‘Xena’ tops ‘Trek’ in ratings

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    By JULIA SELDEN

    The past has taken over the future, and many TV fans aren’t complaining.

    “Xena: Warrior Princess,” a show set in the “‘golden age’ of myth,” has taken over TV’s number one syndicated spot previously dominated by “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” according to an online TV Guide source.

    Achieving the number one spot has come as a surprise to some people, since “Star Trek” has dominated the charts since 1987.

    “Our initial goal was to bump off ‘Baywatch’ as the No. 2 show,” said Rob Tapert, an executive producer of the “Xena,” in a TV Guide interview. “This is something I never expected to accomplish.”

    Local students are surprised as well. Benjamin Todd, a sophomore from Provo, majoring in electrical engineering, said from the few times he has watched the show, it has been “sort of hokey.”

    While “Xena” has beat “Star Trek” in the ratings, Andrea Farnsworth, marketing director at KJZZ-TV, noted that other factors might have affected the ratings, such as broadcast times. She said comparing the two shows is really like comparing “apples and oranges.”

    “Xena,” which premiered in mid-1995, has gained a following largely among women, Farnsworth said. The program also has male fans, she notes, although Xena has a female sidekick, so it is more of a “buddy-buddy” show. In fact, Farnsworth said “Xena” even has better ratings than “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” the show of which “Xena” is a spin-off.

    “Xena: Warrior Princess” mixes state-of-the-art special effects, intricate makeup and prosthetics and martial arts into a mythological action show set in a time before ancient Greece or Rome, according to a news release.

    “She beats up the biggest guys you could see,” said Shawna Fisher, 24, an elementary education major from Torrence, Calif.

    Lucy Lawless, who plays Xena, had no prior training in martial arts or stunt work when she first started the series, but now works with a personal trainer, according to the news release.

    Many people are fascinated with the Hercules and Xena physiques, it appears. KJZZ had a Hercules and Xena look-alike contest in January, offering free Utah Jazz tickets as the prize. According to Farnsworth, 12 to 16 Xenas and four Hercules look-a-likes showed up. A lot of the women really looked like Xena, Farnsworth said.

    “Xena: Warrior Princess” shows on KJZZ (channel 14) Saturday nights at 9.

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