Monday Media Blogging – Sci-Fi Edition

1 comment May 26th, 2008at 03:36pm Posted by Eli

Okay, I know Battlestar Galactica and Heroes and Lost, and maybe even Dr. Who & Torchwood (if they’re not, they should be) are all the rage these days, but I wanted to call attention to some science-fiction series which I really enjoyed back in the day which were maybe not so well-known.  Well, not well-known outside the geek community, anyway.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=PAlq8ykyE3I

Yo way yo, home va rey…

The first half of the intro is the anthem/theme song/battlecry of the Brunnen-G, a race that was wiped out by the evil empire.  Said empire also turned Kai, the last surviving Brunnen-G (that dark-haired goth-looking guy) into an undead indestructible assassin, and stole their insect-based technology to create the giant superpowerful bug-ship called The Lexx.

In addition to Kai and The Lexx, the cast includes Zev/Xev, who was partially programmed as a pleasure slave and now lusts after everyone except… Stanley Tweedle, a cowardly loser mechanic, and 790, a robot head who accidentally got some of the same pleasure slave treatment as Zev/Xev and is now obsessively devoted to her.  They stole The Lexx from the evil empire, and travel around having Bizarre Adventures.

The first four installments were movie-length, under the name Tales From A Parallel Universe, and featured special guest stars such as Barry Bostwick(!), Tim Curry, Rutger Hauer, and Malcolm MacDowell.  After that, the show was renamed Lexx, Zev became Xev (actress change), and it went to an hour-long format with no special guest stars.  After a couple of good seasons, the series bogged down interminably on a pair of planets called Fire and Water whose novelty wore off after about five minutes, but eventually rallied sometime after I gave up on it.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=r5wQUcLV7j0

Alas, all of the best videos had embedding disabled – I recommend starting with They’re Dead, Dave for background.

Red Dwarf was structurally similar to Lexx (small group of misfits roaming the galaxy in an enormous/buglike talking ship having Bizarre Adventures), but much more of a pure comedy – in fact, it was one of the funniest shows ever, in any genre.

The basic premise was that the entire crew of the giant ship Red Dwarf died from a radiation leak, except for easygoing charismatic slob Lister, who was in stasis as punishment for hiding a cat on board.  However, his priggish roommate Rimmer, who caused the radiation leak, is still around as a hologram.

Also, because the ship’s computer (Holly, a character in his own right) kept Lister in stasis for millenia until the radiation subsided, it turns out that the descendants of Lister’s pregnant cat (safe in the shielded cargo hold) evolved into almost-human (and extremely vain and lazy) sentient beings, the last of whom, Cat, joins the crew.  What happened to the other cat-people is a bit vague, although they apparently managed to escape somehow.  They pick up a fussy, timid servant robot named Kryten somewhere along the way as well.  Fun times.

The Bablyon project was our last best hope for peace.  It failed.

Babylon 5 was probably the most truly epic TV series I have ever seen, with a five-year story arc putting the giant Babylon 5 space station at the center of the galaxy’s struggle against The Shadows, an ancient, evil race that has recently reawakened.  Lots of aliens, political maneuverings, and pretty decent CGI space battles.

There’s much more to it than that, of course, but I don’t want to give too much away.  Also, an eclectic cast that includes Bruce Boxleitner (Tron!), Claudia Christian (Hexed, The Hidden), Mira Furlan (Rousseau from Lost), Stephen Furst (Animal House), and Jeff Conaway (Taxi), with occasional guest appearances from Walter Koenig (Chekhov you know who Walter Koenig is) as a creepy psychic bad guy.

I recommend all three series in the strongest possible terms, so if they ever show up on TV again, or if you have a chance to buy or borrow them, be sure to check them out.  There’s a lot of clips out there on YouTube if you want to get a feel for the shows first.

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

1 Comment

  • 1. Cujo359  |  May 27th, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    All of them are out on DVD. In fact, I think that Lexx and B5 are starting to appear in DVD9 (IOW, BlueRay). I was never a fan of Lexx (although it certainly had its moments), but Red Dwarf‘s offbeat humor and Babylon 5‘s great writing and characters make them classics.

    Unlike most epic series, Babylon 5 was planned out from the start, and with minor adjustments its story was seen through to the end. B5 is a series best enjoyed in the order it was originally presented. And skip all the movies except for The Gathering and In The Beginning.

    And Bester, Koenig’s character, is one of the most memorable bad guys ever. It was a terrific series, and well worth taking the time to watch.


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