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A Tale of Two Muses Reviewed

Now I am sorry, but this is on of the most disappointing episode for a long time in my opinion. I don`t want to be a moaner, but this episode wasted the talents of the cast and directer with a weak and silly story, a ridiculous villain and further lack of consistancy in the portrayal of Xena and Gabrielle. It also had that HORRID, HORRID Tara back! Yuk!

The story has Xena and Gabrielle enter a town to discover a young girl being whipped, and it is Tara. After saving her by agreeing to take her away with them, they do a sudden about face and decide to turn the town`s attitudes around. In this town dancing is a crime. To complete their task they enlist the help of Autolycus, disguised as an American style TV Evangelist, while Xena pretends to train the youngsters in battle drills - really disguised dances. A terribly weak subplot about assassinating rivals, leads to one of those, "let`s all dance" finales that is supposed to be a homage to the crappy movie Footloose. It includes Gabrielle inventing Riverdance well before Michael Flatley, Xena and Autolycus going wild too.

Again, I know of some people who just sat back and enjoyed this one, but I found little to enjoy in this episode. Let`s be positive though. There is a really fab song - hopefully one that might make the next CD, that Tara and her insipid boyfriend dance to.(This song, called Tara`s Dance is on the Lyre, Lyre Hearts on Fire CD) Autolycus is funny as usual, and we get the facinating information that Xena contacts him by pigeon! The dance sequences are fun if you like that sort of thing. Renee O`Connor looks a little more competant than Lucy Lawless, and they look as if thay had a good time. There is a nice little scene when Xena and Gabrielle are going to bed on their arrival. Xena has a stomach ailment for some reason - unexplained. However, Gabrielle is in the mood to dance and Renee O`Connor is delightfully comic as she wriggles around. It`s a strange looking episode too. All the outdoor scenes look to have been filmed indoors, (was it bad weather in Auckland that week?)

On the debit side, Tara is just as irritating as she was in Forgiven. The guest stars were particularly poor this week. Drippy boyfriend I mentioned. His far too young looking father was a little better and not a convincing actor, but the head baddie was like something out of a cartoon. Maybe that is down to director Michael Hurst, and the Godawful costume that made him look like a walking condom!

The inconsistencies in character are more annoying. Gabrielle is all agressive, yelling, `save some for me`, while Xena is beating up baddies, and she is very irritable with a cobbler who mends her boots too for no reason. Xena has changed in many ways over the years, but to me, the dancing was not in character, and Lucy Lawless` enthusiasm looked too much like Lucy than Xena. The whole story was just weak and poorly though out in my view, although I will admit that this episode is a lot more fun when watched with a crowd, and you can just sit back and forget about the plot - as the cast and crew seem to have done! Still, one consolation is that Tara should be gone for good now.

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