‘Space Force’ doesn’t always launch but provides some laughs

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There are positives and negatives to the Netflix television model and their new comedy, “Space Force”, exhibits a lot of both. It’s too short, it’s gone in an instant and it’s only sometimes funny.

But “Space Force” will also make for a good, quick binge watch program if you’ve already run out of new shows to watch in quarantine.

The Daily Sentinel’s normal movie review column is switching things up this week because, quite simply, there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of new movies coming out these days. But new TV shows, especially on streaming services like Netflix, are still gracing our screens.

“Space Force” carries with it a stellar pedigree. It was created and produced by Steve Carell and Greg Daniels, both of whom had large roles in the incredibly popular show “The Office.” Carell was the star, and Daniels was the showrunner for both “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.” So to have the two of them cut loose with a new space-based Netflix show isn’t rocket science.

But just like those other popular shows, “Space Force” might need some time to find its footing.

Carell plays newly minted four-star general Mark Naird, whose dream of taking command of the Air Force is waylaid when an unnamed President (obviously Trump) decides to create the Space Force. Soon Naird, his wife and his teenage daughter are shipped off to Colorado, where he’s put in charge of a gaggle of unprepared scientists and under-trained astronauts in their efforts to put an American settlement on the Moon.

“Space Force” is watchable, but it never finds its rhythm strongly enough in its first season to become a real standout show. It’s only 10 episodes long, was all released on Netflix on the same day, and there is a lot of unfortunate rushing. Sitcoms like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” had time to develop their characters and storylines across multiple weeks and episodes. “Space Force” tries to cram everything into its short first season and that cuts down on its effectiveness.

It also doesn’t help that the show isn’t as funny as it could be. With people like Daniels and Carell behind the scenes, one hopes for a hit show right off the bat. But the writers’ room of “Space Force” just doesn’t feel up to snuff. The show is funny enough to not be unbearable, but it feels like it could be so much more.

One of the biggest problems is that the satire on “Space Force” is rather weak. Politics and bureaucratic bungling are major sources of comedy in “Space Force”, but the show never mentions President Trump by name, and the only joke it ever really makes about him is that he uses Twitter a lot. Considering they built this entire show out of Trump’s real life creation of a real life U.S. Space Force, one would hope the satire would have sharper, funnier teeth.

The first season of “Space Force” is good enough for a watch if you’ve already got Netflix at home. It’s nothing special, but it’s good enough that maybe it will earn a second season, where hopefully it can find its footing and become something better.

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