Similarly, his new Netflix comedy Space
Force feels like a feeler: throwing much into 10 episodes of varying
length (29-37 minutes) to see what works and what doesn’t. A lot of it does
work, but there are so many loose threads and unexplained details that it scrabbles
to find its strengths.
Steve Carell stars as the four-star General Mark Naird
despite the show’s imbalances, the eclectic comedy performances shout loud
enough and hilariously enough to keep watching. Steve Carell stars as the four-star
General Mark Naird, who’s expecting a promotion to lead the US Air Force. But
instead, Naird’s heading a new branch in the military, Space Force,
designed to dominate the galaxy – formed after POTUS claimed to have ‘boots on
the Moon by 2024’. (NB: Vice President Mike Pence announced this goal last year.)
co-created the show, and the writing gears to his comedy talents: not least his
aggressively funny repressed rage that made Michael Scott so memorable. Raging
Carell is a beautiful sight to behold, and the series knows it. But Naird has
his own quirks, relieving his stress by singing Kokomo and Big Girls
Don’t Cry – intensifying as he deals with sabotaged satellites, Russian spies, stranded chimponauts and his disruptive but loveable daughter Erin (Booksmart’s Diana Silvers).
John Malkovich plays the brilliantly pompous Dr Mallory
him out is Dr Mallory, a brilliantly pompous scientist with dashing suits,
played with elegant, geeky frustration by John Malkovich. Naird and Mallory’s
relationship is often frosty: military bravado clashes with scientific caution.
It’s close to the bone at times, especially in these Covid-19 days when
ignorance of science is harmful, but their contrast works… up to a point.
writers don’t so much meld them together as push them into each other, their
development clunking into forced appreciation for the other. But once they work
on friendly terms, the result is a lovely and funny friendship.
Diana Silvers and Lisa Kudrow also star
Lisa Kudrow is mostly wasted as Maggie, Naird’s wife, who’s imprisoned for most
of the series because of ‘a serious crime’. You expect her sentence to be explained eventually, but it’s like Daniels and Carell didn’t think that far
ahead. She’s more impactful in the shoehorned moments of drama, which awkwardly rub against the series’ general silliness.
Force is never entirely
sure what it wants to be. Is it a satire? At times. The show makes thinly veiled references
to Trump, and its Twitter media strategies lead into stupidly biased press
conferences – resonating with the absurdity of the current White House
administration. But none of this goes far enough.
Is it sci-fi? Not really, as it’s set in 2020, though the writers have comically
exaggerated a lot of the tech and the show’s steep budget really shows on
screen (including a lot of barely passable CGI).
Although Daniels and Carell have built a worthy rocket, it’s yet to take
Space Force is available on Netflix from Friday 29 May
|What||Space Force, Netflix review|
29 May 20 – 29 May 21, ON NETFLIX
|Website||Click here for more information|