Tuesday, September 2, 2008

SPACED: You Read my Mind.

Above: My favorite scene from SPACED (season 2 episode 2: Change). I swear to God, I've had this conversation almost word for word...

SPACED is a show about real people living a very close approximation to real, mundane, life, but shot in such a way as to make the mundane extraordinary. Two twenty something's, Tim and Daisy, find themselves homeless after their mutual relationships break down, and become fast friends. They decide to get a flat together when they see an ad in the paper, but take the ad very literally, and fabricate a relationship to trick the flat's super. Add a few absurdly weird secondary characters, and let comedy ensue!

I'd seen a few episodes of SPACED on SHOWCASE (it was on after TRAILER PARK BOYS, which seems appropriate somehow, as it could be argued that TRAILER PARK BOYS is almost the Canadian equivalent of SPACED), and I liked it, but wasn't in love with it. It's not a show where you can just walk into an episode and pick up on everything; it's a show that you really need to watch to get everything out of it. SPACED is more serialized dramady than traditional sitcom, given it's origins on the BBC and the nature of how serialization works across the pond.

Each season is 7 episodes, and there is a definite progression of story from episode to episode, rather than an unconnected string of shenanigans. Each season has a beginning and ending, and each character has an arc, growing and evolving. Which I enjoy, because I find that while I can enjoy a sitcom, I often find them tedious in the long run, as it's a lot of the same shit happening over and over again to the same people.

SPACED is definitely more dramady than tradtional sitcom. There are no snappy comebacks, no laugh track, and no sitting around an apartment waiting for people to come in... the comedy comes more from the situation, and the style of the show, which treats even the most mundane, ordinary event, like an action movie. As the show moves along, though, the reality of the show sort of starts to flux as things become more absurd and ridiculous, and your ability to suspend your disbelief slowly grows. One of my favorite episodes involves main character Tim (Simon Pegg), and his best friend Mike (Nick Frost), building and managing a robot for entry into ROBOT WARS (which was a popular BBC reality show that was called BATTLE BOTS over here), and I just found any scene where Mike treats the robot like a dog, hilarious.

Another facet of SPACED that appeals to me, is it's use of pop-culture. Not only are the characters obsessed with pop-culture and make references to things that they like; such as Tim working in a comic book store, and his love of STAR WARS (which is bittersweet as shown above); but also in it's visual references, recreating scenes from movies, or pulling in idea's or characters from movies (such as the two VERY MATRIX-esque agents from the first episode of season 2, or the scene were Tim burns all his STAR WARS toys), not to mention music cues... I literally almost CRIED when they referenced the LITTLEST HOBO. This use of popular culture as a sort of short hand to communicate with the audience on a very honest, familiar, level appeals to me greatly, because it's almost exactly what I do with my friends. Nerds communicate with other Nerds by quoting old Arnold Swartzenegger movies, or THE SIMPSONS, or obscure old TV shows from our youth. Everyone can relate to that in some way.

SPACED was thoroughly enjoyable to me, and quickly became one of my favorite all time shows. The DVD is very well put together with tons of extra's, such as the original audio commentaries from the British release, and new commentaries with special nerd-guests, as well as some a documentary which cleverly ties up the shows one loose end. Best 40 bucks I ever spent.


Anonymous said...

Hi Halliday.

SPACED starts off as shit, essentially following the creators go through film school and make all their shitty student films, and finally learn how to tell a story by the end of second season.

I'm not gonna say it doesn't have its charms every now and then, but overall, it was wanker nerd dreck that got tolerable, and after 14 episodes, I was hoping for a lot more than an amusing aside.

Now I like SHAUN OF THE DEAD and I love HOT FUZZ, so take this criticism with a grain of salt.

Love Jay

Anonymous said...

Ignore that grammatical errors in that first sentence. I didn't proof read.


Anonymous said...

Just like I didn't in the second post. What, no response to all my hating? WTF Halliday????

Halliday said...

I'll respond to your hate in person... WITH A MIGHTY KICK TO THE NADS! NYAH HA HA! And now you'll even see it coming, but there'll still be no stopping it.

Say goodbye to your nads Azzopardi... and tell your wife I'm sorry that you can't have children... because I kicked your nads so hard you became sterile.

No, in all seriousness, guy, I don't really have a response... I learned long ago that I can't beat you in a media debate, and I do agree with you that the first season was pretty weak sauce (Edgar Wright actually admits on the commentary that SPACED WAS in fact his film school)... there were a few good points, but overall, I can barely remember a full episode from the first season (I liked the Rave episode, and found that to be mostly memorable), but it wasn't so bad that I would say that I didn't enjoy the show on a whole... the second season was pretty tight though, and I think they really hit their stride by then.