It hasn't been the cruisiest winter for everyone, though. Hudson Leick is cuddling a hot-water bottle between takes as the winter sky showered the hills outside Auckland. Leick plays recurring character Callisto, Xena's longtime nemesis, recently redeemed by an act of forgiveness.
"You saved me from an eternity in hell and for that I owe you my soul," Callisto, now an archangel, tells Xena. "I've been purified by the waters of heaven."
Director Garth Maxwell stopped the action: "Keep the camera off the grass," he called. The Greens Department repositioned several potted cacti on swaths of sand, dressing the lush pastureland into a North African military camp.
"The 100th episode," Maxwell explained, "is a meaty, quite trippy, psychological story about the clash of two mythologies, with the pagan gods fighting for survival against, presumably, the Christian era."
The saga of monotheism versus polytheism, peace versus war, love over might will crescendo no doubt to the birth of Xena's miraculously conceived baby. Yet the show carries no message, Lawless insisted: It's entertainment and fun.
"We may deal with big issues, but we want to make you feel something, not make you think, not change your mind," she said. "I realized some time ago that we have to deliver on our mandate, which is humor and action and stories with heart. Contrary to public opinion, we are not a vehicle for social change."
* "Xena: Warrior Princess" can be seen today at 3 p.m. on KTLA-TV. The network has rated it TV-PG-V (may be unsuitable for young children with special advisories for violence).