TL;DR – A show full of great actors and talent that unfortunately falls completely flat because it can’t pick a tone
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
You would think a show that blends tow of my great loves, politics and space in the one show would be an instant hit for me. Well I do not envy the job the writers would have had on this job. You take one of (though by far not the most) stupid ramblings that was spat out on Twitter by the current President of the United States and turn it a slightly farcical spoof. The balance you would need to pull that off would be a high wire act and as we see today it does not work. Also, I should point out that if you are who has a passing understanding of space mechanics or current political system you will involuntarily cringe throughout the show.
To see the scene, General Mark R. Naird (Steve Carell) is with his wife Maggie (Lisa Kudrow) and daughter Erin (Diana Silvers) in The Pentagon for a big day as he is being promoted to a 4-Star General in the Air Force. However, he is not being promoted to the head of the Air Force but the brand new Space Force in nowhere Colorado. One year later and while things are proceeding Mark’s life has not gone quite to plan with his wife now in prison and a POTUS that wants results and they are not ready to give them. Now we will be looking at the series as a whole and as such there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
Unfortunately, I am not going to be that positive in my review, and I say unfortunately because it is clear that a lot of work has gone into this show. On the whole, the cast is interesting, the premise is sound, and clearly, a lot of work has gone into the production. Some story beats do actually land, like moments between Naird and his family and the bonding between him and Mallory (John Malkovich). Indeed, some of the best moments of the show are when Malkovich and Carell are riffing off each other. There we even some moments that made me chuckle like the telling The Great Showman burn or how they set up the shooting demonstration to be almost a version of Quidditch.
However, while there are moments that work, when you look at the season as a whole it just falls flat. Where this is apparent is in the tone and the show’s lack of ability to find where it wants its voice to be. This is a show that is targeted at the stupidity of the Trump administration, but the show itself almost feels afraid of what it actually is. Trump is never mentioned by name and instead, there are veiled references to the POTUS that is a bit of a dick but that’s it. Indeed, the show spends more time actively sending up Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the form of Congresswoman Anabela Ysidro-Campos (Ginger Gonzaga) then they do portraying the clear focus of the show.
This leads to everything in the show feeling muted, like the story is just going through the motions rather than going somewhere. Instead of focusing on the administration, we get some targeted moments like a commentary on the military-industrial complex, or the competency of the military, even the bomb-first mentality. But unfortunately, none of it goes anywhere because the show has no teeth. I don’t think this is a problem of it wanting to be a comedy, indeed I come from Australia where we have had numerous shows like The Hollowmen and Utopia who have done just that. However, you have to know what angle it is just you are going to attack this from and lean into it.
This is not helped by some simply frustrating story elements that permeate and already frustrating show. For example, there is a Russian spy Yuri (Alex Sparrow) who no one really cares is dating the high school daughter of the chief of the Space Force which is bad, but they don’t even commit to the joke with him just disappearing during the season. Or how Maggie did something to get 40-60 years in prison and the show hints but never says why she is there, which is a truly odd decision because it feels unnecessary. This is all compounded by the fact that there are only 10 episodes so there is not a lot of time to get to know all the characters and the show wasted time with plot lines that don’t matter, so by the time the cast starts to really gel, the show is over … on a cliffhanger of all things.
In the end, do we recommend Space Force? Honestly no. This is a show that does not know what it wants to be or knows what it wants to be and got toned down before release, which may explain some of the more choppy story moments in the back half of the season. Part of me feels like I am being too harsh on the show but then we live in a world where that POTUS sent out a post with the very telling phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” and is also desperately trying to disenfranchise an election he is going to lose. I don’t know when this show would have worked but the one thing is clear is that it feels immediately dated and for a show that was released seven hours ago, that’s never a good sign.
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.
Have you seen Space Force yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Space Force
Directed by – Paul King, Tom Marshall, Dee Rees, Jeff Blitz, David Rogers, Diana Reed
Written by – Steve Carell, Greg Daniels, Shepard Boucher, Lauren Houseman, Brent Forrester, Aasia Lashay Bullock, Connor Hines, Yael Green, Maxwell Theodore Vivian & Paul Lieberstein
Created by – Steve Carell & Greg Daniels
Production/Distribution Companies – Netflix
Starring – Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Tawny Newsome, Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers, Alex Sparrow, Jessica St. Clair, Fred Willard, Jimmy O. Yang & Don Lake with Noah Emmerich, Owen Daniels, Hector Duran, Spencer House, Thomas Ohrstrom, Lisa Kudrow, Bruce Locke, Jane Lynch, Ginger Gonzaga & Patrick Warburton
Episodes Covered – The Launch, Save Epsilon 6!, Mark And Mallory Go To Washington, Lunar Habitat, Space Flag, The Spy, Edison Jaymes, Conjugal Visit, It’s Good To Be Back On The Moon & Proportionate Response