Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Freaks and Geeks) is back with his sci-fi comedy series Other Space. It was originally aired on Yahoo! Screen back in 2015, but was cancelled shortly after, due to the platform being no longer viable. The digital platform DUST has now picked it up and is scheduled to host the series in August.
Other Space takes place in the distant future, the year 2105, where the Universal Mapping Projects (UMP) has been created by a multi-national corporate coalition. Their intention is – “to explore the universe for the purpose of scientific inquiry”. The main vessel that we see during the show is the UMP Cruiser, which apparently was once used as the setting for a reality show.
After a series of random and bizarre tests to see who should captain the ship, the title is soon given to the eager young man Stewart Lipinski (played by Karan Soni). Of course, the ambitious Stewart is keen to get started with his first mission into space, but things take a bumpy turn when General Hayson (played by Jessica Chaffin) assigns his older sister Karen, (played by Bess Rous) to be his second-in-command. After a few slapstick fights against each other and some unnecessarily bleeped out swear words, they come together as quite the team – despite their obvious differences in personality.
Joining the Lipinski siblings on UMP Cruiser is Michael Newman (played by Eugene Cordero), Stewart’s best friend and now third-in-command (instead of being second-in-command as they assumed he would be). Then we have Tina Shukshin (played by Milana Vayntrub) who becomes the navigator and is only hired by Stewart because of his (unrequited) infatuation with her. She’s probably the worst person you would want to navigate a ship into outer space, as she acts like the ‘dumb blonde’ – albeit she’s actually brunette.
Next up we have Kent Woolworth (played by Neil Casey). He is the son of Chairwoman Helen Woolworth (played by Mo Collins) and naturally, he’s now part of the Cruiser team and becomes the science officer – a nepotism which he constantly acknowledges. Kent seems to be the cleverest man on the Cruiser, (in his own little way), even though we soon learn he’s not actually human. Then we have the incredibly beautiful Natasha (played by Conor Leslie) who is an A.I. and runs the computer on board the ship and is only ever seen as part of a user interface on a screen. She jokes around in the first episode about how she was a hospitality robot at ‘Hooters Casino Space Shuttle’, and she asks Stewart how she looks, in regards to her chest and bum.
Lastly we have a pairing like no other – Zalian Fletcher (played by Joel Hodgson) and robot and best friend A.R.T (voiced by Trace Beaulieu). Zalian is pretty much the only experienced crew member and works as the engineer alongside A.R.T. Unfortunately due to too much radiation, Zalian’s cognitive functions are significantly impaired and he doesn’t function as well as the rest of his team. For example he thinks they could live off fudge when according to Karen, “an all fudge diet will lead to death in a matter of weeks”. But then, except for Karen, when you meet the rest of the team and see just how incapable they are, then that isn’t really saying much at all.
It’s difficult to tell whether or not the plot is really simple or has hidden complexities. After a short time in space, somehow the Cruiser is pulled into a wormhole and heads for unfamiliar territories. Now trapped in an unknown universe, the team tries to return home whilst suffering from uncertainty as well as making new discoveries.
Other Space reminds me of Netflix’s Final Space, with its exterior shots, the brightness of the colours in the sky, as well as the introduction of the title and its font. I loved Final Space, so this for me is a positive aspect. However, I then get reminded that it isn’t Final Space and we don’t see Gary try to consume all the cookies on the ship. But instead we see a bunch of under-qualified twenty-somethings who are clearly unsuited for dealing with space related situations. Not a good quality to have when you’re stuck in space and in a possible different universe altogether.
The show has some merits. The script is at times hilarious and indeed there are a handful of belly-laughing moments. Some of the acting is good, in particular from Conor Leslie, Milana Vayntrub, Neil Casey and Eugene Cordero who play their parts accurately and with style. But unfortunately it takes a while to gain any momentum. With the occasional (uncredited) appearance from Dave Franco who basically plays himself with an extra spoonful of arrogance – and clearly helps the show take off with his famous name, it takes a while for Other Space to become a ‘bingeable’ series.
The series’ first 3 episodes are perhaps not enough to make the audience hooked and want to stay. And this is a pity because the rest of the episodes improve considerably and I was keen to stay to the very end. The concept of the series is good but its execution could be better. It’s a shame as the show definitely has potential, but it just lacks that extra bit of sparkle and humour that we usually see in Paul Feig’s films.