The main cast and directors of LEXX: THE DARK ZONE STORIES, Front, L to R: Michael McManus (Kai), Eva Haberman (Zev), Brian Downey (Stan). Back L to R: Creator/director Paul Donovan, directors Rainer Matsutani (Eating Pattern), Ron Oliver (Super Nova), and Robert Sigl (Giga Shadow)
        Picking up much of her misplaced sex slave instincts is 790, voiced by writer Jeffrey Hirschfield, a robot head who lost his body during Zev's transformation, but gained a lust for his comely crew member.
        Bringing muscle to the ship is Kai (Micheal McManus) a 2,000-year-old dead man, the last of a race called Brunnen G, who is killed by His Shadow in an opening flashback. Now employed as a hitman for his killer, the grim-faced Kai murders just about everyone he sees until he comes to his senses, and joins up with the fugitives on the journey through a fractal core to THE DARK ZONE.
        "Who's the hero? There ain't one," Said Downey, who plays Stan. "Kai is the perfect guy, but he's dead. And Zev is the perfect girl, but she's got a bit of Cluster Lizard in her. So I guess you could say my character is the one the audience identifies with--by default."
        In the four, two-hour movies, the LEXX crew must do battle with evil, poetry spouting holograms, a man-eating cannibal, and drug-addicted dwellers on a planet of garbage. And in the final story, the plot comes full circle, as LEXX returns through the fractal core to confront His Shadow and a mammoth planet-sized insect with plans of its own.
        Stories #1 and #4 will contain the brunt of the computer-generated effects. Two and three--in which the LEXX visits planets in The Dark Zone--are low-budgeted affairs with fewer characters, and little in the way of space battles. "It's kinda weird how the series works because the two middle episodes are only marginally related to the other two episodes," said Gigeroff. "I look at the middle episodes as sort of the models for how the series will work--they go to a planet, and shit happens."
        Donovan noted several movies inspired LEXX, though John Carpenter's 1974 losers-in-space tale DARK STAR in the most obvious. "It [Dark Star] definitely was an inspiration," said Donovan. "Like that movie, the central characters don't have the morals of STAR TREK, but they have this powerful weapon so they can wreak havoc in the universe."
        As well, LEXX hopes to tap into DARK STAR's sense of the absurd, with humor ingrained into the situations, and few scripted jokes. "We don't have a lot of jokes per se, but we're not afraid at looking a little silly," said Gigeroff. "I mean--there are some absurd characters here. I'm sure a lot of viewers used to STAR TREK might be put off by how silly it is. But we have to look a little silly to get away with the level of sex and violence we have here. We can't be too serious because we've got brains being eaten, cluster lizards ripping apart teenagers, worms coming out of necks, and limbs being fed into meat grinders and eaten."
        None of which would have been possible had the computer technology not come of age in the early 1990s. Four years ago, Donovan initiated the project, producing a three minute test reel featuring Downey and CG effects provided by a couple of Tornto animation experts.
        The demo was an attempt to show investors what could be done on computers in Halifax on a small budget," said Donovan. "Frankly, that demo looks rather crude now compared to what is being done for LEXX."
        "From the time I did that three minute tape, I knew this was going to go," said Downey. "It was just so ambitious and unusual, I knew it was going fly. And hell yes, I'm ready for this to go to series!"
        Shopping that test reel around the world for several years, Donovan raised interest and cash from a variety of international sources. Hitting the ground running in the summer of 1995, Donovan hired co-writers Jeffrey Hirschfield and Lex Gigeroff, whose backgrounds were more in fringe theater than TV. "We're trying to bring in people with fresh ideas on every level," said Donovan. "There are a lot of TV writers out there, but not necessarily what we needed."

His Shadow, carrying out a plan to eliminate any dissenters--they'll either become fuel for the LEXX, or part of the giant fireball that used to be their home planet!
        In truth, LEXX isn't so much anti-STAR TREK, as strongly opposed to all the pitfalls of previous science fiction series. If it's been done before, LEXX doesn't want to do it again. The moralistic and utopian view of much of TV science fiction will have no place in LEXX. And the writers are relishing the chance to serve up great dollops of sex and violence.
        After all, The character of Zev is a sexual predator of sorts, and sports an eye-popping minidress and an insatiable appetite for men. LEXX also features two leather clad rapist/pirates, scantily-clad alien men and women and a small dose of nudity. "I'll admit it. I want teenage boys to pull off to Zev's poster," said Gigeroff.
        "Basically, I think we have far too much puritanical notions about sex. Sex is fun, sex is good, and I hope we can get a lot of it into the show. We wanted Zev to screw her way across the universe, but we haven't done it yet. Some people in the [Halifax] film community are just appalled at what we're doing, like its some sexist, male fantasy. God, you can't even show a woman as a sex object without someone thinking its bad."
        Violence will be presented in LEXX on a regular basis, though with a certain amount of dark humor. People die, limbs are hacked off, heads are cut in half, worms erupt from necks, and brains are consumed. And in a scene sure to weed out the weaker TV viewers, an army of bright-eyed, over-achieving teenagers are accidentally eaten by ravenous space monsters known as Cluster Lizards. "Actually," said Donovan, "of all the things in the first episode, I think people will be quite happy with the teenagers being eaten."
        Another departure from recent TV sci-fi will be LEXX's refreshing lack of interest in science. There are a few nods to some scientific concepts, but not enough to slow down the action. "A friend heard what I was working on and said, 'For God's sake, get the science right,'" said Mark Laing, art director on stories #2 and #3. "I told the writers that, and they told me to tell my friend to get a life. This isn't about science. It's satirical and fun, and much of it is impressionistic."
        "We only wanted enough science to get us through the stories," said writer Jeff Hirschfield. "The LEXX has a particle accelerator, and that's all you need to know. We don't want to bother with dilithium crystals. The LEXX gets its fuel from eating. Simple enough."
        The living LEXX ship is the center piece of the show's organic look. Besides LEXX, there are several, singe-man dragonfly fighters who fire from their tales, moth shuttles, and spider-like space craft who extend their legs to fire sheets of energy on the luckless planets below.
        The LEXX interior sets are a mass of veined walls and irregularly shaped, gooey pinkish rooms, with flesh held back by awkwardly inserted metal struts. The ship's galley is basically a ribbed stomach, with pre-chewed food pouring out of a protrusion in the wall.
        "I wouldn't say the show's insect-inspired as much as organic," said Donovan. "A lot of things in the show are biologically driven, which is partly a fascination of mine. We are a species who often denies our biology. Culture tries to transcend the realities of biology, but with only varying degrees of success."
        Thus, LEXX features the murderous society of The League of 20,000 Planets, who open the show by wiping out the Brunnen G, a race that has mastered the ability to grow insects into spaceships. Two thousand years later, the League is still attempting to understand and use this ancient technology. Their first experiment: LEXX.
        The insect element eventually took over the plots of story #1 and #2, climaxing with a battle between the LEXX and a survivor of the supposedly dead insect society. "The insect concept came fairly late," said producer Bill Fleming, who also heads the show's art department--an odd mix of industrial designers, architects, theatrical designers, and book illustrators from Canada and Germany. "The script did describe something like, 'they climb into the moth' But very early on we decided that rather than use the term 'moth' just as a name, why not make it a real moth--some kind of bio-engineered life form.
        Donovan admitted the idea of insects in space is not a new on. "It's not unique at all. But the sophistication of CG allows us to make far more complex models. A dragonfly in space is not new, but it's always difficult to do on a TV budget. Whatever people say about the show, they will say that, design-wise, it is fresh."
        Shooting the ambitious, eight-hour opus wasn't without its problems. Because the series was green-lighted barely three months before filming commenced, the scripts for several of the episodes were still in the writing stage when filming schedule began. Both episodes two and three underwent numerous changes during shooting in Halifax and Germany.
        "It was very hectic," said Ron Oliver, who helmed story #2, "Super Nova." "When I first got the script, it was all over the place, because the writers had hit a wall with it. The main characters were these buffoons. That probably works on paper, but the audience needed something to hold on to. So that had to be tidied up a bit by adding some motivation for these characters," he said. "Fortunately, the writers were very gracious about it. There were no egos on this project. There was a lot of money involved, but what they wanted to do was going to cost a lot more than that. SO there was a real sense of pitching in--sort of like a school project."
        So far, the show has struck a chord with international markets. More than 40 countries have purchased the series so far, based only on a few completed scenes and a short video set to Bonnie Raitt's version of "Burning Down The House." It's a good start on the road to becoming a series. Donovan noted that, if all goes well, filming of new episodes will begin before viewers will get their first look at LEXX on Showtime. The production has already commissioned scripts for the series and is gearing up for production even before the pilot films air.
        And just what can viewers expect in LEXX's future? "We'll go into the same direction we are now--great babes in skimpy costumes, likable main characters who are constantly getting in trouble, and planets that are weird and usually deserve to be blown up. And very often, they will be blown up."