LYRE, LYRE HEARTS ON FIRE
Season 5, Episode 10
September 22, 2000
Reviewed by SLK
RATING: 7 chakrams
SCRIBES AND SCROLLS: Written by Adam Armus & Nora Kay Foster. Directed by Mark Beesley.
PASSING PARADE: Ted Raimi (Joxer/Jace); Jay Laga'aia (Draco); Darien Takle (Cyrene); Gillian Iliana Waters (Amoria); Tony Bishop (Alabardus); Paul Norell (Falafel); Grant Bridger (Farmer Paxon); Jim Ngaata (Maximinimus).
STORY SO FAR: Xena organises a battle of the bands. A lovestruck Draco tries to win to impress Gabrielle.
DISCLAIMER: No lyres were strung out during the production of this motion picture.
REWIND FOR: Xena's response to Draco offering his 'engraved spleen' to Gabrielle as a token of his love for her. Pushing Joxer aside, she stands behind Gabrielle, placing a somewhat possessive hand on her shoulder. Its followed up by a glared look of 'mine' to Draco, in case anyone was in any doubt as to who was whose.
The entire Draco rock opera dream sequence. Scary seeing inside the mind of a has-been warlord ain't it? Still, you had to love his thrash, flower-beheading version of that classic love ballad Always Something There to Remind Me.
Gabrielle doing her best impression of a go-go girl as she tries to crash her way out of Draco's cage. Shake that booty thang girl! Funny thing is though, if she'd just turned sideways and breathed in a little, she could have comfortably slid out between the bars. I know -- I have no sense of drama, do I? *g*
Xena bouncing on stage to play the riff of her own theme song. (She whistles it earlier.) Methinks the girl owns the royalties to that tune.
Notice how similar the head-top fight between Draco and Xena was to Sins of the Past, her first episodes fight in Amphipolis? She does it every time her mums around. Showoff...
Xena using the ancient golden lyre destined to be the prize in the contest as ... a club! Shed better not void its warranty, dammit.
FOR AMERICANS: The US runs a little picture box of highlights as the credits roll, which Australia and many other countries do not get to see. So, Americans, keep your eyes peeled on this box in Lyre, Lyre and youll see Lucy Lawless in all her very pregnant glory running at the camera during the final dance number -- wearing, wait for it, a go-go girl bikini like Gabrielles. Only the cameraman knew it was coming... and how he kept it steady while giggling is a mystery.
"You think that was something?! This is how we dance before breakfast where we come from!"
Jace, god bless his frills, displays a familial tendency for exaggeration.
"But Gabrielle, I'm just trying to keep you from becoming infected by this lily-livered panty twist!" Draco becomes all poetic-like in his concern for his beloved bard. Gabrielle, the heartless woman that she is, was unmoved. *g*
"Tell Xena about all the exciting things you've been doing with leeches." Cyrene doing the hard-sell to her daughter with Potential Husband No. 2.
"Let me get this through your thick skull, I would not marry you if you were the last man on earth!" Gabrielle agonises over Draco's proposal of 'marriage in Spring and a honeymoon in Crete'.
"If you wanna dress like a clown and act like a spaz, then that is none of my business." Joxer compliments his brother in the best way he knows how -- by tripping over both his brain cells.
"I'm going to kill you..." Xena driven to the brink of madness, with not a single Fury in sight. Just her dotty mother, Cyrene, on a mission -- one that left no single Greek male unturned in her quest for a suitable son-in-law.
Joxer: "Oh come on, they can't all have been...mediocre."
Gabrielle: "No, they all suck."
Xena: "All right, I'm telling you for the last time...I do not need help finding a man!"
Cyrene: "No? But finding the right man -- now that's a different story."
Xena: "I'm beginning to remember why I left home so young."
Xena: "No...I am not in the market for a husband."
Suicidal Potential Husband: "Yeah -- sure, I understand. How about a little casual sex then?"
Gabrielle: "Xena, I want to ask you something."
Xena: "Well make it snappy, I've got a lot of single Greek losers to turn down."
This episode is something of a Phoenix. It resurrects itself from the ashes of absolute disaster into something surprisingly entertaining.
Never have I seen a more appalling start to an episode than this one (and, hey, I saw Forgiven. No, the scars havent healed). There is no reason for Xena, Draco and a miscellaneous band of bad-ass rocker Amazons (who WERE those women anyway?) to suddenly burst into song... but they dont let that minor detail stop them. Which is not as weird as Xena, Joxer and Gabrielle all having slickly choreographed dance moves -- which they learnt earlier, one presumes, on the offchance they might happen upon Draco in the desert fighting with Amazons over a lyre. Riiight. Whatever...
This opener was the cringe moment. Mercifully, from then on, Lyre Lyre picked up considerably and had a foot tapping, good time feel that was very hard not to go along with. I give it a higher mark than it probably deserves, if only for all those funny rewindable moments.
I read somewhere that a former Xena staffer once said this episode was what became of the fabled Sappho "Warrior Princess Poet" script that never saw the light of day. If true, thats a real headscratcher for you. How do you go from a tale about a legendary lesbian poet who looks like Xena and flirts with Gabrielle to Lyre Lyre Hearts on Fire? Now see thats what you call a script rewrite...
Anyway, this story, such as it is, is pretty simple, if not highly silly. Xena suddenly decides to hold a battle of the bands. Why? Because it has the word battle in it and thats good enough for her.
Her mother who, for a reason never even remotely explained, is not home running the tavern in Amphipolis but is suddenly in Melodia. Shes also on a father-hunt for Xena because the big warrior princess lug has mysteriously lost her nerve and wont tell Mum what she told Ares the previous episode -- Gabs is officially daddy now. Well, come on Xena, its easier than telling Cyrene who the real father is...
Subtext alert: Cyrene asks Xena: "When am I gonna met that special someone?"
Xena replies: "If you mean the father, the answer is never..."
This implies that although the father is not the special someone, she didnt rule out someone else ... Er, curiously vague dodge Xena...
Onto Melodia... I loved Alabardus, running around trying to find someone to sing with -- funny comic touch to quite a long musical number.
Well now, Jace was a surprise... and Im not just talking about that elephant-sized cod-piece. (Is he bluffing or did all the males in the Jox-clan get their shoe size?) Bold choice of feathers before 3pm there, fella, but what the hey...
I could have done without the violence-tinged nastiness of Draco towards Jace for the crime of -- singing. Flamboyantly. Gasp! That gave a bit of a sour taste to an otherwise light-hearted scene; but, then, Draco is the ignorant bad guy and thus not famed for understanding basic biology: Spanish isnt catching.
It was a marvellous bit of continuity for once to see Draco still lovestruck over Gabrielle after Comedy of Eros -- even though a more accurate description would be: stalking with homicidal tendencies. Im sure its all in the definition: You say tomato, he says food product about to die a brutal death. Whatever. On this note, it did seem pretty odd that the first person he would acknowledge after bumping into the love of his life for the first time in years, would be Xena!
The absolute highlight of this episode for me was Dracos thrash version of Always Something There To Remind Me. I remain convinced if they released the MTV clip of that without any explanations at all, itd go right to the top 10.... (and then straight to number 478.)
Did we all see the warlords trailing behind Draco in the flower scene, flapping their hands like doves? And in the hottub scene, the little keepsake twigging Dracos memory about his love is in fact Gabrielles bikini top. Yeah, Im not surprised that was a reminder...
But speaking of musical interludes, it was really sad to see Sisters are Doin it for Themselves without Gabrielle in there, bopping along. Where was our trusty bard when we needed her? Hey even Jace got to share the fun...
During the above song there was one adlib from Lucy Lawless which seemed a little out of place. After the line "a woman still loves a man" she screams: "THATS RIGHT". I have no doubt Lucy believes it, but would Xena? Shes just finished telling her mother she doesnt need any man to help look after Xena Jr, and then shes endorsing the opposite in her adlib! Odd. Maybe the heat from the steam room was going to her head -- I note she was a little overdressed in them thar furs...
Speaking of the husband manhunt, I had a huge chuckle over Cyrenes advert "...for a mother-in-law who doesnt look a day over 20". Yeah, no wonder Xena smelt a rat.
Joxer came off as pretty fickle this episode. Confessing undying love to Gabs a little while ago, and now hes off with a rocker chick? Huh?? Then hes always had a bit of a bet each way -- the name Meg ring any bells?
Im with Gabrielle on one point: why DOES she care all of a sudden? Youd think shed finally be doing a little tapdance for joy, especially after all her comments at the start of Animal Attraction, grumbling about him gawping at her. But no...
I thought Xena took the piss out the bard rather hysterically with her martini dry line: "Well hey if youre not going to take him, its not fair of you to stop someone else from trying..."
Apart from Draco the Friendly Stalker, the only other attempt at seriousness comes from the Jace/Joxer tête-à-tête. Maybe they laid the anti-homophobic thing on a bit thick but the show does that with all of their moralising -- theyll say it three times in three different ways so even the thick kid at the back of the room will get it.
But I loved Jaces lines: "Im not just like you -- I dont have a pasta strainer for a shirt"; or "Who would not like to be just like me?!" (Um, Draco to name but one... but, hey, dream the dream, Jace...)
I never realised Joxer was so bothered about his brother being... er... Spanish. His on-stage appearance at the end was his clearly his proper apology to bro (and hearing the way he sang, he owes us one now, too... *g*) Kinda nice idea.
By the way, what gives, here? Joxer could sing at the start of the episode but not now? Or was that stage fright? Hmmm.
Now a question that has puzzled me from the first... how did Draco convince Gabrielle to get into her little go-go outfit?!
Nice bit of crowd surfing invented there, too, and a fun chuckle when Draco hit the dirt.
Note to Xena: NEVER ever rap again. What were you thinking?? And what was with that mega cringe holler "Melodia you, rock!"??
Love you dearly, darl, but stick to the round killing thing.
In summary, character consistency is not exactly high on the agenda in this episode. But they make up for it in laughs and the marvellous sight of seeing Xena having, gasp, fun...
Im just hanging out for that Draco No. 1 hit.... in the meantime, all together now, Always something there to remind MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. (Kill some roses as you sing that. The neighbors will love it.... Trust me.)
[AUSSIE FOOTNOTE: Art imitates life here. Australian Xenites may find Cyrenes insistence that Xenas child "should have a father" weirdly poignant given Australian Prime Minister John Howard recently made exactly the same pronouncement, causing a political brouhaha yet to die down any time soon... It seems Opposition Leader Kim Beazleys incredulous response of "what century are you living in??" was lifted directly out of this Xena script... I await with much interest to see if a quick version of Sisters are doin it for Themselves by Mr Beazley will resolve the matter. Still waiting...]
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