It’s odd. I’m not really a fan by nature. I liked Star Trek, enjoyed Star Wars, but I’ve never really gone overboard. I’m mostly a take it or leave it kind of guy. I go through life appreciating things, but I generally don’t obsess.
Well, maybe two exceptions. LEXX and Doctor Who. I step up for those. I like the Doctor because he’s good. I like the LEXX because they’re bizarre. Of the two, I think it was LEXX I went overboard for. Almost to the point of obsession. I wrote the book – the LEXX Unauthorized series. Along the way, I wrote fanfics, submitted spec scripts, watched, wrote and researched obsessively, I even edited together my own versions of LEXX episodes.
I make no apologies, LEXX was endlessly fascinating and anarchic, behind the scenes and on screen. There was an energy, a creativity, a sheer imagination and bravado to the show that still amazes me decades later. It wasn’t perfect, there’s a weird stunted sexuality, they suffered from too much ambition and too little money, and sometimes it went off the rails. But it’s best, it was brilliant. And more than brilliant, it was subversive and surreal.
I’m glad to have had had the access and the contacts that allowed me to research and write, LEXX Unauthorized.
Honestly – this post is just shameless self promotion. I’m trying to get you to by the last book – hell, buy all of them.
But as I write this, I realize I’m coming to the end of my journey with LEXX. When the last book is out, I’ll be done. This project, this work, that has consumed such a slice of my life will be finished. I’ll move on.
I suppose it makes me a bit reflective. In the next few weeks, as the book releases, I’ll post a few more times…. Officially to plug the book. But also, to revisit it. To talk about not just the book, but the Spec scripts, the fan fics, the homemade episodes, the experience.
So let’s talk about LEXX – The Clone Wars. Take the Link, or just go to my Free Stuff section on the Website.
The title gives it away, doesn’t it. Clones – oh my, the LEXX crew will be meeting evil duplicates of themselves, or maybe good duplicates, or maybe just competent ones. Maybe I needed a more ambiguous title.
This is my second LEXX script, or maybe it was my first, I can’t recall. The obvious inspiration is Invasion of the Body Snatchers, people being menaced by evil duplicates of themselves out to replace the originals. Sorry to say, that wasn’t in my mind at all.
The original idea that I had was a lot more mercenary. It was along the lines of “They constantly have budget issues, and don’t have a lot of money, so why not pitch a ‘ship in a bottle’ show – one that takes place entirely on ship, on existing sets, with no new, or minimal new cast. That will be super cheap and easy to do, and they like that kind of thing!”
So that was the idea – existing sets, no cast, how to make that fun? How about the LEXX crew ends up encountering duplicates of themselves, but duplicates that magnify or distort their personalities.
I’m not sure if what I wrote really turned out like that. At the time, I assumed that with CGI compositing, they could just insert multiple Stan’s and Xev’s into a shot. On reflection, I think that might have been a challenge for the Post-Production department. tI might have posed a challenge to the actors themselves, since they were going to have to play each scene several times, interacting each time with versions of themselves who weren’t there – that would be havoc for sight lines, timing etc., although I suppose they could have just had a grip or something stand in the right places and recite the lines to bounce off of. And let’s face it, I wrote a bunch of heavy duty action scenes for Xev, and for the Zombie Kais, including action scenes with the Moth, and that was probably going to be a challenge as well.
So it might not have been as cheap or easy to do as I intended. So what. LEXX is notorious for terrific cost-savings experiments which turn out to be complicated and expensive. The Game, anyone. Unlike Paul Donovan, I had the advantage of not having a clue. ?
Looking back, I’m very proud of it. This is a good, sparky, kinetic script, which runs the gamut from thriller, to horror, to action to comedy. Who says you can’t do them all. I think it hangs together, moves along nicely, and has some real moments. I love the whole opening sequence, as we’re shown two people who have been friends and allies the whole show, suddenly murdering each other, that’s subversion right there. You’ve got to watch to see what comes next. And then after that, one strangeness after the other – the Zombie Kai, the multiple Xev’s, Stan meeting a version of himself who seems to have a better idea of what’s going on…
There are a lot of quotes in it. That scene where Xev tries to dispose of Stan’s body down the toilet, and it turns out he’s not yet dead, that’s from Blood Simple, an early Coen Brothers movie. There’s a scene borrowed and parodied from John Carpenter’s, The Thing. There’s even a quick reference to an old Walter Hill Movie – The Warriors (‘come out to playyyeee!’). And Star Trek (shoot the other guy, Spock!). Even Island of Doctor Moreau. Stuff like that is just fun to do.
The script is Xenia Seeberg’s. I’ve always felt she was often given short shrift, and I wanted to write something that foregrounded her. Her character(s) get an immense amount of range – sex kitten, cold blooded noir murderer, a detective as she tracks down what’s happened to Stan, genuine sadness, action heroine stuff, and humour and flirting with Kai, and compassion and humanity. I even gave her a temporary brace of her own. Basically, I wanted to write a script in which she really got to do a lot, and got to show off her chops.
As for Brian Downey, well, he can do malevolence so well, so I wanted a little bit of that in there. And he has such a gift for comedy, such a way to deliver lines. So I just stuck his character in a group of duplicates and the scenes wrote themselves. The Stanleys are hilariously ineffectual, but there’s an innate decency to them that slowly overwhelms their murderousness, and there’s a hint that Stanley is cleverer than we think he is.
Jeff Hirschfield and 790, I just wrote doggerel poetry, which was what 790 is really known for, when he’s not doing exposition. There’s not a lot you can do with 790, and too much exposition would undermine the story. But I like to think I gave him some good lines. And for that matter, I think I gave Tom Gallant as LEXX more and better lines than usual.
As for McManus? I thought he seemed to like doing different things with Kai, stretching the dead man in some way. I figured he’d get a kick out of playing a decomposing zombie version of his character. That might have been a mistake – that would call for longer and longer periods in the make up chair, which he might not appreciate. But then again, past a certain point (an early point) it can be anyone under the Zombie prosthetics, so if he got bored, then he could just have Val McDow do the zombie part. Kai’s part is the smallest in the script. But that’s the challenge with Kai, on the one hand, he’s an unstoppable superman, so the minute he shows up, the problem is solved. And on the other hand, he has no motivation. He’s a tough character to write. I stuck Kai in action scenes, I had the impression that Michael likes action scenes.
So overall, I thought I had something that cast members would actually enjoy doing, which I thought might be a selling point. I don’t know though, I suspect by the time an actor gets the chance to have an opinion, the decision’s already been made. Still, I wanted them to like it, and I think I wrote to their strengths and their characters strengths.
But what the heck, I just enjoyed doing them. Looking back, I think it reads as a love letter to the show. And honestly, the best reason to do anything is because you love it.