Saturday, 30 April 2016

Spaced Episodes XI-XIV: So Long, and Thanks for All the Geeks

And so we come to the end of this series of Musings with the final four episodes of Spaced. I know that the Spaced Musings have been overwhelmingly positive but it's not my fault that Spaced was such a great show. But maybe I'll find something to criticise in this final installment, who knows.

Full Disclosure: Like last week I have to say that I've never watched season 2 of Spaced before. So until I've reached the end of the review and have seen the final episode, I won't know how the series ends. Hopefully it provides a satisfying payoff, we'll just have to wait and see.

"You may attempt to dramatically satisfy me."

Episode XI - Help

We open with Damien the head of Dark Star comics as he calls in his secretary to announce they need a new title, all ominous and swirling cigarette smoke. They run through a list of possible names before settling on Tim, who pitch his comic to them last year. Inter-cut to Tim blowing pixelated bad guys away in first person shooter I recognise but can't remember the name of... oh well.

Daisy doesn't seem to take the good news that Dark Star comics have asked Tim for a portfolio of his work all that well. It's almost like she's jealous of the potential success he might have or afraid he will take the opportunity to move on to the next stage of his life. But that would be petty, wouldn't it?

Okay, the joke where Tim knees down to pray and it is revealed that he was praying to a poster of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was pretty gold. I'm currently rewatching Buffy at the moment, so it was anice meta moment for me.

"For thou art the Chosen One and thee only will stand alone against the forces of darkness. Amen."

Due to her reaction to his opportunity to become a comic book artist, it's uncertain whether Daisy intentionally meant to put Tim's caricature of Damien which he had removed from his portfolio back in to sabotage Tim or whether it was a simple accident made when she wasn't thinking. Because of her general thoughtlessness, I'm inclined to believe it was the later but who knows.

Of course Tim finds out and doesn't take it especially well. Daisy tries to defend herself saying that she was only trying to help but as Mike points out, Tim's just really angry at her because she has jeopardised his future. Regardless of her intent, her thoughtlessness does effect other people.

Tim and Mike chase after Tyres who is delivering Tim's portfolio, Daisy goes on a jog with Marsha, while Brian puts on a suit to meet his mom for lunch - she thinks he's a lawyer. Hijinks enuse! Tyres has already delivered the portfolio so that's a bust but Mike has an idea how to get it back.

I really forgot how many Matrix references were made in the early 2000s. 

Brian is trying to impress his mom by making her think he is a successful lawyer who makes all the money and is successful and stuff. He also pretends not to know Marsha when she jogs by which is a bit of a dick move. Not cool Brian.

At the same time Tim and Mike are infiltrating Dark Star comics to get back the Damien caricature with Tyres' help and some walkie-talkies. They manage to get to Damien's office but it's locked. Brian in the meantime has let his mother know he is an artist, which she takes remarkably well. She's totally cool with him being whatever as long as he isn't gay...

Moving on from random homophobia, Tim manages to get inside Damien's office by the ventilation shaft. Meanwhile, Daisy and Marsha are exhausted after their competitive jogging but then Colin the dog runs into the road towards Brian on the other side. Brian saves Colin but then...

The suspense is killing me. That face though.

Damien's car hits Daisy but it's okay. Tim gets back the caricature and also scores a date with Sophie, Damien's secretary. He apologises to Daisy for shouting at her earlier and everyone goes home happy at the end of the episode. Hijinks resolved.

Episode XII - Gone

Let's do the time jump again as we start the episode with Tim and Daisy running down a street in Camden late at night before being stopped by some young looking thugs who are going to beat them up for some reason but cut back to "Six Hours Earlier".

Tim is getting ready for a date with Sophie as Daisy is making chicken stew with that most exotic of spices, oregano. Sophie calls in to cancel since she has to work late but Tim thinks she is cheating on him with her boss. Luckily Mike knows just what to do and slaps him in the face. Daisy decides to take Tim out so he feels better.

Enter Brian to wax lyrical about how women are the true creators since all men do is destroy things. Women have a bond so unknowable to men since their menstrual cycles can sync up if they are together for long enough, you see. However Mike has the perfect response here too as he informs Brian that men share a telepathic bond unknowable to women.

Mike takes Colin for a walk but then loses him, enlisting Brian to help find him since no man or dog gets left behind. Tim bumps into some college kid in the toilet at the pub who wants to buy some weed off him but brushes him off.

They run into the college kid and his group of young thugs outside the pub and they demand the weed, which Tim had given to Daisy for safe keeping. In a case of wacky mix-ups, Daisy hands them the oregano by accident.

We also get Marsha's tragic back story that is too tragic to relate here but trust me that it is a tale of Olympian proportions. Tim realises that he forgot his keys and runs back to the pub when they are cornered by the young thugs. Cue slow motion gunfight. Tim and Daisy escape and make it home safe.

They all just had the chicken stew with the "oregano" in it.

Episode XIII - Dissolution

I've been spending to much of this review just recapping the events of the past two episodes. Therefore I wanted to get into some analysis for the last two episodes. Just so we know a basic outline of what went on, here's the plot summary of this episode on IMDb:
Marsha still thinks that Tim and Daisy are a couple, and when she sees Tim kissing and flirting with Sophie, she gets suspicious. Later that night at Daisy's birthday dinner, Marsha tell Daisy that Tim is cheating on her, which Daisy replies with the truth about their relationship. Marsha, humiliated after realizing that she's the only one who didn't know the truth leaves the restaurant and moves out of the flat.
Okay, analysis. The first couple of scenes have this recurring joke which is just expertly executed and a perfect example of how to use juxtaposition of sound and image for humour. So many comedy series or films forget that television and film are audiovisual media and sacrifice the visuals for dialogue or don't use sound in funny ways (and no I'm not talking about wacky sound effects).

On their night out at the pub, Brian and other people are taking pictures of the group enjoying themselves intercut with shots of Brian in a darkroom developing the photos while a horror movie sound effect is heard. Then this overly dramatic and ominous choir music plays as he looks at the finished photos. The music implies something nefarious is afoot which completely contrasts with the relatively innocent act of developing photos of your friends and fun times at the pub.

The horror. The horror.

The same highly intense dramatic choir music plays when Marsha spies Tim and Sophie making out outside from her bedroom window. It subsequently punctuates that moment when Mike watches Tim dance on the sidewalk before he confronts him about how his relationship with Sophie is causing him to forget his friends. Also Tim missed his promotion to Sergant. Not cool, Tim.

In each one of these instances, the complete disconnect from the mundaneity of the scene being played out visually and music better suited for an apocolyptic battle or horror film comes together for a perfect audiovisual joke which can only be done in the media of film or television. I've told you guys, I love Edgar Wright, right?

Another fantastic visual joke is that Marsha confronts Tim that she knows what he is up to and cut to the shot of Tim and Sophie making out. Tim asks if Mike told her and cut to a shot of the birthday cake Tim got Daisy in the shape of a typewriter. Throughout the exchange, it keeps cutting to what each thinks the conversation is about to heighten the misunderstanding.

The horror. The horror.

Whereas other shows would have a similar exchange where characters think they are talking about the same thing but actually are each thinking of different things for comedy, they wouldn't use the visual cues. But because the camera also zooms in on the making out and typewriter cake to highlight the misunderstanding, it heightens the comedy of the exchange.

The episode covers quite a bit too, Daisy grappling with getting older on her birthday as well as her dislike of Sophie because of her unstated feelings for Tim, Mike's disappointment in Tim, Brian and Twist breaking up, Marsha's feeling of betrayal... a lot happens. Which sets things up nicely for the season finale and final episode ever of Spaced.

Episode XIV - Leaves

We open with an Oasis b-side since you can't get more British than that before we see that the house is for sale. Marsha obviously didn't take being lied to by Tim and Daisy very well. The show then gets super-meta as the first scene post title credit is an exact reenactment of the scene where Marsha shows Tim and Daisy the flat in the first episode.

Realising that they need to apologise to Marsha and try to convince her not to sell the house and break up the flat, Tim and Daisy try find her. They go to Brian but he isn't coping with expressing his emotions that well at the moment and isn't even aware the house is for sale. They then go to Mike for information.

And he has scones with jam inside! They find out Marsha is living with her daughter Amber and head to Amber's flat. Meanwhile Daisy noticed Colin wandered off into the neighbour's and she goes after him. She kinda just lets herself in and what she lets herself in for is a horror movie spoof.

"Oh my god! Yet another horror movie spoof!"

Essentially Colin has been cheating on Daisy with the elderly neighbour lady next door since Daisy hasn't been treating him right and that's very important in a healthy relationship. Plus the neighbour has a widescreen TV so no real competition.

Tim and the rest don't have much more luck with Marsha who doesn't buy Tim's the "family of the 21st century are friends" speech or his apology and still wants to sell the house. They are really showing the hurt of Marsha's betrayal. Also Sophie is leaving to Seattle so she can work for Marvel.

As is apparent from the title of the episode, the theme of this episode is people leaving. Life doesn't stand still and things change. For a show that was all about how people either wander aimlessly or are stuck where they are, it's appropriate the last episode would focus how everyone leaves.

Even when they are family.

Anywho, Mike and his army buddies hikack a tank to do something spectacular to convince Marsha not to sell the house. Which of course means a Say Anything moment as Tim holds a boombox above his head John Cusack style to warm Marsha's heart because over the top gestures always work.

However Daisy has done a runner to get some distance and sort things out, and is waiting at the train station. But Tim also has to see Sophie off at the airport. A nice touch is that when Tim tries to call Sophie to let her know he needs to stop Daisy, John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" plays when we cut to Sophie blow-drying her hair.

Skip to the end, Tim gets to Daisy with Colin (who's come back), Mike drops off a letter from Tim to Sophie before she leaves, Marsha moves back in, Twist a hit in Manchester's gay scene, Brian's art is flourishing, and everyone is happy. It might be sappy but it was a real satisfying end to a fantastic series.

All is right with the world again.

Notable Pop Culture References:

The Sixth Sense "someone got hurt" exchange - even featuring Olivia Williams
When Sophie calls and speaks to Daisy, she's holding a Buttercup PowerPuff Girl doll
Tim obviously has a Judge Dredd poster on his bedroom door.
"Clever boys." reference to "Clever girl" in Jurassic Park
The sound effect while Brian is developing his photos is from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The dramatic choir music I kept mentioning is "Ave Satani" from The Omen
The ending of "Dissolution" is a perfect homage to Empire Strikes Back
The opening scene of "Leaves" is a nod to The Royale Family title sequence

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