Other Space is a new show from Paul Feig, the director of Bridesmaids and creator of the cult television show Freaks and Geeks. It begins with a young spaceship captain and his ragtag crew of misfits as they depart on their first exploratory mission — and immediately get lost in a rift to an alternate universe.
The hilarious cast includes Karan Soni as the optimistic Captain Stewart Lipinski, Bess Rous as his acerbic older sister and begrudging second-in-command, Eugene Cordero as Stewart’s best friend/former babysitter turned third-in-command, Milana Vayntrub as the ship’s navigator (and Stewart’s unreciprocated crush), Neil Casey as the decidedly odd (or as other crew members describe him, “gross”) science officer, Conor Leslie as the attractive avatar for the ship’s computer, and Mystery Science Theater 3000‘s Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu as an engineer whose brain has been fried from years of radiation exposure and his robot companion named A.R.T. The show also features actors Sarah Baker, Dave Franco, Mo Collins, John Milhiser, Jessica Chaffin, and Björn Gustafsson, among others. (Sidebar: this New Yorker article about Allison Jones, the casting director for many comedy movies and tv shows, gives an insider look on how Other Space was cast, and is generally quite an interesting read.)
All eight episodes of Other Space are available on Yahoo! Screen, and as such, perfect for binge watching. I admit that I wasn’t sure how to feel about the show throughout the first episode. But I quickly cast aside any doubts I may have had by the climax of the second episode titled “Getting to Know You.” This episode follows the common space trope of trying to figure out which crew member is secretly an alien spy. While the culprit is fairly obvious to the genre savvy viewer, the way in which the intruder is detected caused me to burst into laughter. (Plus, as a tabletop gamer, I appreciated the parallels the show drew between the interrogations used in an attempt to uncover the alien and the social deduction game, Mafia.)
Other Space is a strange show. It’s thirty minutes of oddball characters in a hopeless situation as they struggle to survive unprepared in an unknown universe and the stress of working and living together in close quarters. As the episodes progress, we learn more about each of the characters and see how they interact with one another. While the sci-fi aspects of the show lead to many outlandish situations, at its heart, Other Space is basically a workplace comedy centered around the inter-relationships between the crew. There are romances, moments of outright disdain, and instances of acceptance and friendship even among the show’s more unconventional pairings.
All in all, I really enjoyed Other Space. Sure, there is a lot of off-the-wall ridiculata, but the show succeeds by embracing its strangeness. The crew members are all unique and interesting (including, in my opinion, the character whose defining trait is that he is thoroughly uninteresting), the writing is equal parts hilariously stupid and terrifically clever (“Even her name practically sounds like ‘alien.’ Karen. Alien. Zalian, you hear it, right?”), and each one of the wonderfully talented actors employ their own brand of funny to bring the crew of the UMP Cruiser to life.
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