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For Him The Bell Tolls Reviewed

*WARNING-JOXER HEAVY EPISODE!* Another script that was handy to have after Lucy Lawless` accident, this is a very Xena-lite episode that features Joxer being caught in the middle of a tiff between Aphrodite (Alexandra Tydings) and her son Cupid (Karl Urban).

After Xena heads off to the palace of King Lias, Gabrielle is left alone for a bit and who should she be unlucky to meet up with but Joxer.(My... Ancient Greece IS a small world.) Meanwhile, Cupid and Aphrodite argue over a young couple whose marriage will result in many of Aphrodite`s temples being demolished. Determined to break the young lovers up, Aphrodite casts a spell on Joxer that turns him into a super smooth dashing hero whenever a bell rings. After a few dazzling fights, Joxer is arrested by the warring kings and Gabrielle must help release him and get a bell to ring so that he can become the hero again, and fight his way free. She must also find a way to break Aphrodite`s spell.

This comedy episode acknowledges the debt to the classic Danny Kaye film `The Court Jester` that had several similar sequences. Now I am not a Joxer-hater, but this episode didn`t do much for me. I find the character very irritating at times. OK, so I know he is supposed to be, but he is SUPER-irritating here! If we don`t get Xena in an episode, we at least want a better deal for Gabrielle, who has to play straight man to Joxer. The story is weak and lacking in originality. Watch The Court Jester for a much funnier take on the theme. I find Joxer perfectly OK as the comic relief, but have no interest in him as a deeper more complex character - at least not in this flimsy story. It is a shame they couldn`t have given Renee O`Connor more to do as she is still the sidekick here.

Cupid and Aphrodite`s surfer dude and babe speech patterns are a matter of taste but Alexandra Tydings and Karl Urban are pretty popular amongst fans. This was their first Xena appearance, and while flighty Aphrodite is always fun, I am not a huge Cupid/Karl Urban fan. I find his acting rather wooden.

This is probably my least favourite episode of all,(although it is Ted Raimi`s favourite) however listen out for Joxer`s theme song - irritatingly memorable, and Gabrielle`s response to getting kissed by the super hero. A must for Joxer fans, although the rest of us would much rather have seen what Xena was up to at King Lias` palace and find out how Princess Diana is.

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