General Mark Naird (Steve Carell) dreamed of becoming the head of the US Air Force for many years, but General Kick Grabaston (Noah Emmerich) became the head of the Air Force, who does not digest Mark and constantly teases him. However, Naird nevertheless received a promotion (he became a four-star general, this is the highest rank of the US Army), but somewhat unexpected for himself: the president announced the creation of a separate “Space Force” and Mark was appointed their leader.
The general is confused. He does not understand anything in space, besides, he will now have to move with his family to some kind of darkness in Colorado, where space troops will be created at an abandoned military base. But Nerd is a real military man, he does not discuss the orders of the leadership, but carries them out. The president demanded that the space forces protect the satellites through which the Internet is transmitted, providing the president with uninterrupted access to his beloved Twitter, and the president also ordered to build a base on the moon and land astronauts there by 2024 – Mark will try to provide all this.
To help Naird, a group of scientists was sent, led by Dr. Adrian Mallory (John Malkovich). Mark’s secretary was General Brad Gregory (Don Lake), who, let’s be honest, is not very good at his job.
Also at the base, a certain Ef Tony Scarapiducci (Ben Schwartz), nicknamed Fak Tony, works as a PR and promotion manager in social networks. He develops a vigorous activity, the result of which is usually extremely unpredictable.
The authorities, represented by Secretary of Defense John Blandsmith (Dan Bakkedal), will throw unexpected, often completely idiotic demands to Nerd, and Mark and his henchmen will rake it all up. In addition, the situation is complicated by the fact that the Chinese are very active in space, and it is extremely difficult to negotiate with these guys.
This series appeared against the background of the fact that two of the most popular series, The Office and Parks and Recreation, will soon leave the Netflix streaming service (the creator of these series, NBCUniversal, is opening its own streaming service). Netflix thought about how to fill the gaping void: they turned to actor, director and producer Steve Carell, the main star of the series “The Office”. Steve, in turn, turned to the creator of The Office and Parks and Recreation Greg Daniels, and as a result of negotiations, it was decided that Daniels with Carell as showrunners would make a Space Force series for Netflix, in which Carell will play main role.
Where the idea of such a series came from is just well understood: in 2019, President Trump withdrew the space forces from the US Air Force and made them a separate unit. And with these troops, there were immediately many reasons for jokes on the Internet: the flag of these troops was called pirated, the logo turned out to be similar to the logo from Star Trek, the camouflage uniform, which is extremely relevant for the Moon and other planets, was also mocked.
Therefore, the series “Space Forces” was planned as a kind of satire on the military, politicians and officials. And that’s exactly how he was made. However, the very first episodes caused great disappointment – especially among critics. The series was reproached for being completely unfunny, that they somehow very toothlessly tease the president and his passion for Twitter, that Steve Carell is too serious and that this is generally not even close to The Office or Parks and recreation areas”.
Apparently, the presence of Daniels and Carrell as showrunners did the series a disservice: many viewers and critics expected that it would be such an “Office” in the army and space, and Steve Carell’s character would be something like Michael Scott in military uniform, however everything is completely different here, which caused such an attitude of the public.
However, I note that the beginning of the series also somewhat disappointed me. No, the satire was perfectly understandable, there were some good jokes, the high command with the secretary of defense at the head was shown as a bunch of obvious freaks, but it was completely incomprehensible why Steve Carell, portraying Mark Naird, was so serious, as if he were acting in a drama. Is there drama here?
However, this is just the way it is. This is, of course, a satirical comedy, but this is not a buffoonery comedy, like The Office or Parks and Recreation, there are quite a few subtle and interesting aspects of human relationships, and Mark Naird, unlike the rest of the command characters, is not at all a stupid martinet . And it’s not Michael from The Office.
Yes, Nerd allows all sorts of rude and not always politically correct jokes (but not about women: here he is extremely scrupulous), but he sincerely supports the work he does, he shows himself to be a good husband and father, and gradually, purely humanly, he the character evokes sympathy: Mark has to face a world that he does not know at all (primarily scientists), but he gradually adapts to this world.
And in the series, his relationship with the head of the scientific group, Adrian Mallory, is very interestingly shown, with whom they seem to be complete antagonists at first, but gradually draw closer and become practically friends.
So Mark is an interesting, complex and multifaceted character, which is why Steve Carell plays him quite seriously, never making a comedy, although this caused bewilderment of many viewers.
Structurally, the series is made as follows: each episode tells its own separate story, and, as a rule, it starts with another idiotic order from the command (especially the Minister of Defense lights it up there), and then Mark and Anthony and his henchmen will rake it all up. Repairing with the help of a monkey a satellite broken by the Chinese; congressional hearings on high military spending (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was well parodied there); rocket launch; attempts to disown the new form proposed by the first lady; training in the layout of the lunar base; war game; sending a ship with astronauts to the moon. At the same time, the creators of the series (and Netflix too) do not bother with a rigid time format: the duration of the series is from 26 to 36 minutes.
Dr. Adrian Malory, played by John Malkovich, is absolutely a masterpiece. A great character, very interesting, multifaceted and ambiguous. Malkovich is always a decoration of any film or series, but here his Malory is really something with something! And Malkovich (along with Carell) perfectly shows how the doctor gradually moved from treating Mark Naird as a stupid martinet to a completely different perception of this person and how they even had something like a friendship, which was very touching.
Ben Schwartz has a very good role (Gene Ralphio from Parks and Recreation, Scott Rollins from Stand Up Life). “Fuck Tommy” is a character, of course, purely buffoonish, but it’s just buffoonish-funny, and he is also responsible for the comedic component of this series. Cool character, quite recognizable – really liked.
By the way, from about the same series, Mark’s secretary, General Brad Gregor, played by Don Lake. The secretary does not seem to be buffoonish at all, but at the same time very funny: how carefully and methodically he does not cope with his duties, how he participates in the life of the space troops, what advice he gives Mark. Good character, love it.
Lisa Kudrow (well, yes, Phoebe from “Friends”) played Mark’s wife Maggie, who for some reason was imprisoned for forty years (in general, such a term is given, like for a planned murder with aggravated circumstances), and she sits not far from the base space troops, and Mark dangles to her on dates, including matrimonial ones. Episodes with Maggie were very funny and carried a certain element of light insanity, but from the point of view of the writers it was extremely illogical not to tell in the first season why the lady from high society (the wife of a four-star general, by the way) was given such an insane term. This was just really weird. Well, they would talk about the fact that she, with special cynicism, stabbed her plastic surgeon with scissors – this would at least somehow be understandable. But to bypass this fact with complete silence – come on, why?!!
Mark’s daughter Maggie somehow didn’t like it at all with her problems: in my opinion, in vain she was inserted into the series at all. She is not very interesting in terms of script, and Diana Silvers in her role did not impress at all.
The United Statesn “spy” Yuri Telatovich, played by the United Statesn singer (he already represented United States at the main planetary Eurovision Song Contest) Alexei Vorobyov, turned out very well: Vorobyov did not demonstrate any acting heights, but according to the plot, his role was simple and slightly caricatured , and he played it exactly as it should be: he was charming, funny and spoke good English. I will never throw a stone at him – the character is cool. Well, I note that according to the plot, this Yuri was much more adequate than most of the participants in the “Space Forces”, so the Americans were not able to demonstrate their famous “Russophobia” here. However, apparently, there was no such task here, here the main antagonists are the Chinese. And here they are – wow, what “bad ladies”! ..
Jimmy Ou Yang is good as Dr. Anthony’s right-hand man, Dr. Chan Kaifang. Everyone considers him a Korean, while he himself does not know what his origin is. Chan fights against racial stereotypes, and there are quite a few funny moments with him.
Well, I’ll also note the cool role of actress, singer and stand-up comedian Toni Newsom: she plays Captain Angela Ali, who takes a significant part in the life of the space forces and who leads the mission of astronauts to the moon. Angela will be the first to set foot on the moon after so many years of absence from this satellite of the Americans, and she will have to say historical words that she has yet to come up with. Very cute role, Toni played it perfectly.
Also in this series there are still a lot of cameos for real moviegoers: Larry Joe Campbell from “As Jim Said” as the commander of the Coast Guard, the wonderful Jane Lynch from “Glee”, “Boston Lawyers” and “The Amazing Mrs. Maisel” as the commander of the military naval operations, Patrick Warburton (“Men in Black 2”) as the commander of the Marine Corps.
To be honest, I started watching with a certain prejudice (I heard a lot of negative reviews), and the first episodes also caused certain complaints. However, I watched the first season in its entirety with increasing pleasure and now I think that this is a very good and noteworthy series, which was simply badly damaged by the fact that many viewers and critics expected something different from it.
I liked the series and left a good aftertaste. Although, of course, there are certain complaints against him, but this, in my opinion, is not a failure at all!
By the way, despite the low rating of the series on IMDB, Netflix is quite happy with the number of views, so the second season has been ordered and is in production – I will watch it.
PS Really touching speech by Mark at the congressional hearings, Mark’s relationship with Anthony, Mark’s relationship with his wife during rare visits in prison, dumb bosses, mean Chinese – well, just fine. Just don’t expect this series to be “The Office” in the Space Force – it’s not about that at all!
Space Force / Space Force review
Director: Greg Daniels, Steve Carell Cast: Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Lisa Kudrow, Diana Silvers, Tony Newsom, Jimmy O Yan, Don Lake, Owen Daniels, Hector Durand, Dan Bakkedahl, Noah Emmerich, Alexey Vorobyov
Series, USA, 2020, 30 min. Tragicomedy, 2 seasons, 10 episodes in the first season