Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Freaks and Geeks In Other Space

After Netflix made a big splash with its Daredevil series last weekend, Yahoo Screen just presented an eight-part sci-fi comedy called Other Space. It's a great sitcom about a crew that's way over its head dealing with traveling in an alternate universe.

Some people may see hints of Quark and Red Dwarf in this, but it's in its own universe built by Paul Feig, who brought us Freaks and Geeks, Bridesmaids and soon Spy. It also includes two MST3K alumni, Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu, who also worked with Feig.

The story involves a UMP ship in 2105, staffed by people who have even less experience than the red shirts on Star Trek. Stewart Lipinski (Karan Soni) is chosen as captain, but his sister Karen (Bess Rous) is second in command, and not happy about it. He chooses his ex-babysitter Mike Newman (Eugene Cordero) as 3rd in command and his crush Tina (Milana Vaytrub) as navigator. His science officer Kent Woolworth (Neil Casey) seems to play the Spock role, and has a couple of secrets.

Joel plays Zalian Fletcher, a burned out engineer who used to be a legend in the UMP. He's joined by Art, voiced by Beaulieu in the same way he talked like Dr. Forrester on MST3K. The ship's computer is Natasha, played by Conor Leslie. The computer was actually built for blackjack, and dresses like she's still working at a casino. It's a bit of a callback to Holly, the computer on Red Dwarf.

The first episode introduces everyone, and it's confusing after the ship gets sucked into the alternate universe. The second episode is better, when they deal with an invader. It develops into a spoof of The Thing, which the crew wondering who is the alien. Thing is, there is an alien, but that person isn't the threat. How it's resolved is pretty clever. It also includes a video hosted by Rifftrax fave Janet Varney.
I liked Soni as Stewart because he is trying to deal with a tough situation, made even tougher because his sister is there. Casey is also a hoot as Kent, a guy who isn't what he seems, but his story makes you feel for him. It's also great how Joel portrays Zalian as what Joel Robinson would have become if he spent too many years at Gizmonic.
UPDATE:  saw the rest of the season, and it has really good comments on whether rules on harassment still apply in a different universe. It also shows some interesting pairings, including Tina and Mike, and reveals how the ship was originally used.

All eight episodes are available at Yahoo Screen

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