Thank you to Netflix for allowing me to watch and review this show!
This is a running review, as after each episode I will write about that episode until I finish the series. Each “Episode Review” will be my immediate thoughts following the episode, and the “Series Review” at the bottom will be my thoughts on the show as a whole.
Creators: Steve Carell
Stars: Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Diana Silvers, Jimmy O. Yang, Lisa Kudrow
Synopsis: 4 star Air Force General, Mike Naird, is tasked with being the first leader of the 6th branch of the military, the Space Force.
E1: THE LAUNCH
This one was not good. I hate saying that, but it just wasn’t. The political side of the jokes felt unnatural and so out of place, and the entire episode felt robotic. It seemed as though Michael Scott made this instead of Steve Carell. This one was a struggle.
E2: SAVE EPSILON 6!
This one was a step in the right direction, and even though the episode was outrageous, it still managed to have its moments. This one was watchable, but not entirely enjoyable throughout.
E3: MARK AND MALLORY GO TO WASHINGTON
The series is getting to a watchable level but still hasn’t broken through just yet. There are a few more funny gags and some sweet moments, but overall I still just haven’t found anything worth grasping onto just yet.
E4: LUNAR HABITAT
Okay, a good episode. This one is watchable and finally becomes enjoyable. There are actual lessons here and moments that really do make you think. Coupled with this being the best that Carell has been so far.
E5: SPACE FLAG
Another really solid episode. This episode was directed by Dee Rees and you can really tell. There are moments here where Carell doesn’t use the raspy voice and just goes back to normal and those are the best moments of the episode. The humor is getting better, and the show as a whole is getting better.
E6: THE SPY
This is the second episode directed by Dee Rees, and it is so easy to tell. The past two have been much more on point with their humor, and with their sweet and tender moments as well. The show is really beginning to pick up steam.
E7: EDISON JAYMES
Back down to the “watch but won’t enjoy” spectrum. After doing so well the past few episodes, I was looking for something more, but this one has the same issue that was plaguing the first few episodes in that there is not really much that happens.
E8: CONJUGAL VISIT
Not much to see here, and at the same time feels so out of place. This episode needed to be more towards the beginning of the show, and coming back to this moment so many times has dampened this storyline. Hopefully not they can move on from it.
E9: IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK ON THE MOON
This show is at its best when it has a specific focus for the episode, and this one was able to dial in and give us a humorous one to boot.
E10: PROPORTIONATE RESPONSE
I really enjoyed 90% of this episode, and it was up until the very end that lost me. It had a focus, was funny, but again brought in different storylines that seemed to diminish what had been set up.
There is something magical about space. Whether it be the vast unknown or the empty… space, there is something that anyone and everyone can find enjoyment in when it comes to what is “up above”. Going to the moon is a spectacle to watch, and you would think to bring in Greg Daniels, one of the co-creators of shows like Parks and Recreation and The Office, and his “Office” buddy in Steve Carell would make for some spectacle on screen.
Sadly, what we get is not a spectacle and more along the lines of a watchable show with a few outliers. The duo teamed up and just could not follow through on a majority of their episodes which led to this being an oversaturated and out of place comedy. For most of this show, I was trying my hardest to find something worth grasping onto. Whenever I did find something, there would be an episode or moment that would go back to something that was already forgotten.
I will give the two the benefit of the doubt in that this is very much the first season. One of those where people could be saying “once you get past the first season it becomes good”. But there is going to need to be some changes and shifts in the structure of the show to keep the potential investment up.
The writing and directing of this show were all over the place. There was little to no visual storytelling going on, and the abundance of political jabs at real-life politics got boring after the first episode, which they weren’t all that great, to begin with. The highlight of this first season is episodes 5 and 6, which were both directed by Dee Rees. You can seriously tell when she takes the helm of this show because that is when it becomes the most interesting. In these two episodes, you find more things to grasp onto than the other 8 combined. She manages to get you to feel and care for things that you never thought you would and also opens up story arcs that *should have* been continued. If this show wants a second season, they are going to need to rely heavily on these moments, instead of trying to throw political jabs left and right.
The acting in this show was also hit or miss as well. Steve Carell, whom I love, just could never fully find his footing in this world. His General Mike Naird was spoken with a raspy voice and sternness, but it was the vulnerable and normal moments that I wanted to see more from him. The moments with him and his daughter, Diana Silvers, become some of the best moments from the show, and that father-daughter relationship is one that I was hoping to see more of throughout. In this role, he becomes a more serious and grizzled Michael Scott, but the problem is he is so far from being Michael Scott that it just doesn’t work the same anymore.
John Malkovich was the standout for me. His take on a scientist thrown into a layman’s world provided some of the most humor of the show. He was an extremely dry character but was able to find humor in the most unfunny of situations. Jimmy O. Yang plays a fellow scientist who also provides just as many laughs throughout the show, especially once he is given reigns to do more. Diana Silvers was also a standout for me, but her character was dwindled down to the average and stereotypical upper teenager. I wanted there to be more with her, and hope there is in future seasons.
Two people I was excited for was Ben Schwartz and Lisa Kudrow, and both let me down. Ben Schwartz just recreated his Jean Ralphio character from Parks and Rec, just with a better haircut, while Lisa Kudrow became such a non-factor in the show that I became upset whenever she was on screen.
Houston, we might have a problem. Space Force manages to just barely stick its landing as something that Michael Scott would have come up with if he was given a budget to make a show. I was surprised there was not a Michael Scarn reference in the show (if there was let me know). This show barely hinges on being watchable for me, and that became even more upsetting because there are really good episodes within this show. A slow start that begins to build, but deeper into the show more forgotten plots are brought back up until the final scene of the season. I think/hope there is a second season because there is a lot they can do here, it just wasn’t fully done here.
ON NETFLIX MAY 29
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.