Been There, Done That Etc., Etc., Etc., Etc., Etc., Etc., Etc.,
The cleverness of the Xenastaff never ceases to amaze me. When I heard the concept for this script, I remember being skeptical for I had seen Ground Hog Day, and I didn’t like it. Well, Hillary Bader has created a writer’s Tour D’Force. Of all the scripts I’ve seen shot on Xena this one possibly has the most pure dash. Now, I think the repeating day idea is a contrivance. It is nothing but a plot device. Some have said that this episode is just as good as A Day In The Life, but it’s not, the reason is that ADITL seemed as natural as waking up in the morning. It’s that naturalness that makes ADITL one of the Xena eps that are perpetually fresh, like Hooves and Harlots. BUT and this is a BIG BUT, the contrivance was BRILLIANTLY executed. BTDT is a writer’s conceit, and sometimes conceits are like Godiva chocolate---incredibly rich!
The primary reason this episode works so well is that BTDT is a CHARACTER STUDY! The plot is incidental to the exploration of Xena’s inner world. From the tragic death of Joxer in the teaser, (Yes, tragic! Well done!) to Xena heaving her chakram into Joxer’s chest and beyond we see just how Xena really thinks! The reason is simple, by the fourth or fifth iteration of the day (Xena’s hundreth or so) Xena realizes that everyone around her is nothing but ciphers---objects not real people. She can do anything she wants to them because she knows that the next time around she will get a fresh start. Her behavior becomes more and more callous to her friends and others. (Except for Gabrielle; she can NEVER be completely callous with Gabrielle.) She becomes far less guarded with her thoughts and feelings, and, with Lucy performing the tapestry of Xena’s mind, this is a very rich process indeed. Pacing was tremendously fast and tight adding to the incredible comedic atmosphere.
Basically for the WP this entire series of events is an exercise in frustration. Xena is fighting an opponent she’s never fought before, the process of history! How do you fight that? Every repeat of the day makes her ever more frustrated. We don’t see Xena frustrated very often. Her abilities are such that she shapes events all the time. She doesn’t LIKE frustration; it makes her ANGRY! However, she knows that raw fury in this situation is useless. She needs to vent her anger in an investigation. That means dealing with people, which, other than dealing with Gabrielle, is not one of her favorite things to do. This makes her even MORE angry. The entire process is utterly priceless! My very favorite scene, among many good ones and several that are just wonderful, is the one in the stable near the end when she’s ticking off verbally all the things she’s done. "And it is still---not---ENOUGH!" she hisses in frustration. Her attitude about the people in the town is summed up by an earlier line in this lovely silloquy: "I find out EVERY STINKY little thing about everybody in this town...)
The angel is in the details. There are so many wonderful throwaway lines in this ep that it’s useless to recount them. Ms. Bader was playing to us fans on the net! Joxer: "Many people have bonded in mutual hatred of me." Xena: Yes, Yes, No, No, Yes both ways.... "Is that a hickey?" Joxer asks and Gabrielle immediately looks GUILTY!
Drama, there was GREAT DRAMA in the beginning of this ep. Joxer’s funeral was astonshingly moving and a fabulous contrast with Xena’s offhandly murdering him with her chakram later. The tenderness Xena showed Gabrielle during that scene was wonderful to behold. Xena’s reaction at Argo’s death was heartbreaking! But by the time Gabrielle is killed Xena’s reactions are becoming less extreme.
Other great moments: Xena giving Joxer a NOOGIE! Xena giving Joxer A
NOOGIE??? The group hug, and yes Xena WAS making to kiss Gabrielle when
Joxer broke in. The entire process of Xena planning the billard shot of all billiard shots. My count of chakram ricochets was 31; what was yours? Xena SWEARING! (OK, it was Looney Toons swearing but GREAT nevertheless and high time!) Xena belly laughing at the end. This is an ep that demands repeated viewings (every morning at the crowing of the rooster!) because there are so many details. I see something new every time I see it.
Performances. Lucy was MARVELLOUS. This may have been her single best performance of the second season. (This ep was pushed down to third season because of Lucy’s accident, as was The Furies. They are only shooting 20 this year.) She got to do EVERYTHING for which the part of Xena is famous. Some may say that Lucy was over the top, but Xena had no need to be reserved. She was actually alone save for Romeo, so why not let loose? The enumeration rant was done with Xena on her back then rocking back on her head! The entire speech was delivered with Lucy’s face filling the screen UPSIDE DOWN! What an inspired choice. Renee was great as usual, but Gabrielle’s role was kind of thankless because she was reduced to reaction shots and had become part of the plot. Ted’s Joxer was just tremendous. I never laughed so loud at that deluded pissant as I did this time around. His timing was excellent, and his mugging wonderful. (I have my nomex shorts on he he)
I’ve raved on enough about the script. The ep was directed for maximum effect by Andrew Merrifield. He was Second Unit Director for the entire first season of Xena, and this was his first, and sadly last, effort as first unit director. I have been informed that he has returned home to Australia. This is a shame. I’d like to see more. Editing: I just don’t understand how Avicus was able to keep his head working on this ep. He should be given an award for valor for keeping things straight!
I can’t say anymore. It was fabulous
One question. What were Gabrielle and Joxer staring for when Xena had her little joke. "Well, I better get some rest. Today’s gonna be a busy day tomorrow"? That was the only thing I didn’t get. Who cares?
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