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  • 4 out of 5 stars
ROOM TO DREAM Pegg, lower right, is Spaced.
ROOM TO DREAM Pegg, lower right, is Spaced.

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

On paper, the 1999–2001 BBC series Spaced sounds like every other sitcom to come down the pike after Friends. Aspiring writer Daisy Steiner and would-be comics artist Tim Bisley (series cocreators Jessica Stevenson and the great Simon Pegg, future star of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) pose as a couple to score a cheap flat and have misadventures with eccentric supporting characters, including Tim’s gun nut best friend, Mike Watt (Nick Frost, Pegg’s Hot Fuzz sidekick); the couple’s neighbor, a gloomy, vaguely Krameresque painter named Brian Topp (Mark Heap); and the landlady, Marsha Klein (Julia Deakin), a depressive ex–rock chick who’s obsessed with Brian.

Yet the result, directed by Pegg’s filmmaking collaborator Edgar Wright, is an addictive­ mélange of knockabout comedy (an epic paintball match presages Hot Fuzz’s Jerry Bruckheimer-style overkill), sly social satire (Daisy tries to salvage a disastrous interview at a superhip women’s magazine by blurting out, “Girl power!”) and Simpsons-worthy bursts of pop-culture parody (Tim’s zombie fantasies are a gory rehearsal for Shaun). Wright and the cast deftly navigate the script’s sudden modal shifts, from dumb-ass farce to stray moments of melancholy. When Brian reminisces about his former creative partner, a “non-gender-specific” performance artist, he sounds as if he’s mourning a great, busted romance: “It’s hard to hear the story of a love affair between two straight men, one of whom is the most divine woman alive.” Within the pretzel-logic context of Spaced, he makes perfect sense.

Written by Matt Zoller Seitz
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