Netflix’s newest series, SPACE FORCE (2020) has premiered to harsh skepticism from critics, to say the least. It has seemingly underwhelmed publications like Forbes and The Verge, and has earned a two- star rating on Rottentomatoes.com. However, the series deserves so much more praise than it has been getting. Greg Daniels and Steve Carell create the series; Daniels is also creator of the new Amazon original series, UPLOAD (2020), the American version of THE OFFICE (2005 – 2013), and has writing credits for THE SIMPSONS (1989) and KING OF THE HILL (1997 – 2010) under his belt. Carell, whose fame is accredited to his comedic and acting talents, not only plays the lead role, but writes for the new show, as well. Fans also may not know, that Carell wrote famous episodes “Casino Night” and “Survivorman” of THE OFFICE, and he co- wrote THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN (2005).
SPACE FORCE centers on General mark Naird (Steve Carell), who is tasked with leading the newly established, United States Space Force. While Naird is entangled in a modern space race for conquest, his family and personal life faces significant upheaval from his promotion, including a freshly incarcerated wife for unknown reasons, played by Lisa Kudrow. Naird is assisted by the cynical civilian scientist Dr. Adrian Mallory (John Malkovich); vapidly exuberant PR agent F. Tony Scarapiducci (Ben Schwartz); and quietly sarcastic and lovable Dr. Chan Kaifang (Jimmy Yang). Carell delivers a campy impersonation of modern machismo, while also displaying his undying ability to tug at audience’s heartstrings. Malkovich and Kudrow play the type of roles fans are used to seeing, and as usual they play them perfectly- his being the sharp- tongued scholar, while she’s the usual bubbly optimist with a mysteriously dark edge. This is also not to mention a complete star- studded supporting cast that would make comedy fans excited.
The series is filmed well, with some interesting shots and lighting choices that keep viewers engaged. Some of these moments include patriotic hues of red and blue, and shots that include Carell’s reaction to a rocket deployment that is reflected in the glass next to his face. While not every scene would cause audiences to pause the episode and admire the view, there are subliminally effective ones that convey a lot of information and aid in setting the tone, an imperative to creating effective, well- executed parody.
The show’s ability to parody and pay homage to other works is also a boasted outcome. Science fiction fans will appreciate an episode devoted as homage to Ridley Scott’s THE MARTIAN (2015). As well, it includes a sequence extremely reminiscent of Michael Scott’s marathon breakdown during the “Fun Run” episode of THE OFFICE, an exciting moment for fans waiting for similarities between the two productions.
SPACE FORCE is upfront about current events and concerns, nodding at racial and gender issues current America faces, as well as critiques over military strategy and spending, aptly observing that “the world is full of arrogance.” It’s also interesting to note given the time the show was written, it actually predicted some of the situations that have currently taken place, one example being the President’s executive order over social media site, Twitter.
This series is not getting the credit it deserves. The writing is much more clever than critics are selling and the cast is brimming with talent. The series obviously has a lot to say, and due to the final episode’s cliffhangers, fans of the show would undoubtedly be disappointed if it weren’t renewed. Season Two has not yet been secured but Netflix has been known for its fluctuating renewal and pick up dates, so there is still a possibility for those that are hopeful.