The Complete Series
In a commentary on Spaced, writer/director
Eli Roth expounds on why 40 is the new 30 in America. We've
refused to grow up, preferring to live in apartments with
movie posters and state of the art videogame systems, holding
on to the dreams that the big break is just around the corner.
Okay, if Fanboy Planet ever had a credo, that might be it,
except that most of us are married and longing for the day
we have one room to hang our posters in again.
Roth has it right. And he's saying it in
explanation for why the official sitcom of fandom should
be the UK's Channel 4 show Spaced. If you haven't
heard of it, you have heard the ripples from it since it
ended seven years ago. Series co-creator Simon Pegg teamed
with series director Edgar Wright and wrote Shaun of
the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Heck, Pegg has even infiltrated
the Star Trek franchise.
They deserve every bit of their success,
and with Jessica Stevenson, now Hynes, the trio have finally
brought their seminal work to American DVD. The story of
two twenty-somethings (Pegg and Hynes) pretending to be
a couple so they can rent an apartment from the drunken
Marsha Klein (Julia Deakin), Spaced is so much more
than a premise. It's a trip through the heart and soul of
Tim (Pegg) works at a comic book shop for
an owner named Bilbo. In between series 1 and 2, he's had
his heart broken by The Phantom Menace, but he holds
out hope that he'll have a breakthrough as a comic book
artist. In the other bedroom, Daisy (Hynes) plays at being
a freelance writer, secretly pines for Tim and proves herself
one of the boys time and time again.
The series runs by pastiches of Pulp
Fiction, Robot Wars and The Empire Strikes
Back, among others, but the genius of Hynes and Pegg's
writing is that you don't need to know those references
to find it funny. They're funny first, clever second. Coupled
with Wright's brilliant directing that uses whatever style
it needs to make the episode work, this series has no weak
particular favorite, though, would be when basement apartment
dweller Brian (Mark Heap) faces his past with an omnisexual
performance artist (David Walliams from Little Britain).
Wright's recreation of their work is stunningly hilarious
and creepy before the episode morphs into the inspiration
for Shaun of the Dead.
Though much of the content has been available
in the U.K. for years, the U.S. release provides a neat
trick. For so long, the show has traded around the black
market, that it has garnered some impressive fans who sit
in for commentaries - okay, love fests, really - with Hynes,
Pegg and Wright.
Thus Quentin Tarantino expounds on Wright's
homage to Tarantino, itself an homage to others. The trio
drags Kevin Smith out of his house to play raconteur,
with predictably entertaining results. Later on in the disc,
Patton Oswalt and Bill Hader lacquer their already cemented
reputations as geeks. In short, every commentary has something
to offer, making Spaced terribly time-consuming,
as you have to watch every episode both ways.
The first two discs reproduce those UK
extras, many of which seem a little out of date. Lifting
cast bios whole out of the previous release, you don't need
to read up on anyone's career until the third disc, where
the U.S. gets its own.
Filmed in 2004, there's also a lengthy
documentary on the Spaced phenomenon, where Roth
and others speak. It's a great chance for other cast members
to speak, including Nick Frost, who broke through into the
public consciousness as the quasi-military Mike.
It also really gets at the challenges of
the show, and proves how deeply it has seeped into the British
consciousness when Pegg and Hynes visit the building they
used as their apartment. While they're inside, two fans
coincidentally set up across the street to take shots of
the place. Imagine their surprise when Tim and Daisy really
come out into the garden.
So now the U.S. has a chance to get Spaced
-- legally. Of course, the other really devilish part about
it is Hynes, Pegg and Wright talking about earlier series
they worked on, which a real fan must seek out. And after
watching this DVD, you'll be a real fan.
the Spaced crew, I curse you and I salute you. But
now I must go back and watch it again.
the interview with Jessica Hynes, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright!
photos courtesy Channel 4
Spaced: The Complete Series