Space Force

IMDB’s sad description:

The people tasked with creating a sixth branch of the armed services: The Space Force.

First and foremost, is Space Force science fiction and/or fantasy? A recent question on Scifi.SE “How realistic is it that a Russian agent would be working at Space Force?” forced (pun intended) the issue. The question was initially closed, but after some discussion, re-opened.

The primary arguments in favor were:

  • It is a near-future work, which has traditionally been on-topic
  • The Chinese have a manned permanent moon base which is conducting mining operations
  • The Chinese have a space station which allows them to intercept satellites minutes after they reach orbit and sabotage them

The primary arguments against were:

  • It is purely satirical, it would be like saying the obviously not possible exploits of parody movies like Airplane or Hot Shots were also on topic
  • If a moon base is the major qualifier, then James Bond Moonmaker is also on topic

As the show develops (if it does), there may be discussion and a consensus later. But for now, the review.

The show starts with the formation of the new military agency, Space Force,  and General Mark R. Naird (Steve Carell) is made the top brass. Dr. Adrian Mallory (John Malkovich) is the top scientist intended to help them establish a moon base as quickly as possible. Gen. Naird has a teenager daughter (Diana Silvers) and an imprisoned wife (Lisa Kudrow), whose incarceration is not explained in this first season.

From a comedy standpoint, it is pretty hit and miss. Steve Carell’s accent is extremely obnoxious. It certainly diminishes most of his character’s punchlines. In contrast, John Malkovich’s character is often funny. There are several running gags, which is surprising, because it is co-created by Greg Daniels (The Office, Parks & Rec) two shows which didn’t really have that. Yes, I know The Office had Jim’s pranks, but each prank was unique. Case in point, there is a running gag that Gen. Naird’s secretary never stops people from entering his office, even when he isn’t there, and always fails to inform the general before he realizes it himself. It is the same tired gag over and over, and gets more tired every time they do it.

The primary antagonists of the show are the Chinese. They are determined to be the only ones in space. And they aren’t afraid to commit acts of war to do it. I am fairly certain attacking military satellites (caught on camera) is an act of war. As well as attacking military installations. But Space Force, and US government, is always willing to ignore it. They can’t risk a international incident. Seems pretty ridiculous to me (but not in a funny way), particularly when the implication is the president is someone akin to Trump.

So the show is a mixed bag. It does have funny moments, but mostly falls flat. There are elements that even in a comedy don’t make sense. If you love Steve Steve Ce in everything he’s ever done, you’ll probably like it. The first season takes place over more than a year of time wherein the new division is able to successfully send satellites, monkeys, and even humans into space.

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