Spaced: The Complete Series
Spaced revolves around two idle twentysomething flatmates - immature skateboarding would-be comic artist Tim (Simon Pegg), and moody, responsibility-shy Daisy (Jessica Stevenson), and their self-induced lack of success in employment, relationships and life in general. Together with their oddball assortment of friends and neighbors, Marsha, Brian, Mike and Twist, they exist in a world perched precariously on the edge of normality.
It only takes one episode to become very protective of this 1999 British Comedy Award-winning series that put comedy soul mates Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson (now Hynes), as well as Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) on the map. One can only hope a threatened American version is never produced. This is one of those brilliant, off-center, lightning-in-a-bottle creations that gets you so jazzed, you want to turn all your friends on to it. Spaced (actually, Friends might have been a better title; too bad it was taken) stars Pegg and Stevenson as strangers Tim and Daisy, "amiable 20-somethings" who pose as a "professional couple" to rent an apartment. He is a recently-dumped aspiring comic book artist. She is an easily distracted writer. As the series unfolds, their apartment becomes an "island of calm in the ocean of life" as Tim and Daisy form a kind of 21st century family with their similarly misfit friends, including soused landlord Marsha (Julia Deakin), who lives with her teenager daughter (aka "the devil in a A cup," who is heard, but never quite seen), Brian (Mark Heap), an artist who deals in anger, fear, and aggression, Simon's best friend Mark (Frost), a militaristic gun nut, and Daisy's best friend, Twist (Katy Carmichael), a fashion poseur (in the series' penultimate episode, look for a pre-Office Ricky Gervais). Spaced is not so much interested in Tim and Daisy's charade as it is in cramming each episode with pop culture references and obscure in-jokes, and brilliantly realized film and TV homages, ranging from Woody Allen's Manhattan to Pulp Fiction and The Empire Strikes Back (Star Wars, especially, looms large in Tim's slacker universe). As with Arrested Development, Spaced benefits from repeat viewings to catch missed bits of business and gags that fly by at a Simpsons-esque rate. This Complete Series set is everything Spaced's fervent following would demand. Each episode is complemented by the original commentaries as well as newly-recorded gabfests that also feature American friends of the show, including Kevin Smith, Patton Oswalt, Quentin Taratinto, Matt Stone, Diablo Cody, and Bill Hader. There are deleted scenes and outtakes, and, best of all, an hour-long 2007 Q&A with Wright and the cast, in which Pegg allows that, had there been a third series (and we can still dream), it would have provided viewers hoping that Tim and Daisy would ultimately get together with "a moment to make every hair of your body stand on end." You will see such a moment if you "skip to the end" of the essential near two-hour series retrospective. --Donald Liebenson