SPACE FORCE Season One Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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SPACE FORCE Season One Review

Martin Rayburn feels good to be back on the moon.
Appreciating I'm a little late to the party, Space Force was a series I intended to watch last year and was excited for based on the concept, cast and trailers, but when released onto Netflix the majority of the reviews I saw were quite negative or just flat. Perhaps it was because my expectations were lowered by these comments, but I'm very pleased to say, in this reviewers humble opinion, Space Force turned out to be a blast.

Sure, not all of the jokes in Space Force land, some of the political satire is a bit lame, and segments of the writing is not quite as snappy as it could be, but the cast are terrific, there are more than enough scenes and scenarios that are hysterical, and the production values are absolutely fantastic. Space Force is not your average single camera sitcom by any means.

The premise of Space Force is essentially a parody of Trump's real life instruction to get 'boots on the Moon' during what would've been his second term (and let's all be thankful that's not happening) and the creation of the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces, the United States Space Force. Trump's never mentioned by name but there's enough suggestion that it's his presidential style in the White House and his reality-show politics spill across into the work of this semi-fictional department - not least of which within the crew that makes-up the eventual Space Force - with the key players desperate to fulfill the Commander in Chief wishes and not run the risk of hearing "you're fired!". Although the absurdity of the Trump administration is acknowledged and played upon, most of the time it's in an entirely respectful way. I suspect this was done to not alienate half the show's potential audience, but it does mean that some of the political satire feels lame. It's a minor quibble, though.
As for the cast, you'll come for Steve Carell but you'll stay for John Malkovich. That's not taking anything away from Carell as the man's comedic timing and delivery is always on point. His 'gruff army voice', which he gives to his character Genral Mark R Naird, feels very on-point and is also really funny. As his career has shown, Carell can also play it straight and it's in some of the more sensitive moments here that you begin to actually care for the predicament he is in and the big build of troubles his life has presented. Not least of which is the incarceration of his wife, played by Lisa Kudrow. Again, you know her form and ability as a comedic actress and she brings all of that and more here. Her portrayal of Maggie Naird feels a little suburban Phoebe Buffay at times, and part of that is down to the surrealism of the never-explained-joke behind the reason she is locked up, but as the series progresses, although she very much becomes a supporting character, Kudrow makes Maggie more than just a Phoebe-clone and brings in multiple character layers in the limited screentime allotted to her.

John Malkovich is hilarious. Full stop! As the stuck-up scientist, Dr Adrian Mallory, he plays his character just subtly enough so that it doesn't ever become ridiculous. Malkovich and Carell have great on-screen chemistry together and their banter often stands out as being the highlight of many episodes. Across the series they naturally develop a quite unusual bromance which, thanks to it being portrayed by these two incredibly talented actors, feels entirely believable.
Much of the remainder of the cast is made-up of familiar faces from shows like Silicon Valley and Parks & Recreation. Ben Schwartz is a notable inclusion, he pretty much plays himself but I have no problem with that as he's always very funny. It's a great ensemble pretty much all round, and everyone feels well developed and have had their moment in the spotlight by the end of the series. If there's one weak link it might be Carell's on-screen daughter Erin, played by Diana Silvers. She's not wonderfully served with the storyline. No fault of the actress but she does come across as quite a snarky, spoiled and inconsiderate brat at times. Where the storyline goes I can understand the reasons for this, but it doesn't help to warm to her or care that much about the predicament she eventually finds herself in.

Space Force has quite exceptional production values for its genre and, considering none of the main cast likely come cheap, the show wears its budget on its sleeve. The massive external location set used for the Wild Horse Base looks entirely believable as a military complex, as does the almost equally large internal set. The realisation of the rockets, space and the moon is also first class. Far better than you'd expect for what is essentially a workplace comedy. There's also an incredibly realistic CGI space chimp (a test monkey apestronaut) who is at the centre of one of the funniest segment of the entire series.
All round, Space Force comes recommended. Not every joke hits but enough do to make sure there are laughs every episode, even if it's only at the absurdity of the situations that play out, and for me that was more than enough to keep me coming back for one more episode. It's an easy binge-watch (I finished all ten installments in two evenings) and great escapism fun, which I'm sure many of us could all do with right now. If you've not already had the pleasure then catch up with this show today. Roll on season two.

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