.

on 25/10/14 07:33 am (UTC)
calvinahobbes: Calvin holding a cardboard tv-shape up in front of himself (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] calvinahobbes
But say I really, really liked Cradle of Hope for obvious kid-fic related reasons, are there any other episodes I should look out for...? *wishful thinking*

on 25/10/14 09:56 am (UTC)
deird1: Fred looking pretty and thoughful (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] deird1
My orientation is more toward a few of the dramatic plot arcs, Gabrielle's pacifism arc, and Xena/Gabrielle.

Isn't it interesting how two people can like the same thing for totally different reasons? I love Xena entirely for the camp.

on 25/10/14 11:36 am (UTC)
silly_cleo: black and white image of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, text: an almost all greek thing (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] silly_cleo
This is AWESOME, I'm so impressed! :D I hope lots more people watch as a result. It's actually super-handy for me too as I watched through all of Xena in a rush at uni and now sort of gravitate to watching the same handful over and over, so a guide to what to re-watch is brilliant.

on 25/10/14 11:36 pm (UTC)
chaila: Diana SWORDFIGHTING in a BALLGOWN. (wonder woman - warrior princess)
Posted by [personal profile] chaila
Facepalm. I kind of just...forgot to watch more Xena. :) Yay handy list!

on 26/10/14 12:09 am (UTC)
ghost_lingering: Weaver gets down to Savannah's level and looks her in the eyes (daughters of robots)
Posted by [personal profile] ghost_lingering
Oh, awesome! It looks like Xena is streaming on Hulu for free, so I'm definitely bookmarking this for future reference.

on 30/10/14 03:45 am (UTC)
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sanguinity
I've been hovering on the edge of a rewatch, and not doing it mostly because I don't want to watch everything again. Which means this was enough to tip me over into beginning again.

Callisto is up next and I am SO EXCITE.

on 28/7/15 05:21 pm (UTC)
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] luzula
Hey, just wanted to let you know that my friend and I are using this list! He's a Xena fan who's already watched the whole series (a while ago) but we're now using the "higher commitment" list to watch together. : )

on 21/10/15 05:40 pm (UTC)
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] luzula
Hey, just wanted to let you know that when I got to Maternal Instincts (on the "higher commitment" list) I found it confusing that Xena suddenly had a son! In which episode does she get the son? Because I kind of want to watch it now, for backstory if nothing else...

Yes, our Xena watch is going super-slowly. But we're enjoying it. : )

on 28/10/15 06:28 pm (UTC)
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] luzula
Thanks! There was a lot of stuff in that episode which was confusing, actually: 1) What, Xena has a son? 2) Why does Callisto suddenly have magical powers? 3) Sudden Amazons? But this is my own fault for not watching the high commitment list, I suppose. : )

No problem!

on 7/10/15 02:21 pm (UTC)
parcequelle: (csi gabrielle)
Posted by [personal profile] parcequelle
I just started a rewatch today! And I actually started with the three Hercules episodes that are Xena's ~original intro, just because I couldn't really remember them, and then skipped straight to Is There A Doctor in the House...? because I've seen season 1 quite a lot and it's not the best. This is a great guide for the rest of it, though, thank you! :D

on 12/10/15 08:53 am (UTC)
parcequelle: (csi gabrielle)
Posted by [personal profile] parcequelle
Ha, you are totally right about Altared States! After I read this I went and rewatched it, and it is still very silly (SO MANY BAD ACTORS AHAHA), but the first scene! In the lake! HOW HAD I FORGOTTEN IT. I love how Karl Urban plays three different roles in six sesons. This show is so precious.

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frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (Default)
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