Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spaced Out: a review

Have you ever heard of a show called "Spaced Out"?
No? That's a shame. I liked it. To my disappointment, it was very short-lived.
Let's break it down and rate it!

Series name: "Spaced Out"
Foxy's rating:
Expectations Exceeded? Yes
Disappointed: No
Writing: Quite decent. I was rather impressed with how varied and unpredictable the episodes were, considering that everything takes place on a small orbital station.
Animation: I'd say the style is something you have to get used as I don't think it does anything for the show apart from making it look different from other cartoons. I quite like the character designs, but the colouring just looks muddy. I can't really say the movement itself stood out to me in neither a good nor bad way.
Action: More than you'd expect, despite it being a sitcom.
Drama: There's quite a nice collection of characters that play off each other very well.
Humour: The show is safe for kids rather than written for them. Yes, there's some adult humour sneaked into it. But children would probably just get bored since the show gives them a lot less they could enjoy and relate to than "The Simpsons" does, for example. Which is probably the reason the show didn't last long on Cartoon Network.
Worth watching: I'd say it is. In fact, I'd love to get it on DVD. It's a bit slow-paced, but I've enjoyed it.

Basically we've got ourselves a story that takes place in a not-so-distant future. Unlike "The Jetsons" and so forth, "Spaced Out" doesn't give us any kind of a gleaming hope for the world's sudden improvement. Here we see Earth as a very bleak and miserable place - overpopulated, polluted and completely taken over by an evil corporation called Kratch Industries, that has now decided to expand into space. Naturally, the recruitment process for the orbital station home project goes terribly wrong and one of the main characters gets the role by mistake. 
What I love about this series is that it's not aimed at kids and doesn't even try to teach any kind of moral lessons. You couldn't find them in some episodes if you wanted to. It's entertainment for the sake of entertainment. And perhaps Cartoon Network just wasn't the right channel for it.

The characters:
We've got a family that's somewhere in between the Jetsons and the Simpsons:
 a well-meaning, but idiotic father (amusingly enough, with a bit of an ego, which I quite liked);
 a very nice, well-read mother, who is a little... quirky and dreams of meeting aliens;
 a nerdy son, who looks like an older and plumper Elroy;
 and last, but not least - a rebel-without-a-cause daughter, who clearly belongs to some subculture or another. I'm guessing something in between goth and punk. Theatrically not caring and constantly bored, she was an instant hit with the teenage me. Especially when she made stupid mistakes she should have been "too cool" for.

The secondary cast is pretty fun, too. We've got a glamorous grandmother, who's accompanied the family to their orbital home as she couldn't bear the thought of parting with her son. Then there's the annoying neighbours the family was trying to get away from. And the best character of all - a soviet cosmonaut called Boris. I was amazed at how accurately-soviet everything about him was.  Also the family's got a cat and a dog, who tend to have deep philosophical discussions when nobody's around.

(*Spoiler alert*) The best episode:
I can't seem to find the listing so I don't know what the episode was called, but my favourite one was about Boris's arrival to the station. The guy's been through a lot! first he wakes up from a couple of years worth of sleep on his space ship, finds out that his motherland no longer exists and nobody wants him back, crash lands onto the station, almost gets killed, saves a character, gets hunted down for trespassing and when the good folks at Kratch fail to kill him they give him a job! Fantastic day if you ask me!

Curious finds:
I didn't find much. But there is this Jetsons parody video. Do forgive the low quality.

All in all, I thought "Spaced Out" was a good family comedy and I was sad to see it go. I think the show could have gotten even better with time, as cartoon series tend to. I feel it didn't have a long enough run to "realize" exactly where it's going. 
But if you're stuck for stuff to watch, I'd suggest giving "Spaced Out" a try.

I couldn't find a good screenie, so have a logo! If you'd like to know what the cartoon looks like, there's always youtube

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