Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lexx – review

Director: various

First aired: 1997*

Contains spoilers

*IMDb suggests that the first episode may have been released on home video in 1996, in Germany.

Lexx started out life as a 4 part mini-series. Set in a universe called the Light Universe. The universe is ruled by a tyrannical despot known as His Divine Shadow (Walter Borden) who passes his essence from host to host. Starting 2000 years before the main events of the series the viewer was shown Kai (Michael McManus), the last Brunnen-G warrior, dying as he attacked His Divine Shadow and thus seeming to break the prophecy that he would destroy His Divine Shadow. Cutting forward we see a world where heretics are trying to steal an organic ship, the Lexx (voiced by Tom Gallant), the most destructive force in the two universes (the other universe being the Dark Zone).

Xenia Seeberg as Xev
Into this was drawn Stanley H Tweedle (Brian Downey) a former heretic and now lowly security guard on the Cluster (the seat of His Divine Shadow) and Xev (Eva Habermann, in the mini-series), a wife punished for not performing her wifely duties by being transformed into a love slave but without the neural programming and with, accidentally, cluster lizard DNA. Kai is now a Divine Assassin – his dead body decarbonised and run on proto-blood, with no memories of his life. He gets his memories back and along with 790 (Jeffrey Hirschfield), a robot head with the love slave programming intended for Xev and thus obsessively in love with her, we have the primary cast/crew.

historical evidence
The second series was a space opera and had fairly standalone episodes with an over-riding story arc and Xenia Seeberg took over the role of Xev early in that series. The third series takes place in the Dark Zone entirely on two interlinked planets, Fire and Water, some 4000 years after the second series. The final series sees most of the action on Earth – in a broadcast contemporary setting. It is two episodes in season 4 that we are interested in. Namely, Walpurgis Night and Vlad. In the first of the two Kai has shown an interest – due to pictures he has seen of a mysterious figure and the recurrence of the symbol of the Divine Order in Earth art – in going to Transylvania.

Keith-Lee Castle as Renfield
What we get is an ode to classic horror movies especially those by Hammer. Xev, Kai and Stan encounter bats, a tavern with a creepy barman who is actually Joseph (Peter Guinness), last of the Van Helsings, and a trio of Goth girls. It is Walpurgis Night and the owner of the castle, Count Dracul (John Standing), always holds a feast for visitors. His servant Renfield (Keith-Lee Castle, Urban Gothic: Vampirology, Vampire Diary & Young Dracula) takes the Goth girls and the crew there – though Kai quickly slopes off on his own.

Vlad, aged
The episode ends up revealing that Count Dracul is an actor and insinuates that Renfield is the power behind the throne. In actual fact the three Goth girls are servants of the true “vampire”, Vlad (Minna Aaltonen) – which is the name of the second episode. The source of earthly vampire legends, she is kept functioning through the use of a cryo-pod, located at the heart of the castle. When we first see her she is old (played by Anna Cameron) but the girls have stolen Kai’s supply of proto-blood (the substance that animates Kai) and she quickly becomes young again.

Vlad showing fangs
It transpires that she is a Divine Executioner – a being created to destroy Divine Assassins gone rogue. She does have fangs and uses these to bite the living – this is not for the purpose of sucking blood but to inject them with an enzyme that makes them her slaves. She can fly, using a technology within her uniform, has an extending tongue (for no adequately explored reason) and has a tentacle appendage that she can use to suck proto-blood out of Divine Assassins. These are the primary two episodes she appears in, but she does appear a few more times in minor roles/visions.

zompire divine predecessor
I do want to mention one other episode, however. In the Season 2 episode Twilight we get a planet that was a necropolis for the hosts of His Divine Shadow once his essence had moved on. The Divine Predecessors’ brains were kept as advisors on the cluster (and then moved onto the Lexx) but the bodies were taken here. They are animated and rather zombie like – seeking to attack, bite and (I assume) eat the living. However there is a zompires element to this as they appear to be dormant through the day, have fangs and a bitten Xev seems to become one of them.

Vlad's tongue
I really like Lexx, it was one of the most imaginative series I think that has aired. The production values were low but that added a kind of a charm in the same way as original Dr Who’s (even) low(er) production values added a charm. The two principal vampire episodes were great fun – Keith-Lee Castle was a blast in the first one, as he always is. The primary cast were strong – as they always were – and the episodes are definitely worth tracking down. It is a shame that the region 1 DVD release has not been remastered in any way, leaving a fuzzy feel to things. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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