14 Greatest Format-Breaking SF & Fantasy TV Episodes Ever 6

6 Xena: Warrior Princess
“The Bitter Suite" (1998)

At the risk of getting lynched by Whedonites, we’re going to give Xena’s musical episode a place in this list rather than “Once More, With Feeling…” for two main reasons. 1) Xena got there first (“Bitter Suite” was 1998, “Once More…” was 2001). 2) It’s even more bonkers! Its gaudy panto sets and chorus of singing animals (“The fates have a fix on you/we can play tricks on you!”) it makes Buffy effort look like Boys From The Blackstuff. “Once More” is a better episode, sure, but the sheer novelty of a musical slice of Xena was groundbreaking at the time. And, as with the Buffy episode, the music doesn’t just punctuate the action; as with proper musicals the songs help the characters voice their inner emotions and move the plot along. Thus in 45 minutes Xena and Gabrielle move from wanting to kill each other to being bested (slash-igniting) buddies again, after visiting the alternate world of Illusia. Renee O'Connor (Gabby) and Hudson Leick (Callisto) were both dubbed (though O’Connor did her own nude scenes) but Lucy Lawless, Kevin Smith, Ted Raimi and Willa O'Neill did their own singing for the episode. The songs “The Love Of Your Love” and “Hearts Are Hurting” were Emmy nominated.

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