While I won’t go so far as to say the cult Channel 4 series Spaced started the modern trend towards reference humor it was certainly an early forerunner of the comedic style as we know it today. And since it was there at the very beginning of the 21st-century meta-movement I thought today we should take a look at its very first episode; aptly titled “Beginnings”. As always bold numbers represent the time at which the reference happened and Spoilers abound for a wide variety of films. Scroll down at your own risk.
00:32 “I cried like a child at the end of Terminator 2” Terminator 2 is an incredibly popular Sci-fi film released in 1991. The ending features the reformed terminator of the first movie sacrificing itself to avoid humanities dark future.
2:30 Tim’s line “Skip to the end” is given the exact same inflection and delivery as Prince Humperdink’s during the wedding scene of The Princess Bride (1987).
3:07 “Getting to Know You” plays. This song is from the Rogers and Hammerstein Broadway musical The King and I (1951). It is sung by Anna when she is meeting the king’s children for the first time.
3:19 The conversation between Tim and Daisy while Tim is in his lizard suit is a line for line reenactment of Han & Luke’s Jabba palace conversation from Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983).
5:16 “Little sister called Katie who once used all your Batman comics to decorate her car.” Batman is a superhero character owned by DC Comics and created by Bobe Kane and Bill Finger in 1939.
05:47 Dark Star comics is a spoof of comics publisher Dark Horse.
6:06 Bilbo Bagshot is Tim’s boss at the comic book shop. His name is a nod to Bilbo Baggins of Bag End the titular hobbit of J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy masterwork The Hobbit (1937). Bilbo is wearing a Green Lantern shirt. The Green Lantern is another comic superhero owned by DC Comics. He was created by Martin Nodell in 1940.
6:09 Issues of the Weird Science comic book series can be seen in the background. Weird Science was a sci-fi comic book series published by EC comics. The series ran for 22 issues from 1950-1953.
6:15 “you don’t spend your evening on the internet discussing the symbolism of the x-files” The X-Files was an insanely popular science fiction show that followed two FBI agents as they investigated cases involving suspected paranormal or extraterrestrial activity. It ran from 1993 to 2001 for nine seasons and two movies on the Fox network. It was revived in 2016 well after this episode of Spaced first aired. It starred Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny.
6:30 Tim is wearing a Flash t-shirt. The Flash is the third DC Comics superhero to be referenced in this episode. The character was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert in 1939.
6:36 “FHM voted her the most sexy woman in the world in 1996” FHM is a British men’s lifestyle magazine. Meaning it made most of its money ranking how attractive its editorial staff thought certain women were in comparison to other women. It has since gone out of business.
7:20 “Michelle from EastEnders got a third” EastEnders (1985) is a popular British evening soap opera airing on the BBC.
7:50 When Tim starts talking about Daisy’s fear that mice may crossbreed with spiders to create a killer mutant hybrid, the animated sequence that comes on screen with green lines on a green grid and a black background is the exact same animation used for similar narrative cutaway gags in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981) BBC TV adaption. Note that the reference is specific to this adaptation and not the original Douglas Adams novel or the 2005 film.
8:12 “We could do that thing in that film with Andie Mcdowell and Gerrard Depardieux” The movie is called Green Card (1990) and their photo montage is a homage to that very same scene in the film.
09:45 Everything from ‘Perfect for a child..’ to the twin girls saying “Forever and ever and ever” is copied directly from the 1980 horror film The Shining.
14:21 Daisy approaching the big cardboard box is a spoof of the man approaching the big black box in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); similar music plays too.
15:10 “Just investigating”, “Playing Scooby Doo” The characters are talking about the Hanna-Barbera animated children’s show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969). Tim and Daisy say they played as the characters Fred and Daphne as kids but are clearly dressed as Shaggy and Velma.
17:22 Between the legs shot is similar to the infamous between the legs shot from The Graduate (1967).
21:03 “I love you Daisy Duke”, “I love you too, Boss Hog” The characters nicknames for each other are from The Dukes of Hazzard (1979) TV Series.
21:06 The aerial shot mirrors several of the aerial shots from Sam Raimi’s horror film Evil Dead 2 (1987).
23:08 The crash zooms and ‘dutch’ shots at the end are a nod the gunfight sequences in Sam Raimi’s ‘The Quick and the Dead (1995)
I have to say I do love this series and any excuse to come back and watch it is well worth the effort. Remember if you think you caught a reference I missed. feel free to leave it in the comments section.