Friday, 22 April 2016

Spaced Episodes VIII-X: Reality Strikes Back

The saga continues with the second season of Spaced (or the second series if you're from the UK, in which case, hi!). Once again we join Tim and Daisy as they try navigate the uncertainty of their aimless twenties in turn of the millennium London.

Full Disclosure: I'm not as familiar with the second season as I was with the first. This isn't because there is anything wrong with the second season or I think the first is better or something. I just never watched it. Sometimes things just turned out that way.

"Art never just turns out that way. True art like Season 2 is vibrant and free of cliche." - Brian probably

Episode VIII - Back

The first episode back starts with an introductory sequence just in case you forgot who the characters were since the season one ended. They do this neat trick where the shot holds on the character and they wobble the picture as Tim delivers expository narration on the character. I don't think I described it all that well but it's a cool visual effect that ties nicely into the tone of the sequence.

Tim's expository narration is intercut with Daisy's narration for a book she is trying to write. She had spent the past couple of months travelling over Asia trying to find herself after she sold some articles and inherited some money from her dead auntie. And she comes back to find that Mike has been sleeping in her room.

He didn't make that much of a mess.

When Tim asks for photos of Daisy's trip, she doesn't have any but rather recorded her travels with a video camera... on tape. Ah, 21st century technology at its finest. Also a nice touch is that right before Tim asks to see her photos, the screen flashes with a flashbulb sounds off like an old timey camera as it cuts from Daisy to him. Damn you Edgar Wright and your expert directing touches!

Daisy heads downstairs to catch up with Brian who is enjoying life way too much for a tortured artist. His relationship with Twist has been going quite well and they are enjoying quite the healthy sex life with an appropriate leather aesthetic.

Tim and Mike are watching the same skateboarding fails video from season one and once again Wright uses the reactions to the video to punctuate the scene that actually plays out, namely Daisy telling Marsha about Stephen, a Time-Lord she met on her travels.

He really is the Master.

Stephen is nabbed by the agents from the Matrix, one of which is Mycroft Holmes so you know things are serious. They are looking for something in Stephen's bag but he switched it out with Daisy's and so she becomes their target.

Honestly it's quite refreshing to see a parody of The Matrix don't doesn't feel tired, like the innumerable bullet time parodies which came out in the early 2000's, and is actually still funny removed from the source material.

They are about to take Daisy away but then Marsha shows up like a wine-soaked deus ex machina to show them the video which shows Stephen swapping out his illegal bag for Daisy's. All is well, aside from Daisy's post-holiday blues.

"What? I will write for and appear in both Doctor Who and Sherlock? That is the sound of nerd credibility."

Episode IX - Change

A window breaks with a clash of smashed glass and the thump of a heavy suitcase landing on the lawn outside. Tim, Daisy, Mike, Brian, and Colin the dog are abruptly awoken by the disturbance above their heads. Marsha's daughter Amber has moved out.

Tim then doesn't have the best day as he is fired from his job at the comic book store by Bilbo after shouting at a young boy for wanting to buy a Jar-Jar Binks doll since the child obviously had no soul. Tim still hasn't gotten over The Phantom Menace even though it has been 18 months since it came out. To be fair to Tim, we still haven't gotten over The Phantom Menace and it's been 17 years.

Over to Brian who is having trouble finding inspiration for his painting due to his happiness in his relationship, even though he has been approaching the canvas in different ways.

However he does seem to get his groove back when he finds out his uncle has just died. Fueled by grief and pain, he attacks his canvas with delicate strokes of his brush in a creative frenzy. As a tortured artist he needs to feel tortured in order to art. Such is his curse.

Daisy and Tim go to the Job Centre to try get some money. Tim is lucky since he found a sympathetic employee who understood the negative impact The Phantom Menance had on people's lives and works something out for Tim. Daisy not so much since she hadn't claimed the dole in the three months she was on holiday.

Tim manages to get a job in Bilbo's doppelganger Derek's comic book store while Daisy has some trouble getting a job since she doesn't know what type of work she could do. Daisy's desire to be a writer but her total aimlessness is quite real to me.

So many people have dreams or aspirations but don't actually know how to achieve them or don't do what they need to get there. And Daisy is one of the few television characters who exhibits this reality and I identify with that.

This is my reaction to the question "What kind of work can you do?" too.

Marsha hits on Mike who she's made her new lodger and then gives Brian inspiration by telling him that he needs to be miserable in order to paint and that the conflict between his happiness and his art must make him inconsolable.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate Julia Deakin's performance as Marsha here? Because she is hilarious. This could so easily have been an annoying character and while Marsha is a little one-note, Deakin's gives her a real presence and totally sells the character.

End of the episode, Tim's got his old job back, Mike's got his own room, Brian is naked in the garden, and Daisy got a job in a book shop. All is well.

I'm just gonna leave this here.

Episode X - Mettle

Robot Wars! I remember watching that show as a kid, people building dangerous little robots to attach other dangerous little robots with axes and saws. It was great. They even namedrop Sir Killalot. Ah, the early 2000's.

By the way, Tim and Mike built a robot in case that wasn't clear. They have a rivalry with Dexter who also has a robot which they beat in the regionals to qualify for the quarterfinals. Dexter wants a rematch but Mike declines. Dexter isn't happy about this.

Robot war is hell.

Oh, that thing I said about all being well at the end of the last episode? Well they're not. Well, that is. Daisy has been fired from three jobs in as many weeks. She's not real good at the whole 'keeping a job' thing. She gets a job in a kitchen run by Nurse Ratched, sorry I mean her boss Tina.

Brian also has his arc going this episode where he is the last minute replacement to put on an exhibition but is facing insecurity about his art and if people will like it. Funnily enough, whereas in the last episode Marsha gave Brian creative inspiration, in this one she inadvertently shattered his confidence.

Mike and Tim's robot is sabotaged by Dexter and his goon in the night. But they resolve to rebuild it before the quarterfinals. This kicks off the what I'm gonna call the "getting shit done montage" as Mike and Time rebuild their robot, Brian resolves to paint his arse off, and Daisy is determined to wash all the dishes she can to pulsating music. It's a pretty funny and effective montage.

The show is over.

What I also like about it is that everyone is taking charge. Much of the first season was focused on inaction, not doing things whether due to apathy, lack of direction, or simple laziness. It nice to see these guys take action and be determined to get a goal accomplished.

Daisy gets a heavy dose of reality when Tina informs her that all the staff at Neo Nachos are writers and she isn't special or the only creative one. While Tina is obviously the villain here, this is an important message to tell. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own narrative that we forget that other people are also creative and struggle to do the things they want to do too.

Tim and Mike have a rematch with Dexter at Robot Club. I really wish I could say more but the first rule of Robot Club is that you do not talk about Robot Club.

So that was the first half of the second season of Spaced, join me next week for the last installment of the Spaced Musings as we look at the final four episodes.

Notable Pop Culture References:

Tim's voice-over is Goodfellas' "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster"
Pulp Fiction with the pop tarts and Daisy finding the gun as Mike comes out of the bathroom
Darth Vader's funeral pyre when Tim burns his Star Wars memorabilia
The Karate Kid training montage
Bilbo's office front door is the TARDIS
The A-Team - Marsha puts a cigarette in her mouth and says "I love it when a plan comes together"
Derek quotes Obi-Wan Kenobi "You've just taken your first step into a larger world"
Daisy's two halves are Sandy pre and post transformation in Grease
The Neo Nachos kitchen is just the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ward
Robot Club is of course Fight Club

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