Tag Archives: Jessica Hynes

Burke and Hare

Burke and HareThis movie is based on a true story. Let me say that now. In 1828, two Irish men, living in Edinburgh, began to kill people so that they could sell the bodies to the medical schools that were flourishing in Scotland at the time. Autopsies were spectator events, and the medical men needed bodies to carry on with their work.

That being said, this is not an action movie, or a scary movie. It’s a comedy.  With Simon Pegg (who I love), and Andy Serkis as Burke and Hare. And there are other actors that I love, including Bill Bailey as the hangman, Jessica Hynes (Daisy!) as Hare’s lady, Michael Smiley (Tyres!), and Tim Curry, looking gleeful after sawing off a man’s leg:

burke_and_hare_movie_image_tim_curry_joblo_branded_01The doctors doing anatomy lectures were willing to pay 5 pounds for each body, because it was difficult to find people who would willingly give over their relatives.  Burke and Hare have a tenant who dies, and they stumble upon the truth that they can get paid for his body.  After that, they slide pretty easily into the act of murder in order to sell the bodies.  At first, it is only old people, friendless and without family, but they venture beyond that group when they need to.  Hare uses his share of the money to dress himself and his lady in the finest frocks.  Burke falls in love with an ex-prostitute, played by Isla Fisher, and uses his share to fund her all-female production of Macbeth.


Boys can be very dumb sometimes.

Most of the movie is taken up with the boys luring their victims into darkened corners, or physically struggling to transport them up and down the Edinburgh hills.

Edinburgh is, probably, my 3rd favorite city in the world, and I find it especially delightful that very little had to be altered to make this movie (set in the 1830s) possible. The old town area looks mostly the same now as it did in the 1830s. The ‘new town’ area is from the 18th century.  The ‘new town’ part of Edinburgh is older than my entire country, just for some perspective. 

Everyone in this movie has great comedy chops.  I think someone other than me might find this movie hilarious.  But I couldn’t get past the fact that this was a true story about serial murder. 

I had a similar reaction to Dr. Strangelove when I saw it.  When these black comedies are about something so foul and catastrophic, I just can’t find them funny. I take life too seriously.

The movie mentions that Burke and Hare murdered an old woman, a fat man, a freed slave…a total of at least 16 murders. For pretty clothes and the affection of an ex-prostitute? A freed slave, who must have thought he’d lived through enough hell for several lifetimes, is killed in Edinburgh for 10 pounds, and then dissected in front of an upper-class audience.  I just can’t find it funny. Especially since it is a true story. Although, in reading about the true story, I see that Sir Walter Scott thought they were an alright duo: they “have cleard the streets of some of those miserable offcasts of society, whom nobody missd because nobody wishd to see them again”.  Oh Sir Walter Scott…why is there a landmark devoted to you? You seem awful. And I couldn’t even make it through the first 100 pages of Ivanhoe, so you’re really not that great. In other news that I never wanted to know, I’ve just seen that Burke, after he was hanged, was dissected in a sold-out autopsy ‘performance’. They used his blood to fill a fountain pen and write out some lines. They made a ‘leather’ calling card case from his skin.  Ew.  Also, if you’re a macabre sort of person, they have masks made from Burke and Hare’s heads in the Anatomy Museum at the U of Edinburgh. Maybe I’ll stop by next time…but I won’t be watching this movie again. 


spaced_dvdI recently watched through this entire series again.  I first watched it about a year or two ago, and had heard only good things.  It didn’t meet my expectations, and I didn’t enjoy it much.  But this time around, it just clicked.  Like any Pegg, Frost, and Wright endeavor (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, the World’s End), you get more of the jokes the second and third times through.  I laughed far more the second time.

Spaced stars Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes/Stevenson as Tim and Daisy.

95099_512x288_generated__E9Hvg5f8MkC8XDPmtDsX1wThey meet by chance as both are looking for new places to live.  London’s rental market being what it is (even back when this was made in the ’90s), it’s slim pickings. They find one ad that sounds nice, a flat for ‘professional couples only’.  Though they barely know each other, Tim and Daisy decide to pretend to be a couple in order to get the nice flat.  The rest of the series (2 seasons/series of 7 episodes each) revolves around them, their friends, and the characters already inhabiting the house where they now live.  There’s Tim’s best friend Mike, played by a young mustachioed Nick Frost.


Mike is in the territorial army (sort of) and is obsessed with guns and war. He’s also, just as in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, clearly Tim’s hetero life mate.  They are pretty inseparable.

Daisy’s best friend is the vapid, ego-centric, slightly cruel, very selfish, generally awful, Twist.


She’s in ‘fashion’ (aka works at a dry cleaner’s).

Once they’re in the flat, they also make friends of the chain-smoking, chain-drinking landlady, Marsha, and the artist that lives downstairs, Brian.


About halfway through the first season, the most important member of the group joins the cast–Colin!

ColinColin is seriously maybe the third cutest dog I’ve ever seen.  He’s always riding along in backpacks, and being just genuinely adorable.  Want!  Apparently Simon Pegg loved this dog (actual name Ada) so much, that he’s gotten Mini Schnauzers as pets ever since. Understandable.

Here’s what you have to understand about Spaced. Almost everything you see in the show is an allusion to some part of pop culture (TV, video games, movies mostly).  Sometimes there are obvious homagesA good example is two government employees (one of which is Mark Gatiss) are after Daisy, and the whole thing is a clear-cut homage to the Matrix.  Other references are quick and easy to miss.  Hence me laughing more the second time through.  I would say the ratio of meta references: actual show is about 80:20.  If you don’t get the references, you’re not going to enjoy the show.  And I still don’t get all of them.  And since this show is already nearly 25 years old, the references aren’t getting fresher.

That being said, there are a lot of chuckle-worthy moments in the show, and you’ll laugh more the second or third time through.  Regardless of how many references you get, you’ll think Daisy and Tim (especially Tim) are adorable.  Having seen the entire Cornetto trilogy, it’s easy to look back at Spaced and see it as sort of a jumping off point to what they (Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, Nick Frost) did later. In those movies, instead of making 60 fleeting references in one episode of a show, they took an entire movie and made it simultaneously an homage and a parody of a genre film.  In Hot Fuzz, they can make a lot of references, visual and dialogue-based, to different action/police movies, but it all meshes into the same theme. The same goes with Shaun of the Dead and zombie films.  And I think, more importantly, they learned how to create a story and scenes that can still hold your attention if you don’t get the reference.  

So Spaced isn’t perfect, and it can take some patience, but I think it’s worth it.  If you’re into action movies and are a boy, you’ll probably really enjoy the paintball scene and the fake gun fight scene.

Even when the humor isn’t 100% ‘on’, or you don’t get the reference, the center of the show is still the relationship between Daisy and Tim.  And they are adorable together, in a seriously flawed but still redeemable sort of way.  And that comes through really well, especially in the last 2-3 episodes.