Monday, August 27, 2012

Spaced Out

In the latest edition of "Half-Past Relevant News That I Can Now Comment On Because Blog", I figured I'd chuck in my two cents regarding the long abandoned American remake of the cult classic UK series Spaced, a clip of which can be found below:

The original Spaced sits on my short list of favorite shows of all time.  It is also a major inspiration behind the still-in-development Going Nowhere (coming soon to a web theater near you!!).  Maybe that's because I can heavily relate to it, as I am a 26 year old struggling artist myself who uses the show to get through the tough times.  I think it really says something about the current state of American network television when a series from England is more relatable to me as an American than anything on my indigenous little black box.

Quips aside, it was unquestionably a fantastic show, itself simultaneously a genre deconstruction as well as a love letter to Geek Hollywood and the American Sitcom (oh, the irony).  They used rampant pop-culture references as the agent for said deconstruction, and it was the love the writers had for the material they so aptly emulated that made its charm so irresistible.  Characters in Spaced often expressed their emotions in long-winded, hilariously on-the-nose mini-logues, breaking all the conventional "rules" set forth by Hollywood standards.  Edgar Wright's direction actually utilized the camera as a comedic character, making it part of the gag, which I don't recall ever seeing before or since.  This all helped to make many of the character developments much more poignant.  I give 50x more of a shit where these characters would be today than the well being of anybody on NCIS.

The American version, not surprisingly, has its head most firmly up its own ass, and understands absolutely none of that, and as is the case with many fantastic shows, empty suits must find a way to wring some extra profit out of the property.  They could've given a fuck when it was airing, but since Shaun of the Dead hit it big, they're all over this shit, and it's a fucking sacrilege.

Despite using the Shaun of the Dead name to gain appeal, they most famously shunned the actual people involved with the development of the original, as Simon Pegg will tell you.  Integrity, people.  Whatever happened to integrity.

This is what happens when you have a cash-in remake who's producer's hearts are either not in the project or do not understand its source material.  The directing feels stiff and uninspired.  The writing is either bare bones or aped from the original and made worse (see "Americanized").  This isn't rocket science.  You can't just tell Quentin Tarantino to write like Joss Whedon.  They're two different people who's energy and talent come from extremely different areas inherent to who they are, and any attempt for one to replicate the other would just read like bad fan fiction.

This aborted (thank god) American version stripped the material of its heart.  The acting feels like acting.  Spaced, ironically, for all of its fourth-wall breaking surrealism, always felt very real and truly immersive.  You really got the feeling that you were just palling around with a group of friends who just happen to be on camera.  There was a sense of genuine comradery, of mutual understanding and passion functioning as the shows bleeding heart that this remake sorely lacks.  It looks like what you would get out of an amateur YouTube tribute.  It has the production value of a fucking murder reenactment.  It's the definition of busch league.

Also, the creators of the original were right.  The overly glamorous American cameras just serve to pull you away from the experience.  It gives this intrinsic feeling of seriousness that just feels odd when serving this kind of material.  Spaced never tried to do much of anything with a straight face, which just makes the US version look weird by comparison.

And WTF is Will Sasso doing in this?!?!  This man was the MVP for FOX's oft underrated MAD TV for like five years running.  He's a real talent.  Somebody needs to tell him to pass on the remakes that have long lost their cultural relevance and indeed who's success was mostly derived from the fact that they were a product of their times, and have yet to get the memo that they themselves have become anachronisms.

Now if you'll excuse me, I just realized I've got some fucking Jaffa Cakes in my coat pocket.


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