Every now and then you find something interesting by accident and really enjoy it. It’s like a wonderful present and a glimpse of a world you didn’t know about. Since we don’t see all tv from the UK, we get a distorted view since we see a lot of great stuff. It’s probably the same the other way around where people outside of North America think that tv here is a wonderful mix of “Six Feet Under”, tv documentaries and wonderful dramas and sitcoms. The truth is there is a lot of crap everywhere.
A few years ago I discovered a television series from the UK called “Spaced” which was shown on Bravo here in Canada. It’s a clever sitcom written by (and starring) Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson and directed by Edgar Wright. It follows the struggles of flatmates and is filled with references to science fiction and horror films. Pegg and Wright then went on to write Shaun of the Dead, which is a parody of zombie films.
I saw Shaun of the Dead last night and I really liked it. What distinguishes it from most parodies is that it isn’t a series of jokes loosely linked together by characters or a theme, but it is built around the characters. It challenges the conventions, is funny, but is also scary at times. What makes it work is the linking of the lives of the characters and the conventions of horror films. It works both as a comedy and as a horror film. While there are a ton of jokes related to other films, I don’t think that you wouldn’t enjoy it without getting them (although there is some gore…) One of the neat things that I found out about the film is that many of the zombie extras were cast based on a call that went out through the Spaced-Out fan site for “Spaced”. Hopefully we will be able to buy the DVDs of the series on this side of the Atlantic soon thanks to the success of Shaun of the Dead.