Game of Thrones has stepped into the spotlight, pushing aside many shows along the way. Fantasy has taken the hearts of the world lately, but it is not the first time its thieving hands appeared. Television has gifted us some of the best fantasy stories of the past 20 years – things beyond sword and sorcery, though there has been plenty of that. There has been a show with blood, monsters and the worst high school graduation ceremony ever. There has also been a show with immortals decapitating each other for the power lurking inside. But since Game of Thrones is a more traditional fantasy, adventures with the warrior princess is a good place to start.
Xena threw her chakra for the first time in the late-90s. Created by John Schulian and Robert Tapert, the show was a campy tale about the title character’s battles with mythological creatures and the Greek pantheon. The show was about as far as one can get from Game of Thrones. Women do not often get a chance to be strong or to be warriors, so everyone went crazy over Xena and her sidekick, Gabrielle. Well, they might have gone crazy with rage about the latter. Some found her annoying, but not as annoying as most find Joffrey on Game of Thrones, luckily. The show took Xena and Gabrielle to a variety of places and pitted them against many a beast. Nothing lasts forever and Xena eventually fought her last battle. However, she was not the only woman who knew how to throw a punch. The late-90s was an embarrassment of riches for women in TV, which brings us to the slayer.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer sprung from the mind of Joss Whedon, Mr. Avengers. It was originally a movie from the early-90s, but no one talks about it if they can help it. The show took place in the town of Sunnydale, CA and followed a teenage girl from high school to college to… other places. But this girl was different; she was The Chosen One, The Slayer and the one to protect the world from monsters. Sunnydale isn’t a normal place, either. It was built over the Hellmouth, a doorway to the world of monsters. Slimy ones, spiky ones, ghosts, vampires – anything. Step away from them and you will see a mournful Game of Thrones just along the skyline. A vampire from Buffy became too big for the show and got his own show, Angel. TV spin-offs sometimes happen with movies, which is exactly what happened with Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.
Highlander was an early-90s offshoot of a mid-80s action movie. The concept was that there were immortals all over the world who could only be killed by taking their heads. Once that happened, the surviving immortal took their power and the power of the other immortals they had taken. Sometimes the immortals felt an irresistible pull to a location and they fought. In the end, there can be only one. The movie followed Connor MacLeod and the show followed Duncan MacLeod. Game of Thrones follows neither. Both shows love their violence, but Highlander was more swashbuckling than war. It would have to be, with the swordfighting and all. The elephant in the room, Connor and Duncan fighting, was not addressed in the show. One would have to catch Highlander: Endgame for that. One also has the rest of the day to live so this will wrap up soon.
The fantasy genre on television has a great lineage that is a lot stronger with Game of Thrones stepping along justly. These things become better over time so when winter finally comes, be glad, for that means that another fantasy show is coming to blow your mind.
By Ernst Charles Jr.