Over the weekend, fans of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were treated to the first trailer of Truth Seekers – the comedy duo’s new Amazon Prime series about a team of part-time paranormal investigators.
Those unfamiliar with the pair will become quickly acquainted with their witty, fast-paced style of comedy in the upcoming show, but the majority of movie-goers know them best as the stars of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy. – the cult film franchise consisting of zombie-fest Shaun of the Dead, police parody Hot Fuzz and supernatural satire The World’s End.
While those three films, created by Pegg, Frost and director Edgar Wright, are often hailed as the now-highly successful trio’s early work that placed them on the comedy map, many of their younger fans are oblivious to one of the first projects they ever worked on together – the underrated and absurd sitcom that is Spaced.
The late ’90s comedy, starring and written by Pegg and There She Goes‘ Jessica Hynes, turns 21 this year, and yet it couldn’t be more relevant to the today’s twenty-somethings, who are entering the working world in the midst of a pandemic.
First airing on Channel 4 in 1999, Spaced follows London-based slackers Daisy Steiner (Hynes) and Tim Bisley (Pegg) who, despite meeting just weeks before, decide to move into a flat together as Tim has been kicked out by his ex and Daisy wants to stop squatting.
While Daisy is an aspiring-yet-unsuccessful journalist and Tim is a wannabe comic book illustrator, the duo spend most of their time hanging about their Tufnell Park flat and stumbling into shenanigans with Tim’s army-obsessed friend Mike (Frost), their landlady Marsha (Julia Deakin) and their arty neighbour Brian (Mark Heap).
The pair are often seen throughout the series receiving job rejection letters, playing video games, cleaning out of procrastination and constantly boiling the kettle (“Do you want another cup of tea?” “Ooh, no thanks, twelve’s my limit.”). At the start of the millennium, these activities would have resonated with a variety of aimless young adults and they’re still recognisable in 2020, having become ingrained in the daily routines of all sorts of people stuck at home during lockdown.
Daisy even acquires a rescue dog – a miniature schnauzer called Colin –half-way through series one to cheer her up and, let’s face it, we all probably know at least one person who’s bought a canine during quarantine, or a cat to cure the COVID blues.
Those currently holed up with hormonal children might even relate to landlady Marsha, who is often heard throughout the show engaging in screaming matches with her bratty teenage daughter Amber.
Outside of the many lockdown parallels within Spaced, the series is a hugely entertaining comedy and a perfect coronavirus binge-watch. From Edgar Wright’s classically frantic camera shots, to the numerous pop culture references woven throughout the dialogue – all of which you’re bound to understand after watching film-after-film during quarantine – the series is a hilarious hidden gem which ended all too soon after just two seasons.
It’s definitely the characters who make the show (and the now super-famous actors who play them), with a stand-out performance from Hynes, who stars as the bumblingly funny Daisy. Flawed, ambitious, accident-prone and funny, Hynes portrays her in a way rarely seen in female characters in ’90s sitcoms – non-sexualised and real.
You also have the mysterious and angsty artist Brian, played by an unrecognisable Mark Heap (Friday Night Dinner, Green Wing) and guest star Michael Smiley (The Lobster) who shines as Tyres – Tim’s raver friend with the attention span of a hamster and a penchant for hair-trigger mood swings, caused by an excessive intake of party drugs.
Both series of the meta comedy are currently on Netflix and well worth the watch for those of you needing a light, relatable sitcom to binge during (what will hopefully be) the last leg of lockdown – especially with the new, but very different, Truth Seekers due to arrive on Amazon later this year.