Prior to 2020 going to hell in a handbasket, the United States Space Force found itself as a constant in the news cycle. From comparisons to Star Trek and Star Wars, most people wrinkled their noses at the bizarre notion that the country was spending billions on space defense. As the norm with Hollywood, it wasn't long before Netflix saw a tremendous opportunity, quickly rushing Space Force into production before the topic grew too cold. Thankfully, they definitely pulled out the big guns to make as big of an impact as possible.
Featuring Steve Carell as General Mark R. Naird, a lifelong veteran of the United States Air Force that's entrusted to run Space Force, the show's expansive cast creates a pleasant cohesiveness from the second the series rolls. Take the Netflix show's Joint Chiefs for example; it's practically a who's who of sitcom royalty featuring anyone from Jane Lynch to Patrick Warburton to Diedrich Bader.
Not only that, but Carell also co-created the series with The Office collaborator Greg Daniels, making this the first major project the two have teamed on since Carell left the hit NBC show during its seventh season. With both Carell and Daniels involved, it's hard not to compare Space Force to The Office or Parks and Rec because, at its core, it's still very much a workplace comedy – just a workforce with a much bigger budget and thousands of more explosives. Naird isn't your regular Michael Scott, but there are some similarities – blind loyalty and naivety being a central part of the character.
Though its predecessors influenced the development of the new show, there's a very cinematic feel to the outfit, especially when it comes to visual effects. While it's no Lost in Space, it's definitely not a mockumentary format either, a well-received breath of fresh air for those binge-watching the aforementioned show time and time again.
In fact, the format of the show is different than what one might expect. There's an overarching mission for the show's debut season, which is only paper-thin, allowing each episode to hold its weight as a standalone watch. Even then, this isn't a one-episode-at-a-time watch; on par with other comedies, the shorter episodes combined with the light tone and a featherweight season – which clocks in at 10 episodes – confirms Space Force is Netflix bingeing at its finest.
Then there's the show's primary cast, the major selling point for such an absurd premise. Joining Carell are John Malkovich – yes, that John Malkovich – Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers, Tawny Newsome, and Jimmy O. Yang, each adding their own special sizzle to the whole ordeal. As one might anticipate, Malkovich steals the spotlight of every scene he's in, serving as the foundation and reason for a Space Force that looks to train soldiers in case an intergalactic war comes along. Then there's Schwartz, the Parks and Rec alum that plays F. Tony Scarapiducci, the foul-mouthed digital media director for the entire branch. A character the whole outfit "lovingly" calls "F-ck Tony," Schwartz is the exact person the production needed for the role, a mix of Jean-Ralphio and a certain former press secretary that's a little too good of a portrayal.
Space Force is delightfully absurd, a comedic light that comes along at the best possible time. The satire throughout is welcome comedy, poking fun at the notion that the United States government aims to convert soldiers into space-faring crimefighters. Admittedly, the parodies are a little too on-the-nose at times, removing the suspension of reality some might expect while they put on a movie or TV series. Even then, that's something that speaks volumes to the world we live in, rather than to the quality of the programming itself.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Space Force hits Netflix Friday, May 29th.
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