March 24th, 2006


Spaced? More Like Space Nuts!

eirefaerie: "Sunil, you should watch Spaced."
spectralbovine: "Nah, I don't have time."
eirefaerie: "I'll sleep with you!"
spectralbovine: "No, you won't."
eirefaerie: "No, I won't. But you should watch Spaced anyway."
spectralbovine: "Fine."

And that bears no resemblance to any actual conversation Erin and I have ever had about Spaced, but she sent me the show, so she deserves a little credit. A teeny bit. Maybe one load of laundry's worth.

Spaced is a British comedy comprising two brilliant seasons of seven fantastic episodes each. Fourteen episodes, and not a clunker among them. And no two episodes are the same.

The premise of Spaced is simple: Tim, an aspiring comic book artist, gets dumped by his girlfriend and needs to find a new place to live. He meets Daisy, an aspiring writer who also needs a new place to live. They find an ad for a great flat...but it's "for professional couples only."

Naturally, they pretend to be a couple to get the flat. With the flat comes a strange landlord, Marsha, and an eccentric artist, Brian. Rounding out the cast of characters are Tim's and Daisy's best friends, Mike, a militaristic lunkhead, and Twist, a fashion-obsessed ditzy blonde.

Also, there's a dog, but that's not till later.

Together, they have all kinds of wacky adventures, as characters in sitcoms so often do.

But oh, criminy, said adventures are more hilarious than you could possibly imagine because this show has style coming out its ass. Like Arrested Development, it uses a lot of quick-cutscene humor, but because it's not hindered by a documentary look, it's actually far more successful at visual humor. My most recent favorite is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot of bananas as devil horns. The visual style is one of the show's biggest strengths, and if you're a fan of that sort of thing, you'll love it.

The other major strength is the fact that the show is packed full of references and homages to movies and television. It's a show for fanboys, made by fanboys. References can be in the dialogue, in the props, in the framing, in the costuming, in the music, ANYWHERE. They fucking use the Murder, She Wrote theme at one point, people! This is a show where "hating The Phantom Menace" is a genuine character motivation. And what I love is that when doing a full-on spoof, they take the time to duplicate the camera angles and shots exactly as well, so you recognize the scene as familiar before the content tips you off. What's even better is how well integrated the spoofs are; they feel totally natural and part of the world.

Oh, oh, not just movies and television: frickin' video games! On no other half-hour comedy have video games been treated with the love and respect they deserve! The video games inspire some of the best jokes, even. In fact, in one episode, Tim stays up all night playing Resident Evil, and as a result, he starts hallucinating zombies everywhere...and this was the inspiration for Shaun of the Dead. And if you liked Shaun of the Dead, you will like Spaced.

Every episode is written by Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson, and every episode is directed by Edgar Wright, so there's a remarkable consistency throughout the series. But, as I said, no two episodes are alike. There's really no formula to the show, so you never know what to expect.

Really, the most wonderful thing about Spaced is that it exists at all. Because you get the feeling that the people behind the show made it because they were big geeks and wanted to make a show with lots of geeky references and have a lot of damn fun doing it. The fact that they're very talented and ended up creating something with artistic and comedic merit is beside the point. Yeah, there's some good stuff about life and love and relationships and your usual schtick, but the show's funny as hell, and that's what matters.

Thusly: watch Spaced, or Lara Croft will kick your ass.