My ire has been raised, and whenever my ire gets raised, the ol’ “post new entry” button doesn’t know what hit it.
My favorite British show of the past ten years is probably “Spaced”. I first illegally downloaded and watched the entire series some time after I saw and loved “Shaun of the Dead”, and before I saw and loved “Hot Fuzz”. The show was very well written, directed, and performed, with likable and offbeat-yet-real characters, delightful bits of surrealism, and a great use of geek-culture references. “Spaced” was a show about geeks that was actually created by geeks, not by network suits attempting to pander to the geek crowd through generic, vague sci-fi allusions and easy jokes about social awkwardness. (Not that I’m above joking about my own social awkwardness, but there is so much more to geekery than that.) As a geek, I can truly relate to the characters created by Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson/Hynes, and Edgar Wright, because the creators themselves are geeks, and know how to write a true geek who is more than a flat stereotype. In lesser hands, or at the very least, in the hands of people who couldn’t identify with the characters they were writing, “Spaced” would be a disaster.
The sad news is, it looks like we may actually get to see just what kind of a disaster.
It would seem that the always-brilliant minds at FOX are planning on remaking the show. This is a horrible, horrible idea for so very many reasons. There is almost no way this show could possibly be any good.
You may think I’m a little too quick to judge. After all, the NBC version of “The Office” is pretty good, right? Yes, it is, but there are reasons for that. For one thing, remaking “The Office” actually makes sense. The BBC “Office” is a very, very British show. The majority of the cultural references were all too local for most of us ignorant Americans to get. However, the cultural references in “Spaced”, more often than not, are universal enough. If anything, it’s not that the references are too British; it’s that they’re too geeky. One episode’s plotline involves the “Resident Evil” games, another involves the “Tomb Raider” games, and several involve “Star Wars”. These references don’t need to be made any more accessible for Americans than for non-geek Brits.
Now that it’s been established that the remake is unnecessary at best, let’s go into why it will, without a doubt, suck. For one thing, it’s on FOX, who has a long history of cancelling their few good shows, and only resurrecting them once they’ve stopped being funny.
For another thing, they didn’t bother to tell Pegg or Wright about it. When remaking “The Office”, they had the decency to at the very least give Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant executive producer credits, and even brought them in to write a third season episode. The fact that they completely ignore Simon, Edgar, and (presumably) Jessica shows the lack of care being put into this version.
And who are they bringing in to rewrite Simon and Jessica’s flawless scripts? Some guy named Adam Barr, who is described as a “Will and Grace alum”. If the crowning achievement on your resume is “Will and Grace”, you’re the last person on earth who should be adapting a show that gets so much of its humor from interactions between well-developed, nonstereotypical characters. Also, McG is the executive producer. I don’t care how much my family enjoyed “We Are Marshall” (I haven’t seen it yet), McG as executive producer makes me weep.
This all raises another point: it’s perfectly clear that the only reason this remake is being considered is that FOX is trying to cash in on the success of “Hot Fuzz”, the NBC “Office”, and, probably more than anything else, the new trend of sitcoms about characters who are in theory supposed to be geeks or nerds, in a pathetic attempt to pander to said geeks and nerds (“Chuck”, “The Big Bang Theory”, etc). The thing about these “geek” shows (from what I’ve heard) is that they seem to be written by people who think that “geek” and “dork” are synonymous, likely because they picked on the dorks in high school and called them geeks. As such, the only way they know how to depict a geek is a socially inept loser living in his parents’ basement. Sure, there are geeks out there who fit into that stereotype, but it’s a surprisingly small percentage. The fact is, the writers being brought in will likely not be geeks, nor will they have had much interaction with true geeks over their lifetime. At least the writers on NBC’s “Office” probably have been actual office employees at some point. If Barr writes geeks anything like he and his fellow “Will and Grace” scribes wrote gay people, don’t expect a lot of dimension.
“Spaced” was a beautifully orchestrated show. There wasn’t just one element that made it work, it was the whole thing put together. The scripts were highly-polished, with witty dialogue and clever situations. The characters were crazy and slightly exaggerated, but not so over-the-top that they seemed unrealistic. They were fleshed out and believable, and played to perfection by performers such as Simon, Jessica, Nick Frost, Julia Deakin, Mark Heap, Katy Carmichael, Bill Bailey, Peter Serafinowicz…the list goes on. Sure, there were pop-culture references and cutaway parodies like “Family Guy” would later do, but they were relevant to the story, and used to demonstrate the geek perspectives of the characters. On top of all that, you had the brilliant direction of Edgar Wright, who brought a very cinematic vision to the whole thing. The show was shot like a sci-fi or horror movie, with quick cuts and elaborate camera motions, a style that certainly helped make the pop-culture references feel natural, and made even the most mundane parts of the show seem hilariously epic. If you remove any one of these aspects, it would be a completely different show. And this remake, should it come to pass, will inevitably be far, far inferior to the brilliance of the original.
Anyway. This article and this article already pretty much cover everything I said, but I feel very passionately about this. I think that “McSpaced”, as Wright is already calling it, is doomed to be an abomination, not because it’s a remake of a great show, but because it’s already being handled horribly. A well-handled remake, with serious involvement from Simon, Jessica, and Edgar, would still be unnecessary, but it would be far less offensive.
I guess at this point we can try to stand strong and let them know that we don’t want a US version of “Spaced”, we just want a US DVD release (which apparently Edgar is working very hard to get). And if they ignore us, then all we can hope is that the FOX executives see a very faint glimmer of prospective goodness, and as a result, cancel the show after one episode.