Adventures in Netflix! Episode 4: Spaced

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(Two quick notes before we get started. Firstly, as of this posting I’m going to try and make Adventures in Netflix a weekly thing, hopefully going up every Wednesday. Secondly, I’d like to establish a basic criteria for choosing material, that criteria being (a) that it interests me, (b) that it’s something a little odd or obscure, and (c) that it be something I’ve either never heard of before, or something I’ve heard of but know absolutely nothing about. )

Welcome to Adventures in Netflix. Today I’ll be talking about Spaced, a charming UK sitcom that ran from 1999 to 2001.

I first noticed Spaced a few days ago while browsing through Netflix, and the cover art intrigued me just enough that I read the description then moved on, forgetting that I had ever seen it. Then, yesterday, while looking for something to write about, I stumbled across it again and decided to give it a try–and I’m very glad I did.

Spaced, based solely on its pilot, is simply one of the most sincere sitcoms I’ve ever watched. The characters, while goofy, felt real. At no point did it seem like actors delivering lines in beautiful, well lit sets, but rather more like hanging out with a couple of friends and sharing a laugh.

The premiss of Spaced is, like a great many sitcoms, fairly straightforward. Main characters Daisy Steiner and Tim Bisley (played by Jessica Hynes and Simon Pegg, respectively) are down on their luck Londoners who meet in a little restaurant and discover that they are both looking for apartments. Two weeks of hanging out in the restaurant (and one quite funny montage) later, and they are both at their wits’ end from their fruitless search. Just before they completely break down, Daisy spots one last listing in the paper for an apartment, professional couples only. The two decide to pretend to be together in order to get the apartment, and a sitcom is born.

Daisy and Tim

The entire cast of Spaced is excellent, and they do a wonderful job of bringing the varied, excellently written characters (and their amusing eccentricities) to life.

The Cast of Spaced

The most memorable of these characters (in my opinion) is the downstairs neighbor of the two main characters, a concept artist named Brian Topp (played by Mark Heap), who’s quiet, grim,  almost haunted attitude is contrasted hilariously by a brief series of flashbacks in which he is shown creating his art amidst fits of violent emotion.

Brian Topp

The music/sound effects were also great, accenting the events onscreen with the  perfect amount of whimsy and charm.

Even though the show is over twelve years old, it felt (at least to me) like it could have just as easily come out a year ago, partly I think because it largely avoided making obvious, easy pop culture jokes and instead focused on the characters and all of their lovable, often hilarious eccentricities, and also due to its use of single camera style cinematography and blissful lack of laugh track.

All in all I thought the first episode of Spaced was terrific, and I look forward to watching more, so unless you dislike British humor I sincerely recommend Spaced.

~NekoShogun

Postscript: This was meant to be posted yesterday, but due to technical difficulties it was delayed.

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