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With much fanfare, Netflix just released season 1 of Space Force. It has some good star power (pun intended), including Steve Carell in the lead, John Malkovich, and Lisa Kudrow.
Malkovich is brilliant as usual, and as I’ve discussed before; Carell’s moving explanation as to why we have an expensive space program should shut people up about it (it won’t); and I love when the episodes are only (just over) 30 minutes each — I watched all 10 episodes in less than 12 hours — but I’m afraid that my opinion goes south from there. I was really looking forward to this show, but it just fell flat for me. It has some funny moments sprinkled in, but over all I thought the humor was ho-hum. I also imagine that, much like an attorney watching a legal drama or a doctor watching a medical drama, anyone with even basic understanding of the real U.S. Space Force or space travel will develop a nervous twitch from the inaccuracies. On this I say, it’s a comedy. Just roll with it.
More importantly, I didn’t care about the characters. There are very few criticisms worse than that. I really don’t care if Steve Carell’s General Naird, or the Space Force in general, succeeds at anything. Lisa Kudrow is reduced to a very minor supporting role, which I found as confusing as it was unnecessary. Maybe in the real world she didn’t want to commit to the schedule for filming, but if there isn’t a real world explanation, then I don’t understand why she was marginalized. In fact, we don’t even know why she was marginalized within the story. (I’m avoiding spoilers here.) She was my favorite “Friend,” and she’s really funny. She also provides the only scene in the entire season where I actually care about the characters. The one and only thing that’s good about her limited presence is that it sets up the possibility of a great dynamic between General Baird and his daughter, Erin, but the writing (not the actors) drops the ball on that. In fact, there’s little purpose to Erin’s character in the show at all.
Being a Silicon Valley fan, I’m happy to see Jimmy O. Yang getting a good gig eventually with significant time on screen, but his role is more straight than funny. Ben Schwartz plays the same character he plays in absolutely everything else he does. I loved him in Parks & Recreation, but he didn’t get enough air time in that show for it to get old. It’s certainly gotten old seeing that actor play that role with an almost constant presence.
Then there’s Fred Willard playing General Naird’s father. Considering Mr. Willard just died, that was sad, but it also gave you reason to watch.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the critics panned it (36%), but the audience like it a lot (71%), so as always, YMMV. I hate that I agree with the critics. I guess I must have died inside recently.
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