Saturday, February 24, 2007

A letter to the editor

The March issue of SFX magazine has a nice (ahem) article about when Xena jumped the quark (shark). A link to the article will be posted at the end of my "tirade":

Dear Mr Bradley:

I recently read the article discussing Xena “Jumping the Quark” from the March 2007 issue of SFX Magazine. I had to stop reading it after seeing so many factual errors in the article. It took some prodding, but I finally finished it. I was shocked. Hamblin did not check out, the fandom’s premiere fan website that provides tons of information that would have disproven several claims in the article.

As a journalism major, the first thing I was taught was to be accurate and fair. Hamblin misses the boat completely. He’s not even fair to the series. He misstates the premises of episodes (“Fallen Angel”, “Kindred Spirits” to name a few). He’s not accurate. Not by a long shot. He failed conduct unbiased research. Where did he look to gage this “idea of when Xena jumped??” He never turned up on the Xena Online Community forums or on the Talking Xena forums, the two top boards in the fandom. He never showed up on a variety of mailing lists, posing the question. Nor did he bother conduct a unbiased survey in the fandom. From the looks of it, he stayed primarily in one focal point and ignored the diverse fandom as a whole.

He claims that series executive producer R.J. Stewart left the series in the fifth season. That is wrong. A bit of research into Whoosh or handful of fan sites would have turned that Stewart was there but working part-time on the show while trying to get another show from the producers, Cleopatra 2525, into production. Stewart wrote the fifth season premiere “Fallen Angel.” Not only that, he returned later in the season full-time and worked on such episodes as “Antony and Cleopatra” and the season finale “Motherhoood.” And when he came back, the series started showing signs of its earlier seasons. Hamblin even fails to mention Stewart’s return. (Stewart's name still appeared on the credits throughout season five.)

It is true that Lord of the Rings took a good portion of the show’s crew. However, they had the Hercules crew in the wings and additionally, there was the support crews from the second units that stepped up to the main unit. It’s not like everyone packed up and left them dangling. A lot of the crew remained. And Hamblin fails to mention why Peter Jackson came and swooped up the crew. He did it because he wanted experienced crews that have worked with American studios and know the routine. No better place to look than to New Zealand's biggest employer of their film and television crews: Pacific Renaissance Pictures (Renaissance Pictures).

As for the sixth season, there was only ONE clip show, “Send in the Clones.” I don’t know where Hamblin gets three. Maybe he was thinking “You Are There” and “Soul Possession” were clip shows. A clip show by its very definition is an episode that has a story largely based around clips from previous episodes. My memory is a little fuzzy, but neither "You Are There" or "Soul Possession" used clips from previous episodes. The latter two don’t fit the “label” of clip shows. They don't even COME close.

Clearly, Hamblin did not spend his time researching the series. Nor did he spend time talking with fans, who continuously talk about the series today. Both the Xena Online Community and the Talking Xena forums have a combined post countof almost 900 a day! Surely, he could have found one of those boards and asked THEM when they felt the series “jumped the quark.” We could have given him insights into the when, where, why, and how of it all. He ignored his important research subjects: the fans.

His claim that no one loves the show is wrong. Name a show (outside of Star Trek) that continues to have heated and thought provoking discussions six years after the end of the series. People love the show. Hamblin didn’t bother to find them. The fact that the fandom can support two message boards this long after the series has ended, is a testimony to that love Hamblin missed.

No one will argue the show didn't got bad at some point. We have different opinions as to when that was. Some would argue season three. Others, like myelf, would argue season four. Some might chime in and say season five or some would even say season six. And some would argue, that the show never jumped the quark or the shark or the elephant or whatever. That's what makes a discussion like this so interesting. I get the point Hamblin's of article. I wish he would have done more research and less ranting. At least get the facts straight would be a step in the right direction.

To use an old fandom term, Hamblin comes off as a reprobate fan. Someone who likes the series, but condemns the actions of the producers, writers, actors, etc when things don’t go the way he wants.

PS: We have a thread on my forum discussing the article

Well, that was long winded. If you didn't leave me here's the link to article under review.

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