BLOGS

Spaced: The Complete Series

by Zach Oat July 31, 2008 4:01 pm
Spaced: The Complete Series

Finally! Unless you're one of the initiated, you don't know how long we've been waiting for this. Available on DVD in its native U.K. for years, this 14-episode TV series was directed by Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz helmer Edgar Wright, starred both films' comedy team of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and was co-penned by Pegg as well. Also, it makes a lot of references to Star Wars, hence the Drew Struzan-esque painting of the cast on the cover of the box. Is it any wonder that American fans have been dying to get their hands on it? I mean, literally, through the black market? What a senseless waste of human life. The first Region 1 set ever would be worth it for the show alone, but the set is so packed with extras, you're really getting a bargain.

The Show: Spaced follows Tim (Simon Pegg), a struggling graphic artist, and Daisy (Jessica Stevenson, now Hynes, who co-created and co-wrote the series), a struggling freelance writer, as they get thrown together as roommates and deal with their lackadaisical twenty-something lives. Their landlady lives upstairs, a withdrawn painter lives downstairs, and their friends (a gun nut and a fashion-obsessed dry-cleaner) stop by to take part in escapades that usually end up feeling a lot like science-fiction movies. Done. Brilliant. Let's move on.

Commentary Tracks: In addition to sporting the original British-edition commentary track, with Wright, Pegg and Hynes, the big Extra on this set is the new set of commentary tracks rotating between six American pop-culture superstars who are also fans of the show. Overall, the commentaries are more philosophical discussions between the two camps -- with many expressions of mutual admiration -- rather than specific discussions of the episodes, but the occasional "I love this scene" or "This is that set I was talking about" creeps in. Here's who contributed:

- The godfather of pop-culture references, Kevin Smith, sits in on three episodes, discussing the origins of the show and how they all got together. Being a director, he also comments on the filmmaking a lot, asking about budgets and pointing out how cinematic it all is.

- Director Quentin Tarantino also turns up, and there is much discussion of pop-culture references and extensive berating of the Star Wars prequels.

- South Park co-creator Matt Stone joins the three creators to comment on a few episodes, as well, pointing out all of the stuff they were able to get away with, and comparing notes on what they can get away with now.

- Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody doesn't talk as much as the others, but when she does she talks about Britishisms, pop culture references, fashion... and Juno, specifically prosthesticles.

- Comedian/ubergeek Patton Oswalt does a few episodes one-on-one with Edgar Wright where they talk about the geeky references and about relationships, including Oswalt's massive crush on Daisy/Jessica.

- Saturday Night Live cast member Bill Hader also does a commentary, on the other end of a phone line from Edgar Wright. The two watch the episode together, and exchange stories, including when Bill Hader told Michael Bay his films were crap. Yay, Bill!

Deleted Scenes: The Bonus Disc has a plethora of deleted scenes. There's at least one from every episode, and some have as many as five. And there's commentary for each by Wright, Pegg, et al., explaining why they were cut (timing, revealing too much about a relationship, etc.). There's even raw footage on the Bonus disc, which is basically long takes of performances that were cut up (like each character's individual performances in the fake gunfights of Season 2) or shots that aren't outtakes but do have a funny aftermath (Tim wiping out on his skateboard).

Outtakes: For those of you who enjoy seeing people flub lines and bang their heads together, Season 1 and Season 2 each get their own set of outtakes, the old DVD standard. (Although most sets aren't as funny as these are -- Simon Pegg nearly electrocutes himself in one!) Additionally, the third "Bonus" disc includes even more outtakes from each season! Man -- these Brits screw up a lot.

Documentary: The Bonus Features disc includes a feature-length documentary, including interviews with the cast, guest stars and experts, like Harry Knowles, founder of AintItCool.com and Nick Lee, the founder of Spaced-Out.org.uk, the show's official fansite. By the time you get to the end of it, you pretty much feel like Spaced is the most important television show that has ever been made... and you're not really that far off.

Miscellaneous: The commercials for Spaced are almost as awesome as the show itself, and there's several for each season on the two episode discs. Biographies for the cast, crew and even the characters are on all three discs; the character bios on the Season 2 disc read like fan fiction. On the Bonus disc is a National Film Theatre Q & A with Pegg and Wright from November 2007, and they're later joined by most of the cast. Jessica Hynes isn't present for the session, but she records a video diary in which she explains that she can't attend because she's being held hostage. A music video called "Spaced Jam" by Osymyso mashes up dialogue from the series with a techno beat, all over a montage of clips on the Bonus disc. And "Daisy Sings Elvis" on the Season 2 disc is just what it says -- an extended version of her rendition of "Teddy Bear" from the Season 2 episode where she and Tim go out to a bar and get hammered.

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