As the Xena series was winding down, my thoughts continually turned to inventing the next chapter of the Warrior Princess. The model I embraced was Star Trek. The original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise were all new shows based on the original precept "to boldly go" where no man has gone before. Shouldn't our heroes continue to Battle On for The Greater Good?
When Tapert and Raimi call, I'll be ready. Here's what I developed.
My first choice... that is, my current final decision:
Xena: Sunset in IT
Location: northern Oklahoma, then known as Indian Territory, near the Kansas border USA
Time: late 1860s
Xena: Gina Torres (Cleopatra in early Xena, Hel in Cleopatra 2525, Nebula in Hercules, and a slew of credits lately on primetime US television)
Gabrielle: Franka Potente (Lola in Run Lola Run, Sissi in The Princess and the Warrior (how's that for a coincidence), and probably known best to American audiences for The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and All I Want)
Backstory: Xena was a free black woman living in Kentucky, who was kidnapped by runaway slave hunters and taken to Georgia. She killed her captors there and escaped West to Kansas, a state with both free and enslaved blacks. Worried she'd be attacked by slave hunters again, or caught in the Civil War vigilante violence that plagued Kansas, she's slipped into the Indian Territory hoping it's remoteness and lack of political baggage will let her live in peace. Gabrielle was born to Pennsylvania Germans but eloped with a visiting young English horse rancher who took her to Virginia. The Civil War ruined her home, killed her husband, and orphaned her emotionally as well. She can't go home to the family she defied, she can't even return to Pennsylvania for fear of being branded a Confederate traitor, yet Virginia contains her most awful memories. Like many people who felt bereft of home, welcome neither in North or South, she went West. In southern Kansas she sees a tall, strong black woman being threatened by a mob of ex-Rebel soldiers. A chord is struck within her to see a woman alone, threatened by men and caught in a merciless situation not of her own making. On impulse, she saves Xena from being lynched and burned by claiming she is her owner. She had sent her "slave" to obtain supplies and demands she be released. Gabrielle waves a big shotgun and spouts Southern diatribe, stating she moved because a Yankee invasion and government was not taking her slave, and neither are any "Gott-dammung Kansas cow sheisters." The bluff carries the day, Xena and Gabrielle head out of town. When Xena learns Gabrielle is wandering, she invites her to stay a week at her squatter ranch in Indian Territory until she can decide where to go. The soulmates are reunited.
This time and location appealed to me as a writer because I could see the potential for a variety of conflicts to fuel episode plots. A variety of people... Western settlers, Northern and Southern expatriates, Indians, former slaves, former slavery advocates, and a US Army cavalry unit assigned to help maintain order and keep non-Native Americans out of the Indian Territory. No matter who appears over the the next hill, they could be friend or foe, and all could bring disaster. Xena and Gabrielle aren't safe in Kansas, can't legally reside in the Indian Territory, but both are too worn from strife and running to try to move to yet another place. So for now, they share a cabin, making the best of a hard life in a dangerous place. Can two orphaned women survive a wild frontier rife with angry, self-righteous, well armed men?
Some other considerations...
- I'd choose to follow the lead of the original series... they are definitely soulmates, but the sexual orientation/activity is left
ambiguous, unstated, or ignored.
- There would be no magic here. No gods popping in and out, no Secret Way or ambrosia giving special powers.
- The violence would be portrayed as it really is... grisly, non-sexual, frightening, savage... even when done by the good guys for all
the right reasons.
This scenario ended up being my first choice somewhat by fluke. I've always been a fan of Gina Torres and thought she could portray a Xena-morph well. While inventing scenes and dialog for her in this version, the inevitable racial strife that would plague a Xena of color struck me as a method for Xena and Gabrielle to meet and bond, and that rooted so deeply I found myself revisiting this adaptation more than any other. Similarly, Gabrielle's backstory being rooted in Germanic Pennsylvania was inspired by Franka Potente's real life Teutonic heritage. I love to hear Franka yell and curse in German... it turns me on. Franka plays the violin and flute, Gina sings beautifully as a mezzo soprano, so how's that for possibilities in a musical ep???
The next incarnations of Xena, after Xena IT (Indian Territory):
Location- Shanghai, China
Time- early 1940s
A city ruled for a century by foreign imperialistic powers, split into large sectors of British, American, and Russian international traders, and recently inundated by Jewish refugees fleeing Germany. Now the Japanese invasion of China has left Shanghai surrounded by Imperial forces, and the Brits and Yanks on edge because their countries are facing imminent war with Japan. Xena is Greek, working for a Mediterranean trading company. Gabrielle, raised in China by a French doctor/missionary, is now working in the British Embassy as a civilian translator. The city is living under a crush of Chinese who came in to escape the Japanese, foreigners trying to get out, and those with nowhere else to go. The two meet and work together to save themselves, their friends and eventually any downtrodden souls caught in the stewing international pressures. Can two women stay alive and sane and love in a city faced with the brink of a World At War?
Xena: Jordana Brewster
Gabrielle: Scarlett Johannsen
Russian Trader: Marton Csokas
Cabaret owners: Zhang Ziyi, Audrey Tautou
Port Runners: Bob Hoskins, John Malkovich
Xena- Prisoner of the Queen
Location- Elizabethan England
The undeclared war between Spain and England has placed Xena, Spanish Countess and a cousin of King Philip of Spain, into Elizabethan court as a representative from Spain, a tolerable diplomatic buffer between the two monarchs. With the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the revelation of the planned invasion from the Spanish Netherlands, QEI gets pissed and arrests Xena as "an undesirable in the Realm." As per the custom of the day, imprisoned nobles are really treated like unwanted family, packed off to a wayward castle in an unpopular locale the Court would never want to visit anyway. Assigned to monitor Xena's imprisonment is Gabrielle, oldest daughter of an English baron who's also on the QEI shitlist. Hence our heroes meet, and the naive, cloistered Gabrielle gets a crash course in international politics, court intrigue, and economic machinations. Soon she has learned of Xena's deep dissatisfaction with the course both monarchs have plotted, and how Xena has a plan that could end the turmoil between the countries and make the world a better place for all. Gabrielle is the first to see Xena not as a threat to England, not a traitor to Spain, but a woman with both countries' best interests at heart. Xena's determination to right the course of the world inspires Gabrielle to step up and become a real confidant to Queen Elizabeth. With Xena's tutelage, support and obvious love guiding her, Gabrielle strives to make Europe peaceful once more. Even a suspicious Earl of Essex is impressed and has become convinced that Gabrielle's advice is worthy, and the political intrigue commences. Can a Spanish noblewoman really be the driving force for peace in the royal English Court? This would be a more cerebral, plot twisting Xena...not an in your face butt kicker. Definitely the least violent of any the versions.
Xena: Catherine Zeta-Jones
Gabrielle: Helen Baxendale
Elizabeth I: Cate Blanchette
Earl of Essex: Kevin Smith
... okay, some improbable casting here for a tv show, especially Kevin Smith... but he's who I see right now, so until it's time to start filming, he's my guy. Godspeed, Kev.
Xena: Edge of Lunacy - Los Angeles, the present. Gabrielle is a former FBI agent, the lead of a special unit gathering intelligence on smugglers and racketeering in the Port of LA. Her adroit methods and voluminous results actually got her fired from the Bureau... because a very well-connected mobster used a US Senate special committee to pin a disastrous operation on her bad intel... intel that was all part of an elaborate setup between mobsters, corrupt police/DEA, and politicians bought and owned by others to discredit the information already amassed for upcoming indictments. Unemployed, branded incompetent at best and corrupt at worst, Gabrielle begans freelancing for insurance companies, recovering goods stolen from the port and exposing fraudulent claims. The first day of her new career, she meets Xena... also known by the nickname "Lunatic." No one knows who or what Xena is... she seems to be part CIA, part Mafia, part Tong, part Nakuza, part woman with a purpose, part woman driven by psychosis. One fact Gabrielle knows for sure... Xena can be invaluable to her. A symbiotic partnership emerges, with both women using the other for agendas that are not always clear. Imagine The Shield meets Alias meets Sex In The City. That's right, Sex In The City. The gloves come off in this version, and their panties do too. Our heroes not only heat each other up, but seem to revel in bedding down the bright and beautiful men and women of LA whether it suits a purpose or suits an impulse. This would be a dark, dark Xena. Probably too dark for network tv, it would have to be HBO. The reason for all the sex is because that would be the only relief from the harsh, degrading and absolute moral depravity of crime and violence. Welcome to Sin City without the cartoons. The sex and violence are mere backdrop though. The riveting gist of this genre would be a character set that's always intrigued me. What if Xena and Gabrielle are linked in soulmate fashion, but at a dysfunctional extreme, where contention and dislike and physical wrath drive the two at each other as much as it lures them toward one another . All their karmic sins and failings and wrongdoings reincarnated simultaneously, inflicted on the other to spare the rest of the world this exorcism of evil. I think a lot of Xena fans would hate this version, and if it's not done right, I'd hate it too. Dark. Dark!! DARK!!!
Xena - Yancy Butler
Gabrielle- Lori Petty
Special Guest appearance every week by Hudson Leick, wig and makeup and wardrobe constantly changing so she can play a new character every episode.
Guest appearances: Stanley Tucci, Steve Buscemi, Billy Bob Thornton, Angelica Huston, Michelle Rodriquez, Milla Jovovich
These were just the short list... there's probably a dozen I've come up with. And there are a few stray ideas I've never attached to any of them, like borrowing a page from South Park, with every episode having a "hey, they killed Joxer!!! You bastards!" And a thousand jokes, doubletakes and silly bits have gone through my head but have not yet coalesced into a truly comic Xena incarnation.
So what have been your dreams for Xena? Will you share a few? You don't have to write a script, but give an outline with most of these aspects filled in:
1. Location / Time Period / Nationality of X & G and if you're SciFi minded, a futuristic genre is cool
2. Life Situation - do they have jobs? are they wanderers? are they inside their relative societies or trying to fit in?
3. Casting- Xena and Gabrielle, of course, and any additional characters you have thought of, or just your favs you want to see
4. Real or Magical- is this a Xena of gods and charms and spells and potions to the afterlife? a Xena with superhuman powers? or would you prefer to keep it all real?
5. Violence- what's your preference??? Make it safe for kids? gritty Quentin Tarantino "unleash the Reservoir Dogs" type? or something in between?
6. Sex- are they straight? gay? asexual? or does it just not matter in your script?
Don't be shy.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Brian,
Lotta good ideas there, Bri. I've always wanted a retelling of the original series but changing and/or dropping characters and events, plus no Tapert and Raimi or original cast members anywhere in sight. As I see it, the first season of the new Xena (no warrior princess) show is all dark evil Xena- the beginning. Perhaps a glimpse of Gabrielle late in the season as Xena raids a village. Gabby eventually follows Xena in season 2 but it's always from a distance and Xena warns her off several times. No Callisto, though perhaps an Alti, and definitely more mystical type villians. It's not ancient Greece, it's more like Red Sonja/Conan era (and maybe Red Sonja shows up). I have no idea on casting Xena and Gabrielle but um I'd love to be the one interviewing the lovely young ladies applying.
A comedy-adventure Xena series would be nice. Xena and Gabrielle as 00 agents. Starring Jennifer Connelly as Xena, and Renee Zellweger as Gabrielle.
Or a spagetti western series. Xena the gunslinger with no name a la Clint Eastwood. Gabby's her mute sidekick with premonition powers. Starring Halle Berry as Xena, and Zhang Ziyi as Gabby.
excellent... a "prequel." that's an idea i haven't played around with at all.
And I like the 00 agents for a comedy series... but especially like Renee Zellweger as Gabrielle. That's superb casting there.
It seems like there's enough possibilities for Xena to last forever. heh heh
This does sound good .
I guess if they are gonna redo Xena it will have to be with an at least mostly, new cast.
Maybe it would be best to wait awhile,but I cant imagine any other XenaWP having that magical 'je ne sais quois'.
Nonono my pretty ones!
Lucy Lawless and Reneé 'O Connor ARE Xena and Gabrielle always go for the original, the nock offs are nooooo good.
We want chemistry right, it's part of what the show made great, doh *I'm* the main reason theehee...
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You spell it "flattered", by the way.
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