TV review: Netflix's Space Force is a ripper of a parody

Steve Carell in Space Force
Billy Foley

Space Force, Netflix

Timed to coincide with the launch of Elon Musk’s Space X, Netflix has released a ripper of a parody about the ego of getting into orbit.

In its sights are Donald Trump, Musk, the militarisation of space and the sheer amount of money it costs.

It was proper funny.

However, Space Force didn’t start out as a well thought through project. Steve Carell, who stars and co-wrote with Office US creator Greg Daniels, says he was called by Netflix to ask if he was interested in a new project but all they had was the name.

It’s not been anti-Trump enough for some, but its set up is that the president has announced a new mission for the air force and newly promoted four-star general Mark Naird (Carell) is put in charge of the Thunderbirds sounding ‘Space Force’.

The new military service has been created because Potus has declared there will be “boots on the moon by 2024.”

Or as Naird’s boss explained, the president “actually said boobs on the moon but we believe that to be a typo.”

Naird, who was expecting to be in charge of a real air force division, is devastated, as is his wife Maggie (Lisa Kudrow) when she discovers they have to move to the new Space Force headquarters in dusty Colorado. She somehow ends up in jail, but I’ve yet to get to the bit where that is explained.

Maggie is concerned her husband will struggle with this dramatic change in his career, suggesting that his weakness is a lack of flexibility.

But he assures her: “I can be flexible if ordered to do so.”

Indeed, he can, a year later and with a new rocket ready to launch in Wild Horse, Colorado, Naird has a big decision to make. The top brass is down from Washington to applaud a successful orbit but his scientists, led by Dr John Mallory (John Malkovich), want to wait 24 hours because the atmospheric conditions are not right.

Naird gambles correctly on the launch but is floored when a Chinese space craft attacks and hobbles his beloved Epsilon 6.

His first instinct is to “bomb” something, but through a brain storm with the international panel of scientists, Naird comes up with the idea of trying to use a space capsule nearby with a chimp and a dog on board (sent into orbit by Trump for some cute social media pictures).

The plan is to use Marcus, the chimp, to respond to sign language and reattach Epsilon 6’s solar panels while on a spacewalk. When that fails, and after Marcus goes over to the Chinese, he turns to Theodore the husky for help, but it turns out Marcus has already eaten him.

There are some other smashing sections in the first few episodes, such as the song troops are singing in that familiar military rhythm as they quick step through Space Force base.

“I don’t know but I’ve been told.

“Outer space is very cold.”

Naird’s daughter dating the suspicious Russian liaison sends her dad into a spin.

And when Naird is invited to speak at the local high school he gets lost as he tries to explain that his job is to make sure that the first boots on the moon will be American. That is, he corrects himself, the boots might be made in Mexico, Guatemala or China, but the feet in them will assuredly be American.

Space Force is a traditional sitcom and may not be the direct attack on the Trump administration that some had hoped for, but the writing is excellent, the cast is great and the gags are funny. Do you need any more out of television comedy?

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