Be a spaceman, 3.5 readers.
BQB here with a review of Netflix’s new comedy series.
I avoided this series for awhile because I assumed it was going to be a dump on Trump fest. Now, don’t get me wrong, politicians have long been easy fodder for comedy, and our current president provides more than enough material, but at some point I feel comedians moved away from finding original jokes and just got lazy, creating a non-stop meme machine, i.e. “Trump is a bad orange man who is bad and orange!”
That’s not the case here. It’s a goofy comedy about all the antics you might imagine would happen in the creation of a brand new wing of the military. Think F Troop, but in space.
Steve Carell plays General Mark Naird, a decorated war veteran who has long dreamed of leading a branch of the military. When he is promoted to 4-Star, he mistakenly believes that he is being groomed to replace his longtime nemesis General Kick Grabaston (Noah Emmerich) as leader of the Air Force, only to find that he’s actually going to become the founder of the Space Force.
The assignment, at first, seems like a bad joke, with the name Space Force conjuring images of science fiction flicks in which intrepid space explorers engage in tense laser battles with little green men.
But Naird takes the job seriously, seeing it as his opportunity to be remembered in history alongside great generals like Patton, Eisenhower and so on.
Naird’s foil is John Malkovich’s Dr. Adrian Mallory. While Naird runs all things military at Space Force’s Colorado base, Mallory runs all things science. They’re basically an odd couple, where Mallory never wants to take a risk and Naird never meets a risk he doesn’t want to take.
Killer satellites designed to destroy other satellites, space chimps, space dogs, spies, moon colonies, and an ongoing rivalry with China’s version of the Space Force become inspiration for hilarity.
Various subplots ensue, including Naird’s wife (Lisa Kudrow as Maggie Naird) who is in prison for (SPOILER ALERT) a reason we are never told, and assumably we’ll have to wait until next season to find out, if we ever do. We know she’s there for 40 years, so she did something serious, but Naird wasn’t required to step down so it couldn’t have had consequences that were that dire. She’s free in the first few minutes of the series and clearly despises the idea of leaving Washington, D.C. to move to a remote location in Colorado, so my money is that she probably flipped out and tried to hijack the flight to Colorado or something. We’ll have to keep watching to find out.
Naird’s daughter, Erin (Diana Silvers) ends up having to raise herself as her mom is in the slammer and dad is constantly dealing with one space catastrophe after another.
To the series’ credit, it isn’t that political at all, but when it is, it harangues both parties equally. In one scene, Naird is chewed out by an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clone for wasting taxpayer dollars on spaceships with lasers and pulse cannons only for Naird to have to gently explain that these things only exist in Star Wars. Meanwhile, he has to explain to a stereotypical Southern senator that the earth isn’t flat. Trump is never official said to be the president, though Naird gets ribbed with texts from “POTUS” calling him a loser whenever Space Force suffers a setback.
The late Fred Willard plays Naird’s doddering father who suffers from a multitude of health problems but refuses to go into assisted living. Poignant, because this was Willard’s last role.
Ben Schwartz plays Naird’s despised social media consultant F. Tony (nicknamed Fuck Tony), essentially reprising his ultra-trendy pop culture obsessed Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation.
Ironically, and I’m not sure if this was the series’ intention or not, but it actually convinced me that militarization of space isn’t that bad of an idea. Put aside goofy sci-fi notions of space soldiers fighting with vile aliens and consider today’s issues, namely, we are more dependent on the Internet than ever, and if a foreign power has the ability to knock an Internet providing satellite out of the sky, then perhaps the military does need to be involved. Meanwhile, if multiple countries have plans to eventually colonize the moon or Mars, then those colonies will need protection.
And in a funny way, it explores many of the issues that are bound to happen as earthlings keep navigating into the stars. Will countries fight over astro-turf just as they fight over earth turf back home? Will experiments that could help humanity though medical breakthroughs be put to the wayside for finding new ways to carry out war? Who owns what is discovered in space and last, but not least, is the great taxpayer expense worth it? As Malkovich points out, the cost to launch a rocket is the equivalent of what thousands of Americans make in an entire life time. How many thousands of life-time salaries can be wasted without demonstrated benefits before taxpayers put a stop to space exploration altogether?
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I binge-watched this in a day because it was that funny and I’m looking forward to season 2.