Director(s): Paul Feig
Writer: Paul Feig
Starring: Trace Beaulieu, Joel Hodgson, Bess Rous, Karan Soni
Distributor: Yahoo Screen
Genre: Sci-fi, Comedy
The word “Original Series” is booming all over media giants. No longer do I have to pay $50 a month to Time Warner to get a high quality TV series. While that is good for our digital (and bored) generation, it also means a lot of hit-and-miss. Yahoo started throwing their hat in the ring, getting Paul Feig (the director of Bridesmaids and Freaks and Geeks) to produce a space galaxy satire called Other Space.
Stewart Lipinksi (Karan Soni) always dreamed of having his own space exploration team. As a cadet in the UMP, he finally gets his shot to take a crew into space and discover the great big universe.
His crew is a bunch of awkward misfits. You have his incredibly competitive older sister, Karen (Bess Rous), who has threatened Stewart multiple times to get his position as captain. Then you have the guy who used to babysit Stewart, Michael (Eugene Cordero), who is the bad luck Brian of the group, constantly being overlooked. Kent Woolworth (Neil Casey), is an alien from Mars who sleeps in a mucus pod and has other disgusting alien habits. Natasha (Conor Leslie) is the sentient space computer who seems more fit as a Valley Girl in a California mall then an intelligent space program. Tina (Milana Vayntrub) is the office flirt and back stabbing gossip who admits she isn’t too clear on her job. Finally, you have Zalian (Joel Hodgson) and ART (Trace Beaulieu), who spend their days milling around, acting spacey and perfecting the art of laziness.
What seems like a horrible idea for a space crew gets worse when the UMP Cruiser they are flying in gets sucked into a wormhole into Other Space. Stewart brings his leadership in the form of letting everyone share their feelings, making sure the crew feels motivated and arguing with his sister over who would make the better captain. He is more suited for being a supervisor at Walmart than he is to running his own space ship.
Every episode is a huge dilemma for Stewart and his space crew. He cannot get them to love space exploration as much as he does, and they vow to make his life a nightmare while complaining about their all fudge diets and the fact that they are lost. Then, they find out that one of them is an alien host trying to cause destruction on the ship. Zalian and ART discover that the ship that was commissioned to them was once owned by MTV as a Reality TV vessel.
After eight episodes of the UMP team trying to survive in an alien universe, sharing lots of feelings, putting out small fires, and putzing around, they finally confront the alien that has been hunting them down in the season finale.
Language: The team keeps their foul language at a PG-14 level with S, A, and D words, but you will hear a lot of G** D**** and Je*** Chr*** shouted in the space ship. Also, the F-word is bleeped out for comedic effect.
Sex: Natasha and Tina seem to be the most free with their bodies, but the sexual content is very tame in this series. There’s nothing beyond making out. Episode 7 is all about the erotic dreams of Stewart, but even those are lame.
Drugs: Zalian acts like he is on drugs and sells fictitious ones on Episode 7.
Negative Elements: The crew is very irreverent and catty with each other. It’s part of the humor that they are constantly berating one another, amidst Stewart’s encouragements and overly peppy attitude.
Positive Elements: It seems absolutely hilarious to have Stewart’s cheerleading and encouraging leadership style as the Captain of the ship, but it brings up an excellent point. Stewart often brings the group together through the sharing of feelings and encouragements. Words are powerful and they help even the biggest misfit of teams.
If you look up creative and sarcastic space TV shows, you will find virtually nothing. It has been a long time in the waiting for someone to poke irreverent fun at the Star Trek way of life. Paul Feig creatively mixes the awkward moments of The Office with the corny goofiness of space aliens.
Other Space rests most of its comedy load on Stewart’s overly sensitive and gentle nature and how it fails so wonderfully with his sarcastic co-workers. While every space show in existence is trying to make their crew look so professional and elite, the crew of UMP has so much fun looking like incompetent weirdos. The writing is excellent and hilariously human for a space show.
Furthermore, the show has a running plot that weaves itself throughout the season. The crew is trying to get contact with the alien who keeps messing with their ship. They resolve the issue in episode 8 with a new character and a “To Be Continued.” That is pretty bold for a show that may not get the funding it needs to actually continue.
What works for the show is that it is so light and easy going that you don’t mind that the whole set is low budget. Perhaps that’s some of the series’ charm. Though some of the effects look bland and the set looks a little too outdated, one wonders if Feig tried a little too hard to make this show look cheesy. Other Space can oftentimes feel like a glorified YouTube series, instead of a wonderful comedy produced by Paul Feig.
My other beef is that this show is hidden in the confines of Yahoo Screen. Yahoo Screen has three TV shows (Other Space, Community, and Sin City Saints). While these shows are hidden gems on the internet, I can’t help but feel they are let down by Yahoo’s unaggressive approach to making shows. I wouldn’t even know they existed if I hadn’t seen them on a YouTube ad. Perhaps Yahoo is only getting their feet wet in the streaming business, or maybe they have some bizarre plan to have only three quality shows and not let anyone know about them. Other Space deserves better treatment and a bigger vision.
For anyone who reads this and has some science fiction roots in the late eighties, two members of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are on the ship. Trace Beaulieu and Joel Hodgson give a nice shout out to the zany humor of MST3K, and I hope someone reading this article can appreciate that as much as I do.
Other Space has a ton of talent in the writing and acting departments, and that has charmed me into becoming a fan. I wish that someone with lots of money and huge plans would take it under their wing. Right now, Other Space will just have to stick with the corny set pieces.
One thing I am beginning to notice in the original series of online media moguls is that they are hitting the sweet spot with comedy. Other Space makes no apology for its whacky and low budget lameness, and that just makes me want to root for the crew of the UMP even more. Go on YouTube or Yahoo Screen and check it out!
The Bottom Line
Other Space makes no apology for its whacky and low-budget lameness, and that just makes me want to root for the crew of the UMP even more. Go on Youtube or Yahoo Screen and check it out.