Netflix shows us how it can go when the military is about to turn around, and almost act in affection on the tweets from an unpredictable American president.
Steve Carell has a long comedian career on his backside, including as a stunt reporter on The Daily Show and a regular on Saturday Night Live, as well as being behind a number of memorable, clever film comedies. Such as Anchorman, Date Night, Get Smart and the TV series The Office (on which the Space Force draws clear bills).
But Carell also has several solid drama films on her CV, not least the unique Foxcatcher, but also Café Society and as unrecognizable Donald Rumsfeld in Vice.
We can safely say that he has never been a big fan of top-level conservative Republicans; and certainly not the fool and narcissist who currently resides in Pennsylvania Avenue 1600 – and Trump will then have to go through Carell’s new series.
Boots on the Moon
Carell is both co-author, producer and holds the lead role as the meritorious four-star general Mark R. Naird. After many years of service, Naird is finally promoted to the highest level, directly under the Minister of Defense.
Surprisingly, it is not the air force he will lead, but a totally newly created branch of defense: the Space Force.
Following direct orders from the somewhat impulsive President Trump (he is never mentioned by name, but there is never any doubt as to which president the series is aimed at) the United States will once again put men on the Moon, and that by 2024. Naird and his men get the mission to ensure the military’s presence in the occupation of the Moon.
Space Force is recognizable and typically Steve Carell – for better or worse. The series can be categorized as light-hearted, slightly crazy, everyday comedy. A bit on the same street as Blackaddar and The Office.
Here it is spiced with recognizable situations from the average man’s everyday life, with hopeless, incompetent bosses, unpredictable plans, annoying colleagues, difficult family situations and a working life that barely works.
The whole thing, of course, screwed up a few comic notches, to the slightly absurd.
Everyday racism is close to the whole, where especially Asians (China) and Russians are looked down upon, but also the troublesome, unbearably politically correct, forced partners from Europe’s ESA.
Continuously, like an eternal shadow, the space alibi’s scientific alibi, the sarcastic and risk-taking nerd Dr. Mallory (John Malkovich in one of his starring roles), Naird and sticks more or less well-meaning sticks in the wheels.
When the country’s top generals gather, they have to wait 5-10 minutes for what new policy they are planning for. This is the president’s latest Tweet they are waiting for…
And, if one did not have enough problems with rockets exploding on the launch pad, quarrelsome “experts”, incompetent employees (from Belgium and, in particular, Asia), then more or less it is required that the uniforms of the space force be designed by the first lady. In addition, Naird is expected to defend the insanely high budget ahead of a congressional hearing. What the hell?
On top of that, Naird is constantly plagued by an overzealous PR manager, Scarapiducci (Ben Schwartz), apparently written on the model of the real, complete ko-ko, former Trump communications chief, Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci. The hyperactive propeller without any kind of social antennae or empathy, was fired (via Twitter) after 10 days.
Fiction vs. reality
The somewhat predictable incompetence among all bosses, employees and system permeates the series, but it is the political sting that is most prominent.
It must be said, it is difficult to make good satire and parody, when the reality is much more spectacularly absurd than a comedy writer can both predict and invent.
A president who formulates the country’s foreign and security policy via Twitter? A defense budget that goes off the hinges and must be defended in Congress? An incompetent president demanding boots-on-the-Moon within five years? A PR boss taken out of a horror comedy, and a Barbie doll by a first lady who wants to design military uniforms?
Four years ago, we would all laugh a little at the Space Force, acknowledging its dramaturgy and good acting, but saying that the script was ridiculously unlikely and sought after.
Herein also lies some of the “problem” with the series, the reality, yes the reality that is happening right now in one of our closest political and allied countries, is so heavenly laaaaaaangt more absurd and shocking that fictional comedy falls short.
Space Force, Season 1 (Photo: Netflix)
Malkovich and Carell are excellent together
Despite a slightly too conventional and predictable comedy and farce, which is surpassed by the current social situation, the Space Force is not boring at all. It just hasn’t quite turned out to be the party fireworks we had hoped for.
That said, the interaction between the main roles Carell and Malkovich is a joy to witness. They play each other well and we guess that there is a lot of improvisation between the aging gentlemen.
Episodes of just over half an hour dress the episode-like theme well, and are far enough if we are not to lose interest. We would like to revisit the slightly resigned and frustrated General Naird, then, hopefully, with a slightly sharper pen and a slightly more pointed political farce. The gods must know that there is enough material to take off.