Review by Sean Boelman
Greg Daniels and Steve Carell’s Space Force was initially greenlit when President Trump first began pushing the initiative of the space-bound military branch, and while the political satire isn’t nearly as timely, that may be for the better. Less funny but arguably more well-written, this second season is an improvement even if it isn’t what its creators’ fans are used to.
The film follows the Space Force scientists and officers as they deal with the aftermath of the crisis at the end of the first season. Whereas the first season was primarily a workplace comedy, this one is much more focused on the characters’ arcs and their poignancy. The result is a show that still has some laughs and is surprisingly touching.
This season is only seven episodes long compared to the first season’s ten, but the streamlined narrative is definitely an improvement. The show cuts out a lot of the dead weight characters and expands upon some others that were more compelling but previously less developed. Because of this, the show feels much more relatable instead of being distantly farcical.
One of the most interesting things about this season of the show is that it doesn’t introduce new characters. Usually, there are some eccentric new additions to the ensemble who end up stealing the show, but Daniels and Carrell focus on the usual suspects. It was a risk for them to double down on goodwill from an original that was met with muted reception, but it works well.
Steve Carrell is again doing his schtick here, albeit in a more serious way. But it’s the rest of the cast that makes this something special. Jimmy O. Yang was a funny supporting character last season, but his role is expanded here into something that really uses his comedic talents. Tawny Newsome is also a standout, having the most emotionally-resonant of the roles in the series.
There are some interesting ideas here about accountability in the US government, but they aren’t fully developed. The show lost a lot of its teeth when the real-life military organization didn’t materialize as strongly as it may have been expected to. So whereas the first season banked on the ridiculousness of reality, this has to create something else entirely.
This season is also done at a much less ambitious scale than the first, but that also works to its advantage. It’s nice to see a political satire that isn’t all about gloom and doom, but actually has some hope and optimism for what good can be done if the right people get together to make a difference in this country.
Season two of Space Force may not be all that hilarious, but it makes up for its lack of laughs with its other strengths. It’s unclear what Daniels and Carrell are going to do with the series from here, though, as we become even more detached from its relevance.
Space Force streams on Netflix beginning February 18. All seven episodes reviewed.