The third LEXX telemovie is not really as subversive as I Worship His Shadow, or as schlockily bonkers as Supernova, and the themes are rather obviously telegraphed even by LEXX standards (I get it, it’s about eating. Move on, OK?). Also, the CGI was more obvious than in the first two stories for some reason: possibly they were saving up money for the grand finale.
Nonetheless, it takes balls to develop a hybrid of Soylent Green, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Screamers, Reefer Madness and Mad Max and make it work as a story. Doreen Jacobi, as unlikely villain Wist, is stunningly beautiful, and Rutger Hauer is, well, Rutger Hauer, and clearly having a lot of fun. The interviews on the DVD extras were also weirdly hilarious.
Not really an awful lot more to say, so let’s move on.
Finally continuing the LEXX capsule reviews with the second Lexx telemovie, Super Nova. Still pretty good, but this one was lower on the subversive wit, higher on the body horror, and had a shower scene where Stan spies on Zev the love-slave (and gets found out) that I’m pretty sure wasn’t in the Canadian version that I first saw back in the nineties (research indicates it wasn’t, and that the team filmed some too-porny-for-Canada sequences with a view to putting them in video releases and European versions).
Without spoilers: this episode sees the crew trying to fix Kai’s longevity issue (having no fresh protoblood, he’s only got ten days to live) by travelling to his home planet of Brunnis. Since he’s also the Last of the Brunnen-G people, it’s inhabited only by The Poet Man (Tim Curry), a hologram who isn’t going to let a little thing like being dead stand in the way of having sex and reproducing. The story also introduces Giggerota, a strangely charismatic recurring baddie with cannibalistic tendencies. The story does some interesting things with the concept of prophecy and destiny; on the negative side, Giggerota, at this point, just feels like a gratuitous if entertaining Rabelasian side-plot, but her importance to the series does become clearer later on.
I have a DVD copy of this, and there was a fun interview on the extras with Lex Gigeroth and the team in which they explain the terribly-new and cutting-edge concept of CGI backgrounds. These have actually stood the test of time pretty well– a lot better than The Phantom Menace, which had more money thrown at it; I hadn’t realised quite how much of the backgrounds weren’t sets until seeing the behnind-the-scenes footage. Also the giant head surrounded by steampunk electrical pylons on Brunnis is astonishing.
For the last couple of years I’ve been re-watching the LEXX series, apart from Season Four (which isn’t on Amazon Prime for some reason) and microblogging about it on Facebook. And then I got asked by a friend if I could make the reviews generally available so he could read them while doing his own re-watch.
So, a new periodic blog feature: LEXX capsule reviews. I’m editing and expanding these from the original microblogs to fit the new format, obviously, but the reactions are more or less the same.
I Worship His Shadow is the first 90-minute (plus adverts) telemovie, which I initially watched on first broadcast on CityTV in Canada. Rewatching, it’s actually a lot better than I remember it being. My past impression had been that it was just a lot of gratuitous schlock, but watching it again there was a lot of wit and subversion of narrative tropes and expectations (it builds and builds towards a story about heroic naughty-but-likeable outlaws with the most powerful ship in the universe…. and abruptly tears that away), casual bisexuality, and surprising gender egalitarianism (I’d been worried about the premise of Zev’s character– an ugly, fat woman given a beautiful thin body and sentenced to life as a love slave– but it winds up being less about the fat-shaming and more about the insidiousness of patriarchy).
There was also a whole lot of really graphic body horror, and (mild spoiler) I’m amazed that they got away with a sequence of multiple child murder on network television.
My summary of LEXX as a whole is: “Blake’s 7, reimagined by Lars von Trier and Ken Russell.” I Worship His Shadow is pretty much that.
One summer, I arrived in Milan to discover that I’d travelled to Milan Malpensa Airport and my suitcase to Milan Linate Airport. The case could not be transported across town from the one to the other because it had not been checked out. As I had, however, passed through security, I could not go to Milan Linate and physically retrieve my bag. So close, and yet separated by an invisible, intangible barrier, no less powerful because it did not actually exist.
On the one hand: disaster! I was meant to attend a conference at STA Bocconi the next day, and had only a T-shirt and jeans to do it in. On the other: even on a budget, there is no better place to need to do emergency clothes shopping than the fashion capital of Italy, and therefore the world.
In the end, the airline returned it to my address in Oxford, via Moscow and Helsinki (according to the stickers on the bag). Since I had spent the week alternating between trying to get a job at a busy Academy conference, and trying to sleep in a residence room that overlooked a busy street, I think my suitcase had a better time than I did.
And the suit I panic-bought at a discount fashion emporium down the road from STA Bocconi is still hanging in my closet, emerging periodically for formal-dress occasions.
Just a quick note to wish all my readers a great 2021, or at least a better 2021 than 2020.
I had lots of great plans for new and continuing article series on this blog last year, most of which largely went by the wayside. The reason had less to do with Covid-19, and more to do with the fact that I’ve been working on the book version of Leadership Lessons from Game of Thrones, which has wound up occupying the space in my attention normally reserved for blogging. However, once it’s finished, I have a few more ideas for things to do here.
To celebrate the re-launch of Driving Ambition as an independent publication, I’m selling the ebook at $2.99/local equivalent for the month of November. Click the link for a tale of murder, labour relations and self-driving cars at an unbelievably low rate!
Print copies are also available; contact me via the form on the left-hand side of the page for details.