America has given the world some of the greatest comedy characters. Unfortunately most of them have been their Presidents. And after the serial philandering of pot head Bill Clinton and the vacant eyed idiocy of George Bush Jr we had a momentary blip of statesmanship with Barack Obama before reverting to type with the election of the slack jawed, swivel eyed lunacy of perma-tanned comedy comb over king Donald Trump. He’s certainly proved to be a gift to satirists everywhere with pronouncements which beggar belief with perhaps the most grandiose being that of a Space Force and it’s this that Steve Carell and co-creator Greg Daniels have latched onto with their 10 part Netflix comedy series called, appropriately enough, Space Force.
Carell plays three star General Mark Naird promoted to being a four star General and put in charge of POTUS pet project, Space Force with a remit to puts boots on the moon, Mars and in fact just about anywhere that the US can colonize. His promotion to the newly formed military division has already riled Naird’s despised fellow General Kick Grabaston who wanted the gig and the series makes much of their rivalry notably in one episode where they play a team building exercise of paintball whilst covered in balloons. Moving to Colorado where the Space Force research centre is based Naird finds his teenage daughter hating school and ends up working in the unit’s meal Armstrong food cart whilst being pursued by a various lovelorn soldiers including a Russian astronaut Yuri. It’s because the Space Force has a multi nation team that includes Russian in its bid to beat China and India in the space race and its Naird who is suspicious of anyone not fitting the all American hero template that he has his eye on Dr Chan for no other reason than he is doesn’t look like the all American hero despite Dr Chan being the most respected scientist to the Head of Research Dr Adrian Mallory played by John Malkovich in laid back style persevering with having to work with the ineptitude of Naird who is clueless about technology basing any knowledge he has of what he’s seen in science fiction films.
Carell very much plays the straight man here to Malkovich’s world weary, eye rolling sarcastic cynicism and the pair are supported by a variety of players and to that end there is Ben Schwartz as Tony Sarapiducci, Naird’s irksome PR for the project forever looking for a publicity opp and perhaps his best moment is his fawning to FLOTUS desire to designing the outfits for Space Force. Noah Emmerich as Grabaston is a testosterone fuelled rival General to Naird, Don Lake as Naird’s inept one star General acting as his secretary is fun and the series has the late Fred Willard‘s last performance. But the problem with Space Force is its unevenness from episode to episode. So whilst Episode One has to set out the main players which it does well it’s a little flat whereas the second episode has some surreal laugh out loud moments. The series does have an uneven tone with some episodes have very funny moments others episodes are flat and it is really Malkovich (who is veering into a delivery of lines that will make him a gift to impressionists much like Nicolas Cage) who comes out best waspishly commentating on the nonsense that surrounds his serious research.
Writer and co-creator Greg Daniels is a prolific and prime time Emmy award winning writer for series Parks & Recreation as well as the US version of The Office and Carell is no slouch in the comedy stakes (although his dramatic roles have earned him Oscar nominations for 2015’s ‘Foxcatcher’ as well as Golden Globe nominations for ‘Battle of the Sexes’ and ‘The Big Short’) and as both men have worked on The Office to great acclaim the Space Force may come as a disappointment.
Here’s the Space Force trailer……..
SPACE FORCE BEGINS ON NETFLIX ON 29TH MAY 2020