Episode 5. "Chaos"

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"Skip to the end..."

The one where Daisy's dog gets kidnapped.


Bill Bailey as Bilbo Bagshot
(A personal favourite of mine, Bill Bailey is a veteran of the comedy standup circuit 'Is it Bill Bailey?' 'Never Mind the Buzcocks' 'Black Books' 'The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy')

Charles Dale as the security guard
('Coronation Street' 'Conviction' 'Casualty')

Jeremy Peters as James Eldridge
('Red Dwarf' 'Lexx' 'Inspector Morse' 'Coupling')

Guy Pratt as Minty
(Guy was the music composer on 'Spaced')

Oscar the dog as Gramsci

Keith Allen as Tim's Stepdad
('Trainspotting' 'Mike Bassett: England Manager' '24 Hour Party People' 'Shallow Grave' 'Comic Strip Presents')

First appearance of...

Tim actually watching some Science fiction rather than just talking about it Tim getting along with Colin the dog Daisy doing something energetic Sexual tension between Twist and Brian.


The SWP (Minty has a copy of 'Socialist Worker') Antonio Gramsci '2001: Space Odyssey' '2000 AD' comics the computer game 'Metal Gear Solid' The odd numbered Star Trek films ('Motion Picture', 'Search for Spock', 'Final Frontier', 'Generations', 'Insurrection') 'Star Trek: Voyager' Breville sandwich toasters 'Jurassic Park 2' 'The Shining' (Tim being chased by his Dad) 'Evil Dead 2' (poster) numerous references to the 'Star Wars' trilogy including the characters and the attack on the Death Star a ridiculously obscure 'X files' reference which I did spot without DVD commentary help The Ewoks Chaos Theory (see below) Jaffa Cakes Kabaddi 'Cujo' 'Don't look now', 'Saving Private Ryan' ( "I'll see you at the beach." ), 'Desperado' ( "Let's play!" ) 'Fiat' cars 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' (Daisy's 'My brain hurts!' T-shirt) 'An American Werewolf in London'.

"...thumping tunes, kicking bass..."

  • 'More beats and pieces' by Coldcuts
  • 'Imperial March' by John Williams, this dance beat version is named 'Battle of the planets' and by Fader Gladiator
  • Some top-notch military style drumming as the gang suit up for their rescue mission
  • 'More beats and pieces' by Coldcut
  • 'Absurd' by Fluke

"...a super race of mice-spiders..."

The suggestions for possible Breville toasted sandwich combinations include 'Marmite and Cheese', 'Chocolate and Pilchards' and 'Banana and Acorns'. Yum. The code names used in the raid on the animal testing centre are all, obviously, from 'Star Wars'. Tim is Han Solo, Daisy is Princess Leia, Brian is Chewbaca and Mike is Luke Skywalker. Tim struggles to thinks of another character for Twist so she gets to be Jabba the Hutt. When she asks if that's the princess everyone quickly turns around: "Yes!"

And I quote...

Tim: "As sure as day follows night, as sure as eggs is eggs and as sure as every odd-numbered Star Trek movie is shit..."

Daisy: "Our relationship was like a sandwich toaster, you know, you forget you've got one ... if you do see it you assume it's broken 'cos you'd think if it was working I'd be using it all the time ... Then one day you get an overwhelming desire for toasted sandwiches, and you get it down and it works and you can't believe it ... then as quickly as the desire comes, it just goes, and then you put the toasted sandwich maker away and you don't miss it."
Bilbo: "So what you're saying is 'don't hide your toasted sandwich maker away, use him regularly and you'll get the most out of him'."
Tim: "No, she's saying 'chuck your boyfriend, have a sandwich'."

Tim (singing): "Oh Mommy, oh Daddy, oh let's all play Kabaddi!"

Security Guard doing a crossword puzzle: "To walk at speed, manage or oversee?"
Shouts come from outside: "RUN!"

"What a bitch!"

Tim is talking about Daisy: "... and her hair just looked stupid all the time..."

Daisy to Tim: "I do appreciate you're riddled with deep seated psychological disorders..."
Tim: "Thank you."

Give that man a BAFTA!

I love the 'evil' cuts around Colin when Tim is moaning about him in Bilbo's shop, "... a cold-blooded killer..." The camera does an extreme close up and flashes to a single frame using a blood red filter. There's more great camera work when Daisy gets the letter telling her about the whereabouts of Colin. The camera pans around Tim before cutting quickly between him and Daisy as he resolves to "... get our dog back!"

"Do you rent downstairs?"

Marsha quips that "Brian's not bad at handling people." , a comment which draws many odds looks. She then goes on to tell Brian "Come back in one piece. You know what piece I mean..." ; well I think I do, but what would the use of that piece be without the rest of him? There's an element of tension between Twist and Brian as they go for the same biscuit.

"Today's youth... okay young adults."

The episode really brings the kids out in Daisy and Tim, he cries at the end of 'Star Wars' while she just can't stop gushing over her dog. Tim also likes to motor around on his skateboard like the kid he his. When he bumps into James Eldridge he is asked why he doesn't look where he's going, "It takes the fun out of it." he replies.

"Ooh Mamma!"

Jaffa Cakes?

"Fuck off Twist!"

A rather tame episode in the bad language department, 'shit' is only used twice while 'fuck' is only used once. See, you dont have to swear to be funny.

"Timmy: fetch me my tools..."

There's a wee bit of philosophy and science in this episode, Bilbo talks about the class war (Minty is selling 'Socialist Worker') and the Italian Marxist Gramsci. Brian makes a foray into the world of Mathematics when he muses on the influence of chaos theory in the Star Wars trilogy. The DVD 'homage-o-meter' attempts a discussion of chaos and complexity theory but I don't think a mathematician wrote it. Put concisely; chaos is the idea that apparently complex systems can actually be described by simple rules; by extension one can theorise that the whole universe (by definition the most complex of all possible systems) is also governed by such a set of simple rules. Tim notes that although he doesn't know much about security lighting they'll probably be using "... 180 degree dispersing halogens with motion sensors."

"Get off your arse!"

In a homage to how Simon Pegg and Nick Frost behave in their real-life flat (according to DVD commentary that is, I don't have personal experience of this); Daisy, Tim and Brian determine who should get Jaffa cakes and take Colin for a walk by working out who did the last physical activity.

"...he's just a bit pretentious."

Brian has never seen the Star Wars films? What not even when he was young? Has he been this pretentious all his life? Possibly so; after all, the first thing he did when his dog was hit by a car was to take a photo. I love the way that Bilbo nods along as Daisy gives her monologue on why her relationship is like a toasted sandwich maker, as if she's giving some deeply philosophical sermon on the nature of relationships in a post modern society rather than just rambling absent-mindedly.

"Let's play!"

Several weapons that one might use in LARP (Live Action Role Play, i.e. running around a forest pretending to be a Tolkienesque elf) are visible in the back of Bilbo's shop.

There are plenty of opportunities for our heros to play at being Bruce Willis in 'Die Hard' during Colin's rescue. Daisy and Twist show off some Kung fu moves outside the terrapin where Colin is being held. While when Mike bursts in on the security guard he takes up a ready-for-action stance with guns levelled on his man. The guard is listening to some headphones though and fails to notice Mike until Brian very politely asks "Err, excuse me."

A side effect of Mike's military 'training' seems to be that he can only understand the 24-hour clock. In the van en route to the animal testing lab there are some top visual references to the film 'Saving Private Ryan'. Twist crosses herself and Daisy rocks backwards and forwards while Tim looks at his shaking hand (aping the opening D day scene in which Tom Hanks' character does just that). To cap it all off Tim even says "I'll see you at the beach!" . One wonders whether they named their local pub as such just so they could get that gag in.

How's that for some Fried Gold?

Bilbo's story about the legend of Gramsci and how he bit Minty's knees off had me laughing for so long that I missed a lot of the rest of Bill Bailey's scene. The way that Bailey delivers the line "... he used the money to buy new knees." cracks me up every time.

Mike gets the best line of the episode when he shows off his gun to the security guard at the animal testing lab: "That, my friend, will mash up through the engine block of a Fiat Uno, no problem." This is a gag that, whether the writers intended it to or not, works on multiple levels; Mike's bravado, use of the phrase 'mash - up' and the lameness of the fact that he talks about a Fiat Uno (as if one is ever likely to come across one in a combat situation).

"Hawk the Slayer's rubbish!"

Tim wants to be abducted by aliens. I don't know if he thinks he might have a better chance of meeting Scully that way. While we're on the subject of the 'X files', Tim assumes that a crocodile must have eaten Colin, which is, after all, what happened to Scully's dog in the episode 'Quagmire'. Tim's obsession with science fiction stretches to the planning of Colin's rescue, he must think that he's planning the assault on the 'death star'. The exchange between him, Mike and Brian about 2 metres being 'too high' comes right out of a discussion on being able to shoot a target of the same size in 'Star Wars'. Tim cries at the end of 'Return of the Jedi' even though he must have seen it LOTS of times before. Tim's theory about the most important character in the 'Star Wars' being the gunner on the Star Destroyer must have taken years of careful discussion with like-minded geeks in the student bar to hammer out.

"That was kind of unbelievable."

While Tim and Daisy are looking for Colin there is a reference to the film 'Don't look now' when a girl in a red cape runs behind Tim. Weird things happen in the crazy world of 'Spaced'. A wealthy bio-chemist (James Eldridge) stalks around the local neighbourhood looking for dogs to kidnap. Does this really seem likely? In fact, the premise of the whole episode is utterly ludicrous; see the comments of invited contributor Peter Cartwright below.

"Big's in this year."

In the opening scene Tim is wearing a pair of glasses, brown beanie and anorak that make him look like a cross between Bono and Ali G. Daisy is wearing her usual brown furry coat (which is great) and then later wears a rather odd dog collar and pink frilly necklace. Brian wears a rubbish Hawaiian shirt. Everyone is wearing some fairly sexy black combat gear towards the end of the episode; Brian has a beret on while Twist identifies her outfit as being from the DKNY 'urban warfare range'.

Finally, a word from your author?

A couple of interesting notes first of all for those of you who are interested but not interested enough to listen to the DVD commentary. The 'Fantasy Bazaar' shop in which Tim works is a real comic book shop in Richmond, South West London, it's called 'They walk among us'; the sound of the Ewoks singing at the end of the Star Wars marathon is not from the original soundtrack (which they weren't allowed to use), it was recorded by the 'Spaced' crew before filming.

The writers claim that when they scripted this episode it was a couple of months before it became fashionable to drop lots of 'Star Wars' references into everything. They were worried that it would appear they were simply going along with a trend; thankfully the multitude of other references and homages in the Spaced series make it obvious that the writers are not bandwagon jumpers and are in fact geeks who simply can't stop talking about 'Star Wars' anyway. 'Star Wars' will always have a special resonance with people in the age group at which 'Spaced' is aimed and so the episode does well to play to that. I adored the dance beat version of the Imperial March when I first heard it; a friend of mine thought that the 'most important character in Star Wars...' train of thought was just about the cleverest thing he'd ever seen and was cross for not spotting it himself. Add into this a couple of references which I thought must have been specifically aimed at me (the SWP and the obscurest X files reference ever), as well as the appearance of Bill Bailey and I think I'll declare 'Chaos' the best episode of the first series.

Invited contributer Peter Cartwright says...

There comes a time in the life of some of the better tv series when the makers find that they have the confidence - in themselves and in their audience - to attempt a true tour de force, to transcend the usual boundaries of generic strait-jacketing. One memorable example might be the noted musical episode of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. The makers of Spaced felt ready to undertake such a task on only their fifth episode.

Up to this point, the series has covered somewhat familiar, mundane territory: joblessness; the search for a flat; writer's block; pets; paintballing. With this fifth episode, however, we realise that we have arrived, not in a familiar world in which their are occasional intrusions of weirdness, but in a truly strange world in which it is the occasional intrusions of normality which give rise to the most humour.

The appearance of Bill Bailey initiates this new tone, in which things now begin to occur which simply do not really happen. Renegade vivisectionists, standing around 'evil and suspicious-looking' while stalking dogs, before eventually suffering poetic justice at the jaws of a hound trained to attack the rich? This is not the kind of concept which could have initially sold a series (even to Channel 4).

The achievement of the creators is to have laid such strong ground-work in previous episodes that the audience takes all this in its stride. The best moments of the episode are now to be found when reality impinges back upon this other world: when Marsha offers tea during Tim's serious military briefing; when the whole night-time raid simply proves ridiculously easy; or when Mike and Brian chat happily with the security guard they are meant to be 'handling'.

In turn, it is this episode which sets our expectations for the future. After this, Matrix-style customs agents, Daisy's martial arts, telepathic gunfighting, missile-firing robots, and grand theft panzer will seem nothing out of the ordinary within the context of the series. Spaced consistently balances the ridiculous with the familiar, the impossible with the true to life, with the result that the lack of any more than its two short series will always be felt.