ST. LOUIS — Sometimes, humor gets stretched too far. The jokes stop moving their feet and the real life parallels try to make up for the lost time, and the laughs cease to exist. Other times, it's just not that funny ... or money as Trent used to call it back in the swinger days.
Netflix's new series, "Space Force," created by Steve Carell and Greg Daniels, aims to be this outlandishly hilarious spoof of the Donald Trump White House in a NASA environment but in the end, it just ends up being mostly outlandish.
The show is about the United States government introducing a sixth branch, and that's entitled "Space Force." Does that ring a bell? It is led up by Four-Star General Mark Naird (Carell) and Dr. Adrian Mallory (John Malkovich), two men who don't care for each other yet are forced to work together in recruiting a fleet of astronauts to put "boots on the moon." Two men in over their head, with terrible oversight, hapless colleagues, and too much money at their disposal. Oh, and there's the push-back from other branches of the government and other countries.
Here are five things to know, or consider, before hitting play on your Netflix menu.
5. The best moment is an action-packed sequence involving a chimp and a broken satellite
Arguably one of the funniest moments of the ten-episode series, this one features a mission gone wrong and a battle with a rival. America isn't the only country wanting to go back to space so trouble ensues when a Chinese space station disables their remote satellite. With a limited supply of options that doesn't involve embarrassment, they choose to employ a chimp, who was part of a haphazard animal launch, to venture into space to fix the broken satellite. Let's just say things don't go as planned and the chimp ends up being kidnapped by, wait for it, the Chinese space station.
4. Carell and Malkovich both sing in the series
I mean, they actually sing, like perform a song. For a series that throws every joke at the wall like an endless brainstorming session, this is one of the elements that works. Carell's Naird sings when he gets nervous, and one of the tunes happens to be "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys. Malkovich's scientist gets one of his secrets outed later in the series, which leads to his piano-driven ballad. If you need a comedy show where two great actors sing, this may be it.
3. This comes from the mind of the guy who helped create "The Office"
Greg Daniels helped create one of the most beloved television shows of all time, and that includes the Ricky Gervais and Carell versions. He lends that oddball humor here in frequent doses, which doesn't add up well in the space force world. The show, more so than the one it painfully tries to imitate, tries to mix in weighty material and far too hokey material at times, hampering its effect. There's also a ton of military innuendo and inside jokes packed in here. If you loved "The Office" and happen to be in the military, this show may be for you.
2. This is Fred Williard's final completed role
And he's only in it for about 3-4 scenes. He offers up his expected blend of comedy and pathos, but it's not enough. He plays the mentally-unraveling father of Carell's character, who is slowly losing his mind and carries on long-winding calls with Naird's daughter (Diana Silvers, from last year's "Ma"). It's good for a moment, but not that fulfilling in the end. I would have taken more Williard and less Ben Schwartz here.
1. Carell and Malkovich do their best to deadlift the humor
In the end, it's not enough. This series, even at 30-35 episodes, didn't need to last ten episodes. At the very least, it could have packed those episodes with better content and not the most stereotypical and cliched attempts at humor. Take away all the military jargon and Trump shots, and it's still a show that tries painfully hard to be funny. Carell does just about everything here, including the aforementioned singing and even the bits where he makes weird and obnoxious noises. Malkovich, who has played a wide array of characters in his day, adds some nuance to his character as the series climbs towards its finish, but again, it's just not enough.
The season finale ends on a note that is both irritating and unfulfilling. You won't scream at the television, but you'll shrug the shoulders and depart the room without the need to tell the world what you just saw. With a cast decked out with great names like Lisa Kudrow, Jane Lynch, Noah Emmerich, and Tawny Newsome, this show should have been a home run. But there are several moments that just fall flat, don't work from the jump, or frustrate you because they could have gone somewhere.
Should you watch it? There's better television out there but if you like a bizarre stupid blend of fun, "Space Force" isn't a terrible waste of time.
But you will not get that time back. Just remember.
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