Thursday, September 8, 2011

In case I haven't raved about it yet...Spaced!

I spent a lot of time in front of a television growing up. Let's go ahead and move past whether that was unfortunate or not. Looking back I know that I enjoyed myself and had the opportunity to discover a significant number of inspirations. Sorting the good from the bad became second nature after the first few years, and thanks to my brilliant uncle who was present for most of the earliest of my Tube-years I was exposed to some of the best television ever made.

In color and black and white I had a chance to see programs such as Doctor Who, Black Adder, The Young Ones, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Mr. Bean, Are You Being Served?, Mystery and the list goes on. Obviously, unless you're an uninformed twit, you can see that this is a list of British television series (don't get me wrong I did watch a lot of American cartoons). It might be safe to say that I grew up in the humid, wilds of Florida but developed in the glow of British social commentary, absurd comedy, and incredibly imaginative science-fiction. I couldn't possibly be more thankful for such a cultural upbringing.

So now I'm an adult. A socially labeled and testosterone-endowed man who reminisces like an old woman wrapped in so much lace with a never-ending tea time. I look back on the programs of my youth with a warm fondness recalling memories like the time a tweed-jacketed Rowan Atkinson made tea with a sock or the time Rik Mayall held a benefit concert in his living room alongside Nigel Planer's Neil where Alexei Sayle (who is that fat bastard?) sung about Doctor Martin's boots or contemplating the range a cybermat must have had to be able to leap at the throats of its victims in the black and white, spine-tingling Tomb of the Cyberman. What a childhood to have grown up with such splendors born out of the minds of scrawny, pale, beautiful Brits who possessed incredible talent. All this leads me to my praise-rant for the direct descendant of all that English wonder, Spaced.

Spaced was a show I caught glimpses of, heard rumors about, and read praise for till I eventually broke down and acquired myself a copy. I don't think I have adequate words to express just how much I adore this program and the creative talent behind its production. The references throughout the show, the odd asides made by the characters, and the perfectly-timed humor all come together to honor my upbringing and the only culture folks of my generation have ever intimately known. Sure there were obscure British references, naturally, and sure there where moments where viewers without any background in the television of Britain would have been thrown off, but I got the jokes and laughed all the more because it felt like I was finally watching something made for someone like me.

The cast consisted of characters I wish, and sometimes am sure, I knew. Simon Pegg's Tim Bisley was the geek-skater of the late 90s I spent so many evenings talking to at coffee shops or watching movies with on the weekends. Jessica Hynes' Daisy Steiner was the cute girl in my class I was never brave enough to ask out but was glad to moon over from afar. Nick Frost's Mike Watt was the odd fellow and true friend-type that was fixated on something for which I had no shared interest but was someone I was always glad to have around. Mark Heap's Brian Topp was in many ways me in high school except I never really could express myself, either properly or ridiculously. Katy Carmichael's Twist Morgan was like too many girls I knew and actively avoided, and Julia Deakin's Marsha Klein was like an aunt I'd like to have around though might have avoided. What a terrific group of flavorful folk.

Often throughout the show I would catch nods to various movies and comics with which I was very familiar. Hearing someone geek out over X-Men or hate The Phantom Menace was fantastic. Seeing the copies of 2000 AD lying about or hearing bits of various Star Wars themes always, always brought a grin to my face. Knowing that Tim shared my love for Gillian Anderson was strangely comforting, and seeing his focus shift towards Buffy was just natural. The rave scene in the first series was all too accurate and brought strange cravings back from a few years ago (the less I write there the better).

If it wasn't for my Uncle Adam, the folks on the Mike Allred message board, random ads in comics, Simon Pegg's reference to the show in the special features for Shaun of the Dead, and my old roommate I'd never have found this lovely series. Now every once in a while I get a hardcore urge to put it on, sit back, and absorb the magic of the Wright-Pegg-Hynes brain-trust. I hope they do something together again real soon, and I know I can't be alone in wishing that.

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