If Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott had cursed more and been in charge of the new presidential directives to put boots in space, The Office would be Space Force. Here, Carrell is General Mark R. Naird, the Chief of Space Operations. He’s a hardworking soldier who has always played fair, hoping to one day direct the operations of the Air Force but now stuck with the unenviable role of putting Americans in space.
Netflix’s Space Force dusts off the workplace jokes but sends them into space so that the levels of humor are out of this world (groan). John Malkovich is Dr. Adrian Mallory, the scientist who actually knows how space efforts should work and who wrestles with his issues of inadequacy (thanks to the lack of respect he gets from Naird and others). Two other hapless souls, Ben Schwartz plays F. Tony Scarapiducci the poor soul in charge of social media for Space Force and Tawny Newsome plays Naird’s driver/helicopter pilot Angela Ali. Throw in some political conflicts (Noah Emmerich, Jane Lynch, and Patrick Warburton play other military branch heads) and plenty of family drama (Naird has a teenage daughter), and this really is a top-level workplace comedy.
While the workplace material has typical moments, there’s more here given that we’re talking about a based-in-reality-space exploration. Naird has to try to negotiate communication with a chimpronaut (a chimp in space) and deal with ridiculous technology that malfunctions as often as your cellphone. His daughter wrestles with being the daughter of a general. The opportunity to show inter-agency/branch conflict lends itself to myriad storylines, not to mention all the political asides that slide in to each episode. It’s like a crazy blend of insanity that allows us to watch comedians we know and love in completely different roles — and it rockets off in wildly, different directions.
Sure, network TV may be grinding it out thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Netflix is still rocking it.