Spaced: Beginnings   Rewatch 
February 1, 2015 7:22 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Daisy Steiner and Tim Bisley meet by chance and hatch a plan to pose as a couple to rent an apartment whose landlord requires a professional couple.

A bit more detailed summary from Wikipedia:
Daisy Steiner and Tim Bisley meet in a small cafe and bond over their shared frustration in searching for accommodation (he has been kicked out by girlfriend Sarah, she is a squatter desperate to escape her down-and-out acquaintances), and gradually form a friendship. Just when all seems lost, they stumble upon what seems to be a perfect place – trouble is, it is listed as being for a 'professional couple' only. Thus begins a complicated plan involving faked photos and memorising every significant (and not-so-significant) fact about each other to pass themselves off as a long term couple in order to fool Marsha Klein, their prospective landlady. To their surprise, it works.
Series premiered on 24 September 1999.

From the​ Production section at Wikipedia:
The show has a distinctive cinematic style set by Wright and is shot with a single camera. In addition to borrowing liberally from the visual language of film (in particular genre films), it has particular stylistic mannerisms, such as the recurring device of scene changes occurring in the middle of a pan. The series' atmosphere is also established by the use of a particular flavour of contemporary dance music on its soundtrack.​

Northern Exposure's frequent use of fantasy sequences was "one of the key influences" in the creation of the show, and Pegg and Stevenson pitched the show to LWT as "a cross between The Simpsons, The X-Files and Northern Exposure."

The series is dense with references to popular culture, including but not limited to science fiction and horror films, comic books, and video games. The Series 2 DVD release introduced the "Homage-o-meter", an alternative set of subtitles listing every reference and homage; the "Definitive Collectors Edition" boxed set introduced a similar subtitle track for Series 1. ​​2000 AD​​ artists Jim Murray and Jason Brashill provided the artwork for Tim's comic The Bear, as well as other incidental artwork for the show. Tim's boss Bilbo wears a ​​2000 AD​​ comic T-shirt whilst lecturing Tim about ​​The Phantom Menace​​.​ (See Wikipedia for footnotes.)​

[Note:​ ​Jessica Hynes​ ​was known professionally as Jessica Stevenson until 2007.​ ]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (14 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
No matter how stoic I try to be, I lose it at the tandem crying. Was a £90/wk flat on the high end or low end, then?
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:50 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

The show certainly paints it as a steal.

It's significantly less than I paid for student flats in Hammersmith, Fulham, and Vauxhall between 1999-2005; but probably also less central. (I don't think the show ever explicitly states a location, but I always saw it as more towards the suburban edges of London -- slightly more so than Shaun of the Dead, IMHO.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:30 PM on February 1, 2015

If you can get a hold of the commentary its worth it. The cast and Edgar Wright joke about the most unlikely thing about Spaced being how cheap the flat is.

I adore Spaced, its a lovely little piece of comedy, and doesn't outstay it's welcome. There's a few moments that haven't aged well (the Matrix episode is just a bit embarrassing now, and the fight club joke will be the same fight club joke everyone else makes) but it's mostly really solid.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:11 AM on February 2, 2015

My favourite bit from this episode: the Scooby-Doo gag.
posted by Pendragon at 2:07 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think part of what makes the Scooby-Doo gag so funny is that you don't see it coming. The build-up is ever so casual. And then they just hold the pose.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 3:18 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is a strong opener with a lot of zany sequences; the "Getting to Know You" song bit is unusual in that they usually lifted stuff from more current popular culture. Introduction of the characters goes very smoothly and the whole thing works like clockwork (with the scene where the two are regurgitating each other's memorized histories).

Simon Pegg in particular is shining in this one, though - you can tell how stellar he is as a comedic performer in his small reactions to Daisy, just so enjoyable I had to rewind a couple.

The super-quick editing sets the pace for the whole series here: if you didn't catch a line or a reference too bad, on with the next joke! Very rapid-fire.

Looking forward to experiencing the whole series again in a watery tissue-filled kind of way. I recall this first airing and being amazed at how good it was, and how it was stuck in a late-night slot.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:48 PM on February 2, 2015

I could watch the two of them at that diner table forever.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:51 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh, what a coincidence, I just started re-watching this yesterday! It is so very very good. One of the things I didn't appreciate as much as I should have on the initial couple of watches is how great Jessica (now) Hynes is. Simon Pegg's so great it's easy to get blindsided, but they just have such great timing and chemistry together.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:35 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's a wonderful Marc Maron interview with Nick Frost, who is a fascinating and hilarious bastard; the interview starts 14 min in or so and they talk about the genesis of Spaced (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost doing impressions at each other on a rooftop for 3 hours at a party).
posted by Sebmojo at 1:49 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Jon Mitchell - yes, they have a great comedic relationship, they did lots of comedy sketches (acting school, I think?) prior to this show, so they knew they worked well together. I think they discuss it on one of the DVD extras.

It does hold up well - this first episodes - the only jarring thing was looking in the papers for apartments; surely this is all online now in the UK? Not sure, if anyone living in the UK wants to correct me there.

There is a much stronger paper / print culture in the UK , but I'm not sure what it's like now.

You're 100% right about Jessica Hynes - it must be kind of weird for her to see Pegg's career go ZOOM! Suddenly he's in Tom Cruise movies, etc. She was in a Doctor Who and that's about all I know, will look her up in imdb.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:23 PM on February 4, 2015

Yes, but she's technically been in more Doctor Who episodes than Simon Pegg, and I think that counts for a lot!

She's terrific.
posted by mochapickle at 7:26 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

She plays Siobhan Sharpe in both Twenty Twelve and W1A, and she continues to be excellent.
posted by squinty at 5:09 PM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Fun facts from the DVD commentary (recorded while they were shooting Season 2):
  • (At least) 3 movie references: Green Card (1990), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) [the monolithic cardboard box with Tim's monster/alien suit inside, with a bit of "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" playing in the background], and The Evil Dead (1981) [the camera pan down, paired with footsteps above as Daisy, Tim and Brian follow the sound of Marsha Klein walking down to their floor];
  • When the commentary was recorded, (one of) the only quote(s) on IMDb was the "do you rent downstairs" bit with Brian;
  • The episode originally ended with Daisy getting off the phone with her boyfriend in hell Hull, but then Simon Pegg wrote up the bit about two anniversaries;
  • Edgar Wright is one of the stoned squatters seen when Daisy goes back to get her things and move into the new place with Tim.

posted by filthy light thief at 7:48 AM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

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