Spaced complete series DVD review
When it comes to TV series, our friends in Britain run a very bizarre business. Most British TV series do not run for a very long time, in the case of Spaced only two seasons, and there’s a flurry of funny little shows every other year, leading as a whole to lots of diversity and fun, but also to danger of things falling under the radar. Spaced did not fall under the radar, it gained a huge fan community, gained a cult following and even set foot in the United States, so much so that the BBC decided to do a special US DVD release and send the stars to a few events to promote it. Quentin Tarantino, a fan of the show and friend of the director Edgar Wright (who also directed one of the fake trailers in Grindhouse starring two of Spaced’s stars, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, the latter almost scored a role in Inglorious Bastards), decided to hop on board for the audio commentary on two episodes. But there’s lots more to discover. Click read the rest of this entry to check out our review of the US (Region 1) DVD release of Spaced, the complete series!
Tim (Simon Pegg) is a mostly unemployed comic artist working part-time in a comic book store where he has to deal with kids who liked The Phantom Menace. Daisy (Jessica Hynes) is a writer – or at least wants to be one, she’s basically constantly on a writer’s blockade. The two run into each other while looking for an appartment (flat, for the Brits), and find one rented out by landlady Marsha, but have to pretend they are a couple in order to get on the lease. What evolves is a two-season sit com about the two and their daily lives, their relationships, the place they live in, what they work on and what adventures they experience. Throw in video games, their favorite movies, bottles of wine, a crazy military friend of Tim’s called Mike (perfectly mimed by Nick Frost), a spaced-out raver, the artist Brian living in the basement (Mark Heap) who the landlady has her eyes on, as well as zombies, the agents from The Matrix and ruthless employers, and you have one Spaced out tv show. What works so well is, that each of these characters is more than just slightly odd, each of them is a very thick character, while at the same time someone you might be able to identify with, be it for the love of videogames, their looks, the things they like or the negligible amounts of money they have at their disposal to make a living. Fast forward a few episodes and you have to be in love with Mike, who has not a clue what “4 o’clock” means so Tim has to tell him they meet at “1400”, military time. And one major reason why Spaced has gained such a cult following is, that it is chock full of pop culture, from movies, video games, music to lifestyle. Spaced might not be for everyone, and at times I felt it felt a tad too dogma-ish, but overall, I had one helluva good time rewatching this within 24 hours. Dive into the world of Spaced, and other tv shows might suddenly appear far too normal.
The DVD the BBC has just released in the United States is a pimped version of the one already available in the UK. It has been spiced up mostly with audio commentaries by names that sound familiar to American TV audiences, such as Patton Oswald (King of Queens), Matt Stone (Southpark) and household names like Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino.
The commentaries as such are really a gem. Not only do you get the usual cast commentaries, that alone are worth listening to (as they really add a lot to the personality and the general experience of this show), the guest commentaries add a whole new level of involvement. This is not some random show, people love this show, including celebrities. It is really great to hear why Tarantino likes this show and what experiences Matt Stone connects with certain episodes as well. What makes this so interesting is that none of these people have any direct involvement with what they are talking about (granted, Edgar Wright is friends with Tarantino, but Spaced came way before that), so they are just as much fans as you, the audience, and most of what these commentators talk about, you can relate to.
As with most DVDs, outtakes are really only for the hard core fans. Some of thes are indeed hilarious though so they are worth checking out that’s for sure (I mean Teddybear… come on). The really great extra on this DVD is the “Homage-O-Meter”. Sometimes this is called a Trivia track, but in this case, it is pure nerd heaven. It is a subtle subtitle (always wanted to say that), that gives you all the movie and pop culture references while watching the show. If you are a walking encyclopedia like Quentin, you might not need this, but this is really good education.
Finally, disc three is pure extras. Another truckload of deleted scenes and outtakes, commentaries as well as a 60 Minute documentary that explores the evolution of the show, the career of the participants and the impact of Spaced. Full of interviews, footage and behind-the-scenes revelations, this is a very interesting documentary made with lots of devotion to what Spaced is, and what it means to the cast and crew, also on a personal level. Topping it off is a video of the 2007 Spaced reunion.
VERDICT / CONCLUSION
Whether you are a devoted fan of the show, or you just want to discover something you’ve heard others talk about, Spaced is a great TV show and yet so much more. It is a microcosm of pop culture, a mini sitcom with loveable characters and crazy little stories that take place in a universe that could be your own life with a twist (pun intended). Spaced is entertaining, addictive and original. I highly recommend checking it out, and this DVD set is a great chance to do so. They went to great lengths providing you with lots of value for your buck, the set is chock full with extras that will keep you busy for weeks, with tons of audio commentaries, trivia tracks, outtakes, documentaries and other goodies. Spaced – The Complete Series is one of those Tv-on-DVD experiences worth your money, easily.
Thanks for reading.