This week we’re going in-depth with a look at this week’s highly anticipated cult television series, Spaced. If you like Brit comedies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, then you’ll love the show that started it all for comic wonder boys Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright.
The director-actor team of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg broke through in 2004 with the horror-comedy Shaun of the Dead, a Certified Fresh parody of the zombie classics popularized by the films of George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead). That brand of referential comedy popped up again in their 2007 follow-up, Hot Fuzz, which spoofed the buddy cop genre with nods to the likes of Point Break, Lethal Weapon, and all things Michael Bay. The duo, along with regular co-star Nick Frost, plan on completing their “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy” with a third film, The World’s End, planned for 2010; both, however, have piled their plates high with other unrelated projects (Wright directing Ant Man and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Pegg nabbing the role of Scotty in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek).
In the meantime, North American fans finally get their chance to see Wright and Pegg’s earlier collaboration: Spaced, the quirky British show that aired for two seasons in 1999 and 2001 in the U.K. and is available for the first time on DVD in North America this week!
Spaced follows the manic exploits of Tim (Pegg) and Daisy (co-creator Jessica Hynes, nee Stevenson), two dysfunctional singles posing as a couple to rent a flat for cheap in London. The twentysomething slacker pair (he’s a graphic artist; she’s a writer) are as directionless as they are obsessed with pop culture — and entirely relatable to a generation of like-minded Star Wars babies. Think of it as Friends, only smart and British and directed with a flair for Return of the Jedi references and surrealist homage.
Speaking of homage, well, there’s a lot of it here. Watch all 14 episodes in the series and catch references to not only George Lucas‘ space saga (including a storyline where Tim gets fired from a comic shop for his all-consuming hatred of The Phantom Menace) but also nods to cult films, video games, and comic books. As a treat for our readers, we’ve got a Rotten Tomatoes exclusive clip from “Chaos” (Season 1, Episode 5), in which Tim, Daisy, the military-obsessed friend Mike (Nick Frost), socially awkward housemate Brian, and superficial fashionista Twist prepare to break-into an animal testing lab under the cover of night using Star Wars codenames and the Imperial March.
Spaced: The Complete Series will be released Tuesday in a three-disc collection that includes all 14 episodes, a feature-length documentary, commentaries from the original UK release, deleted scenes, outtakes and more. Which graphic artist is Tim Bisley named for? Find out by turning on the optional Homage-O-Meter to keep track of the fast and furious references in both seasons. Which episode of The X-Files inspired a storyline involving Daisy’s missing dog? Find out in the all-new commentary track featuring Wright, Pegg, Hynes, and a revolving cast of their best celebrity friends and fans (Kevin Smith, Diablo Cody, Patton Oswalt, Matt Stone, Quentin Tarantino, and Bill Hader).
“Watching Spaced is kinda like watching a Kevin Smith film if Kevin Smith had any real talent.”- Kevin Smith
“I laughed hard and I hate comedy.”- Judd Apatow
“The wonderfully funny, outrageous and unique British television comedy series that manages to be both insane and sweet at the same time! A very influential show from the guys who gave us Shaun of the Dead.“- John Landis
“The one, the only…Spaced. Accept no substitute” – Quentin Tarantino
Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Jessica Hynes are taking Spaced on the road for screenings in select cities. Click for Wright’s MySpace blog and head over to the official Spaced Invasion website for event info.
Click for this week’s new releases.
In 1993 a team of card counting M.I.T. students raked in casino dough with the power of math; in 2003, their experiences became a New York Times bestseller. This year, Hollywood added more sex, intrigue, and Kevin Spacey to the story — courting controversy by changing real-life Asian American team members into Caucasians — and a commercial, if not critical, hit was born.
Hold off on the 2-disc edition unless you really want the only extra feature: a digital copy of the film. Otherwise, check out the single-disc release for a commentary by director Robert Luketic and his producers, plus three featurettes on the film’s production, its Las Vegas setting, and a lesson in card-counting by the cast.
Before Shaun of the Dead, before Hot Fuzz and the Grind House trailer Don’t, there was Spaced. The BBC launching pad for Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost ran for 14 episodes, all directed by Wright and co-written by Pegg and co-creator Jessica Hynes (nee Stephenson). (See previous page)
Fun extras like the Homage-O-Meter and the feature-length “Skip to the End Documentary” are great, but Wright and co. want to give you more than the average DVD. They’ve pulled in their closest celebrity friends to offer commentary tracks, including Quentin Tarantino, Patton Oswalt, Kevin Smith, Diablo Cody, Matt Stone, and Bill Hader. This is a must-own for any respectable pop culture junkie!
Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich put their stop-motion spoofing skills to work on the biggest pop culture property in the galaxy in this very special episode. Learn things you never knew about the Star Wars mythology in this nerd-friendly collection of sketches (which include a commercial for Admiral Ackbar cereal and a Yo Momma fight between Luke Skywalker and Emperor Palpatine), made with the blessing of and a cameo by George Lucas himself.
With the entire Robot Chicken: Star Wars episode available to watch online, why would you buy the DVD? Well, for starters there’s over an hour of extras, including commentary, deleted scenes, the Adult Swim TV promos, behind the scenes at animation meetings, and more. Plus, do you know how much nerd cred you get for having this on your DVD shelf?
You know her best as a Thighmaster-owning Bond girl and a powerful member of the X-Men, but Famke Janssen is ready to show you her serious side. She stars in this indie drama as a hardened (but gorgeous) pool hustler scrambling to pull her life together and reclaim the son she gave up years ago.
A single featurette and commentary by actor-director Chris Eigeman (The Last Days of Disco, Gilmore Girls) accompany the film.
While the individual films that comprise Masters of Horror: Season Two have been available individually, Anchor Bay is releasing the full 13-episode season in a limited edition set. A set shaped like a human skull! Whether or not the skull box will actually fit on your DVD shelf, this set, with films by the likes of Dario Argento, John Carpenter, Joe Dante, John Landis, and Tobe Hooper, is a must-have for fans of modern horror.
Each disc has its own set of commentaries, featurettes, galleries, and more.
‘Til next week, happy viewing!