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As the American pubic watched the cast of Friends spend week after week in outrageous situations in a West Village loft while looking attractive and barely going to work, Britain’s Spaced followed a small group of people going through a comparative normal life. The twentysomethings need to find an apartment, play video games, and yes, occasionally get into outrageous situations. Set in North London, Spaced follows Tim Bisley (Simon Pegg) and Daisy Steiner (Jessica Stevenson) as the two meet each other while hunting for a place to live. Inside, the two find the overbearing landlord Marsha, and the resident artist Brian. Tim’s best friend, Mike (Nick Frost) was in the Territorial Army, but was kicked out after stealing a tank and trying to invade Paris and Daisy’s friend Twist works in “fashion.” (akadry cleaning).

While achieving the broad archetypes of post-collegiate life, each character never comes across as contrived. Over the course of the series they wear the same clothes occasionally, there is drug use and they use pop culture references to explain their existence. Spaced could have never been produced for an American audience. We wouldn’t have had the stomach for it. A show like Family Guy uses pop culture references for little one off jokes and has recently become self aware of this fact. Spaced was able to lift from media over the last 30 years and use it to move the story forward.

Easily one of the best parts of the show was Edgar Wright’s directing style. As the show referenced The Shining for a surprise reveal of Tim and Daisy standing in a closet, the camera movements are exactly the same as Kubrick’s. The beginning of one episode features Tim facing off against zombies in his apartment, and it looks just like Dawn of the Dead. Both the dialogue and visual cues use easily recognizable cultural references to solidify the connection with the audience.

It wasn’t until last year that Spaced finally made its way to a wide American audience by way of a special edition DVD. Along with commentaries made for the UK version, the US version includes commentaries by Spaced fans Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Bill Hader, Matt Stone, Patton Oswalt and Diablo Cody. There is also a full-length documentary, “Skip to the End” which chronicles the show and its impact. And if you hold out, or actually skip to the end, the audience is pleasantly rewarded.

If you are unsure about the show, I highly recommend the fifth episode of the second series, “Gone.” The episode features what most children and I love to play with… imaginary weapons. The situation isn’t too far out there that you won’t understand; Tim and Daisy go out for a night on the town. The pair run into a bad crowd and must defend themselves with the only thing they have, finger guns. What follows is a full-fledged shoot out (think John Woo) but without the violence, blood or guns.

The show ran from 1999 to 2001, and while I wasn’t in the age bracket of those on the show at the time, I am much closer now. And even though the world has changed, the spirit of this show has not. I still get all the references (with the exception of some British-isms) and I can now more than ever relate to the types of lives these characters were living. All those involved with the series have grown up, Edgar Wright is off directing big movies, and Simon Pegg was Scotty in Star Trek, but it is always nice to go back and see what helped launched them to stardom.

by Nicholas Ryan

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