With Xena away on a mission, Gabrielle must contend with Aphrodite. The Goddess is interfering in one of Cupid's love spellswhich will unite two kingdoms by putting a spell on Joxer, who behaves like a real hero whenever a bell rings.
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Lucy Lawless only appears in the first and last scene of this episode.
Xena's absence in this episode is explained by her aid once again being requested by King Lias from "Warrior... Princess" and "Warrior... Princess... Tramp", maybe suggesting that some more look-alike capers were happening while she was away.
Goof: When Joxer is under the spell for the first time, when he takes off his armor he has no sleeves but in the next shot he does.
This is the first appearance of the "Joxer the Mighty" song. It appears many more times throughout the series, sometimes with alternate lyrics. The lyrics to this version follow:
Joxer the Mighty / He roams through the countryside / He never needs a place to hide / With Gabby as his sidekick / Fighting with her little stick / Righting wrongs and singing songs / Being mighty all day long / He's Joxer... he's Joxer the Mighty!
Ohhhh..... he's Joxer the Mighty / He's really tidy / Everybody likes him / 'Cause he has a funny grin / Joxer... Joxer the Mighty,
Joxer the Mighty / He's very tidy / Everyone admires him / He's so handsome it's a sin / If you're in jeopardy / Don't call the cavalry / There's a better remedy / (Although he doesn't work for free) / He's every man's trustee / He's every woman's fantasy / Plus he's good company / He's Joxer... I'm Joxer the Mighty!
Blood... valor... and victory! Ha-ha! / Joxer the Mighty / He's very tidy / Everyone admires him / He's so handsome it's a sin / When things get grim / He'll take it on the chin / If you're in jeopardy / Caused by the enemy / Don't call the cavalry / There's a better remedy / (Although he doesn't work for free) / He's every man's trustee / He's every woman's fantasy / Plus he's good company / Look out! / He's Joxer... Joxer the Mighty!
Nitpick: In the show Karl Urban is referred to as Cupid, but that is the Roman name for the god, since Xena is set in Greece, he should have been called Eros.
Gabrielle: Take off the spell. You're the Goddess of Love. Love is soft and gentle. It's not violent and cruel.
Aphrodite: You don't know much about love, do you?
Xena: (to Joxer) The gods can't give us anything that isn't in our hearts. Aphrodite just used what was already there. The real Joxer may not be the best swordsman around, but he's always had the heart of a lion.
Joxer: Wow, did you hear that? Ileandra's really in love with me! She chose me over Sarpedon!
Gabrielle: No Joxer. She chose the other one. The other Joxer. The one who just stupidly beat Sarpedon in battle, and then romanced Ileandra from under his nose!
Joxer: Wow! I really did that!
Cupid: Well that sucks! Well, you've done it, Mom. You've managed to mess up yet another one of my perfect matches. How can you call yourself the Goddess of Love?
Aphrodite: Oh, get a grip, Cupie! Love isn't just about happy endings. There's also jealous love, and unrequited love, and tragic love. And when you strip away all the tinsel, it's really just about hormones, isn't it?!
Joxer: Wait a minute. You're saying I fought all of them and won?
Gabrielle: Yes! Maybe you hit your head and that's why you can't remember?
Joxer: I don't think so. I think it was more like a warrior haze.
Gabrielle: A warrior haze?
Joxer: Yeah, you know? OK, enemies are coming at you, hearts pounding, muscles are flexing and your mind shuts down to let your body take over!
Gabrielle: (sarcastically) Right.
Joxer: Where's Xena?
Gabrielle: She's off being a hero.
Joxer: How come you're not with her?
Gabrielle: 'Cause I'm a sidekick. Obviously expendable when push comes to shove.
Joxer: Hm. Wait, wait, wait! That's great! Don't you get it? You're a sidekick without a hero. I'm a hero without a sidekick!
Gabrielle: (sarcastically) Oh, of course. You're a hero. A hero of what?!
Joxer: My sword is always ready to pleasure you, my lady.
Karl Urban had previously played the role of Cupid on Hercules, and had appeared on Xena as Julius Caesar in the episode "Destiny" and as Mael in "Altared States". He would continue to play both Caesar and Cupid throughout the series. He would also play a fifth role in the series as the caveman Kor from the recycled Amazon High footage used to make "Lifeblood".
Instead of the usual theme playing during the closing credits, we hear a full heroic chorus singing the "Joxer the Mighty" theme song.
This episode was hastily added to the schedule because Lucy Lawless was still recovering from the horse falling on her while filming a stunt for The Tonight Show in Los Angeles. Xena's appearance at the end where she consoles Joxer was shot later, when Ted Raimi had already returned to the States (his close-ups and dialogue for it were filmed first). For most of the scene, and the closing bit where he rejoins Xena and Gabrielle, only Joxer's back is seen: it is a double in his costume. Where his face is visible, Xena is only seen from the back: it's one of Lucy's doubles.
Joxer's theme song wasn't part of the script, it was ad-libbed by Ted and the director Josh Becker.
This episode marks Aphrodite's first Xena episode (though she had previously appeared on Hercules). In real life Alex Tydings has short brunette hair. She was surprised and gratified to be cast as Aphrodite in spite of her brown locks, but then they showed her the wig she would be wearing.
DISCLAIMER: The producers wish to acknowledge the inspiration of Danny Kaye and pay tribute to the classic motion picture "Court Jester."
Joxer: I regret that I have but one life to give for... for, whatever it is I've given it for.
The speech paraphrases the supposed last words of the American patriot Nathan Hale, who was executed by the British in 1776.
The Princess Bride:
When Joxer is fighting King Lynaeus, Joxer says that he is unable to defeat the King while fighting with his left hand, because he is actually right handed. This is a reference to the movie The Princess Bride when Westley, while fighting Inigo, says the same thing. Another reference to the movie is made after Joxer kisses Gabrielle in the middle of the fight. Gabrielle asks Joxer to take the fight into the temple, to which Joxer replies "as you wish". This is the line which Westley uses when speaking to his beloved, Buttercup, in the movie.
Much of the plot of this episode is derived from the movie The Court Jester (1956), starring Danny Kaye (both are credited). In the movie a witch hypnotizes Kaye's character, so that he can go into and out of a trance when he hears fingers snapping. In the course of his mishaps the king's daughter falls in love with him. He is later hypnotized by the same witch into thinking he is a great swordsman. All these things happen to Joxer, too, except of course it is a bell that causes him to switch.
Title: "For Him The Bell Tolls"
The episode title is a play on the Ernest Hemingway novel For Whom the Bell Tolls.
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