(Updated 02 January 2016; Originally Published 05 August 2015)
Santa Monica, CA — Lucy Lawless has made headlines speaking to rumors of a possible re-boot of her iconic role, XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, at struggling NBC.
Lawless originated the role more than 15 years ago as a guest-star on THE ADVENTURES OF HERCULES and was subsequently rewarded with her own spin-off. Both series were created by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and John Schulian. Both were successful shows in syndication, and both properties are owned by NBC/Universal.
Full disclosure: I was/am a fan of both series, but it was Xena that really captured my attention and viewer loyalty. The characters were better. The stories were more engaging and emotional. They even did a musical episode that furthered the storyline (which would inspire many other series like Buffy to do their own).
Do I want NBC to re-boot Xena? Sure.
Do I want NBC to remake such a terrific series without the original’s principal cast, producers, writers and directors? Probably.
If you are Bob Greenblatt, NBC’s ultimate creative executive, this is where it gets tricky.
The time is right for The New Adventure of Xena & Gabrielle thanks to the popularity of George R.R. Martin’s masterwork, Game of Thrones, and HBO’s splendid adaptation which has become an international hit that will make money for decades to come. NBC has clearly taken notice.
One fan-favorite character on GOT is none other than Brienne of Tarth, a female knight and literary kinswoman of Xena.
Also, Warner Bros. has a little indie movie coming out next March called Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice that features a much-loved character with a difficult recent cinematic history known as Wonder Woman.
The newest incarnation of the Amazonian princess bears more than a passing resemblance to Lawless’ Xena.
This introduction of Wonder Woman is very important to Warner Bros. as she is a pivotal character in DC Comics’ Justice League franchise and is slated to headline her own standalone movie in 2017. This must really irk Scarlet Johannson.
NBC can beat Wonder Woman to the punch and/or draft off her invisible jet.
Smart thinking, but can they pull it off? The network hasn’t exactly created a terrific track record with its re-boots. Heroes: Reborn has been a modest success and created a much-needed foothold for Thursdays. Anyone recall the recent Bionic Woman, Ironside failures, though?
Still, CBS continues to score with its re-boot of Hawaii Five-O, so success, even a mild one, can be had.
As always, it starts with The Writer. NBC has wisely hired Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The 100, Lost, Middleman) to craft the re-boot of everyone’s favorite Warrior Princess.
SyFy gets credit for the best re-boot in recent memory with Battlestar Galactica, but no one deserves more kudos than Executive Producer/Writer Ron Moore, who is currently wowing international audiences with his take on the time-jumping Outlander on Starz.
Moore used the same premise of BSG from the ’70s series on ABC, but updated the characters, deepened the mythology and explored the villainous Cylons to fantastic results.
Original series star Richard Hatch, who played “Apollo”, was re-cast in a supporting role as a corrupt Vice President of the Colonies to good effect.
Which brings us to Lucy Lawless, who coincidentally absolutely killed it on the SyFy re-boot of BSG playing the villainous “Three” model of Cylons.
Lawless herself has said she’s too old at age 47 to play “Xena” on a regular basis as the role is too physical with all the swordplay, horseback riding, and night shoots.
That said, Xena Number One craftily used social media outlet Twitter to show fans and network executives alike that she and former co-star Renee O’Connor (“Gabrielle”) are still alive and kicking and looking very well (i.e., cast them now).
She’d be up for a TV movie or a feature re-boot but nothing more which is understandable.
Now, what does NBC & Marxuach do? The network has a property with a built-in fanbase that will help market the show, however, that doesn’t mean they’d accept a new update of Xena without Lawless. Without the right take on the re-boot with the best writer and without the right actors to play Xena and Gabrielle, failure is a likelihood.
A one-off movie doesn’t really do NBC any good and de-values the property. Perhaps, they’ll take a note out of Fox’s playbook and re-boot Xena for six episodes with Lawless just as Chris Carter has done with The X-Files and its original stars, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. This would be the safest route to go.
Finally, an updated new series with new actors and a new storyline would seem to be the longest shot at success, however, this approach has the biggest upside should the new version work. NBC needs a hit.
Super Women are on the rise, too. The time seems to be Now.
CBS has Supergirl which premiered strongly this Fall but has leveled off to very modest numbers. It looks like a winner…just on another network other than CBS. I predict Supergirl will end up on The CW at some point.
In the feature world, Scarlett Johannson has been wowing audiences as “Black Widow” in The Avengers, Captain America, and Iron Man films. Marvel, for some reason, hasn’t given the character her own standalone film, though.
Jennifer Lawrence has turned the meta-morph Mystique in the X-Men franchise from villain to heroine in Days of Future Past. And, let’s not forget Lawrence’s other notable franchise heroine, Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games which concludes in November with the release of Mockingjay Part 2.
Warner Bros. and DC Comics have a lot of money riding on Gal Godot’s performance as Wonder Woman. And further down the pike sits an as yet-uncast actress to play Captain Marvel for Disney/Marvel.
Television has missed a butt-kicking heroine ever since Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Alias went off the air. No offense, Peggy Carter.
Finally, Lawless has gone on record as saying the most important aspect to get right in any update of Xena is the relationship between Xena and sidekick Gabrielle. The series hung on its vitality from beginning to end (even as it jumped the shark numerous times via crucifixion, battling demons in Hell, and killing off the Olympic and Norse gods).
I agree with Lawless, however, I’d also add how much I enjoyed the introduction of Greek mythology, the portrayals of the Olympic Gods, and the series humorous tone. Xena could be wry. I liked it.
And, I loved Xena’s villains. They didn’t just die. They suffered defeats and kept coming back for more until finally achieving the redemption Xena herself desired (i.e., the fantastic Calisto). To this day, one my favorite moments of Television dialogue is spoken by Xena while killing the seemingly undefeatable Calisto, “No more Life for You.” It was that memorable because it was that good.
NBC has a tall order to fill should they attempt to re-boot Xena: Warrior Princess and some big shoes, er boots, to fill should they proceed without Lawless.
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If NBC does this without Lucy Lawless or Renee O’Connor it will fail and fail miserably. Lucy and Renee have been the ones keeping the Xena fandom live for the last 14 years, not NBC. They stuck with the fans and the fans will stick with them. Either start it with Lucy and Renee or leave it alone.
We want Xena back! Original characters, a movie, and many seasons! It doesnt matter about popular shows like Game of Thrones, and any female super heros. Lucy Lawless as Xena has a bigger fan base than you know. Fans have wanted her back for years! Not all fans have internet, twitter, or facebook! Xena is and always will be the best show ever! Hunger games dont hold a candle to Lucy Lawless as Xena. This generation dont know who Xena is unless their parents were fans! Once they see Xena they love it! Once Lucy Lawless gets back in the role of Xena, she will not want to quit! After 15 years we have better graphics and stunt doubles, and more. I speak for all Xena fans young and old who cannot comment….PLEASE BRING XENA BACK FINALLY! We have been begging for years!!😀
I like the idea of having a reboot show even with new actors, but only if there are a few transition episodes with Xena, Gabrielle, and Autolycus handing down the mantle of Warrior Princess, Best friend, and King of Thieves. I just want to know the original Xena and Gabrielle get their happy endings and could occasionally guest-star on the show.
In the Xena/Hercules universe parallel/alternate worlds ARE canon! I don’t see why they don’t start the new series by having original Gabrielle and Xena (Lucy and Renee) traverse to Xenaverse 2.0 with some of their old pals (Aphrodite, Xena’s daughter Eve, Autolycus) and help save that world and get Xena 2.0 and Gabrielle 2.0 together to launch the new adventures with the 2.0 cast while the 1.0 characters retire and occassionally make cameos as guest stars. BAM! The franchise is saved, the fans are happy, and money is made! Most importantly Xena 1.0 and Gabrielle 1.0 are together!
I Would Love To See Lucy Lawless Return To Play Xena: Warrior Princess & Renee O’ Connor As Gabrielle and some of the series regular cast to, for a ten part episode series, or TV movie, Lucy & Renee BOTH look fantastic let them return to there original roles, while there is still love & support for the show
Xena was a cool show I’m very proud of it
I’d take six episodes with Lucy and Renee in their original roles. Anything to make up for the travesty that was the ending of Season 6!!
A six-episode final season would be fantastic. That’s enough time to get Xena put back together, take care of some unfinished business (there’s always something), and then let them settle down somewhere and finish the show off with a redeemed, happy hero. She earned it.
With Lucy and Renee in their original roles, of course. They can find someone new if they still want to do a reboot AFTER the new mini-season. And hey, they can even have Netflix do that mini-season. I think they’d do it justice.
YES! I would be most satisfied if they did a short run with Lucy and the gang, and then if they want they can feel free to pass it on and try a reboot with someone else. A reboot would be great (if done well) but I’d feel robbed if we didn’t get to see Lucy as Xena one last time.
This would be so awesome!
Nice and considered article.
I think there is an easy way to give everyone, or at least NBC and the original fans, what they want. NBC should simply do with Xena: Warrior Princess what was previously done with Star Trek and bring back Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor in their roles as Xena and Gabrielle, but use their characters to lead into a new, ongoing TV series with either a protégé “Warrior Princess” trained by Xena and Gabrielle in the lead role or with a new, younger “Xena” in the lead role as a result of some time travel shenanigans.
I am a long-time fan of Xena and would absolutely love to see a 6 episode reboot of the show! The original cast is a MUST! There is simply no point in doing anything unless you have Lucy, Renee, Ted and as much of the old gang as you can get. The scripts must be written well to do these characters justice – and don’t forget Joseph LoDuca’s amazing music!
There needs to be a Xena movie or mini-series starring Lucy and Renee as Xena and Gabrielle first. Afterwards, then it can be handed over to the next generation for a reboot. I have been a fan of Xena since it first premiered in 1995 and I have been a hard-core fan since. The ending of the Xena series needs to be fixed and to be given the proper ending that Xena and Gabrielle deserve with the original cast. Lucy and Renee are FANTASTIC actresses, and I would love to see them reprise their roles one last time before handing it over to the next generation.
Good points. Callisto was the best villain in the show and arguably one of the most complex villains of the 90s. I’d like to see an origin movie and then later a series reboot. As Quentin Taratino said, Xena has an incredible backstory so why not explore that? Why not explore how Xena assembled a militia as a teen? Why not explore her childhood?
Bring back Lucy Lawless as Xena!
I would love to see a new Xena series however Lucy and ROC have to be involved in the beginning. A mini series of 6 episodes with them or a movie to get things syarted would be awesome. Then they could hand it off to the next generation of actors to carry on. This is what the Xena fans want. NBC would be crazy not to want to carry this fan base. Lucy and ROC coming back with other old cast members for a movie or mini series would create such an excitement and buzz that would spill over and help create a whole new set of fans. The Xena fans would then be very loyal to any new shows/revival. However, not letting the original cast be involved in this in a big way will turn off many of the Xena fans, of which I am one.
Don’t do it without Lawless! It won’t fly! We want our heroines…the real deal! And yes, it will sell!!!
It will always be ok with me a new series of Xena (even a miniseries of just six episodes) as long as this time it includes a happy ending with Xena and Gabrielle tying the knot in the last episode.
Bring the original cast back. Lucy as xena and Renne as Gabriele. I’m sure that would be a huge success !!!!
Xena movie with orginal cast followed by a 10 part mini series would be nice!!
Lucy lawless and Rene O’ Conner continue their roles as Xena and Gabriele.
I would love to see First a movie and then a Mini series with lucy and renee. But it has to be with lucy and renee. Because only those two are the real deal. After that they Could Pass the Torch on to another cast.
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Updated 02 January 2016. NBC has hired Javier Grillo-Marxuach to write the script for the Universal TV re-boot.