Friday, 15 April 2016

Spaced Episodes IV-VII: The Wrath of Tim

Here we are with the second half of the first season of Spaced. Having introduced and established the characters within the first three episodes, the remainder of the first season focuses on the characters adapting to changes in their personal relationships and making important life decisions.

The pop cultural references continued unabated of course. In this installment of the Spaced Musings, let's check out the next four episodes as battles are began and chaos reigns until epiphanies are had as the first season ends.

"Aren't you glad we've been introduced?!"

Episode IV - Battles

The fourth episode opens with Daisy breaking up with her long distance boyfriend Richard due to her success as a writer. By which I mean Richard breaks up with Daisy since he's meeting new people and doesn't have space in his life for her. Also, she's been getting off with other people behind his back. Again Edgar Wright does a nice little camera pan to reveal the real situation.

Talking about nice little camera pans, there another bit of classic Wright camera work where Daisy is telling Tim about the breakup after he asked her. The camera turns in on her for a close up while she weepily talks about her feelings, just to a quick head turn back to Tim who is playing video games since she said she was "fine".

She did say she was fine.

The juxtaposition between the slow dramatic close up and abrupt cut to Tim emphasises the humour of the moment. It also emphasises that these aren't the nicest characters in the sense that they aren't particulate empathetic and are a little self-centred.

To be fair to Tim, he is dealing with stuff following his own breakup with Sarah, which he isn't handling that well. Unless it is considered healthy to repeatedly drown Lara Croft. As he tells a paint covered Brian,
Tim: Well, I just got a letter from my ex-girlfriend, three months late, explaining why she dumped me. It was full of "You'll always be special" and "I'll always love you" platitudes designed to make me feel better while appeasing her deep seated sense of guilt for running off with a slimy City boy called Duane and destroying my faith in everything.
Brian: So it didn't really work, then?
Tim: No, it made me wanna drown things! You've got some paint on you.
This is the problem I have reviewing Spaced. I just end up dissecting every scene and line of dialogue so I don't get anywhere. Since I've got three more episodes to do and I've barely got into this one, I'm gonna do more of an overview approach from here on end. Alright?

"Alright then." - Duane probably.

So in this episode, Daisy gets a dog to deal with the emotional hole she's feeling following her breakup while Tim faces off Duane, his ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend, in paintball. I think this episode might have Wright's first ever lock and load montage but as anyone who has watched Hot Fuzz knows, it definitely wasn't his last.

I forgot to mention the homoerotic tension between Tim and Mike before because it is so blatant that it's almost above mentioning when you occasionally get lines of dialogue like this,
Paint ball player: I've always fancied myself as a bit of a soldier.
Tim: I've always fancied myself.
Mike: I've always fancied you.
Tim: Not here.
Moving on, basically this episode is supposed to show how different people deal with their grief, Daisy does it by finding something to fill the void while Tim does it with the violence of paintball.

"Both are equally valid." - Duane probably.

Episode V - Chaos

Daisy has developed a nearly unhealthy obsession with Colin the dog due to her emotional dependence following her breakup. This is difficult for Tim because of his phobia of dogs but at the same time he understands that Daisy has had a hard time and does feel better while Colin is around.

This shows some emotional growth for Tim as he puts aside his own feelings for Daisy, possibly due to his cathartic paintball confrontation with Duane in the previous episode. We also get to see more of Bill Bailey as Bilbo Bagshot, Tim's boss at the comic book store, in this episode and more of Bill Bailey is always welcome.

Bill Bailey: Who's my character?
Edgar Wright: You play a comic book store owner named Bilbo Bagshot and...
Bill Bailey: No, that's enough. I've got this.

Tim and Brian have a Star Wars marathon as part of a cultural exchange since Tim went to an art museum with Brian but on his way to buy popcorn for the marathon, Tim bumps into an evil and suspicious man on the pavement.

There's a nice early dig at Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (remember this show came out in 1999 before we had all realised just how unforgivably atrocious that film was) with the "Three Good Star Wars movies later..." scrolling text.

Also, fun fact from IMDb, the song that plays as Tim, Daisy and Brian have just finished watching the Star Wars trilogy, is the Ewok song which plays in the final scene of the original version of Return of the Jedi sung by Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. They couldn't get permission to use John Williams' Star Wars end credits score so their composer came up with a tune and they sang the Ewok song over it.

They had no idea of the horror that awaited them.
Attack of the Clones wouldn't be out for another three years.

Colin is then abducted by the evil and suspicious man while Tim has takes him out for a walk. Apparently the evil and suspicious man is a vivisectionist and the gang has to arrange a rescue mission to break Colin out of an animal testing lab.

I quite liked this bit. Not sure why exactly but there was something quite gratifying in seeing this bunch of misfits and oddballs pull off an Ocean's Eleven style heist/rescue mission. Spoiler Alert: They get Colin back.

Oh, and can we talk about Marsha's intense lady boner for Brian? This has been a running joke throughout all the episodes so far but it seems way more intense in this episode. Maybe her sexual innuendos are more blatant or something but they really went for it in this episode.

"I could really go for it, you know what I mean Brian." - Marsha probably

Episode VI - Epiphanies

And so it has come to this, the clubbing episode. Tim's friend Tyres invites Tim and Daisy to go clubbing with him. Tyres often speaks in high-octane flurries of words jam-packed with a hundred adjectives and back by a pulsating rave beat. As a bike messenger, he's a worker man and won't miss any opportunity to diss Tim and Daisy for their more artsy career choices.

It seems that the emotional growth I thought Tim had undergone in the previous episode hadn't been so much a growth as a momentarily blip on his emotional radar. When Daisy observes that he is still hung up over Sarah, he snaps at her quite aggressively since he's so touchy about it.

They invite Brian to join them as they go clubbing but he's hesitant due to a traumatic 1980s clubbing event involving a punch to the head and the Dexys Midnight Runners' "Come On Eileen". Also he says he is busy painting with his penis, obviously to avoid the cliche of using his paintbrush, and doesn't want to go.

Suffice to say he goes.

Before I felt like I writing too much an every scene and needed to take an overview approach but now I feel like I'm glossing over so many things. There are just so many jokes and humorous minor story-lines crammed into each episode. I haven't even mentioned how Mike was banned from the Rough Ramblers canoe club following a failed Eskimo roll or the recurring joke involving Tim and Mike's childhood flashback.

Anywho, the club scenes feel like being at a club. Pulsating music, flashing lights, things happening. Brian's arc comes to a satisfying close in the club with a repeat of his earlier transgression of knocking someone's drink out of their hand but instead of a punch to the face and "Come On Eileen", this time he gets a bear-hug set to rave music.

Also, Tim apologised to Daisy for snapping at her earlier in the episode which was nice. This shortly devolves into a compliment-fest as they say how talented they both are. I like how Tyres leaves the club at the end of the episode, his work done.

And what fine work it was. Mike become a hardcore UK raver.

Episode VII - Ends

Here we are, the final episode of Spaced's first season. Or if you're from the UK, the last episode of the first series of Spaced. Naturally we open with shots of people falling doing Tim's natural mode of transportation, skateboarding. Ah, the late 1990s and early 2000s, when watching skateboarders bail real hard was the only version of a fail video they had.

Tim gets a call from Sarah who wants to see him for some reason. The cuts to skateboards eating concrete after Daisy comes up for different reasons Sarah might want to see Tim and Tim's reaction to the skateboarders is a nice touch. Not that that is surprising at this point, the whole season has been fill of nice touches.

Moving on, Sarah says she has split with Duane which makes Tim jubilant since he thinks that means she'll want to get back together with him. Obviously, this causes Daisy some distress since she thinks Sarah is manipulating Tim and leads to an exchange of catchphrases/idioms such as "Don't judge a book by his cover" and "Do you believe in life after love?".

We all know Cher believes.

They also finally reveal the mystery that we had been trying to unravel the entire season, the tragic backstory of how Mike and Tim became friends. I won't spoil it here for those not yet caught up for fear of ruining the reveal but suffice to say it involved a tree and was greatly satisfying.

There's is a lot more Mike in this episode which I'm happy about since I love Nick Frost so more Mike is always good. He is trying to get into the Territorial Army since he was banned from the regular army after commandeering a tank to invade Paris. Like most Paris invasions, Mike's invasion was cut short due to a stop at Disneyland Paris, then called Euro Disney.

Back to nice touches, Tim lashes out at Daisy for not supporting him in regards to his relationship with Sarah and she hands a brutal take-down which is mirrored by Nina in Tekken kicking the other character's ass.

If only every argument had such a clear winner.

Follow this fight, Daisy tries write but gets interrupted by Marsh bringing gifts of wine and backstory. She and Brian had a thing before but it was only to pay his rent. Daisy then settles in to write but properly this time, and for the first time the whole season.

Also Brian and Twist go out on a date which turns out real well, so hooray for them. Tim and Sarah also go out on a date but theirs doesn't end well, so hooray for them. Sarah wanted him back but he declined. Daisy meets up with Tim at the pub and he describe his moment of clarity,
It's like when you have an orgasm on your own. Lyin there watching some porn movie you bought on a drunken, lonly night in SoHo. And you're lyin there, everything is really great. You're getting totally turned on by these absurdly graphic images. Everything seems so right, then Ppett. Bingo! You wake up. You're lyin there sweatin, despreatly lookin for the tissue, which you just know is still in your pocket. And the remote control which is somewhere on the floor. It's like walkin in on yourself. You know, 'What you doing?' That's how I felt tonight. Sitting here, feeling my heart miss a beat everytime the door opened. What the fuck are you doing.
They then finish the episdoe dancing to a pub band performance of Louis Jordan's "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" and honestly I can think of a better way to end the season.

Notable Pop Cultural References:

Psycho shower scene theme (again) while Tim mimics frightened girl's pose in Evil Dead II poster
Bonus Evil Dead II reference - After the lock and load montage Mike says "Groovy"
Instrumental version of the Baywatch theme plays during a flashback scene
The Nutcracker plays whenever we see Colin the dog
So much Star Trek, just all the Star Trek
The Shining in the flashback to Tim's step-dad who was a nice guy
The A-Team theme music plays while Mike is raving in the club
"He who dares, wins" Del Boy's catchphrase from Only Fools and Horses
Tekken obviously
I like to think they're referencing Tom & Jerry with "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby"

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