This article is about the television show "Inspector Spacetime". For the character, see the article "The Inspector"
|"Inspector Spacetime" is a popular British science fiction television programme that has been on the air continuously for over fifty years. Created by (Ex) Sir Anthony Bonham Pease, its popularity has grown internationally since its debut in the early '60s. It has now become a significant pop culture icon spawning spin offs, a slew of merchandise, and even a few imitators. Just in time for its fiftieth anniversary, an Americanized version of the show launched in 2012 although it's received unfavorable reviews so far. Abed became a huge fan of the show after Britta introduced him to it. The show's first appearance on "Community" was in the Season Three episode "Biology 101".|
|Noted British Science fiction writer (Ex) Sir Anthony Bonham Pease created the show in 1962 as the "Space Race" started to heat up and interest in exploring outer space became more fashionable. The show followed the adventures of a mysterious being known only as "The Inspector", a time and space travelling alien. The show had low production values, and the first few seasons were broadcast in black and white despite color being available. Green screen was used extensively, but when the budget allowed, a few exterior shoots were done on several recurring locations in London. These often used locales were actually humorously commented on by the main character. In a breaking the fourth wall moment on the show, the Inspector noted they can go anywhere in time or space, but "it will probably be in London...during the Blitz".
|Despite the obvious lack of money, the show soon became a hit and gained even more fame when episodes started being shown abroad. A succession of actors (and one actress) have portrayed an incarnation of the lead character. Each actor wore a variation of the traditional uniform of the Inspector; a trench coat, an ascot, and a hat (typically a bowler hat). Each Inspector has a partner named "Constable" and is equipped with a "Quantum Spanner" device. They travelled in a spaceship/time machine known as the "X-7 Dimensionizer". Its appearance is that of a red telephone box, an item closely associated with the show's country of origin. Over the years, the Inspector and his Constable have encountered a host of opponents including the Inspector's most infamous foes, the race of cyborgs known as the "Blorgons".
|A notable replacement for the main character was the first, and so far only, female lead Minerva. She was created in the shadow of the second wave feminist movement that was gaining momentum in the late '60s and early '70s. However, it was hard to overcome the prevailing social attitudes of the times. In addition, some fans found Minerva (and her actress) to be quite annoying. Consequently, she is often considered by a majority of fans to be the worst Inspector ever. Recently there has been a vocal minority of fans who see her character as a trailblazer and an important step in equality for actresses in lead roles. They consider her a role model for girls and also a forebearer of female action adventure heroes like Buffy and Xena. Despite this, the very word "Minerva" has become slang amongst the Inspector Spacetime fandom to refer to a disagreeable female.
|The 1970s began with a behind the scenes scandal. Linda McCartney was on set and the actors playing the Inspector and Constable fought over her attentions. It ended up with third Inspector's portrayer choking the actor who played the constable. Despite the bad publicity, the show's popularity remained strong. In order to keep things fresh, a few status changing ideas were introduced to shake things up creatively. This included replacing the X-7 Dimensionizer with the "HMS Spacetime 12" and the introduction of a female Constable known as "Geneva". Fans reacted negatively to most of the changes, particularly the loss of the X-7 since it had become an icon of the show. Some of the new cast was met with equal disdain, even by the production staff. This was demonstrated when, for an entire season, the writers only gave three lines to an actress hired to play the character known as "Constable Rosemund".
|By the 1980s, all the changes had been reverted, and the X-7 was brought back. Yet another Inspector and Constable were introduced. However, the decline creatively continued and culminated in the infamous "Inspector Spacetime Christmas Special". The story involved the Inspector and Constable Reggie celebrating a space holiday known as "Time Day". Fan and critical reaction were extremely negative, particularly since the episode featured a performance of a then popular hair metal band. It was so horrible that the creator Anthony Bonham Pease, who had just been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, had his knighthood immediately revoked. Although it was hated at the time, fans have grudgingly given the special its due and regard it with a bit more respect years later. While the episode itself was bad, it helped set up one of the most critically praised story arcs in the show's history.
|The series went into the 1990s with the continuing turnover in both cast and crew. While it seemed to be in the doldrums, that would soon change. The advent of the internet would help not only reinvigorate its popularity but also stimulate it creatively. By the 2000s, earlier episodes became available for streaming online and created a new generation of fans. This renewed interest caught the attention of Hollywood producers. They decided to recycle the franchise as they did with other shows. With its newfound popularity, an American version of "Inspector Spacetime" was commissioned in 2012. The test pilot was directed by Tristram Shapeero and written by Maggie Bandur. It was entitled "Epochs of Eternity", and for the most part, it remained true to the spirit of the original program.
|The studio decided it needed further tweaking and sent the pilot out to the various Inspector Spacetime conventions where it received some negative feedback from fans. The InSpecTiCon convention in Colorado was said to be where most of the criticisms of the pilot originated from. One particular volunteer offered a number of suggestions and notes on how to improve the show. Most of these ideas were incorporated into a second pilot. The setting was changed from England to San Francisco, and the X-7 was replaced with an American telephone booth. The "Inspector" was now a naval officer being played by Luke Perry, and his Constable (now "Ensign") was played by Jennie Garth . The "Americanized" version of the show was met with as much derision from the fandom as the Christmas special. However, this has not affected the original show which is still enjoying something of a renaissance.
Homage to Doctor Who
|Inspector Spacetime is a direct homage to the long-running BBC science fiction TV show, Doctor Who. The show within the Community universe follows closely the story of Doctor Who with the Inspector and his associate traveling in a red telephone box known as the X7 Dimensionizer time booth, the counterpart to the Doctor's TARDIS - and using his Quantum Spanner to fight alien creatures such as the Blorgons, who seem to bear an uncanny resemblance to the Doctor's nemesis: Daleks.
Community fans, many of whom are Doctor Who fans as well, have embraced this character and fictional show - even former Doctor Who star Karen Gillan is an Inspector Spacetime fan. She has even stated in an interview that she would be interested in making a cameo appearance. All sorts of Inspector-inspired media have been dedicated to it. TV Tropes has gone one step further by collaborating on an entirely fabricated but internally consistent history of the show, including a (non) canonical cast of Inspectors and Associates, a complete list of episodes, spin-off programmes, etc. Its main page can be seen here (there is also an associated local wiki).
Interestingly enough, Abed has been seen wearing a t-shirt brandishing a TARDIS from the original show. Whether or not these two shows coexist in their universe is unknown; however, the fact that an American Inspector Spacetime show was created does suggest the existence of multiple versions of the show, making the idea of coexistence a possibility. (Basic Human Anatomy)
The 1981 Christmas special
|In the Season Three episode "Regional Holiday Music", Abed invites the study group to watch the long lost 1981 Inspector Spacetime Christmas special. Apparently, the show was so critically reviled that the creator had his knighthood revoked. This is a reference to the infamous Star Wars Holiday special which aired on CBS November 17, 1978. The Star Wars TV special received many negative reviews and George Lucas himself has been quoted as saying, " If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it".|
Inspector Spacetime Wedding Special
||In the Season Three episode "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts", Abed references the Inspector Spacetime Wedding Special episode of Inspector Spacetime while the study group plans Shirley's wedding with Andre Bennett. Abed reveals that, in the episode, "Inspector Spacetime ended up marrying himself as a baby," and advises Shirley to "get a DNA reading of your prospective mate." Hearing this, Shirley asks the group to "behave normally," clearly referring to Abed and Troy. This offends Abed, who proceeds to scoff in a high pitched manner 6 times. He then explains that he learned to scoff this way from Annie's movies. Upon hearing this, Annie scoffs in a similar manner.|
Characters and notable items
"Untitled Web Series About A Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time"
|After Community Season Three wrapped up production the actor portraying the Inspector, Travis Richey, pitched an idea to Sony Pictures Television to create a a web series based on the character. After not hearing back from them, he attempted to produce the Inspector Spacetime series himself with the help Kickstarter . When he was close to reaching his financial goal, he received a request from Sony Pictures Television to not proceed with his plans.
|Seeing the amount of support the project received, he decided to continue and changed its name to "Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time". All six episodes of UWSAASTWCATTT are available on Youtube. The series proved popular enough for a second season to be produced in 2013 with an another Kickstarter campaign to produce a prequel episode, with the addition of The Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik, and Star Trek's Robert Picardo.