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September 1, 2015

Behold the Unrelenting Horror of (Gulp!) McG's 'Spaced' Remake

by Danny Gallagher, posted Mar 23rd 2010 11:03AM
Simon Pegg, Julia Deakin and Jessica Hynes on the BBC sitcom
There are very few moments in American history when the unrepresented and disenfranchised masses of society manage to muster together enough courage and strength to topple the high watermark of oppression. They seem to come along once in a millennium, but when they do, they give you this warm and fuzzy feeling inside that maybe life doesn't suck as much as you thought it did and everything, like the movies, may actually turn out alright in the end, closing credits, fade-to-black.

The early days of the American colonies saw the uprising of the Boston Tea Party in which angry settlers grew tired of unreasonable taxation. The mid 20th century saw the sluggish but eventual snowballing steamroll of the Civil Rights Movement. And I like to think that the new millennium's moment of triumph goes to the total destruction and annihilation of Fox's 'Spaced' remake. Granted, I'm not setting the bar very high, but it's only been ten years. Baby steps.

The British slacker dreamer sitcom became the true definition of a cult classic, long before BBC wised up and issued a Region 1 version for the fans who were just about to wear out the thin metallic veneer on their bootleg copies. It is so beloved and revered that fans were able to kill Fox's remake. One of the big reasons was that it gave a big, nose-upturned snub to the original show's creators, director Edgar Wright and stars/writers Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes, in favor of 'Charlie's Angels' director McG as executive producer.

Those in the know dubbed the single pilot episode as a giant bowl of suck and the fans could only take their word for it... until now. After a year of "stalking," a blogger obtained clips of the doomed pilot from Wright himself and unleashed them on the web for all to endure. After all, why should she have to be the only one that suffers?

So hold your nose and get ready to choke down the gamy badness that is the 'Spaced' remake. If you don't have the guts to watch it, just read my review below the video.

The entire episode seems to be a simple remake of the original pilot episode, featuring Tim and Daisy or in this case the cleverly named Ben and Apryl (yes, it's really spelled with a "Y," according to the IMDb page, which just screams of old white guy trying to appear cool to the young hipsters), meeting and devising their fake marriage.

For those who aren't in the inner circle of awesome that is the original 'Spaced,' here's the skinny: the lead characters need a decent apartment after Tim is thrown out by his girlfriend and Daisy hates living with junkies in ratholes. They find a place but it's for couples only. So the duo who have already become fast friends pretend that they have been married in order to score the reasonably-priced pad.

It's hard to fault it for copying the script since 'The Office' did the same thing when it came to us Yanks, but here it lacks any sense of its own wit. All the jokes, or at least the ones in this clip, are dulled photocopies of the original. The signature "Wright touch" of direction, shooting wild Sam Raimi camera effects and angels for flashbacks and seemingly ordinary situations, are gone. So instead of getting a sitcom on steroids, we get one on a third-rate, generic brand of flaxseed oil.

The acting feels too laid back, even for listless slackers. But it's hard to fault the people on-screen, including the likes of Sara Rue, Josh Lawson and Will Sasso, for it because the dialogue doesn't feel real or even that funny even if you've never heard of the original show, because they have no proper context. Even the best characters from the original (hands down, the winner is Nick Frost as the military minded Mike) are toned down and turned into something else entirely. The biggest problem is its attempts to distance itself from the original show are just plain lame. Strip clubs water down their drinks less than this script.

The most noticeable difference is the drug use. It wasn't rampant in the original show, but it could drive the plot and even the humor to its fullest effect. Here, doobies, spliffs and cheap speed are replaced with (wait for it) creme puffs. Clearly someone who craves the gooey goodness of a creme puff (are they gooey? I've never seen one in my life and I'm a proud horizontally gifted American) is stoned, so why not just come out and say it? Are we so squeamish and childish about drug use on television that we have to literally sugarcoat it? Alex, I'll take "Ridiculously Rhetorical Questions" for $400.

It's hard to make a really fair review based on just eight minutes of clips from four or five scenes of the original. I'd love to do a full review of the actual pilot, something I actually tried to find but gave up because the timeliness of this clip was running out. That may never see the light of day and based on what I've seen so far, that might not be a bad thing.

I guess there's hope for the little people after all, closing credits, fade to black.

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I happened to be in London on vacation when the BFI was doing a 'Spaced on Stage' event. They screened both series in their entirety with a Q&A with the cast and Edgar Wright in between. There were a decent number of quips about 'McSpaced' from the cast and audience.

The main complaint from Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (Jessica Hynes couldn't attend) was that there was no attempt made to contact them about it ahead of time and then there were a lot of 'well we meant to contact you, we respect you so much' comments made to the press after they expressed their disappointment over getting the shaft. Granted Fox didn't need to get their blessing, but it'd have been the decent thing to do.

The thing is, Spaced would never have worked on American network television. As mentioned in the article, it would have required too much watering down to meet network standards. We really need to get over this desire to take things that are unique and enjoyable and change them to make them palatable to marketing demographics.

March 25 2010 at 9:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good grief. At least Apryl's a little like Daisy. But that's about all that can be said. That doesn't involve cursing.

March 23 2010 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Axel Harris

Didn't you guys post this clip, like, a month ago?

March 23 2010 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They made Brian a creepy Indian dude? This was full of fail the second they made that horrible decision.

March 23 2010 at 3:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Soooooo lame.

March 23 2010 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


March 23 2010 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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