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Space Force on Netflix review: It's not The Office, but it's not trying to be
Space Force, the new sitcom from Netflix, was reportedly created first by executives of the streaming service. They thought a series with “Space Force” in the title had potential. They contacted Steve Carell, the star of the US version of the Office, and he in turn contacted US Office developer Greg Daniels to help develop the show. Now that the series’s first season of 10 episodes has dropped, will it be the replacement for the hugely popular Office for Netflix? Find out in our Space Force review.
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Space Force review – Shoots for the moon but comes up a tad short
If Office fans are expecting a carbon copy of that series, but in space uniforms, they will likely be disappointed. Unlike The Office, which was shot as though it was a constantly filming documentary, Space Force is more of a standard single-camera sitcom, although one with a much bigger budget.
Carell plays U.S. Air Force Four-Star General Mark R. Naird. In the first episode, he’s given his fourth star and fully expects to become the head of the entire Air Force. Instead, he’s assigned to head up the nation’s sixth and newest military branch, Space Force. That means he has to move, along with his wife (Lisa Kudrow), and teenage daughter (Diana Silvers) to a secret base in Colorado.
The rest of the series shows General Naird’s efforts to lead the Space Force, with the goal of going back to the Moon and establishing a permanent base by 2024. Needless to say, there’s lots of obstacles getting in the way of that goal. There’s interference from the Chinese space program, a possible problem with a new rocket fuel, and constant trolling by the head general of the US Air Force (Noah Emmerich).
We also learn of one pretty major off-camera event in the first episode, which we won’t spoil here. Quite frankly, you would think this event would have the biggest effect of all on the new Space Force, but Naird and everyone else just proceeds as if almost nothing has happened. It’s supposed to be funny, but it more of a head-scratching moment, and it’s never fully explained.
Space Force (the TV show) does include a number of laugh-out-loud jokes and gags in its first 10-episode season. To be fair, it actually does get better in terms of story and humor as the series moves forward. However, it definitely does take a few episodes to take off (no pun intended). In the end, the show falls short of the humor found in The Office, but there is tons of room for improvement.
One thing that cannot be faulted is this show’s production value. Netflix spent a ton of money on Space Force, and a lot of it is on the screen. The Space Force Colorado campus itself is impressive with its somewhat 1960s-themed design, and the visual effects, especially in the last few episodes, are impressive.
Steve Carell plays General Naird as a very competent, if slightly under-confident, leader of Space Force. While he clearly didn’t like being selected for this post, Naird is trying to do his job to the best of his ability, and that comes across in Carell’s performance. John Malkovich is a delight as Dr. Adrian Mallory. He’s only interested in pure science and space exploration, which is sometimes at odds with the military Space Force. However, Mallory and Naird slowly start to respect each other.
Other characters in the show include Ben Schwartz, who plays the superficial Space Force social media head F. Tony Scarapiducci with the right amount of annoyance without going too over-the-top. The late and great Fred Willard has a couple of great scenes playing Naird’s elderly father. However, Lisa Kudrow is a disappointment as Naird’s wife Maggie. She seems to be on auto-pilot here, and that’s a shame as she is capable of doing much more with this character.
Overall, Space Force is not going to replace The Office for fans of that series anytime soon. However, it does have a number of great laughs, some terrific performances, and excellent production values. If Netflix renews this show for a second season, we will be watching.
That’s our Space Force review. Have you watched the series, and if so, do you agree or disagree with our verdict?