35 – Spaced

The World’s End, Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead form the half joke title of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy which were all directed by Edgar Wright, produced by Nira Park and star Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. However before these feature films there was a series called Spaced on channel 4.

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HotFuzz

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I finally decided to watch the series this weekend. I have been tempted for a long time as Hot Fuzz is probably my favourite film or at least the film I have re watched the most times. So I finally decided to give the series a chance.

I’m glad I did. This series was actually written by Jessica Stevenson, who also stars in the series, and Simon Pegg who as you might expect also stars. Everything that is great about Shaun of the Dead is present in this series and tenfold at that. The humour is even more ridiculous and the way the series is shot is just as bizarre and unique as Shaun of the Dead. Edgar Wright appears to have a real skill at adding drama and tension to scenes where relatively nothing out of the ordinary is happening but the audience is tricked into expecting something. Often in this series a character will slowly walk around a flat with tense music building up only to discover nothing, similar to the first appearance of Shaun in Shaun of the Dead where you think he is a zombie but ultimately is just yawning.

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The series follows aspiring comic book artist Tim (Simon Pegg) and work shy writer Daisy (Jessica Stevenson), both are incredibly likeable and relatable characters. What’s not so relatable is the rest of the characters though which notably include Mike (Nick Frost) who was discharged from the territorial army because he stole a tank in an effort to invade Paris.

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The dialogue is also brilliantly written and so are the characters themselves. One great character is a man who lives downstairs called Brian who is played by Mark Heap who I personally know for playing another strange neighbour in Friday Night Dinner. I didn’t think it possible but Mark Heap is even more off the chain in this series and is even more strange and hilarious to watch. He plays a very weird aspiring artist, in one episode in an attempt to not adhere to the stereotype of painting with a brush he uses his own genitals.

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The rest of the cast all deliver a more subtle performances but they are still ridiculously funny performances. There is a whole bunch of cameos as well including Bill Bailey, Ricky Gervais, John Simm, Keith Allen, David Walliams and Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss.

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One of the reasons I enjoyed the IT Crowd, Graham Lineham’s geeky british comedy was because of the pop culture references and this one has them in abundance. One such moment was where Tim is noticeably upset and Daisy claims that it’s been so many months and that he should have got over it, leading the audience to think it’s his recent break up, but ultimately he’s actually upset about how bad the Phantom Menace was. There is also a great nod to Scooby Doo where Tim and Daisy appear like Shaggy and Velma, and many more. Even the way it is filmed is reminiscent of sci fi and horror films.

Overall if you loved Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz or The World’s End (which I haven’t actually seen yet but is arriving this week :D) then you will love this series.

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11 – Have you tried turning it off and on again?

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The IT Crowd was a sitcom written by Graham Lineham who also wrote Father Ted and ran for 4 series. It was quite successful due to bizarre characters and events that happened in the show and propelled it’s stars into fame, especially Chris O’Dowd who has starred in a couple of big american comedy films and Richard Ayoade who directed his own film Submarine in 2010.

The last series was 3 years ago and there was always rumours of another series coming soon however because of how busy the cast have been it never quite happened. The writers still wanted closure for the characters though so a special one hour episode which aired the other week.

As a fan of the show I was looking forward to this episode a lot and when I watched the first half of the episode despite it feeling very in tune with the original series and having a couple of laughs it just wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be. Gradually though there was more references and gags that related back to old episodes and old characters returned albeit briefly.

Even though there was such a long gap since the last series aired the characters felt the same and there was little awkwardness and actually some of the jokes were some of the funniest I’ve seen in the show especially an incident where Roy offends a small person who is then hit by a van with two massive breasts on the front and consequently is named a small person racist.

However what made the episode special for me was a brief moment where the characters are in the midst of the story and Roy stops for a minute and asks the other characters, Moss and Jen, wherever they thought some of the things that have happened to them are normal. In this way it is questioning the reality of the show and almost breaking the fourth wall. I haven’t really seen any other sitcom do this and I found it a brilliant moment.

Although possibly just as brilliant is that the show fittingly ended on its ongoing catchphrase try turning it off and on again followed by Moss turning off the lights in the basement where most of the show was set. Albeit a simple ending but it definitely was worth them filming it and it was a fitting ending to a great show.

The following clip is my favourite moment from the show. There was also a nod to this in the last episode which was also hilarious.