The archetypal slacker comedy, Spaced is held in awed esteem by those who think Star Wars is the highest form of cultural expression and Pot Noodles are tastier than a three-course meal at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. That'd be us then.
Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Jessica Stevenson (now Hynes, but still Jessica), Spaced tells the story of two young 'professionals', Tim and Daisy, who meet by chance in a cafe and pretend to be a couple in order to secure a flat in north London. Amazingly, it works, and they don't even fall in love in the process.
Once they're in, it's time to sort out their lives. Daisy wants to be a journalist and Tim wants to spend more time with his PlayStation, but chain-smoking landlady Marsha, and twitchy and tortured artist Brian, who live in flats elsewhere in the house, make it their business to complicate matters. Then there's Tim's best mate Mike, who once stole a Chieftain tank and tried to invade Paris during TA manoeuvres. The perfect bloke to have over at all times, looking vaguely scary, then.
What really sets it apart from just about every single sitcom ever made (and we don't say that lightly) is the surreal, dream-like atmosphere of the thing. Director Edgar Wright, who's since become a Hollywood bigshot with films like Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World on his bulgy CV, honed his skills with Spaced, and it shows. Whole scenes are gorgeous homages to everything from Star Wars to the Resident Evil computer games, all enacted within a dark and vaguely sinister residence that's a bit Young Ones and a bit Rising Damp, on acid.
And then there are the characters themselves. Grumpy, pop culture-addled Tim and cheery but almost awe-inspiringly lazy Daisy have become icons of sitcomland, but Brian is also a work of genius, character-wise. A bit like character from Munch's Scream painting come to life, he spends most of his time committing physical atrocities upon himself, howling in the dark and avoiding the advances of landlady Marsha, who finds him inexplicably attractive. Pub trivia factoid: Brian was originally going to be played by future Might Booshy beardie Julian Barratt, who had worked alongside Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson (aka Hynes) in a now almost forgotten 90s series called Asylum. Which also happened to be the launchpad for director Edgar Wright. Frankly, you're not a proper fanboy or fangirl unless you've seen the show, if only because it's almost impossible get hold of. (Although some say you can catch it on Norman "Holly" Lovett's website... keep it under your hat.)
And if that digression struck you as fanciful and largely pointless, then get used to it. Spaced is full of twisty, turney asides and scenes-within-scenes (again, a bit of Young Ones influence there, we reckon). There's also a lot of casual drug use, which is one of the things that helped it NOT get the woeful US remake treatment. For a large and scary time, just such a thing was on the cards, but thankfully "McSpaced", as it was dubbed by Edgar Wright, never materialised.
A proper landmark in the history of sitcoms, Spaced didn't just help launch Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as two of the most popular comic actors of our era – it also ushered in a new wave of wonderfully offbeat shows. Black Books, Green Wing and Peep Show all owe something to the dark genius of Spaced. Oh, and sci-fi freaks, comics nerds, genre movie addicts and anyone who grew up worshipping Boba Fett will be eternally grateful for a show that celebrates geekdom of all kinds.
When is it on?
The series is currently off-air.
Simon's always kept his friends close, and why not when they're Nick Frost, Edgar Wright, David Schwimmer and Chris Martin?
Both variations on the traditional sitcom, but in the great comedy war would you be geeking out with the Spaced crew or cowering in the JLB office with Mark and Jez?
Were you paying attention, or about as clued up as Marsha, three bottles in?
If you were a resident of Meteor St would you be a geeky Tim, a lazy Daisy, a mental Mike or a gloomy Brian?