Hi everyone. So, since the beginning of this year I’ve been binge-watching some TV, watching the 4th season of Black Mirror – which was very good – and watching some Netflix documentaries on weightlifting (as any regular followers of my blog know, powerlifting is a hobby of mine).
But what I’m particularly enjoying at the moment is watching old episodes of Lexx on Amazon Prime.
A little bit of background: Lexx was a science fiction show that was a Canadian/German co-production that ran between 1996 and 2002 and used to have a late night spot here on Channel 5 in the UK… this was back when I was really struggling with bipolar disorder and alcoholism… and though I distinctly remember discounting it as bat-shit weird (later commenting to a friend that upon watching it I “wanted to kick my TV screen in”), I became oddly hooked after seeing only a couple of episodes and would in fact later seek out episodes that I’d missed on DVD in order to better make sense of the narrative and the overall mythology of the show.
As for the narrative… oh man… describing it to someone who’s never seen the show is almost painful, but here goes: it’s all about a misfit crew of individuals (a cowardly low-class security worker, an undead assassin, a nymphomaniac lizard/human hybrid and a disembodied robot head) who commandeer a Manhattan-sized living spaceship called “The Lexx” which looks like a gigantic steampunk dragonfly in order to escape the oppression of their own universe (the Light Universe) by travelling into a fractal core that gives them access to a parallel universe, which – appropriately enough – is called “the Dark Zone”.
Each week our “heroes” (and, believe me, such a word is hard to use to appropriately describe our protagonists in this case… as I’ll explain later) would get into some sort of scrape visiting a planet in the Dark Zone for whatever reason… usually ending with the Lexx blowing up said planet… and that was pretty much the formula of each episode (at least until season 3).
Here’s a season 1 trailer from YouTube:
So why did it leave such a profound impression upon me?
…Well, because it was completely and utterly unlike any TV show I’d ever seen up to that point.
People make comparisons to Farscape, but if I am truthful I never really watched that show… I think I only ever caught one or two episodes of it, but from what I saw I can tell you that Lexx is a different beast entirely… one that wears its influences on its sleeve (like, for example, the aesthetic of H.R. Giger and the humour of British sci-fi comedy show Red Dwarf) but which is nonetheless completely unique and, it has to be said, really quite adult in comparison to many other sci-fi shows of its time – put it this way: given the violence and servings of occasional female nudity, it had its late night TV spot for good reason.
But, watching it now, do you know what really blows me away about the show? THAT Marty Simon soundtrack – giving the show arguably one of the most striking sci-fi themes ever.
I mean, you listen to it and you have to go: “What the fuck is that?!??”.
Another thing that’s quite refreshing about Lexx – and quite amusing – is its contempt for alpha males… you see, heroic Captain Kirk types don’t survive for very long at all in the Lexx universe(s). In fact, they usually get cut down quite abruptly. Case in point: the Barry Bostwick character in the very first episode.
The only character amongst the Lexx crew who might conceivably fit the alpha male mould is the assassin-come-renegade Kai (who is essentially a zombified killing machine who had his emotions surgically removed from his brain), but aside from possessing the remnants of a sense of a justice he doesn’t really possess any altruistic drive whatsoever and is much more likely to apathetically say something like “I am not motivated to do that” in response to any given situation that calls for heroism than to want to get involved at all; it’s instead usually only as a result of coaxing from others that he takes any action in any conflict.
Instead, as the episodes progressed, what began to happen is that I started to in fact identify with the Stanley Tweedle character… someone who, on the face of it, is a deeply unlikable character – a lust-driven, treacherous coward.
Why? Because for me he’s arguably the only sane character… and, as I got further into the show, I would think “Yeah, he’s right: leave the ‘hero business’ to other people”. But what’s so great about the character, looking at it now, is Brian Downey’s wonderful performance… here’s a character that you could absolutely end up hating with a passion, but Downey gives him real humanity and as the story unfolds there is a redemption of sorts, because you see that he isn’t really such a bad guy – just someone who’s had to make some impossible choices in order to survive a nightmare existence.
Anyway, aside from some minor quibbles… such as the low budget of the show being quite telling in some episodes (e.g. some dodgy matte paintings and some now very dated looking CGI), it still holds up rather well; it’s just a shame that Amazon is only showing the first three seasons – the completist in me is quite disappointed by this.
On a personal note, I have such fond memories of this show because it offered a bit of welcome escapism from what was a nightmare existence of my own at that time… so it’s an interesting experience to watch this show decades later, being now both sober and healthy.
Okay, well that’s my slice of nostalgia for the day.
Thanks for reading.
Peace and love,