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Vanishing Act

Written by Terry Winter
Directed by Andrew Merrifield


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deb7 on Vanishing Act:


...brought to you by Bob and deb

(BTW, if you don't have time to watch the whole episode, just watch the 1 minute preview that airs just before it. the ENTIRE plot of the episode is given therein in Cliff's Notes form.)

First of all, those stunt doubles really are great. especially the one that's about 2 inches shorter than LL...and the one who wears Gab's BGSB from last year. ancient New Greeceland sure is pretty.

are they supposed to be in the middle east? what's with the White Guys [tm] in The Middle East [also tm]? damn -- *every* coastal area in the Known World was planned by the same city planners. what a nice gig. i bet those planners were in Xena's army once.

is it just me, or does the dancing on the wharf music sound suspiciously like "Ain't we got fun?"

it's PAHKS, not PACKS!!!! argh. {such an elitist.}

you know, there's nothing better than a chest scratch and belly-cradle in the morning to get your day started right!

okay, this whole exposition thing where whatever-his-name-is the mayor has to explain the statue to Xena is weird. it seems awkward. it wouldn't have been necessary if x and g hadn't parted ways. why did they part ways? adding a little bit about X&G's life? as in, "yes, they part from time-to-time." so??? yeah, i get it, they're really busy heroes.

when did Auto get to the town? was he planning at first to steal Pax but got beat at it? else, how would he know so fast???? maybe this brain isn't working fast enuf. If so, it's all Bob's fault.

anyway, here's another weird part. you'd think Auto hadn't seen X&G since The Quest. That "you owe me one" argument doesn't flow right, somehow. maybe it's cuz there have been TWO OTHER AUTO EPISODES since The Quest.

man, Xena is crabby and edgy! again! this is supposed to be the reformed and healthier Xena. that's scary

Gabrielle is now repairing her staff. why can't i get my mind off the way Xena is sitting? she is so way butch! ::giggle::

why is this episode about Autolycus?? it's not even really about A&X... in fact, it's like X and G are both secondary to Auto..which is trippin me out.

"You'll have to speak it louder than that, my friend." HAHAHAHA! That's one for the sig files.

HEY! The boat!! THE BOAT, Tattoo! DAS BOOT! Notice that LL, ROC, and BC aren't shown aboard The Boat. Whadya bet they staged a protest cuz of Tsunami? heh...course that would imply that Tsunami was shot first, which -- after that first scene -- i don't believe for a second.

Gabrielle the Fence. I love when ROC is supposed to be an "exotic" person. She's so durned... White American [tm]... sorry, but it's just too funny to believe that we're supposed to believe that *they* believe that Gabrielle seems "foreign." 'Foreign' is kinda generic, i know, but Gabrielle's "fake person" is generic! it's like a damn mishmash!! It's funny because ROC makes Gabrielle be *such* a bad actress. I love that!

we've been avoiding the INSANITY of LL's Xena As Fence: It's too real to deal with. It almost seems dubbed it's so unreal. Unreal as in Surreal. Who's voice is that coming out of Xena's body???

"Myopia.... They say you used to be good looking." BUWAHAHAHAHA!!!

"Plan Beta..." i can hardly believe she said that.

Gabrielle was just that weird Egypt-India hybrid that haunts every other American's mind.

I like Gabrielle's outfit -- complete with curly-toed shoes. I don't like Xena's maternity-ish looking dress...though the sheer tackiness of it kicks my butt. Dahling!

I thought they were going to try to get away with that matte painting effect. it's much funnier that they didn't. kinda like an in-joke almost...

..til you get to the end and realise that you're actually supposed to have been paying attention to what Auto is doing. Why does my brain so severely reject the idea that they would do an "Autolycus: Featuring Xena... and Gabrielle" episode?

i'm in love with Bad Guy (Tarsis): beautiful eyes, beautiful profile. what else has he been in? {Dirty Half Dozen: Walsim}

X&G could be sexy together talking about horse dung. the bidding war and its aftermath in their quarters damn near stopped my heart. was that {P}erverted?

Why won't Xena drop out of character when no one's around?? she's acting weird.. MY GOD! she's still acting like The Fence! WHY???

Back at "Arabian Dance Party '45" i thought Bad Guy and Bad Guy's Girlfriend (BGG) were going to proposition Gabrielle! i've been reading too much altfic. and another thing: the exotic dancers in XWP never dance rapidly and wildly enough. i want wild, fast, swirling whirling dervish-type action! HOT, SWEATY, WRITHING BODIES!!

I finally figured out why it seems weird that Xena didn't drop Ezra. the teleplay contains frequent "asides". if you're set up to believe that ppl can whisper and not be heard even if they're only 2 feet away from the ppl they're talking about, then it seems weird that these whisperers wouldn't act normally when other ppl aren't around AT ALL!! the other thing is that ROC has *Gabrielle* drop out of character *but* the Bad Guys don't notice the changes. the contrast between LL/Xena and ROC/Gab isn't a big deal, I guess...but it gets weird thinking about who's the "better" actor. I mean, does Gab *lose* her accent because she's startled and unsure or because ROC can't keep the accent? Does Xena *keep* her accent because she's a better con than Gab or because LL was playing 'The Fence' instead of 'Xena Playing The Fence'? I'm so dizzy, my head is spinnin'...

{P} why did it feel like Auto was interrupting with a Capital I when he broke up the argument about outbidding?

{P} i think BGG is excited by the idear of a hunchback.

i'm confused at the whole BGG plays with Bentley's hump and Tarsis figures out it's Autolycus scene. Was BGG doing some sort of coded nonverbal communication with Tarsis by scratching and caressing T's back? (okay, after viewing #3, i think i finally got it that Tarsis could hear the chains rattling and so then he took a closer look at Auto.)

didja catch that little noise Gabrielle makes in her throat when Tarsis warns her about being a fraud? ah..::swoon::

it suddenly hit me what unsettles me about the not.normal.Xena episodes. They have more and more become LL playing another role, *rather than* LL playing *Xena* playing another role. That middle step is crucial, IMO. Otherwise, it all becomes about the actress rather than about the main character. In Warrior...Princess, we still got a flavour, taste, hint, clue about *Xena* -- even as she pretended to be another person. This was still true in Warrior...Princess...Tramp, but in WP1T that goal was secondary to the sheer silliness of the situation. Since that episode, most of the time that Xena is "not exactly herself" (for whatever reason) all glimpses of Xena *within the alt.character* disappear.

Well, that was an extraordinarily esoteric aside.

Kudos to the director and/or editor for keeping ROC in this episode: lesser men would have succumbed to temptation. And kudos to ROC for not fading into the background.

Speaking of which, it's interesting to compare Gabrielle in this ep to Gab in Royal Couple, the ep with which this holds so many similarities. I think Gab has been taking Miracle-Maturity pills.

When Gab pulls that mole off of Xena (complete with too-loud sound effect that's out-of-place with the sudden Dramatic Turn [tm]) and they discuss Auto, I can tell we're about to get treated to some "Auto the Human" stuff. Are we in the midst of a "Comedy as A-story", "Human Drama as B-story" episode? Gods, no. Yep, suddenly things seem "all serious". I'm not going to argue that the dramatic elements whould have been dropped altogether (lord knows i'm not arguing for another "Wild&Wacky Comedy!"), but the Character Development [tm] dialogue seemed forced, (and the Xena In The WIndow shots melodramatic).

Gabrielle put the fur on her staff upside down. Xena's wearing the leather battledress that was cut too long. I wonder if she cut off the flow of blood to that tailor's brain or simply sliced the poor sap's neck open with her chakram.

"This plan will go to Tartarus in a reed basket...." ::chuckle::

the sudden shift near the end was a real downer, man. and it confirmed my suspicion (but i'm not paranoid, damnit!) that this episode wasn't clear what its focus was supposed to be. the other thing is that Andrew 'deb7 adores you' Merrifield got a bit too "artsy" a coupla times. Dug the Staff-Cam, though. anyway, i pretty much liked this ep. granted, it was no ADITL, and not even a Fins... but once it got going (and until the downer part), the chuckles were pretty free-flowing.

c. 1998 deb7
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MDKNIGHT on Vanishing Act :

Somebody on the Netforum claims that in an early shot of the ep when the show the base of the Pax statue you can see Gumby as a decoration on it. Haven't rewound to test this myself yet. However a couple of things reg this ep. Does anybody else think there is a big hole in logic when they talk about melting down the statue and then bid for the gold. It is one thing to sell a piece of art and expect more money than the material is worth. It is another to sell gold at a time when gold IS money. NOW you can't walk into the mall and pay for stuff in gold but THEN why the heck would you convert the gold to dinars? (What metal are dinars made of anyway? If NOT gold then converting to dinars might actually leave you with a bigger bulk to deal with it the idea is to take up less space) Still I think even if the gold takes up space you'd still put the gold in your treasure trove. It also doesn't make sense to BID for the gold. Somebody in the ep mentions a few pounds of gold! (although the statue looks like it probably WOULD be more than a "few" pounds. ((Let's not even get into that the measure of weight in ancient Greece wouldn't have been pounds, in a show where godesses have walkmans why even go there))In any case, I thought the bidding was was like saying "we have $100,000 dollars here, what am I bid?" And getting somebody to bid 2million dollars for the privelege of getting your 100,000 dollars. The gold would be worth whatever that amount of gold was worth, and that is all somebody would get for it. I found it very wierd.

Did anybody else who has ever seen "Tracy Takes On" (the show by Tracey Ullman) think that Xena's "Ezra" sounded just like Tracey's recurring character the older Jewish woman from NY? Even had the same physical mannerisms when she entered the room woth Bently and said something like "the Party start here"

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TZ on Vanishing Act :

Well, after TSUNAMI, it looks like the writers found some decent lines for Bruce Campbell laying around. This story was about average for a comedy/quasi-drama.

The camera work was interesting to say the least. On one hand, there were the obligatory, breathtaking shots of landscape and sea. And then on the other...what were they doing during that fight scene outside of the castle? I for one love to watch a goo d fight scene...and the quirky, jerky camera shots made following the moves difficult for lack of smooth transitions. Dunno what they'll try next....

Highlights for me were Ezra and Myopia (wonder what the story was behind that name??). I liked Lucy's Ezra just a bit more that Renee's Myopia. But Lucy's just got that flair for quirky characters...or perhaps that's how the writers work it. However, the two of them had some wonderful dialogue, especially the bidding scene...our bard perhaps found something she could compete with...almost. The looks they gave each other spoke of two people who spent a lot of time together, a little friendly competiti on. Wonder where else they compete...Xena did get the upper hand .

Was it me, or was Gabrielle's attention divided between Ezra's mole and her cleavage. Maybe it's the height. Looking straight forward, she can't help but miss...was Ezra wearing heels? Being short does have its advantages (heh heh...).

Took me watching the show twice to figure out where I heard the merchant (I can't catch his name no matter how many times it's said) before...the actor portrayed one of the baddies in Dirty Half Dozen...Walsam I think. The man definitely looks better wit hout hair.

Liked the subtle innuendo when the young lady asks "Bently" if she can touch his hump...smooth, innocuous. Only the more warped of us probably would have picked up on it, but certainly not the kiddies...I hope.

I didn't quite pick up the ending scene when Autolycus opted NOT to kiss the bard. But after I watched it a second time, I couldn't help the grin. Ah...picture this...a clearing outside of our favorite Amazon village during THE QUEST...when the King of Theives did get the opportunity to lay his lips (unknowingly)...as well as his talented hands...on our fair bard. The results were less than favorable for him. I have no doubt that he remembered that, and decided that a Warrior Princess in the flesh wou ld be more apt to smack him around than the spirit one that had already done so. Really...I can be SO slow sometimes . I guess he fears the jealous warrior more than the jealous bard...or I guess he just doesn't know Gabrielle harbors the little gree n monster, also.

Complaint: the sound effects when Autolycus tries to bribe the wharf master. Just a bit overdone.

On a scale of one to ten...I'd give it a seven. Worth watching after you've watched all the better ones, but before all the ones you wish they'd melted (KING CON ring any bells?)

c. 1998 Used with permission. TZ
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