Review: Space Force: Season 2
Space Force: Season 2
Created by Greg Daniels & Steve Carell
3 Arts Entertainment
Streaming on Netflix: 02.18
When Space Force premiered in May of 2020, my review stated that it didn’t quite accomplish its mission but that it certainly achieved lift off. Many of the other reviews were harsher than mine, and while season one was imperfect, it was ambitious. It had some funny moments, and at a time when theaters were closed, Space Force felt like a full-scale movie, a glorified Police Academy movie, yes, but a movie nonetheless.
Space Force: Season 2 picks up with General Mark Naird (Steve Carell) and his team of misfits and underdogs facing the music after going against orders to attack, as their arrival on the moon coincided with an unannounced Chinese mission that came dangerously close to an international incident in space. Naird and his team, including Dr. Adrain Mallory (John Malkovich), Captain Angela Ali (Tawny Newsome), Dr. Chan Kaifang (Jimmy O. Yang) and Social Media Director Tony Scarapiducci (Ben Schwartz) are all made to testify before the Joint Chiefs and justify their actions. While Naird is allowed to stay in command, he’s given four months to prove to the new administration that the Space Force is productive, efficient and worth any kind of an operating budget.
That’s the set up for Space Force season two, and it’s not a bad start, especially with Tim Meadows of Saturday Night Live and Mean Girls giving a scene-stealing performance as the new Secretary of Defense. Unfortunately, the abbreviated, seven-episode season is at a loss regarding the show’s premise now that it’s no longer a military comedy set against the backdrop of the Trump administration, and it’s also overthinking the attempt to course correct against legitimate criticisms: too many plot threads, that some of the political satire was too broad, etc. Season 2 fell flat in this regard because its solution was to neuter the satirical element entirely, giving us only the thinnest through line of a narrative. Hell, the season could have been titled Space Force 2: The Search For A Plot. The series also seems to have significantly downsized its budget and production value, which is likely a response both to tentative feelings about the future of the show and the realities of shooting under COVID-19 restrictions.
Space Force: Season 2 plays out as an average workplace sitcom with added F-bombs. The likable cast makes the show pleasant enough to watch, especially with performances from Schwartz, Malkovich and Diana Silvers as Erin Naird, the General’s daughter, who has an internship at Space Force. Newsome’s Angela Ali is given a character arc that is a solid idea but is comedically restricting, and this mutes her presence a bit this season.
Guest star Patton Oswalt is a major highlight as a stir crazy astronaut who has been in space for quite some time, headed for Mars on a mission that has been scrapped, and his interplay with Silvers is a delight. Being adrift on a no-longer-relevant mission is a perfect metaphor for the state of the series. By the time episode six comes and there’s still no feeling that any of this is going anywhere, there’s a small fire lit under the show runners. They pull out a nice little plot development that salvages the momentum enough to wake the show up and focus the last two episodes.
Space Force: Season 2 is worth watching if you liked the first season enough to feel an attachment to the characters—I count myself in that camp—but don’t expect any real progression of the story. It’s almost as if these episodes were just thrown together to stall while Carell and Greg Daniels try to come up with a better premise for season 3; it feels unlikely that they’ll even need to worry about that much longer. It’s with mixed feelings that I say that I’ll be surprised if the entire mission isn’t scrapped. – Patrick Gibbs