Reviews selected from TV Zone #124

Reviews online this month
LEXX Season 3 Premiere (Pick of the Month) • Buffy Season 4 jaw-dropper
• new Doctor Who compendium • and an artistic Gormenghast book

Also reviewed in this issue:
three more episodes each of Stargate SG-1, Voyager and Angel, two further episodes of Buffy and LEXX each, more Doctor Who in audio and printed formats, the latest Trek and Earth: Final Conflict books, Buffy Season Two comes to video, plus unofficial guides to Voyager and The Simpsons.

LEXXSeries creator Paul Donovan interviewed in this issue!

Fire and Water: LEXX goes binaryThe crew lies in stasis as the LEXX hurtles aimlessly through the Dark Zone waiting to fall in to a planet’s orbit. Fans of Stan, Zev and Kai can expect a radical change of direction this season, with the promise of a continuous 13 episode story line. It’s a bold move, but will it’s oddball mix of Monty Python and Alien be the better for it? Yes and no...

Thankfully, the eccentric humour is intact and the show’s look has received a welcome gloss. However, the change smacks of LEXX not being as adventurous as usual. After all, we know that The Dark Zone is a thoroughly evil place, yet the LEXX ends up orbiting the twin warring planets Fire and Water, which is a little too Trek for comfort. When the Mad Max-alike Fire people, led by the thoroughly creepy Prince, reach the ship, Stan’s bumbling refusal to co-operate means he may lose his head while all about him keep theirs. However, Prince’s interest is piqued when he learns the LEXX’s real purpose, courtesy of an enamoured Zev (and her sexy new hairstyle).

A definite highlight is when 790, destroyed by Prince, is rebuilt by Kai, who becomes the object of the robot’s rampant love (“You may be dead, but our love will always be alive!”). So, it’s up to Kai to save the day, but he’s just been sent to the wrong planet by the love-dumb 790.

Episode: C1
First aired: 6 Feb 2000 (SciFi UK)
Reviewed by Danny Graydon

Business as usual, then. To be fair, it’s the set-up show and there are 12 episodes to go, but you are left with the feeling that it could have started from a much higher plateau.

There's too much panic in this town

The InitiativeIdeally, every Buffy fan should see The Initiative without knowing the scale of its developments. On the other hand, this is where Season Four’s apparently incidental elements start to make sense, so proceed as you see fit.

The series’ ambitions are upgraded dramatically when we catch up with the captured Spike. When he escapes, just as Buffy – now mercifully free from angst or possession – goes partying in Riley Finn’s dorm house, it isn’t just the Slayer for whom the duty of patrol calls. Suddenly, the seemingly innocuous Riley Finn and his buddy network (another Scooby Gang? Not exactly.) move into focus. We learn much about the gentlemanly Teaching Assistant through their punchy opening discussion of Buffy, brilliantly continued as banter later on to mask a truly jaw-dropping visual relocation. Riley, conceding that he is attracted, vows to "go see about a girl” in true Good Will Hunting style.

Taking Buffy closer to ‘hard’ Sci-Fi territory, with its reliance on military discipline and uniforms, is a major gamble. But the sheer verve of James A Contner’s direction creates an essential episode. By blending in some classic scenes of innuendo between Willow and Spike, and unorthodox combat between Xander and Harmony, Doug Petrie’s zesty scripting deserves praise too.

Episode: D7
First aired: 16 Nov 1999 (WB)
Reviewed by Mark Wyman

Watch this uninterrupted and see if you can avoid saying “What?!” out loud, because The Initiative memorably presses our mental ‘reset’ buttons.

selected from TV Zone #124
© Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction
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