With Space Force, Greg Daniels and Steve Carell are back with another workspace comedy. When one hears those names, the first thing that comes to their mind is The Office. Michael Scott was Carell’s defining role for a number of years, until his highly polarizing exit from the show. Well, with Space Force, it just might give put Carell under a similar spotlight, albeit one which will take some time to shine the brightest.
Space Force is a workspace comedy that follows the adventures of General Mark Naird (Carell), who is tasked by POTUS to look after the new branch. Yes, the show, right out of the gate, is a satire that doesn’t shy away from making fun of the US President’s tweeting habits. Aiding him in his pursuit of full space dominance is Dr. Adrian Mallory (John Malkovich). At home, Naird’s other responsibilities include taking care of his rebellious daughter (Diana Silvers) and making sure his family doesn’t fall apart, given his wife’s (Lisa Kudrow) imprisonment for unrevealed reasons.
If you read all that and thought, “Hey, this sounds extremely different from The Office.”, that’s because it is. While the writing is quite similar which explores Naird’s stubborn antics, there are some cracks in the wall which do tend to show up every once in a while. For one, the series is filmed more conventionally, which is in stark contrast with The Office’s fourth-wall-breaking. But that’s where I’ll stop comparing both of the shows, with the only similarity being the writing style and some of Naird’s antics.
Alright then, getting on to the supporting cast. The central relationship in the show is that of Naird and Mallory, a budding bromance that is a sight to behold. Both Carell and Malkovich seem comfortable enough to bicker with each other in an entertaining way. Of course, there are some tropes here that are being followed with Naird being the stubborn military guy and Mallory being the science whiz. You can practically see a lot of the banter coming from a mile away. Just like everything else on the show, it’s not the generic usage of proven tropes that disappoints, it’s the execution.
The other big relationship in the show is that of Naird and his daughter Erin (Silvers), which follows yet again another ‘rebel son/daughter against parent’ trope. As you can imagine, Erin constantly makes harmful decisions against her father’s wishes. Aside from that, I do like the unique element of his wife being imprisoned, and we’re never really given a reason as to why. The writers’ reasons about the same is also a little questionable, more of which you can read here.
I also want to talk a little more about Ben Schwartz’s performance, which for my taste comes across as really hard-reaching. I understand that a goofy comic relief never hurts but it also depends on the amount of goofiness that is injected into said character. Schwartz’s character feels like he was written specifically for explaining Gen Z humor to Carell. It’s like when middle-aged people try to write a show about modern high-school life – inappropriate and missing the point. I really do wish the writers find a better use for his character in the second season, if there is one.
Finally then, comes the big question – Could Space Force be the next great comedy taking The Office’s space? The short answer is – No. At least not any time soon. I strongly think that even by the end of season 1 the show hasn’t really found its footing, with some really off-balance humor thrown into a satirical plot shot on a unconventionally high budget. There’s a reason The Office was shot on hand held cameras in an ‘unprofessional’ manner – the plot called for it and the humor was elevated by it. Let’s hope Space Force manages to understand its trajectory and take control of it.
Editor-in-Chief at The Screen Zone. Having written about the tech and gaming industry for a few years online, I wanted to have an independent platform to express all of my opinions on films & videogames, old and new alike, that grace the big (and small) screens in our lives.
I’m also the Lead Editor at TechQuila.