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'Space Force' review: Steve Carell's Netflix series is a five-hour bloat

Steve Carell as General Mark R. Naird and

Steve Carell as General Mark R. Naird and John Malkovich as Dr. Adrian Mallory in "Space Force" on Netflix. Credit: Netflix/Aaron Epstein

SERIES "Space Force"

WHEN|WHERE Starts streaming Friday on Netflix

Streaming on Netflix


WHAT IT'S ABOUT Gen. Mark R. Naird (Steve Carell) has been appointed chief of the Space Force, and his first order of business is to "get boots on the moon" by 2024, or before the Chinese do. Trouble is, Naird's wife Maggie (Lisa Kudrow) is in jail, teen daughter Erin (Diana Silvers) needs help with her homework and social life, and chief scientist Dr. Adrian Mallory (John Malkovich) thinks Naird's an idiot. 

This 10-parter reunites Greg Daniels with Carell (both are co-creators) for the first time since "The Office."

MY SAY By the time you read this review, I will have self-destructed. 

Nothing too dramatic. A small explosion. A puff of smoke where I was sitting. Then … ineffable silence, as the vast universe closed in. You should have been there. 

Blame quarantining for this self-combustion, definitely too much quaran-streaming, and specifically quaran-streaming "Space Force." Also blame high expectations which were unmet. Blame hype (unmet as well, and how). Blame the bitter realization that Carell has squandered one more post-"Office" opportunity that wasn't called "Despicable Me."

Blame, blame, blame. Who cares? I'm gone anyway. Except maybe I do still care, floating out there in the emptiness of space. Maybe you do too, back here on earth. After all, we still love Carell. We love Greg Daniels too. Peanut Butter + jelly = greatness. Right? Not this overstuffed sandwich, which is the opposite of greatness. Specifically, "Space Force" is a five-hour bloat full of temporizing dialogue, a few-too-many gags relating to gastrointestinal malfunctions, and a CGI chimp and dog who deserved better.

 What happened here? Perhaps "Space Force" was what we in the TV and bartending trades call a "cocktail napkin series." Here's how those work. A couple of guys — typically an agent and a manager — walk into a bar in the Los Angeles area. Drinks are ordered, consumed, then someone pulls out a pen. One of them scribbles a few words on the cocktail napkin, which in this instance must have been "Steve Carell" and "Space Force." 

In the heat of the moment, or inebriation of it, cocktail napkin series tend to ignore all the other words that should have been written down instead (or at least first), like plot, logic, character, tone, structure. 

Speaking of structure, "Space Force" is a movie — a five-hour movie that feels like a fifty-hour one. At least a movie with a 90-minute running time would have necessitated radical surgery, resulting in (conceivably) the semblance of a real plot.

Enough already. I'm gone (remember?) For amends, I therefore apologize for this unpleasant review to all the talented actors and producers who worked hard on "Space Force."

Or maybe they should apologize to me. In any case, we should all blame that stupid cocktail napkin.

BOTTOM LINE Yeah, bad. Long bad too. 


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