TL;DR – This is cool animated series that sways between the absurd and heart whelming in a way that shouldn’t work but totally does.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
I went into Final Space with absolutely no idea of what it was, bar the fact that it was animated and was set in space, and since some of my favourite TV shows of all time fall into that particular Venn diagram I thought I would give it a watch. Now from the opening titles I didn’t have the greatest opinion of the show, but hey they are only half an hour I can give this a look, well ten episodes binged in one sitting later I am really glad I did.
So to set the scene, we open in on Gary Goodspeed (Olan Rogers) slowly tumbling through spaces sounded but dead bodies and spaceship wreckage. It is at this point that he is told by H.U.E. (Tom Kenny) his onboard AI that he has ten minutes before his suit can no longer sustain his life, and then we cut back several months. Here we find Gary on board his ship, well not really his ship as we discover he is a prisoner serving out his sentence on board the ship fixing deep space relays. It is a life where the chocolate chip cookies are in sight but always out of reach. Things are going, well not well, but fine, until one day he runs into Mooncake (Olan Rogers), a small green floating blob alien that can destroy planets or give great hugs. Little does Gary know that the Lord Commander (David Tennant) is hunting Mooncake and will stop at nothing to get what he wants, and also back on Earth, Quinn (Tika Sumpter) has discovered a gravitational anomaly that could destroy everything. Now we will be looking at the series as a whole so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
When watching, the show Final Space most reminds me of is Bravest Warriors, as it charts that very fine line between absurdity and real emotion, being able to delve into both but still keeping that fine balance. So you can have Gary slipping into the skin of a deceased alien only to land in the house of the family of said deceased alien who are happy to find their mother alive only to find out in the worse way possible that she is still dead. Which can happen in the same series as a deep loss of a father who killed himself to protect his son. It is a show that is equal parts slapstick and sacrifice, without lessening either side.
Part of what makes it work is that the voice cast is always willing to go where the show needs to go, which is important in keeping that balance working. So you have Fred Armisen, who is just a delight as KVN, even though KVN spends the whole series being the fall guy to everyone else’s dislike. Or David Tennant who is playing the evil Lord Commander whose introduction is force choking a guy for laughing at his height and then goes onto command every scene he is in. I also really liked Coty Galloway and his performance of Avocato, who has very little time to make you root for the character, but through sheer warmth he does it. Also while Gary sort of starts the series off as being in that Guardians of the Galaxy arrested development mode, it was good to see him develop over the season.
Now one of the surprising things for me is the way through the story unfolds, or more so how I responded to it. So the show uses a technique known as In medias res. Which is essentially we see a snippet of the future and then jump back knowing that at some point we will catch up to it. I’m honestly not usually a fan of this type of storytelling because it usually feels forced, but here much like say Westworld it is woven into the very DNA of the show. When we open in Chapter One we discover that Gary only has ten minutes left to live, in Chapter Two it is nine, and so on. This becomes a driving force for the series, as it is used both as a way of building tension, driving the series forward, and also being a jumping off point for each episode.
In the end, do we recommend Final Space? Yes, yes we do. There are moments of immense absurdity that make you laugh, and then there are moments of deep emotion that hit at your heart. Also, it is only ten half an hour episodes so it is not a huge time sink to give an episode or two a watch to see if it is your jam.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Final Space
Directed by – Mike Roberts, Dan O’Connor, Ben Bjelajac, Chris Paluszek,
Written by – Olan Rogers, David Sacks, Jane Becker, Alyssa Lane, Alex Sherman, Adam Stein, Christopher Amick, Ben Mekler & Cameron Squires
Created by – Olan Rogers
Showrunners – Olan Rogers & David Sacks
Starring – Olan Rogers, Fred Armisen, Tom Kenny, David Tennant, Tika Sumpter, Steven Yeun & Coty Galloway with Caleb McLaughlin, Ron Perlman, John DiMaggio, Gina Torres, Shannon Purser, Keith David, Andy Richter, Conan O’Brien, Tobias Conan Trost & Xzibit