December 7, 2022

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Review: Space Force S2 retains comedic charm, but it's starting to lose its luster

Review: Space Force S2 retains comedic charm, but it’s starting to lose its luster

Zoom / (l) Ben Schwartz as Tony Scarabeducci; Tawny Newsome as Angela Ali; Steve Carell as General Mark Nerd; Jimmy Oo Yang as Dr. Chan Kaifang; Don Lake as Brigadier General Bradley Gregory; Diana Silvers as Erin Nerd; and John Malkovich as Dr. Adrian Mallory.

Netflix

Absurd Comedy on Netflix space force He was an Ars favorite in 2020, easily win a place In our annual list of the best TV shows. We loved the show’s sinister humor, absurd setting, and unexpected heart. It’s finally back with a second season, and while a lot of the old magic remains intact, it’s only starting to lose its luster a bit — perhaps because we only got seven episodes instead of ten (thanks, a never-ending pandemic).

(Spoilers for the S1 below.)

as we are I mentioned earlierthe series was created by Steve Carell and Greg Daniels (who also created Parks and recreational resorts And the Download). space force Partially inspired by Trump administration announcement It will establish a national space force. Carell plays four-star General Mark Naird, a decorated pilot with dreams of running the Air Force.

But in the pilot episode, his dreams of promotion are shattered when he is tapped instead to lead the newly formed sixth branch of the US Armed Forces: the Space Force. His new appointment earned him a mockery of Nerd’s general four-star competitor, Kick Grappston (Noah Emmerich). A good soldier, Mark uprooted his family and moved to a remote base in Wild Horse, Colorado where he and a colorful team of scientists and aspiring “astronauts” struggled to counter the White House’s insistence on American boots on the Moon (again) by 2024, thus achieving Complete control of space.

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Naturally, NERD is on the move with its chief scientist, Dr. Adrian Mallory (John Malkovich), a pacifist who has concerns about working for the Department of Defense. Mark’s wife, Maggie (Lisa Kudrow) is in prison, and his daughter Erin (Diana Silvers) is upset about having to live in Colorado. The impressive main cast also includes Ben Schwartz as Social Media Director Tony Scarabeducci; Jimmy O. Yang as Dr. Chan Kaifang, Mallory’s principal assistant; Tawny Newsome as Captain Angela Ali, a helicopter pilot who becomes one of the mission’s astronauts; Don Lake as Brigadier General Bradley Gregory, Nerd’s assistant.

Mallory displays the NASA Apollo Astronauts exhibit of a visiting Chinese scientist who is a denier of the moon landing.
Zoom / Mallory displays the NASA Apollo Astronauts exhibit of a visiting Chinese scientist who is a denier of the moon landing.

Netflix

In a way, Space Force managed to get those boots on the Moon — but China, too. In the S1 finale, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was angered by the desecration of the Apollo 11 Lunar Flag by Chinese astronauts (they rolled it in a rover). NERD’s strategy of a light attack on the Chinese habitat was overridden by the Minister of Defense, who ordered the destruction of the Chinese lunar base, which would likely lead to all-out war.

Mallory threatened to resign, and Nerd decided to defy his orders. This in turn led to Grabaston carrying out a coup d’état and the seizure of Space Force, and the arrest of Mallory and Nerd. American astronauts were asked to attack the Chinese homeland with wrenches. They return from this suspicious mission only to discover that Chinese astronauts have crippled the American base, endangering their lives. And the scene.

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Chan recruits the science team to analyze the state of his nascent relationship with Angela.
Zoom / Chan recruits the science team to analyze the state of his nascent relationship with Angela.

Netflix

Critics inexplicably criticized this first season (viewers were much more positive). These critics may not have been watching the same series, because we are here at Ars love the showthough senior space editor Eric Berger He has some issues With space technology imaging. it’s not the desknor is it vice presidentthat’s a good thing. My opinion:

space forceThe comical approach is a delicate scalpel technique carefully wrapped to avoid doing too much damage to his wounds. There’s a warmth and underlying emotion to all these fallible characters trying to do something extraordinary, rooting for them even when we laugh at their actions… Malkovich shines as a supernova as Dr. Adrian Mallory, a committed and passionate peace fighter. Teach him, working for a military operation (“Space should be a region of wonders, not struggle and death”). His stinging wit and gentle sophistication are the perfect chip for Karel’s severe wound, the roughness around the edges, and the general in every book, who feels deeply but keeps those feelings pent-up, as a good soldier should. Their unexpected friendship, forged in the fires of an almost impossible mission, is the heart and soul of the series.

Obviously, Netflix felt the series did well enough to warrant a second season. The season begins a few months after the end. Angela and her fellow astronauts (including the Chinese) have managed to return to Earth, and the Space Force is now undergoing a disciplinary hearing before the new administration’s Secretary of Defense (Tim Meadows). Nerd is still in charge of Space Force, but the fledgling agency has four months to prove itself — and its budget has been cut in half.

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Patton Oswalt guest-starred as Captain Lancaster, deployed on a solo mission to Mars.
Zoom / Patton Oswalt guest-starred as Captain Lancaster, deployed on a solo mission to Mars.

Netflix

Meanwhile, Angela struggles to claim the title of a new National Champion and distances herself from her nascent relationship with Chan. He treats it just like a nerd: by creating a detailed flowchart with equations to assess a situation. (Dude, take a hint from the bounce text ratio.) Mallory’s lovable manned mission to Mars gets the axe, leaving the lone astronaut, Captain Lancaster (Patton Oswalt) in a precarious predicament. Naird’s wife, Maggie, files for a divorce, and Erin is ambivalent about going to college, seeking a gap year instead.

The book does an excellent job of giving every member of the talented band their moment in the spotlight. They also don’t skimp on the little comic moments that could adorn a scene, like the fact that American satellites in the series are all named after rock bands of the 70s (Genesis, Rush, Blue Oyster Cult). In the strongest episode, Nerd and Mallory host a diplomatic dinner with a visiting delegation from China. Mallory argues with the delegation’s chief scientist, a lunar landing denier who defies Mallory by ostracizing Neil Armstrong as a “brilliant actor”. Meanwhile, Nerd, an infamous lightweight, must hold his own shotgun against the Chinese general to successfully negotiate a 50/50 split of the Moon’s resources.

However, due to the short season, S2 doesn’t have room to breathe to develop the notes of grace that enriched the storytelling in that first season, especially in terms of personal relationships. The characters don’t develop much at all, which makes this whole aspect seem a bit skinny. I particularly missed the subtle moments between Nerd and Mallory, even though Carell and Malkovich give their usual flawless performances. This is still a very cheerful and easy-going series, and I’m rooting for a full third season without the constraints of filming during a full-blown pandemic.

The second season of space force Streaming now on Netflix.

Steve Carell and John Malkovich star in Season 2 of the Netflix Comedy space force.

List image from Netflix