I Always Knew You Would Like Spaced

SpacedI recommend the sitcom Spaced, and it’s not the first time I’ve recommended it. When deciding to draw a silly picture and write some silly words about Spaced, I remembered that I wrote about it on of my many ill-fated old blogs. So I found it. That blog, which was active for a few months about five years ago, has now had many thousands of views.

How the hell did that happen?

It looks like I became the go-to source for information on the BBC’s TV adaptation of Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently books. Google, Yahoo, Bing and Aol (is Aol still a thing?) were all fairly generous with their search listings too.

This is not a boast. It was, and is, a shoddy blog. The second most popular post was an appallingly formatted page called ‘Pop goes Indie’ which just features some youtube links to indie bands covering pop songs. It’s a little mortifying that it has that many views, because it’s a naïve slice of juvenilia. It’s something I wrote when I was 16 and it’s still floating around on the internet, a phenomenon that’s going to become increasingly common.

I wonder if my opinions on Spaced have changed? I’m sure I must have enjoyed it more when I re-watched it all a few months ago than when I first saw it over five years ago. I am now the demographic that Spaced portrays: the young hapless creative-type. Has my writing improved since then? I have done a Creative Writing degree in the intervening years, so I hope so.

Here’s an annotated version of the original post:

I seem to devour sitcoms at an unhealthy rate, the latest addition to the increasingly strained sitcom-shelf is Spaced series one. Incidently, I obtained my copy from the Oxfam website for three quid! Bargain, and if they hadn’t told me it was second hand I wouldn’t have known. Head over there now, there are some great deals to be had!

I stand by this statement. I love me an Oxfam. I get cheap books and I get to feel good about myself.

Anyway, I was briefly browsing Simon Pegg’s wikipedia page when I read about Spaced, a sitcom about some twenty-somethings who, despite hardly know each other, decide to get a flat together, which Pegg co-wrote and co-starred in alongside his comedy partner Nick Frost under the direction of Edgar Wright also of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead fame.

If you tried to read this aloud without altering the punctuation, you would probably asphyxiate.

However it’s easy to overlook Spaced‘s other star and writer when you begin to think of it as a Pegg, Frost and Wright project: Jessica Stevenson. Stevenson wrote the series with Pegg and plays Daisy, superbly portraying the permanently procrastinating and regularly cringe-worthy young writer.

Bizzare sentence structure, but I agree with the premise. Jessica Steveson is an underappreciated talent. She’s recently popped back into my sphere of awareness by appearing in the BBC’s TV adaptation of the play ‘Cider with Rosie’ and being interviewed on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. I recall listening to that on a walk through an industrial estate in Kettering, in the drizzle, after an unsuccessful job interview. It cheered me up.

Spaced contains the perfect mixture of humorous writing and genuine friendship between characters. It makes many references to sci-fi and, what could be described as, general nerd culture, if you understand these references then this is hysterical, if you don’t then your connection and identification with the characters, particularly Pegg’s and Frost’s, is far weaker and you don’t become attached to the characters.Thankfully I understood them all, but I can see why such specific audience targeting may have negatively impacted Spaced‘s appeal to a wider audience.

Take another deep breath. Oh Jesus. I definitely did not understand all the references. I probably understood around 5% of them. I got the Star Wars jokes. Having not seen Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and never having heard of Quentin Tarrantino at the time, an awful lot went over my head. Obviously I understand every single referemce now because I am a man of the world.

This may sound like a criticism, but it is most certainly not, by not attempting to be all things to all people Spaced can focus on being as funny as possible for the audience they are aiming at and this is achieved perfectly, it reminds me of the abundant well of ‘geeky’ references that the more recent IT Crowd features.

The full stop deficiency continues. I am living proof that Spaced is very amusing whether you get the references or not.

When it comes to the DVD special features there is a nice selection of deleted scenes but unfortunately no making of feature. Also there are character, cast and crew biographies in text form, which is something I’ve never seen before and found very odd, though the DVD menus do a good job of showing off the cartoon artwork commissioned for  the series.

This is a fantastic series, despite it’s age it still feels very relevant and the various homages and references are far from getting stale, the whole nineties look even gives the series a faint whiff of nostalgia, it’s a long time since I saw a grown man non-ironically wearing a beanie hat and riding a skateboard. Have a watch, I just realised both series one and two are currently available to watch for free on 4oD, click here to watch them now!

People in their 20s seemed so old to me back then. I don’t think I ever saw a grown man non-ironically wearing a beanie hat and riding a skateboard because I was a small child living in a middle-class midlands suburb in the 90s.

Surprisingly, that link still works.

I still love Spaced, but I also like full-stops now.

My original review fails to mention  just how excellent Mark Heap is as tortured artist Brian. His rent-paying relationship with alcoholic landlady Marsha is very amusing. Peter Serafinowicz also appears as Tim’s oily love rival: Duane. The episode”Gone”, in which Duane steals Tim’s house keys and Daisy and Tim have to fight off a gang of barely-pubescent thugs, is firmly in my top-5 sitcom episodes ever.

Related:

Jessica Stevenson / Hynes on RHLSTP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbt1bz0byUQ

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