‘Other Space’ on Yahoo Screen a sweet, nutty confection
Let the word go out across the galaxies, as in scrolling type against a background of stars, that all eight episodes of Paul Feig’s delightful new science-fiction comedy, “Other Space,” are available now to stream and binge on — or to savor slowly, bit by bit, like delicious candy, via Yahoo Screen. Like candy, it is sweet, and sometimes sticky or nutty or surprising.
Feig’s last and only other TV creation — the now-legendary “Freaks and Geeks” — ended back in the Clinton administration. He has since become a busy director of television and movies, including “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat” and the upcoming “Ghostbusters” remake/remodel.
Set in the 22nd century on a poorly equipped, inexpertly manned starship lost in a neighboring universe — entered, as if by a tunnel or, in a competing metaphor, a toilet — “Other Space” originated several years ago at NBC, where it languished for many seasons until the rights reverted to Feig.
Like “Freaks,” it’s cast mostly with young actors, chosen more for character than typical TV glamour — just the sort of misfit crew the earlier series would lead you to expect. Indeed, it’s a show that Sam Weir and his friends, fans of sci-fi and comedy, might themselves grow up to dream up.
It offers “I’ll tell mom” sibling rivalry, romantic longings, institutional satire and physics as farce (as when, in one episode, time passes more slowly for characters on a planet’s surface than it does for those on the ship). It’s a little gross at times, though, by contemporary standards of grossness, fairly modest. It has structural integrity: Characters develop; later episodes will give context to what seems merely absurd in early ones.
Karan Soni is the awkward and enthusiastic Stewart, who has been given the captaincy of a space cruiser, called the Cruiser, on the strength of a “fart-sneeze” maneuver in a space academy simulation — as well as authority over Karen, his coldly ambitious sister (Bess Rous), and fretful former babysitter Michael (Eugene Cordero).
“Don’t appease him, Stewart,” Karen says of Michael. “Would you hug a baby just because it cried?”
Also on board are Stewart’s old crush Tina (Milana Vayntrub), his reluctant navigator; Neil Casey as Kent, his reluctant science officer, with a strange origin story; and Conor Leslie as the hot, visual embodiment of the ship’s computer, who “started out as a hospitality bot on the inaugural Hooters space shuttle and then I got sold ... in a package deal with some elliptical machines.”
Feig’s own generation is represented in what for many will be the dream-reteaming of Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu from “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” Hodgson, in a wig that makes him look a little like the adult Bill Mumy — Will Robinson in “Lost in Space” long ago — is the ship’s radiation-addled engineer. As in “MST3K,” Beaulieu voices a robot with attitude, introduced with a joke referencing author Philip K. Dick and the original title of “Blade Runner”: “Can’t you see I’m dreaming of electric sheep here?”
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