I have said, on many occasions, that my favorite show ever is Doctor Who. That’s probably close to the truth. What I meant, though, was this: my favorite show ever that other people actually had a chance of seeing is Doctor Who. My favorite show ever, hands down, is Spaced.
Oh, Spaced. How I love thee. Why, you ask. Why, Andy, why do you love Spaced so much? Why, indeed?
I love Spaced for three reasons:
1) It’s, essentially, a show about me and my friends.
2) I am very self-obsessed.
3) It’s British, and I’m that guy.
Spaced is what the Shaun of the Dead gang did before Shaun of the Dead, if that tells you anything. It was on Channel 4 in the UK (you know, where Morrissey saw the plans for the future war. It was all he saw. On Channel 4.) The basic premise is sitcom-standard: two young people pretend to be a couple in order to rent an apartment, and wackiness ensues. So far, so blah.
Except… when they go to see the apartment, they’re confronted with the two creepy little girls from The Shining (“forever… and ever… and ever…”). And their downstairs neighbor is a sullen, quixotic painter whose medium is fear, pain and anger. Paintball and Robo-Wars become metaphors for struggles of male dominance. One character loses his job at the comic book store because he berates a small child… about The Phantom Menace.
Now, anyone can drop pop culture references and think they’re clever, but the Spaced crew have it down to an art-form. Edgar Wright, head writer on Spaced, has said that a lot of the things he references are personal to him and his friends, and they resonate in that way that a line from a movie can become an inside joke between close friends (“askew! askance! and amuck!”). You laugh at the constant Star Wars and Tomb Raider references, but it helps you know the characters. Eventually, you’re watching to see if Daisy and Tim ever get together, or if Martha the landlord will ever find out that they’re not.
I first saw Spaced in London in March of 2004, which was a few months before Shaun of the Dead came out in the US. Despite what certain girlfriends of mine might say, I really don’t think that being into, say, the comedic stylings of Simon Pegg before you makes me superior. As a matter of fact, I was pleased to learn that Spaced has been released on DVD in the US, complete with bonus material and commentary from folks like Patton Oswalt, for some reason (turns out, he’s a fan, as is Quentin Tarantino. Figures, the post-modern bastard…)
I heartily recommend you check out this show. It’s hilarious, it’s hip, and you’ll finally understand why Amelie and I go around saying “ooh! a dog! a dog! Colin!”
You can probably find the whole series on YouTube if you look hard enough, but here’s a few clips. First, male telepathy:
Second, The Phantom Menace.
Finally, here’s part one of the Spaced panel at ComicCon:
Supposedly, FOX wanted to make an American version of Spaced. I wasn’t mad because I thought they’d ruin it, I was mad because I wasn’t going to be in it. However, it’s been scrapped. Good. Now I can make my own version.