Friday, 17 July 2009

My Favourite TV Episodes - Part Two - Spaced: Art

Welcome to the second of my favourite episodes, this time I’ve gone for a sitcom that every self respecting nerd loves – Spaced. Watching Spaced is a blast of nostalgia for me, originally broadcast in 1999 the first series arrived shortly after I’d finished university, I was skint and terrified at the prospect of being thrust into the world of work and having to become a responsible adult with a career. Tim and Daisy’s adventures as mid 20s slackers tapped into my fears and lackadaisical outlook on life but reassured me that plenty of other people felt the same way. Tim and Daisy never had successful careers but they always had fun as they hung out with friends and did all the things that the audience did (visit the pub, go paintballing, create a killer robot in a shed) whilst making the same references to games and movies too. The Spaced gang were a surrogate circle of friends, moreso than the American phonies in Friends (although I did enjoy that show, their life experiences may as well have taken place on the Moon) the characters in Spaced were a collection of misfits and losers each with their own self doubts and crippling character flaws (in broad terms - Daisy is lazy, Tim is angry, Brian lacks self confidence, Marsha is lonely, Mike is… well Mike.)

I watched the show again over the course of a couple of days last month, it had been a few years since I’d last watched it. I was the same age as the characters at that point (25) and found the show to be a pretty accurate portrayal of life as a 20 something loser living with friends and generally having a good time despite other concerns like a crap job and lack of cash. Watching it now as someone in their thirties (31) it makes me a little melancholy, it makes me appreciate and long for those simpler times when everyone I hung out with was struggling to find their way in life but enjoying copious amounts of booze, games and free time. Those rose-tinted days have faded away as friends eventually got married, landed proper jobs or moved away to pursue marriages and proper jobs. The cosy slacker community days are long gone but Spaced serves as a perfectly preserved example of slacker behaviour at the turn of the century.

It was genuinely tough to make the decision as to which single episode was my favourite; ‘ Battle ’ is the paintball episode, the introduction of Colin the dog to the cast, and we also get to meet the infamous Duane Benzie, played by Peter Serafinowicz. ‘Epiphanies’ is the clubbing episode where Tyres unites the group through a remix of the A-Team theme. ‘Gone’ features a climactic imaginary gun fight, a stoned and drunk night out, and the return of Duane Benzie. Every episode is precious to me, so to pick just one was extremely difficult but in the end ‘Art’ won out.

‘Art’ features a great zombie sequence (inspiration for Shaun of the Dead), a hilarious interview scene where Daisy fails to land an important job, a surreal, over the top guest performance from David Walliams, and some cracking interplay between Daisy and Tim concerning jobs and Resident Evil.

Daisy’s job interview is a marvelous scene of misguided confidence as Daisy expects to walk into the interview without any preparation or ideas and get a writing job at Flaps magazine. The interview itself is ridiculous and the use of The Magic Roundabout theme to symbolize Daisy’s lack of attention and disorientation is brilliant. Then the interview ends with a peace sign and “Girl Power!” Fantastic.

Brian and Vulva’s ‘art’ performances poke fun at surreal, modern art installations and pretty much represent what the non-art fan thinks of such projects. Vulva in particular is a completely ridiculous character and almost seems to be a living nightmare with his frightening facial expressions, makeup and outfits. It’s not surprising that Tim reacts to Vulva in fear and punches him out.

The episode combines everything that’s great about Spaced into one episode; film references, gaming, absurdity, the main characters’ inability to cope in the real world, and very clever and funny dialogue. The climax to the episode is completely out of left field and bizarre, almost as if Pegg and Stevenson didn’t quite know how to end the bar scene and just decided to throw in a hallucinatory zombie attack to move things along. I find it all the more enjoyable for its surreal nature.

If you asked me again in a month’s time which Spaced episode was my favourite, I would probably give a different answer. I love the series as a whole, it’s a wodge of nostalgia wrapped up in a big ball of comedy fudge. It doesn’t get much better than that.


Rev/Views said...

Hmm, I'd definitely go with either "Battles" - brings back fond memories of paint-balling, "Epiphanies" - same with clubbing and the Tyres kettle/phone thing cracks me up or the awesome "Gone". Actually thinking about it "Gone" is probably my favourite.

I can tell you which one would definitely not be my favourite ever - "Back". That one is the only episode with elements that irritate me.

Aaron said...

As I said, I love 'em all and it's genuinely difficult for me to pick a favourite. I could've cheated again and decided to pick the entire series but that would kind of ruin the concept of "favourite episode."

I used a scientific method this week; I sampled 3 episodes from each series and picked the one I enjoyed the most. After much agonising 'Art' won out. The runners up were the ones that I listed.

Oh and I love 'Back', it's got John Simm, Kevin Eldon and Mark Gatiss in it so it scores extra points in my book.