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The Adventures of Aella the Amazon. Part 3: Season 2.

By Paul Leone.

Two Amazons battle two griffins. Bas relief from the British Museum.

Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Continuing our review of the series. The first reviews can be found here and here.

The Adventures of Aella the Amazon.

Part Three: Season Two

(Disclaimer. This is a work of fiction and fantasy; no such show exists... at least in our timeline).

Season two of The Adventures of Aella the Amazon had a fair bit of course correction. The setting jumped from the era of the Trojan War to an initially vague ‘ancient times’ that were soon specified to be the late 4th Century BC. New writers came aboard with new ideas. Although nobody has ever gone on record on the matter, an apparent move by the producers to fire Casta was quashed by studio higher-ups. Without getting into the relative merits of Casta and Dequenne as actresses, put bluntly, Casta had far more appeal to the young audience that the show was seeking.

Ratings for season one were solid enough for the show’s budget to get a much-needed boost. This had mixed results, in that dodgy practical effects were often replaced by dodgy CGI, but costumes and sets definitely improved in the sophomore season. So did the quality of the scripts, although thankfully without losing the swashbuckling fun that’s essential to a show like Aella. Some of the dafter elements (the Amazon Palm Strike, “Amazons attack!” and trying to present either of the leads as a dangerous swordswoman) were toned down, while the time skip to the 4th Century BC offered a broader canvas on which the writers could draw their stories.

The season premiere Revival quickly got around to getting our girls out of their petrified predicament. Euterpe popped in and sang a quick melody that turned stone to flesh, briefly explained how much time had passed, and then departed before the studio had to throw too much cash at Jewel. The CGI for that was pretty impressive for the era, one must admit. On the other hand, the fact that 800 years have passed and all their loved ones are not just dead, but either gone or obfuscated by mythology, is rarely mentioned after the season’s second episode. Strange New World has our heroines adjusting to their new circumstances and has a few funny bits amidst the pathos (Aella and Menippe’s reaction to ‘ancient’ statues of the pair that match Menippe’s name to Aella’s body, and vice versa, is the highlight). And after those two episodes, the writers (and characters) largely forgot their time-lost nature.

Episode three, Liars and Lyres in Laodicea, gets the inevitable musical episode in very early (Xena’s first musical episode came halfway through the third season by way of comparison). Euterpe, for reasons that are basically the writers shrugging and saying: “A Muse did it”, has her two forlorn proxies engage in some song and dance to get out of their funk – they do this with style (Casta in particular shows real talent) and the thing is goofy as all get out, but in a charming sort of way.

"A Muse did it."

Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Lamia’s Lamentation is a tonal swerve into gothic vampirism and the result is a genuinely creepy and tragic episode focusing on the accursed vampire, played for maximum pathos by Milli Avital. Sayid the Scoundrel (sic) introduced the swashbuckling Sinbad expy, played to the hilt by Tony Shalhoub, who is clearly having just as much fun as the audience every time he appears. Part two, Sayid the Sailor! Introduced another pivotal character, Sayid’s honourable son Samir (played by Tewfik Jailab), often exasperated and embarrassed by his father; Samir and Menippe’s relationship runs to the series finale and has some sparkling chemistry and banter between the two.

Sayid in civvies. Played with energy by Tony Shalhoub.

Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Remember Agave? You might have forgotten, since it’s been (checks notes) four episodes since we saw her, but Agave Escapes (from the prison Aella chucked her into last time she was around) will refresh your memory in fun fashion; Green has settled into the part by now and plays her with a new note of femme fatale instead of thug with eyeliner. Speaking of eyeliner, The Pickpocket of Phocaea is most memorable (not in a good way) for depicting two gangs of female urchins, one of which has eye-liner and thus is the bad ones and the other free of the sins of dark make-up. Agave in Alexandria is a much more entertaining outing, not least for the sheer brazenness of Agave’s scheme to become Queen of Egypt by inspiring a revolt against the Persian rulers (actually played by Iranian actors!). The show was on a hot streak with wild-eyed women, one of which ran through The Tyrant of Taras (Amanda Plummer’s first appearance as the show began to slowly evolve Agave away from villain) and The Terror of Taras – Plummer hammed it up as the gleefully wicked warrior Arete.

The season finale, Wrath of Poseidon, was the first episode with world-changing stakes since the Trojan War arc of the first season, and ended with the near-inundation of the eastern Mediterranean, narrowly averted by Aella and Menippe.

Next time, we’ll look at what is generally considered to be the show’s finest season. Stay tuned. Amazons, Attack!

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Paul Leone is the author of the SLP book In and Out of the Reich.

His extensive list of books can be found Here.


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