Space Force: Season 1 - all episodes
May 29, 2020 4:07 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

I watched the whole season yesterday; kind of a mixed bag. While I was glad they never uttered POTUS' name, as leaving him fictitious allowed me to enjoy the comedy in a way it wouldn't if I had to face the reality of our wrong time-line existence, it seems like they leaned too hard into trying to make the show apolitical or having 'both sides appeal' by throwing a Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez parody character into the mix, and I agree with the Den of Geek reviewer that the show treats her character with more disdain than they do to POTUS, which was bizarre.

It's such a good cast, so, there were a lot of good comedy moments, and it's only 10 x half-hour episodes, so I don't regret watching it. But it's not a triumph.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:01 AM on May 30, 2020 [4 favorites]

Watched episode 1, can't see me going back for more. Characters unsympathetic. Jokes off target.
posted by biffa at 6:49 AM on May 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm only half way through, but it's a bit of a slog. The only thing I found genuinely funny so far was when Steve Carell's bowel movements were referred to as "miserly."

And so many questions. Why do they specifically mention that four-star general is the highest rank, when five-star is the highest? Why is Steve Carell's assistant a one-star general? Why are there people IN space force who go to high school with Steve Carell's daughter?
posted by jonathanhughes at 8:14 AM on May 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Why do they specifically mention that four-star general is the highest rank, when five-star is the highest?

Because there aren't any. It was a special rank created during WWII, for a specific purpose, and although it's a lifetime appointment, the last one, Omar Bradley, died in 1981 and the rank was retired. (And, technically, it's not the highest rank ever, as George Washington was retroactively made a six-star general just so that no other American officer would ever outrank him.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:44 AM on May 30, 2020 [8 favorites]

I couldn’t do 5 minutes, sorry
posted by growabrain at 2:32 PM on May 30, 2020

Daniels was co-creator of King of the Hill, and based on that it wouldn't surprise me if he was behind another comedy where conservatives get off easy and the joke is on those obnoxious, preachy do-gooder libtards. (I say this having not seen this show myself. I was curious but the reviews weren't great and now that I find out it's apparently sending up AOC while leaving Trump alone, it's a big nope for me.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:12 PM on May 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Greg Daniel was also co-creator of Parks and Recreation, so...

Although the president in Space Force is never referred to by name, it's very clear who they're talking about, and it's very clear that both the writers and the characters think he's an imbecile. Yes, there's one scene where Steve Carell's character "wins" over the AOC character while testifying before congress.

So, although the show isn't great, it's not because the guy behind it was behind King of the Hill (which THIS liberal loved, and did a fine job of painting various conservative characters in a less than favorable light).
posted by jonathanhughes at 6:46 PM on May 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

it's very clear who they're talking about, and it's very clear that both the writers and the characters think he's an imbecile.

Right, but it felt very much to me while watching that they were pulling their punches, and then to read the quote from Malkovitch in the The Wrap article “I think it’s a very fair, funny treatment and I don’t think really naming is necessary. It’s referenced, I think, in a very funny way that isn’t offensive even to fans of the president,” confirmed it. Like, if your comedy about Trump isn't offensive to Trump supporters, I think a rewrite is in order. They treat him like some crazy old relative that everyone just shrugs/sighs and deals with because whaddya-gonna-do? Whereas the mockery of the AOC stand-in just came out of nowhere and felt meaner and condescending.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:47 AM on May 31, 2020 [3 favorites]

“I think it’s a very fair, funny treatment and I don’t think really naming is necessary. It’s referenced, I think, in a very funny way that isn’t offensive even to fans of the president,”

The president only ever gives orders via tweet or text message. The first episode has the Steve Carrell character being ordered to give confidential information to an obvious Russian spy. There’s a whole episode where the First Lady redesigns the space force uniforms to be tacky and bizarre, with capes and pageantry.

They are unquestionably and obviously making fun of Trump.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:52 PM on May 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

This felt bland to me.

Not a huge fan of incompetence porn, but I prefer this flavour over 'Avenue 5.'

Sure, there's a lot of bitterness humour but it lacks heat and is just really tiring.

A decent joke here or there though.
posted by porpoise at 3:39 PM on May 31, 2020

Avenue 5 is the superior "idiots in space" show.
posted by yonega at 10:31 PM on May 31, 2020

And yeah, the wife and I are watching it, but we're finding ourselves more interested in Twitter and other second screens, which isn't a selling point for the show. I like Malkovitch, I like the subplot with the daughter, but so much of the rest of it is pretty much wasted opportunity.
posted by Kyol at 6:09 AM on June 1, 2020

I liked this better than Avenue 5, which I found insipid. Harsh words, I know, but I actually had to go back and watch all of The Thick of It just to get my good Iannucci flavor back.

Also, why can't Netflix put all of Alan Partridge back on? HBO Max has some of it, but not all. And I wish there was an easy place to find A Touch of Cloth (I don't have Amazon, nor am I likely to get it) but I digress.

I actually felt something when they made the moon landing, so there's that. Sometimes I feel like these guys push the comedy envelope so far they lose track of what is actually funny. I mean, Parks & Rec and The Office and Veep all hit that sweet spot, but now its like these guys have just pushed themselves to comedy adjacent. I'll stop talking now.
posted by valkane at 6:56 AM on June 1, 2020

Daniels was co-creator of King of the Hill

Greg Daniel was also co-creator of Parks and Recreation

At the risk of pointing out the blatantly obvious - the US version of The Office.

And sitting here at about the halfway point of the season - this show badly needs a Dwight Schrute. Someone to take some of the asshole weight off Carrell's character. Because right now he's carrying too much of it, in too many different scenarios and set-ups that's leading to weird tonal shifts and lots of humor either not landing or being immediately undercut.

He's the arrogant ignorant militant fighter jock, who keeps clashing with Malkovich's scientist (who is right 100% of the time) because he doesn't care to understand the science.

He's the tight-wound macho man who doesn't understand his own feelings or how to relate to people without ordering them around.

But he's also the well-meaning yet inept bureaucrat who is mocked by other military people and subject to constant and unrelenting harassment by idiots, both above and below him. And who often as a result has an asshole reaction.

So we've got a big character clash right there, and on top of that all the macho warfighter guy stuff keeps getting undercut because Carrell suddenly pops up with a stirring heartfelt speech or has a this-episode-only breakthrough. And now all the satire gets thrown out the window because we can't have Steve Carrell the main character just be an asshole, yeah? He's got to be redeemed every episode.

You would think "asshole with a heart of gold" would be right up Daniels' & Carrell's alley - obviously it worked in The Office - but it worked in The Office because 1) Michael Scott wasn't carrying the whole show nearly as much as General Whatever Carrell is here - if anything it was Jim & Pam that the audience was interested in and viewing as their surrogates; 2) Michael Scott was easier to view sympathetically because there was always the truly unhinged Dwight Schrute to compare him to; and 3) Michael Scott (and eventually Schrute (& Andy and Angela)) earned our sympathy over time - this show is just taking it as a given that we're supposed to like Carrell so it keeps sabotaging its own scripts so he's not too much of an asshole.

The best parts so far are the absurd elements - the receptionist who just lets everyone into his office, nothing but potatoes to eat in the Space Training Habitat, trying to get a "space monkey" to fix a satellite, the redesigned uniforms.

tl:dr - they're trying to make "The Office In Space", they should be making "Get Smart In Space."
posted by soundguy99 at 12:03 PM on June 1, 2020 [7 favorites]

I realised what was off about the show; It might be a bit of a sit-com, but they treat the premise of the space force as necessary, rather than ridiculous (mostly because of the Chinese being bad guys).
posted by Marticus at 3:08 PM on June 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

I made it only through the first episode. Why is Lisa Kudrow’s character in prison?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:25 PM on June 1, 2020

I made it only through the first episode. Why is Lisa Kudrow’s character in prison?

It's never made clear.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:31 PM on June 1, 2020

Yeah, the wife being in prison for 40 - 60 years... and it doesn't affect his security clearance? That it was never revealed why the length without capital punishment also bugged me, but I suppose that's supposed to be the joke. Apologia would be a feud with the FLOTUS and the joke would be extra-legal imprisonment, and the FLOTUS worship/ soft-handling is to avoid further wrath. But that's bs.

Anyway, finally finished hate watching and I wish they dealt more with the daughter's story arc.

But damn, what a cast. Too bad.

Diana Silvers/ Erin could have been the focus of the show, with the inept Space Force bs in the background. Innovative ways to deal with military meathead enlistees could be a show of its own. Or not, and see the consequences of shacking up with a meathead - maybe contrast that to an intelligent and curious miltitary man who moves rapidly up the ranks.

Lisa Kudrow put more into this than she needed to. I'm wondering if she's naturally going dark (and if so, likely going full silver soonish - and she'd carry it super well).

Disappointed, but didn't have high hopes and I was never a fan of Carell vehicles, but like him well enough as a person.
posted by porpoise at 11:02 PM on June 1, 2020

I’m three episodes in. It’s not fantastic, but I’m enjoying it, and surprised by all the vitriol. I cackle loudly multiple times per episode. It punches left and right, at the military and the government. Everyone has to take their lumps without complaining. Naird is an earnest guy trying to do his best in an dysfunctional world. Agree that a stronger Dwight Shrute-style foil would help the show.
posted by gnutron at 2:31 PM on June 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

I thoroughly enjoyed this by the time I got to the end. The characters had grown on me and the way it ended was a well earned stab at the concept of militarizing space exploration.

My favourite joke was when the general tried to make the argument that government can innovate by referencing the postal service, and his chief scientist replied "I don't think they exist any more... where do you think our budget came from?"
posted by simonw at 9:52 PM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm a few episodes in, but any time John Malkovich opens his mouth it gets funny, and anytime he doesn't it isn't. The stuff with the teenage daughter falls flat for me, too.
posted by Catblack at 10:52 AM on June 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

The first episode of this show is okay. The second episode is a painfully unfunny, cringingly scripted trainwreck. It seems designed solely to demonstrate that they have a special effects budget. There are long stretches without any attempt at humour at all, the jokes are bland and dated, and everyone fails at everything. There isn't even a secondary plot beyond "the daughter does some homework." It's really amazingly dreadful television.
posted by oulipian at 9:29 PM on June 6, 2020

I finally got through it last night. They leave it on a huge cliffhanger, but I think if they never make another season I'm sure I won't be alone in being ok with that.
posted by Catblack at 7:12 AM on June 22, 2020

It's very uneven, but I still had a good time watching it. Mostly I felt like the supporting cast really shone. Particularly Newsome and Yang who play Ali and Chan. And obviously Malkovich, but that probably doesn't need to be said.

So the daughter, Erin is around 16? I guess they didn't want to spring for high school locations/sets or they didn't want to spend the time away from the base, but it was very weird for her to basically not have peers. I get that she's isolated, but having those two military guys know her by her school reputation and having her romantic fumblings all centre around her father's place of work feels really weird. Maybe being a teenager is just really weird though.
posted by ODiV at 9:33 AM on June 23, 2020

There was some stuff I really liked (the conjugal visit episode, the scenes with the Joint Chiefs, 'It's good to be black on the moon') and some stuff that didn't do much for me (Erin not getting much character development until near the end of the season, the way the show treats politicians). If there's a second season, I'll probably watch it.
posted by box at 10:38 AM on June 25, 2020

I liked it, warts and all. I think the Adrian-love-song scene was top notch. malkovich just killed.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:50 AM on July 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I just watched it again, and it's better than I remember. It reminds me of the way that Greg Daniels shows--especially The Office and Parks and Rec, but King of the Hill too--often try to do a lot of things at once in the first season before finding a groove in the second or third.

It did get renewed for a second season in November (which I wasn't really expecting to happen, but then Carell and Daniels (and maybe Kudrow and Malkovich) are all at a point in their careers where they can probably, within reason, do whatever they want), and I'm very curious about what that season will bring. The first one ended with a hell of a cliffhanger.
posted by box at 12:45 PM on December 26, 2020

So for what it's worth, and I might still go ahead and make the second season post, reading through this made it pretty clear that the second season did a lot better probably solely by virtue of not being under a lot of the let's just say "challenges" they had with the first season. It's still not great, must-see half hour comedy, but it's 7 episodes and there's worse? Ringing endorsement, I know.
posted by Kyol at 6:51 PM on February 24, 2022

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