Spaced is a popular Channel 4 show from a few years back, and it is not science fiction. Did you think it was? Fool. How could you make a mistake like that over a show that starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and was directed by Edgar Wright? And you call yourself a fan of all things funny, smart, and oozing quality? Silly fool. Why wouldn’t you have looked up Spaced on Wikipedia to see what it was about before sitting down with Wright, Pegg, and Jessica Hynes for a round table interview? That’d be a serious Comic-Con faux pas otherwise. Serious.
Luckily I did Google Spaced last night, and I learned that it in fact is not a sci-fi comedy the likes of Red Dwarf. The show was created and co-written by Wright, Pegg, and Jessica Hynes, and starred the latter two as flatmates pretending to be a couple. Frost starred as Pegg’s eternal sidekick. Spaced ran two seasons (or ‘series’ as he Brits confusingly call them) in 1999 and 2001, and is best known for introducing Wright’s style of fast editing and love for all things pop culture into a sitcom-like environment. See Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz for perfect cinematic examples (although you really should have seen the two films already, much like I probably should have seen Spaced.) Wright said “the whole show is hyper-stylized because the characters are sort of drenched in pop culture… and if they had to describe their mundane lives this is what it would look like. You’re watching the memory of their lives, not the actuality.”
The first question for Pegg was a timely one… “What are your actual feelings on The Phantom Menace?” He didn’t like it. “It was like having the curtain pulled back and seeing this odd, little, fat man not doing too well.” Wright added that he views Spaced in the context of season one coming before Phantom Menace and season two coming after, the two seasons being “like a pre and post-Vietnam… an element of a generation suddenly thinking ‘Ah I spent my whole life obsessed with this thing’, and making a lot of people kind of look in the mirror.” Pegg said they wanted to use a lot of Star Wars merchandise in season one, but they were turned down. By season two the Lucas licensing team was offering any merch they wanted, “but by that time we had seen The Phantom Menace and we said we don’t want it.” Hynes added that while she loves Star Wars, her son’s favorite is Revenge of the Sith prompting an exasperated Pegg to utter “Oh for fuck’s sake.”
Asked which American TV shows they’ve enjoyed, Wright and Pegg both shared their love for Arrested Development, with Pegg calling it “depressingly good.” Wright feels Seinfeld‘s plotting was a huge influence on the second season of Spaced. Pegg also likes what they’ve done with the American version of The Office, a show which like Spaced first gained a following in the US via illegal downloads. I asked their opinion on the subject as a double-edged sword. Without the growing fanbase downloading and passing around copies of the show, would there even be a domestic DVD release? Pegg said succinctly “it depends if you’re thieving or sharing.” Wright acknowledged that it’s never been released on region 1 (North America) dvd before, so you would need to import it and play it on a mult-region DVD player. “That’s why we did this new edition with loads and loads of extras… the most comprehensive box-set of them all.” It includes all the episodes and special features from the original region 2 set, along with new features including guest commentary from folks like Kevin Smith, Patton Oswalt, Diablo Cody, and Quentin Tarantino.
The Spaced complete series DVD box-set was released 7/22. I’m downloading it as I type.
Stay tuned all this week as we bring you coverage from Comic-Con International. Not only will we be roaming the floor in search of love, but we will have the latest news Live from Hall H, great interviews with some of Hollywood’s hottest stars and random convention shenanigans, courtesy of our Comic-Con Attack Squad! To keep tabs on all of the happenings, just head over to our Comic-Con 2008 Homepage.