Go Out of this World in “Other Space”

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by: Ian Blaylock

Other Space is a science fiction comedy series that airs on Yahoo! Screen. The first season began airing in April of 2015.  The show is a parody of other science fiction shows and films, especially of the Star Trek series. The pilot opens with an homage to the famous Kobayashi Maru test that last appeared in the 2009 film, Star Trek.

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Stuart Lipinski (Karan Soni), the captain of the simulated ship, uses an unorthodox method in order to win the scenario, much like the legendary Captain Kirk. The general of the space academy is pleased by Stuart’s performance, but Stuart reveals that he mostly just guessed in order to save the ship. Stuart is then made captain of a famous, but clunky cruiser by the chairwoman of the Universal Mapping Project (UMP). Apparently UMP has gone through some marketing problems as the public is no longer interested in UMP’s endless discoveries of nothing but space rocks. The company hopes that with a young captain the company will be famous once again. Joined by an eclectic crew of misfits, Stuart must command the ship as they map the universe… but they immediately fall into a parallel and unknown universe. Much like Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek Voyager, Stuart must guide his crew as they find their way back to their home universe. The show catalogues the voyages of the UMP cruiser, and the misadventures that arise from both the precarious position of the ship, and of the unpredictable impulses of the crew.

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The series uses its episodes to satirize various tropes of science fiction shows, such as time dilation, alien encounters, technology failure, food shortages, and rogue robots, amongst others. It’s very entertaining and humorous, with most of the comedy coming from the unique personalities of the characters. Stuart seems pretty unqualified for the role as captain, acting more like a summer camp counselor, but he tries to do his best despite his inexperience. Meanwhile his sister Karen, who is also Stuart’s first officer, is overzealous, and perhaps overqualified for the role as captain, except for her ruthless and callous nature. They are joined by several other crewmembers including: Michael, Tina, Kent, Natasha, and Zalien. Michael is a childhood friend of the Lipinskis. Tina is Stuart’s crush, and the ship’s navigator. Kent is the enigmatic son of UMP’s chairwoman. Natasha is the ship’s computer interface, and Zalien is the ship’s hippie engineer who brings along a stowaway, his robot friend, A.R.T.

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The ensemble of the ship’s crew really is the heart of the show. The crew’s creative responses to the dangers they encounter are the driving force of the show. While some may worry that the show would stray too close to Galaxy Quest territory, Other Space is a serialized show where the characters are astronauts, and not actors.

The first two episodes are some of the strongest of the series. The first episode deals with the ship’s arrival in another universe, and the possibility of alien attack. The second episode delves into this further when the crew suspects that an alien has entered their ranks. The sixth episode is also very funny. During the episode the ship gets stuck in a lightning storm in space, and the ship loses power. In a future where everyone is even more reliant on technology, the crew has to make changes in order to escape the storm.

The show is also reminiscent of workplace comedies like The Office, or Parks and Recreation in how the cast, rather than the just the situations make the show what it is. While I don’t think that Other Space is as good as these aforementioned shows, it’s definitely fun and enjoyable. Fans of comedic science fiction and workplace comedies should find it entertaining, especially if they are looking for something fresh in those genres.

Be sure to check out Other Space on Yahoo! Screen.

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