‘I’ ON CULTURE
I hated the Netflix series Space Force. I am a science fiction junkie and was a real Trekker. For those unaware of the designation, those who went to Star Trek conventions dressed like Klingons were Trekkies, those who liked the science, the good scripts and the ideal world presented by the classic TV show were Trekkers. I loved seeing people of different races (different species if you count Mr. Spock) working together to make things better. Yes, the technology now seems retro and somehow they never learned to wear seatbelts to prevent them from flying around the bridge, but it was a chance to see the best in humanity.
In Space Force, everyone is at best a buffoon and at worst an idiot. The lead is General Mark Naird (Steve Carell), well-meaning but often clueless. His wife Maggie (Lisa Kudrow) is doing a 40-year sentence for an undescribed crime, leaving him to raise their daughter Erin (Diana Silvers) on his own, and she is a real handful. And these are the good guys! Of course, there is also head scientist Dr. Adrian Mallory (John Malkovich), who by being anti-war, gay and working with a functioning brain, is the only useful personality around.
The military leaders are presented as pro-war morons, nothing more than caricatures. Air Force Chief of Staff Kick Grabaston (Noah Emmerich) seems better suited to a mental institution than any command position. And, of course, he is a backstabber par excellence who continually puts down Naird and eventually stages a coup against him. The rest of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are only interested in going to war, and at one point plan and then stage a war on the moon against the Chinese. Naird also has an adjutant, Brigadier General Bradley Gregory (Don Lake), who has all the forcefulness and demeanor of Barney Fife.
And as idiotic as the military leaders are presented, they are brilliant compared to the politicians. The president is so dumb and petty that he makes Donald Trump seem like George Washington. We have a Nancy Pelosi parody stand-in (Concetta Tomei) and an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez parody (Ginger Gonzaga) who cries about an orange sent to space. There is also briefly a congressman on the Space Committee who believes the earth is flat. The producers seem to be evenly partisan in their contempt.
The plots become ridiculous. The U.S. planned to send a group of people up to the moon to create a habitat that included non-astronauts. A couple of them decide at the last minute they want better deals, so the leaders go on Google to find some replacements, one of whom it turns out has a criminal record and another who smuggles her pet bird with her. Can you imagine Star Trek’s Kirk or Picard or Sisko or Janeway having nuts like that around and tolerating them?
There are some good scenes, touching ones and even funny ones, such as Maggie trying to explain to her husband why they need an open marriage. Naird’s relationship with Mallory, an attempt to mimic the Kirk vs. Spock vs. Mc Coy banter, works quite well at times. There is also an amusing relationship between pilot/astronaut Angela Ali (Tawny Newsome) and scientist Chan Kaifang (Jimmy O. Yang) that includes an actually really funny road trip. But the good scenes are far too few.
The series was done by people who really don’t like politicians or the military or much to do with space. At times it seems like perhaps they are proponents, but deep down they just mock the idea. Gene Roddenberry, who created Star Trek, believed in a future where the best people could all work together to “go where no one has gone before.” The people behind this show simply make fun of all these ideas. As a result, it really goes nowhere. Skip it; it is not worth your time.