Space Force AP

Space Force debuted on May 29, 2020 on Netflix.

“‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.’ - Wayne Gretzky” -Michael Scott. Written on a whiteboard by Michael Scott, the inept boss from NBC’s hit sitcom "The Office," these immortal words also embody the character of General Mark Naird, Steve Carell’s newest character on Netflix’s show "Space Force."

Space Force is a satirical take on the newly formed military branch of the federal government, written by Carell and co-creator of The Office Greg Daniels. The show attempts to capture the same comedic electricity as The Office — but does it?

When I started the show, I assumed Mark Naird would be a cheap copy of Michael Scott, a hilarious and iconic character. Scott’s nuanced characterization as the world’s worst boss while somehow remaining endearing would be an interesting fit for a military comedy.

Instead, however, Naird is a competent, kind, respectful and resourceful leader with very few character flaws.

What makes Scott such a dynamic character is that he is so flawed yet so likable. Naird, on the other hand, is a good and smart person who sometimes gets in over his head. 

Naird would never burn his foot on a grill, drive a car into a lake or host the worst dinner party ever, and therefore can never be as funny as Michael Scott.

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Naird is at his funniest when he does something that Michael Scott would do, like make a chimpanzee do an emergency space walk. Scott is like a boss we've all had while Naird is like a boss we all want, which just isn't that funny.

Michael Scott is a hilarious character written to show off Carell’s talent, but Naird is a pretty flat character who could have been played by any comedic actor.

Naird’s weak characterization is symbolic of the quality of the whole series. John Malkovich and Ben Schwartz play characters that are like thin rip-offs of their previous work. 

A show that claims to be a satire of the military industrial complex, the militarization of space and modern politics treats these institutions with a toothless “Aw, shucks” attitude that is far from the level of absurdist comedy and social criticism required for tackling such subjects. 

This stands in sharp contrast to Carell and Daniel’s previous work on The Office, which often explored social and political issues at an everyday level.

Ultimately, Space Force is a letdown, which is tragic seeing that it had so much potential to utilize comedy greats in front of and behind the camera. 

Unlike Michael Scott, General Mark Naird has enough self awareness not to claim a Wayne Gretzky quote as his own — and because of that, Space Force misses its shot.

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