“Chapter One” and “Chapter Two”
Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2
This is a First Look Review of TBS’s Final Space starring Olan Rogers, Fred Armisen, Tom Kenny, David Tennant, Tika Sumpter, and Coty Galloway.
Hello, dear friend. It's been a while.
It’s no secret that C+ Comedy is a huge fan of TBS original series. The Detour, Search Party, Wrecked, Full Frontal, and the acquired new seasons of American Dad have been nothing but stellar. This is due in part to the serialized nature of 90% of those shows, the shortened seasons and the fact that no one is watching them. Search Party is a hit for the million or so people who have managed to keep up with its twists and turns. Only a subset of cable owners cared about the Parker family’s globe trotting antics in The Detour. Now, a handful of viewers will have another cartoon to fall in love with.
Final Space – created by and starring newcomer Olan Rogers – is as serious as it is silly. For every explosion comes a joke about the main character wanting a cookie. Rogers plays Gary, a prisoner aboard a space vessel. He’s been alone for nearly five years – his only companions being HUE (Tom Kenny), the ships’ artificial intelligence and warden of sorts (with a voice very much akin to Douglas Rain’s HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey) and KVN (Fred Armisen), a well-meaning but ultimately prideful robot. It isn’t until Gary meets a space creature later described as a “planet killer” he names Mooncake. The two get along right off the bat. Their instant friendship is cute and childish, topped off only by Gary’s insistence to treat the creature as his underwear caddy. When assassins come to take Mooncake away, we finally get to see his true power. He is able to destroy an oncoming asteroid storm with a convincing blast and save Gary from dying of oxygen deprivation. Plus he speaks in adorable gibberish.
At the same time, a B-story following Tika Sumpter’s Quinn has hear searching for answers as to why space cruisers are crashing into earth. And Coty Galloway’s Avacato is on the search for his son who is being held hostage by the show’s main villain, Lord Commander (David Tennant). There are a few stories to be accounted for and, for now, the show seems to be handling them. Once Avacato and Gary join forces, there are clear motivations as to who is fighting for what.
The writing – from Rogers and David Sacks – makes for good fodder. The back and forth between Gary (usually the wild card) and every other character is funny, even when the jokes don’t entirely land. Tennant’s Lord Commander is particularly menacing due to his lack of being a part of any joke. His scenes are dark; thank Rogers and Sacks for keeping them short.
There are eight episodes after this first set. It’s going to be fun to see the story unfold. Elements such as finding out what Mooncake is and the little twist in the end of a future styled Quinn (named Nightfall) feel promising.
Should you watch Final Space?
The world needs more adult skewing cartoons that don’t rely on grotesque subject matter. Executive producer Conan O'Brien was a smart man for seeking Rogers out after seeing the pilot on YouTube. TBS is smart for snatching up this show to pair with American Dad. Final Space has come a long way from Rogers’ original pilot. And even further than the original iteration. Things look good.
*P.S. Hi, Conan. If you're reading this, I have a bunch of ideas too. Hit a brotha up!