Have you heard of a sci-fi show called Lexx?
Lexx is a weird show. It was on late-night Channel 5 in the UK. Lexx is about four outlaws trying to find a home in the two universes. They get around in the Lexx, which is the most powerful weapon in both universes. The Lexx ship is essentially a more mobile Death Star.
The show as I have said before is weird. Understandably, it might not be to your taste. To be honest, I’m not sure that it’s entirely to my liking either. For everything good, the show does it almost immediately undoes it in the next scene. How, with either misplaced humour or general meanspiritedness.
The show gets compared to Farscape. I think a more apt comparison is It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia in space. Only with less likeable characters.
What I’m going to do for you because I’m good like that, is point out the good elements and the bad. Then you decide for yourself.
Lexx good elements:
The show is ambitious: the makers of the show clearly had a unique vision. The show is special effects-heavy with extensive use of green screen. They visit many different worlds throughout the run of the show, especially in season 2. The second season, spoiler alert, ends with the destruction of a universe. The third season deals with reincarnation, life, death and resurrection. They even go so far as to reenact portions of Dante’s Inferno. The show has a vision. What it sees is another matter entirely.
The world-building: The first season of the show comprises of four 90 minute movies. When the show starts, it is set in a world post-human v insect war. It is not Starship Troopers. Instead, humans and insects appear to have crossbred somehow. I’m not too sure, the show is kind of fuzzy on details. The show flirts with the idea of Nitcheze’s concept of Eternal Recurrence. As in all that has happened will happen again. It’s not given any great depth, but it is interesting to attempt to take it on.
There is something morbidly curious about the nastiness: The show is downbeat throughout. Every character the team encounter end up dead somehow. Be it through murder, hubris or the planet gets destroyed. The main characters don’t really react to anything that happens either. The lack of reaction gives the show a kind of a callous nature. There is a weird repetition of children wanting to kill their parents. Kids get killed off at random too. Except the heroes, no one is safe in this show.
Michael McManus- The actor who plays Kai is one of the better elements of the show. The acting throughout the show is passable, but the characters can be so one-note at times it grates. Michael McManus as Kai, the undead assassin, is one-note but it doesn’t annoy in the same way. He is also given chances to stretch himself in specific episodes. Those episodes are the more fun ones. Like when they go to a zombie planet, and the gravity messes with his head.
The parody episodes – During the second season there are several riffs on other films. There is a feminist retelling of The Wizard of Oz, Halloween, Alien and so on. These episodes are fun one-offs.
The musical episode- The stand out episode for my money is a musical episode. It’s a riff on Brigadoon. The crew find themself at a theatre that exists outside of space and time. The theatre troupe tell Kai’s entire backstory and do so in a charming way. It’s a filler episode that serves no purpose in the overall arc of the second series. But when the show focuses on character instead of wacky situations, it gets good. I don’t know if the musical episode can be appreciated in isolation, but you can try.
The bad elements:
The special effects – Imagine The Phantom Menace had no money. That is the best way I can describe the special effects. The first and second season have many varied locals. By the time they get to the 3rd and 4th season they confine it to fewer planets. The fourth season is set on Earth. However, to their credit, they did a lot of globetrotting, and the show looks great in places.
Stylistic inconsistencies – For a world that is under insect rule, it doesn’t appear to impact the style. The only insectoid like thing in the insect empire is the Lexx itself.
All the characters are annoying: To an extent, all the characters can be kind of shrill, annoying and stupid. How much you enjoy the show depends on how much you can tolerate Stanley Tweedle, the show’s de facto “hero”. If he doesn’t annoy you too much, then you should be fine.
790 – This is the one character that borderline ruins every scene he is in. His skit is that he is in love with a character and wants everyone else to die. It is that joke every single scene he is in, and it gets tiring fast, and he is in a lot of scenes. It feels like the creators were aware of this as he vanishes for most of season 3 and 4.
The humour – The humour in this show is so juvenile. One example is the show devotes an unnecessary amount of time to how the toilets on the ship work. Instead of a toilet paper or bday, a giant tongue emerges. Did you find that funny? I found it amusing the first time but after a few times.
The horniness – The show is weirdly horny and prudish at the same time. The characters are perpetually horny, except for Kai but for some reason never get it on. At times it feels like the Jane Fonda Barbarella or Carry On in Space. Like the dialogue feels like scraps from a porno at times. I don’t know what was going on in the writer’s room.
Pacing – The biggest killer of this show is the pacing. From the second season onwards the shows run at 45 minutes. It is too long. The show would have been better off having 15 minutes shaved off. Here are how many of the episodes pan out. Stanley and Zev are horny. Zev wants to go to someplace, Stanley says no. The two back and forth then go to Kai, who says he doesn’t have an opinion. Somehow they all agree to go. Usually, by this point, the episode is almost half over. I understand the showrunners had a time slot to fill and budget constraints. The pacing is all over the place.
Be warned some episodes are missing.
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