Mixed emotions are running high in regard to the upcoming Xena: Warrior Princess reboot, and now the man tasked with putting it together has pulled back the curtain on the development process.
Showrunner Javier Grillo-Marxuach conducted an extensive Q&A with io9 about the new series, which will essentially serve as a reboot of the Xena universe, with new (likely younger) actresses taking on the roles of Xena and Garbrielle. Early reports indicated it will have a Hunger Games-esque vibe, and Grillo-Marxuach said the new series will follow a much more serialized format, as opposed to the episodic style of the original show.
But do they plan on honoring all the things fans loved about the original series? Grillo-Marxuach said he wouldn’t have signed on if that weren’t the case, and if anything, they’re making an effort to “remix” elements from the original series into something fresh. He also noted the series will exist in a post-Game of Thrones TV climate, so there has to be some semblance of reality to it (i.e. skimpy outfits vs. actual combat gear). Which, OK, fair point.
Here’s an excerpt from his comments:
“I’m really looking forward to remixing the canon a little bit. One big thing is that we are telling a much more serialized story than the show ever tackled—so formally we are already treading some very different ground—and while the characters will occupy roughly the same thematic spaces they did in the original, some of their backstories will be changed, and some of their morality will be tweaked so that we can tell a long-arcing story in which every episode leads directly into the next. It’s a delicate balancing act: You want to please the fans of the old and attract a new audience, who maybe only know the name of the show, with a story that will draw them in, regardless of their frame of reference—and one of the things I really insisted on in my pitch was telling an epic story that would be bingeable—but still feature several of the legacy characters in a way that makes sense to the totality of the story. So in answer to your question, that’s the one thing I REALLY wanted to mess with…
Still, it’s interesting because the communications I get from the fans make it sound like we are going to throw everything out and make it into the Jem and the Holograms version of Xena. People have been asking me if it’s going to be set in the modern day (if that were the case, I wouldn’t have signed on or come near the thing) and whether or not Xena is going to have a Chakram (to which I always reply ‘Of course she’s gonna have a Chakram, what am I, a monster?’). As you mentioned, a great deal of the appeal of the show lies in certain pulpy elements—like Gabrielle’s bare midriff, Xena’s leather miniskirt, Callisto’s amazing and gravity-defying... well, you get it—and it’s hard for me in the post-Brienne of Tarth era to reconcile with the idea that Xena and her friends can meet every challenge in such skimpy outfits. I think we are going to have some very lengthy discussions about how to bring those elements into the present day without missing the boat on what makes Xena exactly what she is; and how to have our cake and eat it too. There are a few things that are sacrosanct: the Chakram and the quarterstaff, of course, Gabrielle’s ambition to become a bard, and—most importantly—that Xena and Gabrielle be soul mates. Like I said, I’m not monster.”
The Xena reboot is currently in the works at NBC. Do you like what you hear?