Friday, November 30, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Spaced (TV series 1999-2001) ***½

NR, 14 24-min. episodes
Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson
Starring: Jessica Stevenson, Simon Pegg, Julia Deakin, Nick Frost, Mark Heap, Katy Carmichael, Aida the Dog
Guests: Theo Park, Lucy Akhurst, Anna Wilson-Jones, Bill Bailey, James Lance, Peter Serafinowicz, Clive Russell, Rowena Cooper, Michael Smiley, Jonathan Ryland, Reece Shearsmith, Olivia Williams, Ricky Gervais

Many fans of the movie “Shaun of the Dead” are quite aware of this BBC television series that launched the careers of actor/writer Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright. For a long time, I thought “Spaced” was a sci-fi spoof. It does spoof many sci-fi movies, and many other movies as well. In reality, “Spaced” is a British slacker series about a twentysomething guy and a twentysomething girl who pretend to be married in order to share a flat they can both afford after they each experience tough breakups.

For those who haven’t seen this series but are fans of “Shaun of the Dead”, you should know that this show is basically that movie without the zombies. Of course, the expanded format allows Pegg and Stevenson to fill their sitcom with a great deal more movie references and stoner humor. It’s kind of nice to see just where they allow themselves to go without all those zombies to worry about. Many lines are just pulled directly from some of their favorite movies. They also use referential motifs, camera angles and music cues from films like “Star Wars”, “Silence of the Lambs”, and “Logan’s Run”.

Pegg proves his slacker charm in this series and his unique geeklove comedy. Nick Frost also has a role as Pegg’s best friend, a military obsessed geek here. The two share similar roles in all of their films together. I would like to see more of Jessica Stevenson, now Jessica Hynes. She bucks the American trend of demanding that geeklove girls must be attractive beyond the pay grade of the male geeks in the storyline. She’s real and she’s just as desirable as any blonde bombshell who hangs out with American geekboys on our silly sitcoms.

This clip illustrates well how referential this series is to other movies, television series and comic books.

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