Tag Archives: Other Space

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2015 Edition: 38-35

11 Apr

A Netflix original, a Yahoo Screen original, a British show, and a Fox third-season comedy. Moving on.

Intro here and 58-55 here and 54-51 here and 50-47 here and 46-43 here and 42-39 here.

38. Peep Show – 2014: Not Eligible

Peep Show

The 9th and final season of Peep Show, which has to be some sort of British record, aired last year, three seasons after the previous. Peep Show may have had over its lifespan more boisterous laugh out loud moments than almost any show I’ve watched, and while it was certainly not at its peak last year, there were just enough moments of vintage Peep Show to earn its place here. It can be painfully hard to watch at times, and the characters are such morons, but no one, not even Michael Scott from The Office, can screw up a dinner party as gleefully as Mark does this season, leading to perhaps both the most awkward and funny scene of the season. Peep Show brought back just about every important character for a minute for one last go around and gave a fittingly miserable send off to Mark and Jeremy.

37. Other Space – 2014: Not Eligible

Other Space

Other Space sadly will not be returning last year largely because no one watched it, at least in part because it was on the short-lived Yahoo Screen, Yahoo’s ill-advised attempt to compete with Amazon and Netflix with original streaming content which resulted in massive failure. Other Space is a zany comedy about a crew of future outcasts who ventured off the grid in outer space. The production values are low, low, low; almost every episode feels like a bottle episode stuck in a few rooms on the ship. Other Space is smartly, however, perfectly tailored towards such an environment, and takes advantage of how silly and low budget it looks. The largely unknown actors (the most famous are Joel, the original host of MST3K, and Lily from the long-running series of AT&T commercials) do a good job, and the comedy smartly takes advantage of the engine that powers most great sitcoms – constantly rejiggering different combinations of characters interacting together. I’m still not sure why this show didn’t catch up at least in a small way with more of the tv-watching internet.

36. Brooklyn Nine-Nine – 2014: 19

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has settled into its place as a second tier comedy, good for a few laughs an episode, and the occasional breakout episode, but never quite reaching the synthesis of top quality writing and character development that would see it ranked any higher. I’ve said it before, but little has changed; I’ve given up on hoping Brooklyn Nine-Nine will ever reach the heights of its spiritual predecessor Parks & Recreation and have done my best to try to enjoy it for what it is. The characters have begun to occasionally grate on me over time; while they’ve definitely improved since the outset, sometimes the development seems permanently stunted – the characters have trouble becoming more than the over-the-top traits that initially defined them, especially Charles (can we go an episode without him talking about his food snobbishness?). There are still plenty of fun moments, I like the cast a lot, regardless of their character shortcomings, and we’re high enough on the list that I’m in no danger of stopping watching. It’s just hard to shake the notion that this show should be a bit better than it is.

35. Orange is the New Black – 2014: 14

Orange is the New Black

I watched most of Orange is the New Black’s third season in a short period with a couple of friends, and though I generally enjoyed it, we ended up pausing for some reason which I don’t recall with about four episodes to go. I didn’t watch for a while, thinking we’d get back together again, until eventually it seemed like momentum had stalled and even once I figured it’d be okay for me to finish it out solo, I didn’t really want to, having a negative impression of the season in my mind. And then eventually one day, I ran through the episodes, and though the problems of the third season were still present, I enjoyed the end of the season a lot more than I remembered and couldn’t quite figure out why I had held off for so long. And that’s kind of where Orange is the New Black stands. The third season was not its most stellar; it was less focused than the others, and some of the plots fell flat, particularly Piper’s. Luckily, however, Piper is no longer the protagonist. The show has become a true ensemble, and the protagonist, really, if there was one last season was Caputo. The show still offers a perspective different than any other show on TV, with a large and diverse female cast unlike any on TV, and that’s still worth something.

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Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2015 Edition: 42-39

8 Apr

Three new shows up for their first rankings, all of which should be back next year, and a cable comedy in its 10th season. Moving on.

Intro here and 58-55 here and 54-51 here and 50-47 here and 46-43 here.

42. Casual – 2014: Not Eligible

Casual

As I’m getting to this point, I realize that within my rankings-within-rankings of sad white people in Southern California shows, I might have swapped this with Togetherness, but they’re close enough both in reality and on the list that it’s not a huge deal either way. Casual, like many shows at this point in this list has it’s problems; I don’t recommend it heartily and I’m not sure I’d watch it if it was an hour instead of half an hour. That said, it does have points to recommend for it, and the fact that I did watch all of it, and relatively quickly, says a fair amount; there are many shows, even half hours, which I’ve stopped due to lack of momentum. The three primary actors are all excellent, particularly the always great Michaela Watkins. The uniquely close and comfortable family relationship between Watkins, her brother, and her daughter works and holds together the center of a show that could easily spin out of hand as each family member finds his or her way into hit-or-miss adventures. Watkins’ brother (I’m not going to get into names because it’s the last line of this and you’re not going to remember, but he’s played by the sports agent who dated Mindy in the first season of the Mindy Project) has the potential to be obnoxious (and is) at many times, but pulls away and/or shows enough pathos to avoid passing the point of no return.

41. Daredevil – 2014: Not Eligible

Daredevil

As we’re not yet in the land of full-scale recommendations for everyone, Daredevil is only for people with a toleration for the kind of comic superhero tomfoolery Marvel fans have come to expect, but unlike some of the DC properties below, I’m more confident people who like this sort of thing will like Daredevil. The characters aren’t as deeply defined in a season as I’d like them to be, but Daredevil is one of the Marvel characters with a stronger backstory and the street-level organized crime plot of the first season is a welcome counter to the super-powered and universe-spanning problems of the Marvel movies and DC TV shows. I don’t think primary antagonist Kingpin as played by Vincent D’Onofrio is the genius villain that many do, but I’d be remiss to say that he doesn’t bring a manic energy that’s often delightful. Additionally, unlike so many comic villains it’s a pleasant surprise to find one that’s neither emotionless nor crazy, intimidating but not infallible. There are some weaker moments, and the writing can be a little lazy, counting on viewers to connect the dots and follow the idea of where they’re going, because you can pretty much figure it out, but it’s binge-friendly without being House of Cards-stupid; you don’t need to think and digest every episode, but there are thrills to be had from moving forward in the story and you certainly don’t feel dumber having watched it.

40. Another Period – 2014: Not Eligible

Another Period

Another Period is just a stupid, over-the-top comedy about a wealthy family with servants early in 20th century New England, but it’s about as low on period accuracy as could be aside from wearing digital watches and using smart phones. I would guess it was inspired by wanting to mock the upstairs/downstairs Downton Abbey, but all the American actors didn’t feel like putting on British accents all the time. The jokes are fired off at a rapid pace, and while some don’t work, there are more than enough that do, and those that don’t are inoffensive enough to sit through for a couple of good solid laughs an episode. The cast definitely raises it a cut above the material, with many of my favorites like David Wain and Michael Ian Black, and comic relative newcomers like Christina Hendrix and Jason Ritter.

39. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Not Eligible
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

This show and the next show have a lot in common (they were originally in the same post, but got bumped around, so you’ll have to wait to figure out the next show is). They’re both show about ostensibly terrible people which can be awkward and difficult to watch, hands-over-your-eyes stuff, but which are entirely about the laughs. There are half hour shows that are ostensibly comedies that aren’t very funny, there are shows in the Parks & Recreation vein that are true comedies but with deep investment in character and storyline, and there are shows like Sunny and the next that are just for laughs. Thus then, they’re actually relatively easy to judge; if you laugh while watching, they’ve done their job. Last year’s 10th (!) season wasn’t the show’s finest, but managed to be a lot better than it could have been considering how long the show has been on. Sometimes the ideas can feel reused but the characters and the cast know how to get the most from the lines, and while the show can get too meta at some points, a little bit of meta here and there can differentiate the later seasons.

Spring 2015 Review: Other Space

20 Apr

Other Space

Other Space is a Yahoo! Original (or a Yahoo! Screen original, or whatever they’re calling it – I’m not quite sure about the Yahoo lingo yet) comedy about a group of inexperienced crew venturing throughout other space. The budget is low, low, low, and it shows; of whatever they began with, it feels like a large percentage was spent on appearance fees for two episodes of Dave Franco. Still, in spite of, or rather regardless of the budget, Outer Space is pretty good stuff.

The biggest bold-faced name involved with Other Space is creator Paul Feig, best known as the director of Bridesmaids (and the creator of Freaks and Geeks). The show, befitting its previously mentioned low budget, features a largely anonymous cast, with the only names of any note being Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Milana Vayntrub, best known as Lily Adams on a series of AT&T commercials.

Other Space takes place on a space ship which, in the first episode, veered into another universe accidentally by way of a wormhole and thus has no contact with the world outside their ship. The crew is composed of the likeable happy-go-lucky captain, Stewart, who is afraid to antagonize his crew, and occasionally seems to know what he’s doing, fumbling into solutions in spite of himself.  His sister Karen is his first mate, and she is more strict, less well-liked because of it, and is occasionally jealous of her brother because she believes as the harder worker and more serious person command should be hers. There’s the pretty, dim navigational officer, Tina, who was chosen solely because the captain had a huge crush on her, even though she was entirely in love with her boyfriend Ted. There’s Michael, who Karen and Stewart have known for their entire lives, who is always being left out and abused by other crew members – without the utter incompetence, he’s the answer to Parks and Recreation’s Jerry, except the crew occasionally feels bad about it. Zallen is a one-time genius engineer turned burnout whose best friend is talking robot A.R.T. Natasha is the sassy computer who appears as a human female and tries frequently to act human and Kent is the resident weirdo who is actually human but doesn’t act like it. And there is your cast of characters.

There’s a lot of simple funny character combination work, as different pairs interact and provide new dynamics and sources of humor. There’s a lot of playing on the types of each character – Kent’s a weirdo, Tina’s kind of stupid, Michael is forgettable, Stewart wants everyone to like him. It’s not complicated but it works more than it doesn’t. In addition, Other Space is easy to get through, and it’s not particular awkward or cringe worthy. There’s nothing revelatory here, but with a serious imbalance in the quality drama vs. comedy ratio on television these days, any decent comedy is welcome. I mentioned Other Space’s low budget a couple times, which could merely be peripheral, but  it really is aggressively low budget, almost incorporating the low budget feel into the campiness and over the top nature of their space adventures, reminding me a little bit of Joel’s previous Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s not really heavy on the sci-fi though, in spite of being set in space; it’s more about putting the characters in wacky and unfortunate situations that require them to occasionally exasperate one another, and sci-fi provides lots of those – new planets, aliens, robots and so forth.

There’s not a lot of character building. It’s not a show designed for warmth and heart like Parks & Recreation, but it’s also not an awkward-observational It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or Curb Your Enthusiasm. Other Space is very wacky. The characters are pretty simplistic, but that’s okay, the actors do a good job with their bits, and the humor doesn’t require complex characters. It’s light, silly, and disposable in the positive way a great pop song can be disposable – you can turn it on and off, and get a dose of enjoyment without an larger investment.

Will I watch it again? Yes. It’s good, it’s easy to watch, and there are only eight episodes. What’s not to like?