Xena: Warrior Princess 3.19 – Tsunami

Sadly, for those of us who go around getting screencaps to illustrate our silly blogs, there’s a huge missed opportunity here. Bruce Campbell is back as Autolycus, and one of the other guest stars is Angela Dotchin. Two years later, they’d star together in the silly and delightful Jack of All Trades but they are never in the same two-shot together.

The episode is a Xena take on The Poseidon Adventure, only with a much smaller boat turned upside down and thrown underwater after Mount Etna erupts and causes a massive tidal wave. What happens is Disaster Movie 101, with a collection of people who need to be taken down a notch, and have their courage built up, and have their rocky relationship reaffirmed. Our son wasn’t too wild about it; the title of the episode had him ready for the tsunami and acted like he’d figured out a great big secret when the tidal wave capsizes the ship. But like Poseidon, the disaster happens very early, and the kid was restless after that.

I never want to linger on special effects when they’re unconvincing. It’s particularly unfair to hold a low-budget show like Xena‘s occasionally dated computer-generated effects against it. I believe that you should praise a show that does the best it can with what it has to work with, and with that in mind, this episode is actually extremely impressive. The tsunami and the underwater miniature work was a huge undertaking for this series, and it only looks dated, never really bad. You can tell exactly what they were trying to do in each individual shot. And doing about half of the episode in an upside-down water-filled set can’t have been easy. My hat’s off to the director and the crew of this one. The script may not have broken any new ground, but it must have been a massive headache to make, and they did an excellent job with the resources they had available.

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