Netflix’s highly anticipated series Space Force tries to be a lot of different things. Unfortunately, it spreads itself too thin. It’s easy to see what the program is trying to do, but when all set and done, Space Force doesn’t do much of anything. Heralded by The Office and Parks and Recreation co-creator Greg Daniels and leading comedian Steve Carrell, inspiration and intent are evident. Still, the star-studded cast and style appear plucked from past projects and thrown together haphazardly. The new series lacks cohesion, not too unlike the administration this series serves to mock.
Space Force follows recently promoted General Mark Naird. As Naird receives his promotion, his hopes are high to repace his workplace adversary, the General of the Air Force. Instead, to both of their dismay, Naird is put in charge of the United States Space Force. The organization moves to its own branch instead of remaining under the purview of the Air Force. It’s definitely not what Naird worked his entire career to achieve.
Naird seems like the type to dislike the administration, implied heavily to be Trumpian in nature. The President remains an off-screen character, however, only referred to by his title. At the same time, Naird behaves dramatically; a behavior expected more of someone who believes in that version of America. The contrast doesn’t quite work for the character. Naird feels disdain for the President, all the while going to extreme lengths to satisfy him. However, this may not be too uncommon with the current state of American politics. The lengths he goes to complete the Space Force mission and hit their goals in a timely fashion is consistent. However, the characterization is still a tough one to swallow. Whether it’s because we’re not used to Carrell playing a character with this mindset, or whether it’s too fresh of an observed situation among politicians is arguable.
The timing of the release doesn’t serve the show well. Space Force attempts to provide commentary and a satirical look at the state of American politics, but muddles the message. As the current state of American politics is messy, and perhaps frightening, the current administration is still in power. As recent societal altering events such as the Covid-19 crisis and the nationwide protests against systematic racism rage on, one has to wonder if Space Force was perhaps released too early. This isn’t the show’s fault. It was created and promoted well before these events began to shape the current American climate. Still, I couldn’t help but feel slightly uncomfortable watching this show satirically comment on contemporary politics in a silly manner, all the while the complicit actions of the American government continue to escalate dangerous conditions for average Americans.
The creators of Space Force took a risk in its early release, which isn’t always a sound idea. Sometimes, there needs to be a more extended passage of time between current events and the fictionalization of these events. Delaying the production of this show could have served the concept better and even opened up more opportunities for satire without exposing a fresh wound for many.
Poking fun at American politics isn’t the only goal the show tries to achieve. Space Force also attempts to incorporate a family-drama aspect. Relocating the Naird family from Washington to Colorado has a multitude of effects on the family. These range from the expected struggle for Naird’s daughter of trying to fit in, to lesser expected consequences, such as Naird’s wife, Maggie, landing in prison for decades for a crime that hasn’t yet revealed itself.
While a stark contrast from the political aspects of the show, Erin adds layers to Mark that is essential for him to be more than a one-dimensional character. Watching him attempt to balance being a single father (in a way) and his obligations to Space Force deepens Naird’s conflicts. While Carrell’s roles in other projects such as The Office endears viewers occasionally with his care for his employees, Naird is colder to his subordinates in Space Force. His relationship with his daughter brings out the better parts of him. And it’s his family relationships that form the basis for his emotional struggle with being open and allowing himself to acknowledge his stress and emotion in the fourth episode, LUNAR HABITAT.
Sidenote: When viewing the show on Netflix, the episode titles are stylized as short statements in all capital letters, an obvious play on the nature of Trump’s tweets, which was a detail I appreciated.
When it comes down to it, Space Force’s problems boil down to its lack of identity. It doesn’t know what type of show it wants to be. The comedy is inconsistent – sometimes it’s outlandish, sometimes it’s deadpan, occasionally intellectual, and occasionally crude, but most of the time, the jokes don’t land.
But sometimes, they do.
My favorite episode of the season is the second one, SAVE EPSILON 6!, which focuses on The Space Force team attempting to save their satellite launch with animals sent (and abandoned) in space after Chinese forces sabotaged their launch. The comedy in this is outlandish and ridiculous. However, the special effects and animal gags make it the most enjoyable episode of the first season.
Another noteworthy moment is when Captain Angela butchers her first words upon landing on the moon, which was a critical moment as she is the first Black woman to step on the celestial body. Attempting to say, “It’s good to be back on the moon,” she suffers a Freudian slip, replacing the word ‘back’ with ‘Black.’ Being one of the few moments that elicited a physical response from me, the build-up to this slip was well-executed.
Angela also ends up being one of the more endearing characters in Space Force, even though the show wasn’t sure what to do with her. They pair Angela up with Erin for a good portion of the beginning of the season, then send her to space in the back-half of the season. Presumably, this will be to anchor the Moon-based arc if the show obtains renewal. However, this leaves Erin in a much more isolated state if the show is to return for subsequent seasons.
Most of the time, however, the jokes don’t hit. When watching, I was aware of what was supposed to be funny, but my brain didn’t register the jokes as humourous. Without the strong cast, Space Force would have fallen entirely flat. The strength of the cast isn’t just limited to the most prolific actors. Well-known, John Malkovich’s presence as the less-nonsense scientist serves as the sane-man insert. He provides an anchoring perspective that makes the insanity of Space Force’s circumstances easier to digest. Jimmy Yang as Dr. Kaifang unexpectedly provided my favorite comedic presence. Known for Silicon Valley, I wasn’t familiar with this actor going into Space Force. However, his deadpan delivery lands as the best humor of the cast.
Steve Carrell has a commanding presence that is hard to balance. Space Force did its best to balance him out, but many times did not succeed. With too many variances of comedic style, the lack of cohesion left me wondering: what is the point of the humor?
And, with this issue of erratic choices in the development of the show, I found it hard to see the heart of Space Force, save a few endearing moments between Naird and his daughter, and Naird and Dr. Mallory, which arguably is necessary for a comedy like this to resonate with viewers. Other similar shows have a certain charm or heartwarming quality, but as mentioned before, Space Force’s is few and far between.
Picking aspects and dynamics that have worked in other recent acclaimed comedies isn’t always a recipe for success. The inspiration is clear, but for a show like Space Force to succeed, there needs to be a more evident intention. Things happen, not for progression or commentary, but for the sake of happening. Having Ben Schwartz as the social media manager of the military branch is a great idea. However, somehow, they underutilized Schwartz, which is a crime considering how beloved his roles are on other shows.
Space Force’s humor isn’t the only aspect lacking identity. The overall genre seems inconsistent, as well. Sometimes a dramedy, sometimes a workplace comedy, sometimes a family drama, these different storytelling elements don’t always mesh together. The show even takes a stab at space tropes, launching humans to the moon. However, adding in this new aspect doesn’t elevate Space Force in any way. Instead, it just adds another cluttered element to the recipe for season one. Space Force feels empty even though so much goes on.
But don’t give up hope yet. Despite the issues outlined, with outstanding effects and a talented cast, maybe Space Force just hasn’t found its footing yet. Space Force is doing well with viewership, so expect another season to come. Many similar comedies take time to find their rhythm. The Office and Parks and Recreation both took time to grow into their own, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Space Force could vastly improve on its style, writing, and execution upon subsequent seasons. However, the binge format could hinder this, leaving the sour taste in viewers’ mouths for a year or more. And who knows what actual events could have transpired by then to effect opinion and viewership?
All in all, Space Force has strong elements, a talented cast, and a solid foundation for future improvement. Still, it struggles to decide on a direction to lead the narrative. Left as a chaotic combination of things that should work, Space Force doesn’t quite work. Despite this, I wouldn’t recommend against watching Space Force. You will get some laughs. And it’s not a massive undertaking with only ten episodes averaging around half an hour long. After all, television seems to be on hold for a while, thanks to workplace restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So, there’s not much to lose, but not a whole lot to gain either. I do think Space Force has the potential to grow into something much better, but currently, it doesn’t live up to Greg Daniels’s legacy.
All episodes of Space Force are now streaming on Netflix.
What to Watch April 2021 Guide: Manifest, Younger, The Handmaids Tale, and MORE!
Spring showers bring plenty of new content your way this April.
So, who is ready to do some serious binge-watching? We didn’t practice for this all of 2020 to give up now! Especially because there are some really great TV shows premiering and a handful of highly-anticipated shows returning!
Here’s what’s on tap!
Law & Order: Organized Crime – NBC (April 1)
Has there been a more anticipated TV return? Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) returns to the NYPD and joins a new task force while reuniting with ex-partner Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay).
Manifest – NBC (April 1)
What happened to Flight 828? TV’s biggest mystery continues into season 3. Ben pursues a tail fin that may have belonged to the plane he was on while the rest of the passengers continue to follow Callings.
Home Economics – ABC (April 7)
The new comedy series looks at the uncomfortable and frustrating relationship between three adult siblings from the Hayworth family.
Kung Fu – The CW (April 7)
The reboot of the 1970s drama of the same name stars Legacies actress Olivia Liang as Nicky Shen, a young Chinese-American woman who drops out of college and travels to a monastery in China only to return home to San Francisco and find it overrun by crime. As she doles out justice, she finds herself the target of an assassin.
Rebel – ABC (April 8)
Katey Sagal stars as Annie “Rebel” Bello, a blue-collar legal attorney who ruthlessly fights for the cases she believes in. The series is inspired by the life of Erin Brockovich.
Them – Amazon Prime (April 9)
The limited horror anthology hails from Lena Waithe and finds a black family in the 1950s moving into a white neighborhood in L.A. where they not only have to deal with terrible neighbors but also supernatural forces that mean to do them harm.
Fear the Walking Dead – AMC (April 11)
Season 6B picks up with John Dorie reuniting with an old friend who helps him through a dark moment.
The Circle – Netflix (April 14)
The highly-addictive reality series, described as Big Brother meets Catfish, returns for a second season. Contestants move into the same apartment building but never meet face-to-face as they’re only allowed to communicate through a special social media app.
Dad Stop Embarrassing Me – Netflix (April 14)
The sitcom, inspired by Jamie Foxx’s relationship with his daughter, Corinne, finds him playing the role of a single dad and cosmetics brand owner who must navigate raising a teen daughter.
Younger – Paramount+ (April 15)
The seventh and final season of Younger wraps up Liza’s journey at Empirical/Millennial and hopefully reveals if she ends up with #TeamJosh or #TeamCharles once and for all.
Big Shot – Disney+ (April 16)
John Stamos moves on from Uncle Jesse in a new role former men’s basketball coach who gets fired and is forced to become a coach at an elite all-girls school. If you’re looking for a new sports drama with heart, look no further.
Cruel Summer – Freefrom (April 21)
Hailing from executive producer Jessica Biel, Freeform’s newest thriller takes the spot left behind by Pretty Little Liars. Set in the 90s, it follows the disappearance of a popular and charming girl and the nerdy wannabe who is blamed for the crime.
Shadow & Bone – Netflix (April 23)
In the fantasy series, based on a book of the same name, sinister forces plot against a young woman who has the powers to unite her world.
93rd Oscars – ABC (April 25)
As they say in show biz, the award show must go on. The 93rd Oscars, which originally mandated an in-person attendance amid the coronavirus pandemic, have reversed course and are allowing remote participation.
The Handmaid’s Tale – Hulu (April 28)
June and her fellow Handmaids go beyond the walls of Gilead following an uprising as they seek freedom in the dystopian series.
Concrete Cowboy – Netflix (April 2)
Stranger Things‘ Caleb McLaughlin stars as a teen who befriends a community of Black cowboys in Philadelphia when he stays with his estranged dad (played by Idris Elba) for the summer.
Thunder Force – Netflix (April 9)
Dynamic duo Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer are former childhood best friends who invent a formula that gives them superhero powers.
Stowaway – Netflix (April 22)
A stowaway crashes a mission to Mars and risks the lives of the whole crew on-board. The sci-fi thriller stars Anna Kendrick and Daniel Dae Kim.
Without Remorse – Amazon Prime (April 30)
Michael B. Jordan stars as John Clark, an elite NAVY Seal who uncovers a covert plot while investigating the death of his pregnant wife.
Netflix Renews Spanish Drama ‘Elite’ for Fifth Season Ahead of Season 4 Premiere, Adds News Cast Members
We’ve got some elite news!
Spanish drama Elite has been renewed for a fifth season at Netflix!
The news isn’t all that shocking considering the drama, set in the ritzy private school of Las Encinas in Spain, is one of the streamer’s best performing Spanish originals.
Not only is the cast incredible, the first few seasons were hinged around an intoxicating murder mystery and plenty of steamy love scenes.
The renewal comes ahead of the fourth season, which currently doesn’t have a premiere date. In 2020, filming was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and an outbreak on set.
It’s possible the series will return in the spring/summer of 2021.
The upcoming season will see a handful of familiar faces including Samu (Itzan Escamilla), Guzman (Miguel Bernardeau), Omar (Omar Ayuso), Rebeca (Claudia Salas), and Ander (Aron Piper) as they were held back due to their shenanigans. The drama will also welcome new students Manu Ríos , Carla Díaz , Martina Cariddi and Pol Granch to shake things up.
Deadline also reports that the fifth season has added Argentinan actress Valentina Zenere (Soy Luna) and Brazilan actor André Lamoglia (Juacas) to its cast.
What to Watch in March 2021 Guide: Good Girls, Coming 2 America, The Irregulars, and MORE!
Can you believe it’s almost March?
2021 is flying by, and I have to credit the fact that there has been so much good television available!
Despite COVID-19 still holding a grasp on the world, plenty of our favorite TV shows were able to return to production and deliver outstanding seasons that are keeping us entertained every single day of the week.
March sees a return of some favorites on primetime along with some new additions to streaming.
Here’s everything to watch on March 2021:
Debris – NBC (March 1)
Calling all sci-fi fans! Two international agents are tasked with investigating mysterious wreckage that falls from the sky. As British agent Finola Jones and American agent Bryan Beneventi lead the charge to track down all the debris scattered across the Western Hemisphere, they realize it’s a race against time!
The Voice – NBC (March 1)
The singing competition returns for season 20 with Blake Shelton, Nick Jonas, John Legend, and Kelly Clarkson at the helm!
Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell – Netflix (March 1)
The documentary on famed rapper The Notorious B.I.G. celebrates his life and tracks his journey to rap king alongside rare footage and in-depth interviews.
New Amsterdam – NBC (March 2)
With the pandemic still in full-swing, season 3 kicks off with a plane crash in the East River.
Good Girls – NBC (March 7)
Your favorite suburban criminals are back for season 4! Beth, Ruby, and Annie continue their life of crime by pouring themselves into Boland Bubbles to wash money for “homeboy.” With the FBI hot on their trail, will they find a way to stay above water?
Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy – ABC (March 11)
After going on hiatus in December, the Shondaland shows return with a crossover that tackles the issue of human trafficking.
A Million Little Things – ABC (March 11)
After a nearly three-month wait, A Million Little Things is finally getting new episodes and it’s going to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Per the synopsis: “As [the virus] becomes more widespread across the U.S., Boston goes into lockdown putting Rome’s movie in jeopardy and forcing Maggie to return home from Oxford. Because the hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, Eddie’s back surgery is cancelled, leading him to take desperate measures to cope with the severe pain.
Love Alarm – Netflix (March 12)
The popular K-drama about an app that alerts people if someone in the area likes them returns for its second season on Netflix!
Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal – Netflix (March 17)
You’re familiar with the college bribery scandal that brought down Aunt Becky and other wealthy parents who stopped at nothing to get their children into top-tier universities. The documentary synopsis reads: “Using an innovative combination of interviews and narrative recreations of the FBI’s wiretapped conversations between Singer and his clients, Operation Varsity Blues offers a rare glimpse into the enigmatic figure behind a scheme that exposed the lengths wealthy families would go to for admission into elite colleges, and angered a nation already grappling with the effects of widespread inequality.”
Everything you’ve heard is true. But you haven’t heard everything. Using real conversations recreated from FBI wiretaps the filmmaker behind Fyre brings you Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal pic.twitter.com/kwsqTCSkqq
— NetflixFilm (@NetflixFilm) February 22, 2021
The highly-anticipated Marvel action series brings together Falcon and the Winter Soldier, who “team up for a global adventure that will test their survival skills — as well as their patience.” Starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, the action picks up after the events of “Avengers: Endgame” with the first two episodes airing on the streamer on March 19 and March 26, respectively.
The Irregulars – Netflix (March 26)
The Sherlock Holmes spin-off series follows a group of “troubled street teens” who are wrapped into solving crimes and saving London from supernatural elements by the “sinister Doctor Watson.”
Pooch Perfect – ABC (March 30)
Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson is set to host this dog grooming reality competition that’s based on a UK competition of the same name (also hosted by Wilson). The episodes will spotlight 10 dog groomers around the country competing in challenges.
— Jorge Bendersky (@JorgeBendersky) February 19, 2021
Coming 2 America – Amazon Prime (March 5)
Comedic geniuses Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall reunite as Akeem and Semmi to take audiences back to Zamunda, the royal country made popular in the 80s. It’s worth the watch if only for nostalgia’s sake.
Raya and the Last Dragon – Disney Plus (March 5)
After being delayed the coronavirus pandemic, the film will finally debut months later. It’ll premiere simultaneously on Disney+ Premier Access and in theaters on the same day! Per the synopsis: ” Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. However, when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned, and it’s up to a lone warrior to track down the last dragon and stop the Druun for good.”
Moxie – Netflix (March 3)
Amy Poehler lends her talents to a second Netflix original about a shy 16-year-old who is inspired by her mom’s rebellious past and publishes an anonymous zine to tackle sexism inside the high school hallways.
Yes Day – Netflix (March 12)
Saying “no” to your kids can be difficult, so parents Allison (played by Jennifer Garner) and Carlos give their kids one day where they say “yes” to all their requests.
Paper Lives (Kağıttan Hayatlar) – Netflix (March 15)
The Turkish drama finds warehouse worker Mehmet (starring Çağatay Ulusoy) working in an impoverished neighborhood where he becomes responsible for a small boy.
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