From Greg Daniels and Steve Carell, the respective creator and star of The Office, comes a Netflix comedy series following the inner workings of the newly formed Space Force under the command of general Mark R. Naird (Steve Carell), tasked with putting US boots on the moon.
On paper, Space Force looked to be a sure-fire hit. When you considered the creative team behind it and the immensely talented and funny cast, it appeared like this couldn’t go wrong. However, once the previews began to hit, although it looked visually stunning, it didn’t look like it was going to be the comedic hit many expected. Now that it has landed; Space Force is not bad, but it’s also not good. This debut season can, at best, be described as decent. There’s a spattering of successfully comedic moments spread over the ten episodes that might get a chuckle, but none that hit hard enough to be memorable. It hasn’t even been 24 hours since I made my way through this season and I can’t recall a single specific comedic beat that worked.
It’s a shame that with the comedic talent behind the creation of the show, that it’s the comedy that fails to stick the landing. It struggles to remain consistent over its ten-episode run, with some delivering an okay amount comedic moments, then episodes like episode four that are an absolute snooze-fest. In general, the writing is just a little all over the place. For instance, the show doesn’t seem to have a focus, an agenda or a clear direction that it wants to take the story in as a number of subplots feel like they’re just dropped. Some of the characters are actually written really well and I found myself invested in their relationships, it’s just that the overall story of each episode isn’t compelling enough.
The show is headlined by a stellar comedic cast who all do their best to bring their respective characters to life. John Malkovich is the unrivalled standout as the lead scientist. He doesn’t miss a beat, nailing every single line and is by far the most compelling and entertaining character in the show. His back and forth with Steve Carell makes for some fun moments even when the story itself isn’t delivering. Jimmy O. Yang begins the show as a standard side character but grows into having one of the more intriguing character relationships, and Tawny Newsome manages to liven the tone every time she’s on screen. Outside of the actors mentioned above, Ben Schwartz and Don Lake have some comedic moments of their own, but as time goes on, their schtick begins to run dry.
I also have to mention, that despite this series not adopting a handheld camera mockumentary style of filming, it is gorgeous to look at. It has great special effects, set design, cinematography and is shot incredibly well for a comedy series. It’s a bit of a silver lining, so if you’re ever bored by the story you can just admire the beauty of the show.
In the end, Space Force is a major disappointment when you consider what it could have been with the comedic talent involved. The story just isn’t engaging enough and the comedic beats are too few and far between to have a real impact. John Malkovich is the star of the show and the best reason to sit through all ten episodes. The series does go out on a stronger note than it began, so if it does get renewed for a second season let’s hope it manages to have a more successful launch.