Channel: Channel 4
Recurring Cast: Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson, Mark Heap, Nick Frost, Katy Carmichael, Julia Deakin
One of new favourite hobbies is going back to the early stages of my favourite director’s film careers and seeing how their older stuff relates to their current pieces of work. This meant that I was always going to have to dive back into Edgar Wright’s Spaced, one of the most exciting and talked about British sitcoms, even if it was released way back in 1999.
I heard a lot about the surreal comedy style of Wright’s Spaced, so I was a little surprised to learn that the main premise for this show is two people in their twenties in an apartment in London. It sounds like most twenty minute comedies out there (although, in Spaced’s defence, it was here years before How I Met Your Mother and New Girl). To go into more details, Simon Pegg’s Tim dumped by his girlfriend, leaving him for douche-bag best mate, Peter Serafinowicz, while Jessica Stevenson’s Daisy is looking for an apartment, closer to any potential writing jobs. They meet up and decide to try flat-sharing, but there is one condition. The landlady only wants to give the room to a couple to avoid any chance of bad tenants, so they have to live together under the pretence that they are a couple. It never occurs to them that maybe they could try dating for real, especially when it becomes clear that they do share some unorthodox chemistry. Also, thrown into the mix, are the other tenant, a crazy artist with a dark passion for post-modernism, and Simon Pegg’s best mate slacker, played by… Nick Frost? How did you guess?
My favourite thing about Spaced is that you have no idea what you are in for at the start of the episode. Wright isn’t big on sticking to any particular formula. That premise where Tim and Daisy need to pretend to be dating for their landlady is quickly forgotten and subplots like Daisy’s writing career and Tim’s ex-girlfriend are only ever occasionally touched upon. Most of the episodes open with them hanging around the house and then something happens that leads to something else and then we are a million miles from where we started. An episode about Daisy getting a new dog quickly evolves into a titanic battle in a Paintball course. You will be laughing too hard to remember how you got from Point A to Point B and that is credit to Edgar Wright’s clever writing and direction. His wit is apparent throughout and even though, the grand set-pieces are enough to make Spaced the best of British comedy, it is the smaller jokes that break you down first. Clever British word-play, pop culture references or sometimes just the bond between the characters getting a well-earned smile onto your face.
For the wannabe film-maker, Spaced’s biggest charm is the low budget. The camera isn’t the greatest, but that doesn’t matter, because whoever is behind that camera works with what he has at hand. The direction is incredible, zooming all over the scene, creating this fast-paced, joke-a-second atmosphere to the show. The surreal style of Spaced is a tricky one to get right with this small a budget, so it is great to watch Edgar Wright step back and think how to best achieve what he wants. Credit also most go to the actors that have gone from Spaced to world fame. Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson have become the fore-runners in British sitcoms, since this, especially Pegg going on to make three amazing comedies with Wright and Frost. The actors are asked to do some pretty weird things to get this surreal tone over, so the trust between them and the director must have been strong. That might be another reason Spaced sticks so well in our memory. This is a series made by people who love what they do and want to make a strong piece of comedy that will put a smile on our faces by the end of the day. Well, they succeeded.
Final Verdict: Random, yet controlled. Spaced is a low-budget seven episode run of comedy that never compromises on the laughs.