LEXX's bulbous eyes, capable of firing a planet-destryoing ribbon of energy.


The series' striking organic look, shown to good effect.


Paul Donovan's Living, Oozing, Exploding Universe.

By Ian Johnston               The setting may be a violent, gooey world of insect spaceships, drug-addicted cannibals and horny sex slaves, but the philosophy is down to earth. "I think humans are a flawed species, and out characters will reflect that," said Paul Donovan, the creator of LEXX: THE DARK ZONE STORIES, a new Canadian TV science fiction/dark comedy to premiere on Showtime in January.
        "STAR TREK tells us that honorable deeds and pure thoughts will make the world a better place. I find that hard to relate to and very boring. Whereas, I can identify with someone who runs when they're shot at. They just don't want to die. The have reluctant morality."
        Reluctant with good reason. Being honorable and pure in THE DARK ZONE can get you killed in a painful, bloody manner. And being dead in THE DARK ZONE is no walk in the park either. "It's survival of the fittest," said Donovan. "And although out characters will try, in their own bumpy way, to do the right thing, basically they're just in it for themselves. If a planet deserves to be blown up, its blown up."
        Several worlds do indeed blow up real good in the four, two-hour TV movies that currently make up LEXX: THE DARK ZONE STORIES. Budgeted at just under $15 million, LEXX was shot in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and at Berlin's legendary Babelsberg Studios last year, using a crew and cast of Canadians and Germans, as well as such well-knows actors as Rutger Hauer, Malcolm McDowell, Tim Curry, and Barry Boswick.

German actress Doreen Jacobi as Wist, a beatiful inhabitant of Kaagya--a planet made up entirely of garbage.
        But the most important component of LEXX is creator Donovan, a 42-year-old Halifax native whose previous work includes such darkly comic low-budged science fiction features as DEF CON 4, NORMANCICUS (aka NORMAN'S AWESOME EXPERIENCE) and TOMCAT. LEXX is easily his most ambitious project to date, employing a mammoth amount of computer-generated effects to bring its bizarre universe to life.
        "It's ambitious in what we are trying to pull off--yes," said Donovan. "The computer-generated imagery and the advances in it allowed us to pull it off on a TV budget. But even so, I think we're close to being the highest-budgeted show ever produced in Canada."
        The four TV movies--an "extended pilot"--follows the adventures of three fugitives who, through a series of accidents and ineptitude, find themselves at the controls of a tyrannical universe's most powerful spaceship--the LEXX. The Manhattan-sized craft is a living, breathing, insect that has been surgically altered, and feeds on organic material--usually unlucky prisoners.
        "When we were coming up with a name for the ship, we wanted something that worked in all languages, and didn't translate," said Donovan. The name LEXX is also something of an in-joke, as it is also a variation on the name of one of the show's writers--Lex Gigeroff.
        "Well it wasn't my idea, it was Paul's," said Gigeroff, a Darmouth, Nova Scotia writer whose previous writing experience has mostly cone in the theatre. "But it's all part of my plan to rename the world in my honor."
        In the opening story--"I Worship His Shadow"--the Lexx is the property of The League of 20,000 Planets, a tyrannical regime headed by His Shadow, a cloaked bad guy who would rather blow up a planet than negotiate a peace treaty. This destructive course includes sending enemies, law breakers, and anyone else to the protein bank, where their bodies are used to feed the still-under-construction LEXX. His Shadow's big plan is to pilot the ship on a planet-ravaging journey, putting down opposition once and for all.

Part insect, part spaceship and like nothing else; the 10km long LEXX. Showtime debuts producer/director Donovan's outre mini-series in January.
        Foiling his mission inadvertently is Stanley Tweedle (Brian Downey), a luckless Class Four Security Guard described by Donovan as "something of a cowardly lion." Stan discovers from rebels that he holds the key to commanding the LEXX. even if the doesn't really want to.
        "He has some heroic qualities, but it's always a surprise when he does something heroic," said Downey, who worked with Donovan on NORMANICUS and the filmmakers's 1989 ghost flick GEORGE'S ISLAND. "Stan hasn't been laid for seven years, so it kinda dominates his thinking."
        Joining Stan is Zev, played by German actress Eva Habermann, a formerly huge, ugly prisoner who was transformed into a beautiful sex slave by the dictatorial regime. Only problem is, the process wasn't completed. Zev may be beautiful, but she's still a tough, bitter woman who has no patience for the people who formerly shunned her. She's got sex slave characteristics in her, as well as a bit of Cluster Lizard, a murderous creature who stuck his nose into Zev's transformation at precisely the wrong time. "They're pretty lonely in this universe," said the 20-year-old Habermann. "Other than the main characters, everybody is strange or they're monsters." ...