Season 2, Episode 5
In flashback, two one-person military craft engage in a WWII-esque dogfight in space. The pilots are the last surviving citizens of the planets Leester and Liber, which were destroyed in a war over whether and which planet was faking its TV ratings. The Leesterian forces the Liberian to crash into a small celestial object which once served as a production studio; however, the Liberian survives, detaches the unwieldy gun from his craft, and manually shoots down the Leesterian, who also crashes onto the surface. Both pilots are injured but alive. While the Liberian struggles to control his gun so that he can finish off the Leesterian, the latter crawls toward a signal tower. He reaches it and punches some buttons, then suffers a fatal shot and dies. The signal that he activated, proclaiming Leesterian programming greatness and denigrating Liberian shows as "crap," flashes across billboards over the studio. Screaming in outrage, the Liberian collapses and also dies.
In the present, the Lexx intercepts the signal, and Xev insists on investigating it. Stan, Xev, and 790 take a moth down to the surface, where they find the pilots' desiccated bodies and a series of doorways that lead to shows in which people on the studio can participate. Xev decides to play in Boys' School. Since only one person can participate in each show at a time, Xev hands 790 off to Stan, who doesn't want to get involved. Neither Xev nor Stan pays attention to the brief warning that people who fail to get good ratings "may become a part of our studio audience."
Stan starts walking back to the moth. Along the way, he gets tired of 790's complaints and throws 790 under the Talk Time door. Before he can reach the moth, a sign lights up featuring the scantily-dressed women from a show called Girl Time. Stan walks through the door.
Girl Time turns out to be a sitcom, likely intended to have pornographic potential, about two beautiful young women, Slinka and Yoyo, and their disapproving apartment manager, Mr. Beetle. As in the other shows, all the permanent actors are androids. Stan attempts to play along with their double entendres, but fails to elicit much laughter from the studio audience; a meter indicates how good his "ratings" are. He gets demoted from prime time to an afternoon soap opera set in a hospital, then to a children's morning show where he is forced to wear diapers and endure insults from a clown named Farty.
Xev is initially more successful: Her sexual innuendos and good looks earn high ratings from the studio audience, and the studio promotes her to her own show, where she sings and dances while surrounded by shirtless young men. Unfortunately, when she falls into a confessional mood and begins discussing the sadder aspects of her life, the ratings drop, and she suffers progressive demotions as well.
Stan's ratings on the morning show are too low, so he gets sent to Specialty Show, the cybernetic host's favorite program, where failed guests are decapitated by androids dressed as police and their severed heads kept artificially alive to act as the laugh track. The executioners seem unable to deviate from their script, and pay no attention to Stan's pleas of innocence.
790 moves from Talk Time to a game show, but still fails to receive sufficient ratings. He is also put through the decapitation machine; however, since he was only a head to begin with, it makes no difference.
The TV programs featuring the crew are beamed into the cryostasis chamber, where they trigger Kai's pod to open. Kai takes a moth and goes to rescue the crew. Beginning with Girl Time, he walks through the same procession of sets as Stan, winding up on Specialty Show just in time to replace Stan in the decapitation device and tell Stan to find Xev.
Now separated from his body, Kai joins the rest of the severed heads, including 790. Kai has figured out that contestants are judged by the amount of laughter that they generate, so he prompts 790 to help him game the system by laughing at Xev, who is now trapped in a boring exercise show. Their efforts fail, and Xev is also sentenced to execution.
Stan wanders back through the sets, looking for Xev. He force-feeds a balloon to Farty the clown, causing Farty's circuits to short out, and winds up back in the soap opera, where he finds Kai's body with one of the android's head attached. By guiding Kai's body, Stan is able to destroy Xev's executioners just before she would have been decapitated. Eventually, Stan, Xev, and Kai's body locate the studio audience. Xev takes back 790, and Kai reattaches his head to his body.
Back aboard the Lexx, the group discusses its adventures. Xev says that she felt "special" when she was on TV; Stan counters that none of the androids was "really alive" anyway. Kai observes that "[b]eing alive isn't everything" before his pod closes over him.
The Lexx sails away. Unknown to the crew, Mantrid drones descend on the studio and destroy it.
Tropes found in this episode include:
- Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Participating in any of TV World's programs is this, since poor ratings will be punished with A Fate Worse Than Death.
- And I Must Scream: The studio audience consists of decapitated but fully conscious heads, trapped in small boxes and forced to watch the studio's shows until their life support fails.
- Artificial Gravity: TV World is several times smaller than the Lexx, yet nothing floats away.
- Black Eyes of Evil: The main host has these.
- The Comically Serious: Kai's deadpan reactions to the ridiculous plots of the programs he reacts to.
- Kai, while in a sitcom: "I am not funny."
- Confetti Drop: A non-celebratory example— a bucket of confetti sits over the door of the Girl Time set. Stan gets doused; Kai activates it without getting hit.
- Deceptively Human Robots: While the android "actors" have very human exteriors, their programming seems limited to a few stock phrases and gestures.
- Depraved Kids' Show Host: Farty's "brand" appears to be a combination of Toilet Humor and guest humiliation.
- Double Entendre: Several. The studio audience seems to find these particularly funny.
- Slinka and Yoyo, in unison: "We need a new roommate!"Stan: "Do you have any openings?"(Cue background laughter.)
- The Eponymous Show: The Xev Show.
- Eject the Loser: When Stan's ratings on the kids' show prove too low, he's dropped through a Trap Door into an execution chamber.
- Excited Kids' Show Host: Farty may be a Jerk, but he certainly seems enthusiastic.
- Fanservice Extra: The guys in the background of The Xev Show.
- Fair Cop: The same models of android that play Slinka and Yoyo double as cops on Specialty Show.
- Filth: It's heavily implied that Girl Time can turn into porn if the contestant does a good enough job of playing along.
- Game Show
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Xev refuses to keep performing in the exercise show because it won't change anything— as a love slave, she already has a perfect body.
- Hot Teacher: Seems to be what Boys' School is going for, and Xev certainly fits the bill when she gets cast in it.
- Hypocritical Humor: Stan rants about Xev not learning from their track record as explorers... then falls for the Girl Time ad.
- Laugh Track: Averted; despite the episode's title, TV World prefers a live (or possibly undead) studio audience.
- Losing Your Head: Kai not only does okay without his, but he's apparently able to sightlessly attach an android head to his body.
- Mouthscreen: The in-universe cameras shoot close-ups of Xev's lips.
- Panty Shot: Xev gets this a couple of times, when climbing out of the moth and when teasing one of her "students."
- Public Execution: A staple of Specialty Show.
- Pulling Themselves Together: Kai, when reunited with his body.
- Robot Clown: Farty.
- Soap Within a Show: Heartbreak Hospital.
- The Alcoholic: The doctor's wife accuses him of drinking... while she waves around a half-empty liquor bottle.
- Love Triangle: The guest plays a doctor involved in a love triangle with an alcoholic wife and a patient with an implied history of political intrigue.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: According to the doctor's girlfriend, they made "torrid love" in the bathroom of an embassy and in a sewer.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: The doctor's wife tries to stab his girlfriend.
- Say My Name: It's ridiculous enough when the doctor's girlfriend says, "Oh, Doctor Stanley Tweedle!," but the silliness goes Up to Eleven when she addresses Kai, who hasn't bothered to give his name.Patient: "Oh, Doctor Where's Stanley Tweedle!"
- Your Cheating Heart: The doctor is running around on his wife.
- Serious Business: Two planets obliterated each other over TV ratings.
- Set Behind the Scenes: Most of the episode takes place in an extraterrestrial TV studio.
- Show Within a Show: Several, in different genres.
- Slut-Shaming: The apartment manager from Girl Time and the wife from Heartbreak Hospital do this.
- Smarmy Host: The main TV World host. No matter how dire the punishment that awaits a guest, the host always makes it sound like he thinks the studio's doing them a favor.
- Studio Audience: Its amount of laughter determines whether guests live or die.
- Stylistic Suck: Every single show the crew wanders into is terrible.
- Talk Show: Xev and 790 wind up on different talk shows.
- Teacher/Student Romance: Xev propositions one of her fake "students."
- Thing-O-Meter: Shows how much the audience is laughing at a contestant.