TV Review: OTHER SPACE – SEASON ONE

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OTHER SPACE/ Created by PAUL FEIG/ Starring TRACE BEAULIEU, NEIL CASEY, EUGENE CORDERO, JOEL HODGSON, CONOR LESLIE, BESS ROUS, KARAN SONI & MILANA VAYNTRUB/ Produced by FEIGCO ENTERTAINMENT, ABOMINABLE PICTURES & YAHOO

It is the year 2105 and humanity has made their first bold steps into exploring outer space, only to discover they really don’t like it that much. After fifty years of pushing to infinity and beyond, all humanity has to show for it are warehouses full of space rocks and a lot of broken dreams.

There are no signs of life. No relics of a vast alien civilization. And certainly no green-skinned space babes who wish to learn more of this Earth thing you call “love-making.”

In desperation, The UMP (Formerly A Monsanto Affiliate) have fielded a new crew to relaunch the legendary UMP Cruiser, under the command of the first young captain in a decade to pass the nearly impossible Simulation A-19. Their mission?  To explore far off galaxies, discover intelligent life and protect the phony-baloney jobs of the UMP Executive Command by encouraging the public to give a damn about space exploration again.

Unfortunately, the ship immediately runs into trouble, as a rift in space draws them into another universe.  Now the crew of The UMP Cruiser is trapped in a hostile, alien universe. They have no maps, no supplies and no way home. But they do have fudge!

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Comparisons of Other Space to Red Dwarf are inevitable. Both shows deal with the same base concept – a crew of misfits lost in space – and satirize many of the same classic science fiction sources. Star Trek is the most obvious target (the first episode opens with their take on The Kobayashi Maru) but there are a few nods to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, The Thing, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Mystery Science Theater 3000 among others.

In fact, MSTies will want to watch this series for original MST3K host Joel Hodgson as The Cruiser’s burned-out engineer, Zalian and original Crow. T. Robot Trace Beaulieu voicing another smartass robot named ART.  The two don’t quite steal every scene they’re in (the ensemble cast are all wonderful) but usually one of the two gets the single-funniest one-liner of each episode.  And in one episode we get to see them watching the rest of the crew through the security system and commenting on their actions as if they were riffing a bad movie.

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If it were just a collection of in-jokes and references, Other Space might be merely amusing. However, the show improves on other sci-fi comedies by developing the characters far beyond one-joke wonders as the show progresses. There is a sense of continuity between episodes as the story slowly builds and the comedy becomes increasingly layered. There’s even a little honest drama here and there.

Other Space may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But fans of science fiction and smart comedy will definitely find it worth watching. And you can’t beat the price, as the entire first season is available for free on Yahoo Screen.

Rating 4

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