For anyone who hasn't seen the Sci-Fi channel series Lexx the program is hard for fans to describe. Part of the reason is that the series has changed over time. Originally a short run of Showtime movies called The Dark Zone Stories, or Tales from a Parallel Universe, this Nova Scotia based (and now Germany co-produced) Lexx was picked up by the Sci-Fi channel in 2000 as a series and thus far has lasted four seasons, of some 20 shows each.
The premise is difficult to describe, and the series is so laden with details and new, strange characters on oddball planets that even followers of the show can get lost in episode guides. Essentially, the Lexx is a giant spaceship that is part living insect. It destroys planets and then afterwards eats the organic matter drifting in space. Main character Stanley Tweedle (Brian Downey), a lowly functionary in a red jump suit and a brimless cap, stole the Lexx some time ago, and is the only one with the key to the ship's death ray. The rest of the crew are also misfits, one an emotional robot, who have mysterious pasts and tangled relations with each other. The series has changed so much from season to season (not unlike Black Adder) that much of the details from one year to another are dropped. In the third season alone, the characters are 4000 years later into their future, having been frozen at the end of the previous season and gone adrift in the Lexx.
Suffice it to say, though this is a review of just one disc from a set, fans will want to have all of them, and beginners might be advised to pick up first the Showtime movies (if they can stand them; the early movies tended toward gross out humor dropped since then). This disc contains three episodes from the third season, numbers five ("Gondola"), six ("K-Town"), and seven ("Tunnels"). Though previous seasons had the trio of Stanley, Xev, and Kai going from planet to planet, like some kind of haphazard Star Fleet, this season seems to find them trapped on a pair of planets near each other, one made of water, the other of fiery sand (heaven and hell correlatives).
Lexx is praised as witty, clever, dense, complex TV science fiction, but there is really only two reasons to watch the show. For girls, it is Michael McManus as Kai; for boys, it is Xenia Seeberg as Xev Bellringer (she replaced the first Xev, the blonde and luscious Eva Habermann). Kai is a dead guy who functions through various technical procedures. Xev is a pre-programmed love machine, part human and part "cluster lizard." Seeberg has Michelle Pfeiffer lips that don't quit and a bit of Britt Ekland about her (in fact, Ekland had a cameo in one early episode). Bred to become a wife (long ago, in the original movies), she punched her husband-to-be at the wedding and was sentenced to become a love slave, which entailed a transformation that turned the dumpy woman into Eva Habermann (at first). Xev is in love with Kai, and finds Stanley, who hasn't had sex in seven years, repulsive. The robot, at least in the early shows, loved Xev. The whole thing has a Krazy Kat quality to it, but you can see what the robot means; a cross between Lara Croft and Xena, Xev tends to wear skimpy Dr. Who costumes that push up her chest, her long hair hangs in multi-colors, her slight German accent pours off her abundant lips in a seductive lisp, and the leggy lass is usually clad in black platform boots (one of the series' producers and occasional directors is Film Threat favorite Jorg Buttgereit, who directed NekromantikKing of the Dead, which may explain the fetishistic tone of many episodes and moments).
"Gondola" opens as Kai (along with a duplicate Kai) along with the rest of the crew, are fleeing villains on the Fire planet, all on flying giant moths. The crew, and those chasing them, Fifi and Duke, eventually crash. A handy floating gondola rescues Xev and Co., and after the dead Kai bails out to save the others, the bad Kai picks up Fifi and the Duke. Fights, sex, and dumpings ensue (the episode is based on Hitchcock's Lifeboat), until the gondola hovers near a tower city and the true identities of some of the characters are finally revealed.
As at the end of the last episode, the next one features Xev's lithe body crawling up the side of the tower city. Stan and Xev manage to ascend the tower together and find a way inside. There they encounter a young woman named Tish who forms part of a community of strange, uncommunicative louts dressed in Road Warrior drag. Later they are joined by Mantrid, the villain from the previous season, whom Xev had crushed under her boot. Meantime the dead Kai, who has been walking across the desert since the last episode, reaches the tower and rescues Tish, who is about to be stoned by her fickle friends. Kai's health, so to speak, is ailing, and an elaborate operation ensues. At the end of it, he is returned to the desert, where he is kidnapped by some gondoliers.They work for a villain from early in the season, Prince, who materializes before Stanley and Xev.
In the final of the three episodes on this disc, Stanley, Xev, and Prince debate each other, and Prince reveals that there is a network of tunnels below the desert that they can use to go to the next tower town over and rescue the ailing Kai. While Kai is enduring a strange tribunal there, Stanley and Xev are tailing Prince out of the city, until Stanley is waylaid by a mad doctor who wants to perform experiments on him, and Xev is trapped in a net by two mad ballerinas kept on a leash by a booted dominatrix who want to crush her head in a bear trap. A series of last minute rescues are in order.
VIDEO: The Lexx makers pride themselves on the special effects, rendered on small budgets, and the Lexx discs, or at least this one disc, looks good and sharp, better then it does when broadcast via Sci-Fi. The 1.33:1 full frame image is sharp and clear.
SOUND: Sound options are limited Dolby Digital stereo in English and French, with no subtitles; the sound is adequate for what is almost always essentially a talky program, though the volume seems a little low to this reviewer in comparison to other discs.
MENUS: An animated, musical menu offers the three programs and special features and language options; each episode has five chapters, however.
PACKAGING: At least the one box of Lexx offered up for review shows the three principals, and is consistent with other boxes in the series. The label on the disc replicates the images of the three stars.
EXTRAS: Supplements are minimal but effective. "The Making of Lexx," subtitled "Series III, Part 2" on the menu (about 10 minutes), shows a lot of green screen work. "Interview with Editor Stewart Dowds" (about seven minutes), gives a brief summary of the premise of the season. That's followed by "Production Sketches (11, of the gondola), and "Trivia Questions" (10 not-so-trivial multiple choice questions), and ends with "Storyboards" (19 images illustrating an early scene in the "Gondola" episode, with the option to view the scene itself).
Final Thoughts: Lexx is a sexy if talky show; it tends, at least at this stage of the series, to promise more than it delivers in the way of sexy stuff, but Xenia Seeberg is never hard on the eyes, and the rest of the cast is just as good. The writing tends to be imaginative, and the filmmakers do a lot with only a little. Supplements are limited, and for buffs of the show only.