Life Irritates Art: Spaced - InvadedI've just stumbled (on tv.com) on the news that Fox TV in the US is planning on remaking the classic late 90's British sit-com "Spaced." This show introduced many of us to the team of Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and their ensemble (particularly co-writer Jessica Stevenson). Much of this lot went on to create "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz", and perhaps are now expected (a little unfairly) to bear the brunt of the responsibility for reviving the Brit Comedy film. Spaced, the small, but perfectly formed show ran for two seasons of seven episodes (most British programs are commissioned on this short run basis, another reason many cannot be stretched out into long running US series). Fox TV are reportedly attempting to remake it without any involvement from it's creators. Director Wright has suggested that fan's of his original should refer to the Fox effort as "McSpaced".
Spaced was brill. Even from the first few minutes of the first episode, I was in love, awestruck, and somewhat envious as it seemed exactly the sort of thing I wanted to create (if I'd got off my ass and finished some forever backburnered scripts, got them produced and feverishly and obsessively directed them myself). However anyone trying to recreate it's vibe now are missing the point on three key levels. Cast. Writing/Direction have been sited by many others already, excellent and irreplaceable, but the other thing that made Spaced great was its style, the way it used visual language of movies and other TV genre's to make a lot of its jokes. Much of that style is down to Director Edgar Wright, with camera moves and attention to detail more reminiscent of Ridley Scott's sci-fi, than the studio cam setup gag setup gag reflex of previous sit-coms.
That style was pretty innovative eight years ago, but now with the surreal jumps of the likes of Scrubs, Malcolm in the Middle, and My Name is Earl (Earl looks like its creators were locked in a flotation tank with a copy of Raising Arizona for three years), trying to reinvent this style again now will be superfluous.
Without the cast, writers/director team, and the style of the original Spaced, all you are left with is the "situation" of the sit-com. In the case of Spaced the fraudulent couple flatshare secret from the landlady dilemma, was always weak, and only the excuse for throwing the characters together. This lame contrivance is the only thing that the American re-makers will have to build on. "Three's Company", anyone?
It's sad, they'll probably rope in some ex-SNL performer, and when it inevitably fails, they'll just have the built in excuse to fall back on: "Brit humour doesn't work over here....." It's win win for those jerks, they already have their asses covered.
I think it's about time that someone remakes the real classics. How about:
Gilligan's Island (ripe for globalization, see the Professor strip the rainforest for the Howell's development plans)
My Mother the Car (now a hybrid)
Mr Ed (haven't used up your CGI budget this year?)
Get Smart (Alias as envisaged by Kevin Smith?)
Hogan's Heroes (Schindler's List meets Judd Apatow)
I Dream of Jeannie (now there's a slice of middle eastern culture we don't hate, NASA employee in constant scrapes with that funny Homeland Security guy for harboring an undocumented Arab babe with dangerous powers, probably gleaned from the internet)
Green Acres (the sit-com with Al Gore!)
Hazel (minimum wage wise crackin' domestic drudgery never goes out of style, now she's probably illegal)
My Three Sons (of each of my two marriages, and a one night stand!)
Leave It to Beaver (produced for HBO by Larry Flynt)
Dennis the Menace (GB Trudeau and Michael Moore hit the campaign trail with their latest fictional creation, Kucinich - well you didn't think he was real, did you?)
Taxi (complete with subtitles)
WKRP in Cincinnati (as programmed by Clear Channel)
Happy Days (can you update nostalgia? Macaulay Culkin finally looks old enough to play Richie Cunningham)
M*A*S*H (set in Afghanistan)
All in the Family (now for the politically correct generation)
The Honeymooners (David Chase returns with this gritty comedy with the constant threat of moon directed domestic violence, casting coup: Ed Norton plays Norton!!!)
Sanford and Son (ecological recycle center humour)
Barney Miller (The Shield meets Adam Sandler)
Mork & Mindy (this will be preceded by a reality show "Make your Mork!!!" a talent search to find the most irritating comedian possible to play the title role)
Welcome Back, Kotter (the no joke left behind version)
The Partridge Family (I think I have psychological dependency issues and misplaced attachment syndrome about you (no really, go back and listen to the lyrics of "I think I love you"))
Maude (in the new version, just a half hour of Bea Arthur glowering at the camera until we feel a deep seated liberal shame)
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (with Lindsay Lohan as the title character)
The Flying Nun (grounded to lower her carbon footprint)
Chico and the Man (now set in the DOJ)
Till Death Us Do Part (intentionally making it a flop, the brits re-import All in the Family back from us in retaliation for all we've done to their shows, including all the stuff Norman Lear successfully cribbed from them).