WARNING: This recap will contain spoilers! Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not handle broken pieces of this recap.
As a serious MSTie, I had to check out Yahoo!’s new series “Other Space” starring both Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu and produced by Paul Feig of “Freaks and Geeks” and the upcoming distaff Ghostbusters fame.
The show has been compared to “Red Dwarf” but it’s much more “Lost In Space” meets “Mystery Science Theater.” It is set in the not-too-distant future of 2105, and in addition to Joel and Trace stars various AT&T spokespeople. But, be calm, AT&T is not actually involved. They’re tied up with another space franchise.
Our hero is Stewart Lipinski who I chose to believe is descended from figure skater Tara Lipinski. Stewart is played by Karan Soni, who you would recognize as the goofy IT guy from the AT&T commercials. He’s basically playing a similar character here, a brilliant but exceedingly awkward oddball. This act is fairly entertaining in small doses but it does start getting hard to take as the show goes on.
After Stewart demonstrates his brilliance by defeating a Kobayahi Maru-like simulation, we go to a board meeting where he’s given command of a ship. Warning! The first minute or so of this meeting is extremely painful. We start with one of those “Can you believe what they did in the 21st century?” comments which are always terrible. Really, science fiction writers, please stop doing this. And even worse, it exists strictly to set up an awful joke about Joel washing his balls.
Off we go to meet the crew over on Stewart’s ship, “The Cruiser.” We start out with Natasha, the excessively wacky computer. This is the character that probably makes people think of “Red Dwarf.” Natasha is trying way, way, way too hard to be zany.
Next, we’re over to our other AT&T spokesperson, Tina, who introduces us to the major message of this episode: kissing is gross and people should not do it. Tina is making out with her boyfriend who is tall, blonde and wearing a short skirt so I shall call him Zap Brannigan. They begin by Frenching Lucite coasters so you can enjoy the internal goings on before moving on to the more traditional way. And they make sure to let you know what it tastes like! It is absolutely horrifying and at this point I had to pause the show, join a monastery and have a shower.
Having been thrown out of the monastery for reasons I’d rather not get into, I resumed watching the show. Stewart’s sister/second in command, Karen, stops by to remind everyone that she wasn’t given her own ship because she takes after the Tanya Harding branch of the family and is deeply psychotic.
And now, Michael, Stewart’s sad-sack childhood friend. This scene is uncomfortable and unfortunate, so lets move on to Kent Woolworth, science officer, son of the The Chairwoman, and quite possibly an android. Kent is the first genuinely funny character so far with his flatly unemotional delivery and his need to be completely honest about absolutely everything. Kent is his name, TMI is his game and he’s playing it quite well.
Eventually we get back to Joel and meet his robot, ART. MSTies will instantly recognize where the name “ART” comes from and he is very much Crow T. Robot in another body. ART is, frankly, fantastic. It’s like having Crow actually riffing on the show from inside it.
Unfortunately, ship has to turn around because the only food they have is fudge. No sooner do they turn for home than they are sucked into a glowing space vagina in a genuinely funny sequence involving Pong, gravel, and babies. Afterwards, they find themselves in the titular Other Space with no way home.
Karen takes this as the time to go full Tonya Harding and kneecap her brother. Everyone seems really OK with it, too. Things proceed to spiral out of control with the General coming in to say it was all another simulation, Kent making out with his Mom, Tina starts making out with Stewart’s ear and… Kent is making out with his Mom?! GAH!! My eyes!!! My eyes!!!
After I returned from a different monastery, I discovered that this is all a ruse by some kind of aliens who are trying to trick Karen into opening the very poorly designed airlock to kill everyone. Next Generation would have spent an entire hour on this but Other Space doesn’t have time to ass around. They get in, remind you that kissing is the work of the Devil, and then they move on.
The next scene between Karen and Stewart in his quarters is actually pretty good. It has some funny moments and also creates a very genuine brother/sister vibe between the two of them.
Finally, we end with our Captain giving the crew (and the audience) a rousing speech about the exciting adventures yet to come. And a final reminder than kissing is terrible as Tina makes out with her piece of Lucite and Kent reminds everyone he stuck his tongue down his mother’s throat but, by this point, I’m just numb to it and it doesn’t bother me any more. I’ll never touch another human being again, but otherwise, I’m fine. Honest.
OK, I’ve been fairly harsh but there is still plenty of potential here. Comedies often take a while to find their footing and this first episode was bogged down by the need to introduce all the characters and also perform world building, all within a half hour. There were enough good laughs that I want to see more.
Oh, and there’s another character, Chad, who shows up during the credits. It seems that Chad’s joke is that everyone will keep forgetting he exists. Like I did just now.