Gort vs Lexx: We review the epic scifi smut TV series

Commander's log, Stardate 02042013.2:

Things on the Mothership got a bit tense this week when an enormous spaceship shaped vaguely like human genitalia showed up and threatened to blow us up. A pleasant, lilting voice filled our com channels advising, "I am the Lexx. I am the most destructive force in the two universes. I have been asked to blow up your ship unless you write an article about how unique and entertaining my TV series was. You have five minutes to agree."

"It's a TV show. We don't cover TV shows," Gort said.

"Maybe we could make an exception given our imminent deaths, yeah?" I replied, but Gort was not forthcoming. He had been almost impossible to live with since he began throwing himself into his work to get over his break up with Helen Cox.

The Lexx began a countdown of the last minute, which I used as cover to open the access panel in Gort's neck and switch the polarity on his stubbornness circuit. The colour of his visor changed and his electronic voice rang out with: "Of course we'll do a feature on you. In fact, let's do TV shows as well as movies from now on."

I could get used to this...

Nothing can prepare you for the sheer, unadulterated bizarrety of Lexx. The four seasons of this Canadian/German/British coproduction somehow managed to reach Dune-like levels of epic scifiness while being filled with smutty slapstick gags, from the dragonfly shape of the titular starship - essentially two big spheres and a long, straight bit - to having shower devices on board that were pendulous fleshy udders with sparse, thick hairs all over them, squirting water all over our naked heroine when she squeezes a fleshy sack beneath them... sorry, you'll have to give us a second...

It's not easy to sum up the complexity of the plot in such a short space, but basically, Lexx posits that time works in cycles and eventually the universe will reset and everything will happen over again. In each cycle, the warriors of the Brunnen-G lead humanity to victory in the war for survival against the brutal Insect Race.

After the war, a new leader rises to power, the immortal Divine Shadow. His Shadow consults the Tron-style Time Prophet, who is able to see into the previous cycle of time, and she predicts that His Shadow will be defeated by the Brunnen-G. To preserve his reign, His Shadow wipes the Brunen-G out, seemingly defeating the prophecy. However, he restores a heroic Brunnen-G warrior named Kai to life as a brainwashed, indestructible zombie assassin... you know, for kicks.

Thousands of years later, His Shadow has created a superweapon, the carnivorous, living spaceship Lexx, with the ability to destroy planets in a Death Star-like fashion. He plans to execute most of the universe's population to bring order to the galaxy.

Meanwhile, security guard class 4, Stanley Tweedle manages to annoy his supervisor enough to earn a death sentence. On the lamb, everyman Stan stumbles across Barry Bostwick from Rocky Horror, who is leading a revolt and accidentally gives Stan a stolen sparkly gold hand thing that makes him the Lexx' captain, the only one who can control the ship and foil His Shadow's plan. Along the way, they run into Zev Bellringer of B3K. Raised as a concubine, the overweight, ugly Zev was rejected by her betrothed at the alter as a "cow" not worth the money his parents paid for her. In return, she knocked him unconscious with a right hook. As such, she was sentenced to become a "love slave" for not performing her "wifely duties" (His Shadow- not big on girl power). Her body is cosmetically altered to the very image of female perfection - Eva Haberman - and her libido is turned up to 11, while her mind is to be programmed to fall in lusty love with the first person she sees. Fortunately for Zev, the process is interrupted before she is mind-wiped and she grabs the head of a decapitated android and sticks it in the machine to take on the brainwashing that was meant for her. Named 790, the robot head falls instantly in love with her and so helps her and Stan escape on the Lexx.

His Shadow sends zombie Kai after his ship, but Kai snaps out of it at the last second and joins the crew, who set off through a black hole into the Dark Universe, a lawless wasteland beyond His Shadow's influence, in search of a new home... and that's just the first episode...

Somehow, this mental combination of deep, hard SF and silly, sexy comedy works perfectly. The showrunners manage to make Zev both a sexy lady in a short skirt flashing her knickers and getting naked whenever possible, but also a feminist heroine. All of the show's men find Zev irresistably attractive for her looks, but the feisty, intelligent, kickass woman, while not averse to using her sexuality to get the crew out of trouble, controls her insatiable sex drive and restricts herself to the one man who falls for her personality instead of her looks - Kai. Unfortunately, he's undead, so can't actually... perform. 790 is a snarky sidekick, while Stan is only occasionally less than a cowardly moron. Kai may usually be the deus ex machina that saves the day, but it is Zev's resourcefulness and heart that drives the crew, making her the only one who's really capable.

These hapless losers stumble across various threats of oscillating quality and diverse origins along their travels and the show begins to lose its sparkle as it moves from the original four feature-length episodes - also featuring Tim Curry, Rutger Hauer and Malcolm McDowell, respectively - to a normal TV show format and swaps out Haberman for the equally attractive, but less sordid and, ultimately, less spirited, Xenia Seeburg. Still, the initial season is a work of genius and the later series are still among the most unique TV you'll see. The show may owe a lot to Red Dwarf, but you'll notice after watching Lexx that Anubis from SG-1 bears more than a passing resemblance to His Shadow and that there simply would never have been a Farscape without Lexx. If there's such as thing as essential TV, Lexx is it.