Spaced (1999) is an homage-heavy sitcom about what it was like to be a twenty-something at the time of the pop-infused millennium. It’s written by and stars Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson (now Hynes) and directed by Edgar Wright. There are 2 seasons, 7 episodes each. It’s on Netflix. The DVDs come in both region 1/NTSC and region 2/PAL. All the episodes (14) are on Hulu. You can rent both seasons from Facets.
Simon Pegg’s girlfriend told him she worked with a funny guy at the diner who she reckoned Pegg would get on famously with. She couldn’t be more right. When Pegg and his girlfriend split later on, he got to keep Nick Frost in the breakup. After Frost abandoned his feeble attempts at standup, Pegg wrote a part for him in his new sitcom he was doing his his writing partner Jessica Stevenson and their director friend Edgar Wright (Geek magazine 2013). Now that we look backward into history through The World’s End, Hot Fuzz, and Shaun of the Dead, it’s amazing to see where the cult hit Pegg-Wright-Frost trio first began:
The year was 1999, and all the available housing in London was gobbled up by a bunch of psychic house-hunters, leaving two strangers, Tim and Daisy, two twenty-somethings in comic store leaflet distribution and slice-of-life journalism respectively, nothing but a professional-couples-only flat ad placed by a boozer with a screamy teenage daughter and a taste for the younger lad. With no choice but to fabricate a relationship history together, they don the roles of Green Card characters to falsify a photo album of holiday Polaroids. The cast of characters is rounded out with with Tim’s best friend Mike (Frost), a mustachioed military addict; Daisy’s best friend Twist (Katy Carmichael), a fashionista whose closest brush with the fashion industry is working in a dry cleaners; Brian (Mark Heap), the painter who rents downstairs (not a euphemism); and their dog Colin (Aida, RIP), who satisfies Daisy’s childhood desire for a pet, awakens Tim’s childhood fear of dogs, and gives Brian flashbacks to his childhood pup getting pulverized by a truck, a memory he’s able to put to bed after rescuing Colin from the same fate. With spoofs from Fight Club to The Matrix, and jokes for fans of Doctor Who and Star Trek, don’t blink or you’ll miss an homage.
Probably the most famous scene from Spaced is the psychic gun fight in the alley. This scene was discussed in detail at the 2017 Vulture Festival in New York. “I was twenty-four when I directed Spaced,” Edgar Wright recalled. It wasn’t big enough budget to have notes, so the channel let them do whatever they wanted. The gun fight was shot in an alley at the back of Camden near Camden High Street, where a lot of druggies went. Wright said, “Trying to keep people who were e-ed out of their heads out of the shot was the biggest obstacle.” Part of its success may be because when it first aired, it was slotted between F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and Fraiser, even though it had swearing and violent imagery (such as zombies) in it.
If you’re a nerd, if you like British sitcoms at all, or if you’re a fan of the Cornetto film trilogy, Spaced is an absolute must.
Jaime Pond is the editor of Anglonerd. She lives and works in NYC. Her favorite episode of Spaced is Mettle which homages One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Fight Club, and Robot Wars. Follow Jaime on Twitter.
Originally posted Jan. 8, 2014