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Lexx is a science fantasy television series that follows the adventures of a group of mismatched individuals aboard the organic space craft Lexx. They travel through two universes and encounter planets including a parody of our own.

The series is a Canadian and German co-production, with some additional funding from Britain's Five. Not originally produced for a US network, the series features more sexual innuendo and nudity than audiences in the United States are generally accustomed to seeing in non-premium programming. The Sci Fi Channel purchased the series from Salter Street Films and began airing versions of Season 2 episodes for United States' audience in January 2000[1].

Lexx was co-produced by Salter Street Films, later absorbed by Alliance Atlantis. In Canada, Lexx aired on the Alliance Atlantis-owned Showcase network.

The series was primarily filmed in Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) and Berlin (Germany), with additional filming on location in Iceland, Bangkok (Thailand) and Namibia.

Characters

The crew

The crew of the Lexx is motivated largely by fear, lust, and insatiable hunger — factors which gradually came to dominate the story-lines more and more, eventually making Lexx famous for its sexual themes and often bizarre story-lines. Each episode in the later series takes the crew through another stage of their journey through chaotic, hostile universes without any legitimate authority while exploring the relationships between the protagonists and their individual histories.

The crew of the Lexx includes:

Villains

The Lexx

Template:Infobox Fictional Spacecraft The Lexx is a bio-engineered, Manhattan-sized, planet-destroying, bioship in the shape of a giant wingless dragonfly, or to the remotely Freudian eye, a phallus. It was grown by ingesting organ collections from the protein bank on the Cluster, the seat of the Divine Order, for use by His Divine Shadow. The Lexx was originally intended as the ultimate deterrent: the threat of a weapon that could instantly obliterate any planet would keep the remaining "Heretic" worlds of the Light Universe in line, and those that refused to capitulate would be summarily destroyed to reinforce the point. This plan was foiled when the crew commandeered it to escape from the Cluster.

The most important function of the Lexx is its ability to destroy entire planets with a single, high-powered blast. Its primary — and only — weapon is initiated by command from the captain only, followed by a highly dramatic sequence when the Ocular Parabola found on the surface of its eye tissue flips from a smooth surfaced dome into a complex array of satellite dish-like structures. Huge amounts of yellowish-orange particles are released en masse from the array and focused by Lexx's nervous system to a point just above its mouth. Once focused, the particles burst into a massive, forward-moving, planar wave which expands ahead of the Lexx exponentially until colliding with an object of sufficient mass to disperse it, usually a planet. The wave instantly vaporizes smaller ships without losing momentum. Though the Lexx is designed to destroy entire planets, it can fire less intense blasts to hit smaller targets; however, the smallest area it seems capable of destroying is roughly the size of an entire city.

A special living energy being known as the "key" is required to control the Lexx, and it will usually only respond to the one who has it. A special holographic hand-scanner on the bridge confirms that the captain of the ship possesses the key, but after this point the captain can control the Lexx through voice commands.

The Lexx itself is intelligent, but not much so. The show's creators have it compared to a dog. The Lexx often takes orders literally, even when it's not being addressed directly (Stan accidentally orders the Lexx to destroy a moon when he explains its function to some astronauts). It acknowledges commands and comments with a droning, simple male voice; for example, "As you command, Stan." The Lexx has emotions (it actively enjoys destroying planets, for instance, and becomes rather petulant when denied the opportunity), and is, to a small extent, capable of acting of its own accord. In the final episode of the show, as the Lexx is dying, it tells Stan that he was always its favorite captain, since they both enjoy destroying planets.

Being alive, the Lexx needs to eat to function. It can digest any form of organic matter, and will usually land on a planet's surface to scoop up suitable organic foodstuffs; however, it is content to simply blow-up a planet and feast on the sizable chunks. When denied food, the Lexx can become rather cranky, but will always attempt to follow orders no matter what is happening. The moral dilemma of destroying inhabited worlds for Lexx's functioning and survival is a recurring plot theme, and occasionally Lexx will swallow passing ships without informing the crew. Another means of collecting energy is to "resorb" discarded items left on its floors.

The Lexx has various amenities for the crew, though unusual in their implementation. It has showers which use long, phallic, writhing shower-heads that are activated by squeezing a pair of nearby balls. It also has a practical if appalling toilet system; living commodes that use large, waggling tongues for user sanitation. A cryo-chamber is also available.

The Lexx also hosts a contingent of smaller bio-engineered ornithopter-like craft called "moths", which the crew often use for short-range travel in space, in a planet's atmosphere, or even within the vast Lexx itself. The moths are insect-like ships (as befits their name), and twitter constantly as they travel. The moths fly themselves, with the joystick only used to direct their movement. The moth only uses its wings when in an atmosphere, and has a "jet pack" of sorts on its underbelly when traveling through space. Stan usually sleeps in the husk of one of the dead moths. The Lexx has a crew of moth breeders, zombie-like human slaves re-engineered entirely for moth breeding, to produce these craft when necessary.

The technological irony of the Lexx is apparent in its tremendously specialized function and organic body. An example of this is the complete and utter lack of a diversified weapons system, which is not common to most science fiction warships. Also, the Lexx has an incredibly soft exoskeleton, especially on the eyes, leaving it vulnerable to offensive attacks. The follies of Lexx's engineering are apparent throughout the series, mainly because it has no internal defenses or even a properly protected landing bay. The best that can be said for it throughout the entire show's run is that the bridge can be sealed. However, it is probable that His Divine Shadow purposefully made the Lexx weak in order to minimize the potential damage if it were ever captured by heretics: originally, the Lexx could not fire on ships belonging to the Cluster, and its planet-killer weapon could be easily predicted and dodged by sufficiently maneuverable ships anyway. Since His Divine Shadow had an entire fleet under his command to protect the vessel, this would not present a problem when it was used by him.

The Lexx's gender is a matter of some mystery. The exterior of the Lexx may be described as suggestive of a stylized female (human-like) form, viewed from below, with a skeletal spinal column extending away, and with folded-over legs ("Leggs") hidden from view and thus not present. This possible explanation of both the ship's design and its name Lexx (as a homophone of "legs") is certainly in keeping with the risque and sometimes vulgar tone of the series. Another unsubstantiated view is that the name "Lexx" is the namesake of Lex Gigeroff, one of the writers. However, according to IMDB, "The name of the ship should have been Lex (Latin for 'law') but because there was a writer named Lex, they changed the name of the ship to Lexx - to avoid people thinking it was named after him."

When the Lexx arrives on Earth, it becomes pregnant, suggesting that the ship is in fact female even though it speaks in a male voice (in the English-language version; the version shown in Germany gave the ship a female voice). Similarly, when a sex-changing virus sweeps through the ship, the Lexx is affected and develops stereotypical feminine characteristics, suggesting that it is normally male. It seems likely that the ship is actually hermaphroditic, although this has never been specifically revealed.

The Lexx ages several thousand years during the run of the series, and in later seasons its advanced age and decrepitude following millennia of starvation and neglect lead to it becoming increasingly unstable. In the final episode of the series, Lexx dies shortly after giving birth to a smaller, very Lexx-like ship, the result of a brief union with an insect from Earth.

The Light Universe and Dark Zone

In the fictional mythos of the television series "Lexx," there are two universes: the Light Universe and the Dark Zone. Two of the Season 1 movies and the whole of Seasons 3 and 4 take place in the Dark Zone, while two of the Season 1 movies and nearly all of Season 2 takes place in the Light Universe.

The Light Universe was completely dominated by His Divine Shadow and the League of 20,000 Planets, while the Dark Zone is often referred to as the universe of evil, chaos, and depravity. The Brunnen-G originally lived in the Dark Zone on Brunnis, until their sun was no longer able to support life, after which they moved to Brunnis-2 in the Light Universe. Earth is located at the center of the Dark Zone, as are Fire and Water, planets that are similar to hell and heaven.

Most of the matter in the Light Universe was converted into biomechanical drones (Mantrid drones) by Mantrid, who then caused a Big Crunch by summoning all the Mantrid drones to a single spot in the universe to do battle with the Lexx. Little matter escaped into the Dark Zone, most of it being the Lexx itself.

The Dark Zone is the parallel universe that His Divine Shadow cannot enter. The Dark Zone is referred to as the universe of chaos and disorder. It is also where the crew finds, among other inhabited planets, Earth, where they spend the entirety of the fourth season. At the end of the first movie, "I Worship His Shadow", the Lexx enters the dark zone through a fractal core located using coordinates found inside one of Stanley Tweedle's teeth. The Lexx remains in the Dark Zone during the second and third movies, and parts of the fourth. The Lexx returns to the Light Zone in the first episode of the television series. Following the destruction of the Light Universe (or Light Zone) by Mantrid's drones (at the end the second season), the Lexx is shifted into the Dark Zone where they remain for the rest of the show.

The Cluster

Another major setting in the world of "Lexx" is The Cluster. The Cluster is at the very center of the Divine Order and is also the planet from which Zev, Stan, and Kai escape in the beginning. His Divine Shadow, his Divine Predecessors, and religious leadership rule from The Cluster. The Cluster is the capital of the Divine Order, center of the bureaucracy, and place where all criminals/heretics are taken for punishment (provided they survive the trip). The planet has become an over centralized, overcomplicated mess, with most decisions being automated by an impersonal computer system prone to devastating and/or deadly mistakes at the slightest technological malfunction.

Fire

Fire is an inhospitable planet, with its entire surface covered in desert and open seas of lava. Even when the sun beats down mercilessly on the desert sands, the ground below is hotter still than the sky above. Fire is said to have no water of its own, and people on the open sands during daylight quickly die. The inhabitants of Fire live in enormous towers, each of which contains a single city. These provide them shade from the sun and possibly keep them cooler by raising them away from the planet's warm surface.

Water

The inhabitants of Water live in several large floating settlements, each of which seems to be centered around some particular pastime. During their stay on Water, the crew of the Lexx visit the settlements of Gametown, for those who like sports; Boomtown, for those who like sex; and Garden, for those who like gardening. Life on Water seems to have been meant to be full of unmarred beauty and contentment, but this is shattered by frequent war parties from Fire, which arrive via hot air balloons through the planets' shared atmosphere.

Essential minor elements

People

Places

Hardware and technology elements

  • The Key - a living entity that allows whoever is hosting it to captain the Lexx. This key can be passed to others during moments of extreme emotion, such as orgasm or death, as well as a result of conscious thought on the part of its current possessor. While it passed to several other characters during the run of the show, Stan always manages to get it back.
  • Protoblood - substance that gives the ability to resurrect the dead for a period of time
  • Moth - a semi-hollow bio-mechanical shuttle, in the shape of a moth which it is named, that the crew uses to travel great distances in and outside of the Lexx
  • Narcolounger - a machine that lets its users live in their dreams, once owned and operated by Gubby, and possibly the only one in existence.
  • Bad Carrots - probes from an asteroid like ship, sent down to Earth to find different types of food
  • Black Pack - A weapon from the light universe, specifically the Cluster, that fires brilliant sheets of green shrieking energy. It instantly disintegrates carbon-based structures, and can also be used as a stun weapon.
  • Protein Regenerator - A device kept in the Lexx's Cryo chamber. It can heal wounds and cure infectious diseases.
  • Squawker - Hand held communicator device
  • Lusticon - A Machine located on the Cluster, and very few out lying planets that changes some females into love slaves.

Episodes

There are four seasons of Lexx totalling 61 episodes. The first season, debuting in Canada on 18 April 1997, consisted of four two-hour TV movies (sometimes screened as eight one-hour episodes), alternatively titled Tales from a Parallel Universe. However, some episode guides don't list the two-hour movies as a series but list the subsequent seasons as the first through third.

The second season consisted of twenty 48-minute episodes, with an overall story arc concerning an evil scientist called Mantrid, who attempts to kill everyone by converting the entire mass of the universe into one-armed Mantrid drones.

The third season comprises 13 episodes in which the Lexx is trapped in orbit around the warring planets Fire and Water, and the crew encounters an enigmatic and cheerful evil being known as Prince, who may be the Devil. The two planets orbit each other at an extremely close distance, and share a tunnel of atmosphere between them, allowing the inhabitants of Fire to carry out raids on Water to cause chaos. Fire is filmed between the dunes of Namibia and the Gothic architecture of Berlin. The ruler of Fire is Prince, who can reincarnate whenever it suits him. Water appears to have no opposing ruler, and contains a small population of hedonists on floating islands.

In the fourth and final season of 24 episodes, the Lexx arrives at Earth in the year 2000, only to find that Prince (now named Isambard Prince and head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which more or less runs the United States) and several other old adversaries have also arrived there. Between them, Prince and the Lexx manage to demolish large chunks of the Earth — including Orlando, Florida; Ottawa (a Canadian metonymical in-joke); and Holland, which the Lexx eats — before the climactic final episode, televised on 26 April 2002.

DVD releases

Seasons one to three of Lexx were released on VHS and Region 2 DVD in the UK by Contender Limited, although the Season 3 DVDs were initially exclusive to the MVC Entertainment chain of stores and all volumes have since been deleted. Contender failed to obtain the rights to Season 4, which instead went to Momentum Pictures (a subsidiary of Alliance Atlantis); however, they haven't released any DVDs.

Seasons two through four were released in the US (DVD Region 1) by Acorn Media in individual and box set formats. Due to Paramount Pictures previously holding the home video licence to the initial four TV movies (under their alternative US/Showtime title of "Tales from a Parallel Universe"), Acorn were unable to secure rights to release the movies in the USA.

The four TV movies comprising season one were, however, released in Canada (DVD Region 1) by Koch, again in individual and box set formats. They are now out-of-print.

All four seasons were also released on Region 2 DVD in Germany. Unlike the rest of the world (bar Australia), the German DVDs of season 1 do still appear to be in-print Template:As of.

Season one was re-released on Region free DVD in Australia (July 2007) as a four disk box-set. Season two was re-released on Region 4 DVD in Australia (September 2007) as a five disk box-set, with season three re-released the following month as a five disk box-set. season four was re-released on Region 4 DVD in Australia [January 2008] as a six disk box set. All seasons were released through Force Entertainment.

Broadcast history and legacy

The show's seasons had very different tones, and there is little consensus among fans on which seasons or episodes were the best or the worst. While the original TV movies and the second season were mostly science fiction drama with plenty of dark comedy, the "Fire and Water" season took a more serious tone, while the show's final season — set on Earth in the year 2000 — took many turns into pure farce and introduced magic (as in the episode A Midsummer's Nightmare) and other new elements that were controversial with some fans. Though the series delves into crude humor constantly, the tone of this humor is usually somewhat surreal and ironic, while in the fourth season it begins to border on scatological as well as becoming highly repetitive.

Lexx was shown originally on Global Television Network in Canada, then later picked up by Space, Channel 5 in the UK and then the Sci-Fi Channel in the United States. On Sci-Fi, it aired in the same Friday night lineup as Farscape, and the somewhat similar set-up for both shows (with a misfit crew flying through space on a huge, living starship) was often noted by critics, despite Lexx having premiered two years prior to Farscape. Lexx was a cult hit at best, but during its run it did achieve some mainstream notice (with Xev appearing on the cover of TV Guide, for instance).

Several episodes are currently available for free on the IP-TV platform Joost.

Different versions

There are two versions of Lexx, the European and the American one. One point of difference in the beginning of the first film: in the American version, there is no episode when Stanley is fooled and captured by Feppo. In the European version, this episode is between the death of Kai and the time when Stanley wakes up on cluster (2008 years later).

External links

References

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