Michael Scott has The Right Stuff, more or less.
Steve Carell was, hands down, the funniest TV boss on NBC-Michael Scott on “The Office.” His verbal and physical gimmicks, as well as his low-key and looney tone made him so brilliant and flexible, that he has earned more respect from fans, as time went on.
He’s back with another show, this one on Netflix, called “Space Force,” which he reunites with co-creator Greg Daniels. He plays newly appointed 4-star General Mark R. Naird, who is now in charge of the new Space Force program, which plans to build a space station on the moon. And while the first season lacks the pure magic of the NBC hit, it still keeps you watching.
The show has an all-star supporting cast, including John Malkovich as the head scientist Dr. Mallory; Lisa Kudrow as Mark’s convicted wife Maggie (though the show never explains why she’s in jail); Diana Silvers (“Booksmart”) as his teenage daughter Erin; Ben Schwartz as a social media director; Jessica St. Clair as an engineer and new love interest of Mark (his wife agreed to make their marriage open); Tawny Newsome (“Bajillion Dollar Propertie$”) as a helicopter pilot, who becomes the first African-American woman on the moon; Noah Emmerich as the arrogant Chief of Staff of the Air Force; Jimmy O. Yang as a scientist; Don Lake as the 1-star General Brad; Dan Bakkedahl (“Veep”) as the Secretary of Defense; Patrick Warburton (“Seinfeld”) as a Marine general; Jane Lynch as the CNO; Diedrich Bader as the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army; Kaitlyn Olson (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) as a visiting fashion tech girl; and the recently departed Fred Willard in his final TV role as Mark’s father.
The show has some fine performances from Carell, Malkovich, Silvers, and Schwartz. Carell does his best to live up to Michael Scott’s standards by using his schtick to shake him up. Malkovich delivers the goods when he tries to be serious, while connecting with Carell. Silvers has proven herself to a fine young actress by portraying a teenager struggling to adapt to her new town and being repulsed at her parents’ newly opened marriage. And Schwartz is fun and energetic when he provides the Tweets, and anything outside Twitter.
“Space Force” lacks the timing and low-key tone of “The Office,” and there are jokes that fall completely flat. The lamest would be Willard dealing with his wife passing gas, and my least favorite episode would be “Space Flag,” which has the crew basically playing “laser tag” with balloons and scissors. But if you read between the lines, you’d find some funny jokes, sincerely touching moments, and interesting characters. You’re able see in them familiar or different lights, and how Daniels and Carell create them.
I’ve had a discussion with my family about how shows always start off small. They always seem different than the later seasons would appear, as far as I know. The pilot episode of “Seinfeld” had different furniture and theme music, “South Park” was basically arts-and-crafts for adults, and “The Simpsons” used recycled animation. If Netflix greenlights “Space Force” for Season 2, then maybe it could get better.
Available on Netflix