FIB Review: Space Force Season 2

It is garnering a lot of attention and praise as of late, and the number one show on streaming. With this kind of pedigree, it is inevitable that whatever comes next will be compared to it – but Space Force is very different – and is a bit more of a slow burn than its predecessor.

Credit: Times of India

The last time Greg Daniels teamed up with Steve Carrell, the result was one of the most enduringly popular sitcoms of the modern age. Stemming from the adaptation of a popular British series, the American Office was able to step out from that looming shadow and become its own thing.

Space Force Season 2 picks up where season 1 left off. Basically, it resets the status quo as it chooses to resolve a lot of the dangling threads left by the finale off-screen. This might annoy some fans but personally, I thought it was a bold creative choice that made me sit up and pay attention to what was coming next.

The second season primarily deals with the real-world politics of the change in administration, as the show wrestles with being a parody tied to a president who is no longer in office.

Credit: Looper

The net result of this (in the show) is that Space Force’s budget is cut in half, and they are given four months to demonstrate their viability as a long-term prospect. This raises the stakes particularly for the characters who last season we saw little of, such as Ben Schwartz’s social media manager or Jimmy O’Yang’s scientist. The decision to bring these characters more into the plot of the show and give them more screen time is an improvement made in this sophomore effort.

More Workplace, Less Satire

One of the primary complaints about the first season was that it wasn’t what fans were expecting – namely, a version of The Office with Michael Scott in space. While the second season doesn’t lean all the way into this idea, it does make some subtle tweaks to its formula, to bring it more in line with The Office as the focus shifts from the overarching narrative of beating the Chinese to colonisation of the moon to the interpersonal relationships among the characters.

Credit: Inverse

This is a hit and miss decision. As mentioned previously some of the characters shine when they’re given more to do. However some of the more bland characters – in particular, Naird (Carrell)’s daughter – are also given more screen time and her story is far less interesting than some of the others we are introduced to this season.

The other trade-off in making this decision is lessening the screen time of the two most seasoned performers in the cast, Carrell and Malkovich. Their frenemies shtick was one of the highlights of the first season, and while it continues here, Malkovich’s character particularly feels sidelined. His rivalry with Naird continues but it’s somewhat muted, not as nasty or malicious as the first season, which also feels like it might have been a studio note to tone that part of the performance down a bit.

Great Performers, So-So Script

Credit: Space Force

Ultimately, Space Force is actually pretty funny, and this second season is a big improvement on its predecessor in that department particularly. The actors are more used to their characters, and they’re able to mine the humour from them with a lot of style. Carrell in particular is great as Naird, a man who couldn’t be more different from his most famous characters in some ways, but in others is very similar.

Malkovich is also fantastic as Dr. Mallory. While he doesn’t have as much to do this season, what he does have he absolutely makes the most of. The other comedians on the cast are also given more to do. Ben Schwartz and Jimmy O’Yang highlight as the entitled, irritating social media manager who starts to question where his life is going, and the highly-strung scientist who just wants to know if the girl he likes, likes him back respectively.

However despite the great efforts from the performers, the reality is the script – while arguably a bit better crafted than that of the first season – is still nowhere near the heights of the writing in The Office. As good as an actor is, they can only do much with what’s on the page, and while this script is certainly funnier than the previous, it still shortchanges the performers.

Less Than The Sum of Its Parts

Credit: Fossbytes

Ultimately, while it is an improvement on the first season in a few ways, the second season of Space Force does continue to feel like a bit of a disappointment. I think what is mystifying about it is the level of talent both in front of and behind the camera sets you up to think something truly fantastic will result – but the truth is the show is never as good as the sum of its parts.

It’s still worth watching as the humour definitely has its moments, and the last episode has a cliffhanger with some pretty huge implications not only for Space Force but for the universe they live in. I just hope if there is a Space Force season 3 they’re able to connect the script with the talented cast better, and produce a more cohesive and satisfying show.

Both seasons of Space Force are currently streaming on Netflix.

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