In Praise of Spaced

spaced.jpgOkay, I was going to wait until I finished making my way through the box set before posting something about this but I just hit something that’s thrown me right over the edge …

You may recall some of us getting all giddy about a wee British film called Shaun of the Dead not so long ago. Well, I’ve got a friend who’s been roaming the world for the past couple years and is currently in the UK (Nottingham, actually. Insert bad Robin Hood joke here. God knows I have been.) who I imposed upon to pick me up a copy of a little sitcom the key Shaun of the Dead folk did called Spaced. I’d heard good things and my expectations were high. They’ve all been shattered. Utterly. This is genius. It’s a simple enough premise – a wannabe writer and a wannabe comic book artist pretend to be a married, professional couple so that they can rent a flat – but it’s got a completely different tone to it than pretty much anything else I’ve ever seen. It’s certainly worlds away from anything you’d see on an American network. Though definitely written to be a straight out comedy the humor is rooted incredibly deeply in the character work of the two leads and is so specific that it’ll probably only really appeal to a fairly narrow range of people. But those who get it get it hard and if you’re reading this chances are you’ll get it. This thing is so littered with pop culture references – specifically sci-fi, comic book and b-movie references – that you’ll spend a good portion of the show just giggling over how they’ve managed to work stuff in but they also manage to create such strong characters that it hangs together as a remarkably strong whole.

Anyway … here’s what got me writing this … Season One is a compelling enough start – the episode lifting from the Evil Dead is just fantastic – but four episodes into Season Two it’s clear that they reached an entirely different level the second time round. Not only did the manage to work two members of the League of Gentlemen into the first three episodes but those three episodes include a wicked parody of the Matrix, repeated rantings on how bad The Phantom Menace sucked, an out of the blue shot at Babylon 5, and an episode that somehow manages to create a seamless fusion of Robot Wars, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Fight Club. Episode Four (there are only seven episodes per season, by the way) is what has made me a true believer for life. In a throwaway scene – a complete and total throwaway – they not only create a note perfect reconstruction of the bike accident scene from the Sixth Sense but they somehow got Olivia Williams (that’d be the wife in the Sixth Sense) to play the cyclist. If I hadn’t been lying down I’d have fallen out of my chair.

Just insanely good. Seriously.

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