Richard Thomas, BoA UK
Binnall of America
02 ноября 2009
Most of our readers have probably never heard of this very strange Canadian-German and later UK co-production, which is a shame, because Lexx has to be easily the most unique sci-fi series to hit our screens since the original (and best) Star Trek made its debut back in 1966. Not content to do yet another Gene Roddenberry rip-off series and bored by the endless (and often archaic) moralising of The Next Generation and Voyager, the Lexx writers (known as the Supreme Beans) created something totally different and very, very weird.
With its characteristically dark sets and black humour, and operating from the perspective "humans are a flawed species," Lexx was a revolutionary series. Its characters weren't on any spiritual quest to "better themselves" or "save the day," rather, they were motivated by the mundane things that motivate 99.9% of the human race: boredom, lust and hunger. Throw in "the Lexx," a Manhattan sized bioengineered insect craft and "the most powerful destructive force in the two universes" and you had something just as fun as the original Trek but just about as different as you can get too. I guess that's why Lexxicons lovingly still call it "Star Trek's evil twin."
Recently, I managed to track down one of the big three head writers on the series, Lex Gigeroff, the man that "the Lexx" was named after, and I was overjoyed when he quickly agreed to answer a few questions for a UK fan.
Richard Thomas: First things first, thank you so much for giving the BoA readers the time to answer these questions. I'm a huge fan of Lexx and I'm sure that, after reading this, many of our readers will want to check it out too.
How did you originally become a writer on Lexx and what were you doing before you started writing for the series?
Lex Gigeroff: I had known Paul Donovan for a few years before Lexx, and he approached me about writing for the series after seeing a play I had written/performed in. Paul decided to go with a couple of virtually unknown writers (Jeff Hirschfeld & myself), because there was something in our approach that appealed to Paul's odd sense of humour.
Richard Thomas: In the DVD extras on the TV movie releases I heard you and the other writers say that Ridley Scott's Alien and John Carpenter's Dark Star were big influences. The longer story arcs and extensive CGI (not to mention the chief villain's name "His Shadow" ) might suggest Babylon 5 was at least a little influential too. Also Red Dwarf stars Craig Charles and Hattie Hayridge appeared in season four so I don't know if that series was a influence or not.
What were some of your other influences and are there any sci-fi shows you just hated and wanted to get away from? If so, why and what were you trying to do different with Lexx?
Lex Gigeroff: Dark Star and Alien were somewhat influential -- Dark Star for its anarchy, Alien for its production design. But I can categorically state that Babylon 5 had no influence whatsoever as we never watched it, and to this day I've never seen an episode. I liked Red Dwarf, but can't really say it was an influence. Monty Python had as much of a background influence as anything.
We wanted to get away from the heavy, preachy, moralizing sci-fi of shows like Star Trek: TNG, which in my view took all the joie de vivre out of the original series.
I've always been a big sci-fi fan - but I think my influences tend to come more from writers like Philip K. Dick and the dystopian novels of J.G. Ballard, rather than the Heinlein-Clarke axis.
Richard Thomas: Lexx is often called Star Trek's evil twin. I can see why some fans might consider Lexx anti-Trek but personally I think in some ways Lexx is actually a lot closer to the 1960s series than any of Trek spin-offs are. I've heard Lexx creator Paul Donovan talk about being a fan of the original Star Trek so what are your thoughts on this? Were you trying to be a little like the original Star Trek or were you trying to be something completely different?
Also, are you a fan of the original series yourself and, if so, what are some of your favourite episodes?
Lex Gigeroff: There was a sense of fun in the original series, and I think we wanted to try and create three characters as distinctive as Kirk-Spock-McCoy with Kai-Stan-Xev (plus a robot head). I watched the show quite a bit when I was younger, and enjoyed some of its campier moments, i.e. The Squire of Gothos. I also liked the one with the weird head in the sky that turned out to be Clint Howard.
Richard Thomas: Back to Lexx. Given that the show and the ship were both named after you, did you have much input on developing the early mythology of the series, i.e. the Insect Wars, the two universes, cyclic time, proto blood, the Divine Order and, of course, love slaves?
Lex Gigeroff: I had a lot of input conceptually from the ground up, as the three of us really developed the concept and bible following Paul's general brushstrokes. A lot of the 'back story' went in as a result of our collaboration with Showtime in the beginning, who seemed to want a lot of stuff about 'prophecies', etc. We were a little reluctant about going this route, as we feared it would lead down the rabbit hole of pretentiousness that we were trying to get away from.
I think looking back on it now the thing I'm proudest of is that Lexx wasn't really like anything else on television. Most shows are just rip-offs of other shows, but I think there was something different about what we were doing that made it hard to come up with a good comparison with others shows -- not that it isn't comparable in some aspects to other shows, it's just that we weren't following anyone else's model. So it was, I think, a little unique in that respect.
Richard Thomas: One of the things I love most about Lexx is that all four seasons look very different and distinct from each other, each introducing their own new chief villains: His Divine Shadow, Mantrid, Prince, Vlad, oh and Lyekka and her sisters. Where did the ideas for these head villains come from and do you have a personal favourite?
Lex Gigeroff: Who knows where ideas come from? I liked all our villains, but if I had to pick one I'd go with Mantrid, because there was something just otherworldly strange about Dieter Laser's performance.
Richard Thomas: Mantrid has to be my personal favourite too, the fact that there's so little left of him when we first meet him reminded me a little of my favourite Doctor Who villain, the crippled mad scientist and Dalek creator Davros.
After being the main villain for season two Mantrid (complete with arms and legs this time) returned for one episode in season three, suffering for his many crimes on the Lexx equivalent of Hell the planet Fire. Were there ever any plans to bring back the character again for season four?
Lex Gigeroff: I think we thought about bringing Dieter Laser back, but it wouldn't have been Mantrid exactly. As we liked to say, "death is never final", which was our excuse for bringing back actors we liked.
Richard Thomas: Lets take a step back a bit. I think out of the four two-hour TV movies the first one I Worship His Shadow is probably my favourite, I loved the holographic show trials and ridiculously severe penalties. What was your favourite of the TV movies and why?
Lex Gigeroff: Hmmm... I guess Eating Pattern for me, because it wasn't quite as burdened with having to deliver back story and setup. Plus I got to hang around as Rutger Hauer's sidekick. But I liked all four.
Richard Thomas: You actually made an appearance in I Worship His Shadow, playing the part of His Shadow's new host body. You appeared in a lot of other episodes too, the crazy surgeon in Tunnels and the sleazy porn director in Fluff Daddy were two of my favourites. What character did you enjoy playing the most in the series?
Lex Gigeroff: I was very happy to play the parts I did. I had the most fun with Dr. Rainbow in Tunnels, but I think my best performance, such as it was, came as the Bound Man in I Worship His Shadow.
Richard Thomas: Probably the most unique episode of Lexx has to be Brigadoom. I have to say I was really sceptical about the idea of a musical episode but it's become easily one of my favourites. Come to think of it there's an awful lot of singing in Lexx, the first episode even starts with the Brunnen-G battle song.
Where did the idea to have so much singing in the series come from and what did you think of it? Also, do you have a personal favourite Lexx song?
Lex Gigeroff: We knew from very early on that we wanted to do a musical, but we had to come up with a good angle on it, which in the end I think we did. I don't really have a favourite song. I sometimes sing Bog is the king of Pattern in the shower.
Richard Thomas: Season three's Battle and season four's The Game are another two of my favourites, I really enjoyed the competition between Kai and Prince in those episodes.
I could go on all day about the different episodes but other than the ones we've already discussed what do you think were some of the best episodes of Lexx?
Lex Gigeroff: I also really liked The Game, 769, Prime Ridge, Stan Down to name a couple. Twilight and Apocalexx Now have their moments as well.
Richard Thomas: A Midsummer's Nightmare is probably my least favourite episode, though, it's pretty funny. Are there any episodes you just dislike or wish you'd done differently in hindsight?
Lex Gigeroff: Sure. Lots of things could have been better if we'd had more time. But I don't have any regrets. Some episodes didn't work all that well, like the one you mentioned and, say, Patches in the Sky.
Richard Thomas: I think I'm right in saying Lexx ended the way you and the other writers always intended, the Lexx blowing up the Earth after four seasons, but not long after the final episode Yo Way Yo went out I remember hearing a rumour that a spin off series about Prince, Priest and Bunny was being planned. Was there any truth to this rumour at all or is this the first you've heard of it?
Lex Gigeroff: There was never any serious talk of a spin-off.
Richard Thomas: If Lexx ever did return for a fifth season or maybe even just a new TV movie, what do you think the story would be about? Would it still be set in the Dark Zone or would the Lexx crew find its way into the mysterious Other Zone? Would Kai be alive or dead? Would 790 fall in love with Stan? Would the bad carrots be back?
Lex Gigeroff: We could have gone back into the Insect Wars, I suppose. But on the whole we were satisfied with the way it ended. I'll leave it to Fan Fics to think up alternate story lines.
Richard Thomas: It's been nearly eight years now since the series ended, personally, I think Lexx has been a little underrated.
When you look at the increase in sex and violence in shows like Battlestar Galactica and Torchwood do you think Lexx might have had something to do with it, or, were you guys just a little ahead of your time?
Lex Gigeroff: I don't think we had much influence, if any. I'll leave it up to others to suss out if we were ahead of our time or not.
Richard Thomas: Thanks again Lex, are you working on anything now and/or do you have any websites or anything else you'd like to plug?
Lex Gigeroff: My pleasure, Richard. It's always great to hear that folks enjoyed our strange little show.
I've always got a couple of projects on the hop, and I'm trying to promote my new play, Conrad & Barbara - about Lord Conrad Black and his consort. I've also had a sports-comedy blog for some years which can be found at: www.theobgcommunique.blog.ca
Richard Thomas, BoA UK Correspondent and Columnist.
© LEXX - LIGHT ZONE июль 2011 HELEN & Trulyalyana