|Let's get Spaced|
Set in a suburban North London flat, the show's 14 episodes follow platonic roommates Tim (Pegg) and Daisy (Stevenson) as they learn to deal with living together, their oddball friends, and their larger place in the world. On its face that could describe any number of stories about slacker youth. But with its clever, finely tuned scripts and clueless yet sympathetic characters, Spaced brought a topical freshness to the drab sitcom world not unlike Quentin Tarantino's pop makeover of crime films.
Along with Pegg and Stevenson's scripts, equal credit goes to series director Edgar Wright, who went on to make Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. His resourceful touch utilized every ounce of ingenuity to give practically every scene a visual zip or ping, turning an ostensibly low-rent sitcom into a charmingly baroque cinematic funhouse.
|Stevenson (now Hynes)|
The rest of the cast is equally good, from Tim's gun-toting best friend, Mike (Nick Frost in his acting debut), to downstairs artist Brian and chain-smoking landlady Marsha. In fact the key to the show may be its perfect blend of talents as much as its deft mix of throwaway gags and cartoon-like setpieces. And while there's a lot of enjoyment to be had from spotting the many homages to old sci-fi, action, and horror movies, it's not essential. I still haven't caught all of them--just as some of the occasional U.K.-specific references flew past me. But again, it doesn't matter: if you miss one joke or reference, there's another just around the corner--one likely to be funny all on its own, since the emphasis remains on character, not (usually) look-at-me cleverness.
The show lasted only two seasons (known as "series" in England), cut short by the global success of Wright and Pegg's Shaun of the Dead. Given how the program only continued to get better in its second year, it's a shame the planned-for third season never came to pass. But at least these 14 densely packed--and highly rewatchable--episodes made their way into the world and onto U.S. screens.
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