This week we’re checking out “Space Force,” a new Netflix show that stars Steve Carell in his first sitcom since “The Office.” He plays General Mark Naird, the fictional head of the newly named sixth branch of the US military, and it follows his sometimes-wacky adventures launching the Force.
The show also stars John Malkovich as the lead scientist working with Naird, and also features Lisa Kudrow as Naird’s wife, former “Glee” favorite Jane Lynch as the Navy’s admiral and a host of other longtime character actors who provide the show with an impressively deep bench of familiar faces.
At its best, the show is filled with ridiculous, fast-paced banter that reminded me of “Dr. Strangelove,” and the second episode – where a chimpanzee astronaut has to save a satellite that’s been attacked – might be the funniest half-hour I’ve ever seen. It’s also surprisingly serious about the mission of the Force at times, making this a show that’s both funny and occasionally inspiring.
However, the first episode dragged in its first half, and the third episode (I watched three of the 10 for this review) had a boring and pointless subplot in which Naird’s teen daughter is “babysat” by his pilot when she visits him on the base. But overall, enough of it works for viewers to keep orbiting the series.
Next up, I checked out the new four-part docuseries “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich,” in which a team led by Oscar-nominated documentarian Joe Berlinger (the “West Memphis Three” docs) recounts the story of the disgraced investment guru and pedophile who committed suicide last August while awaiting trial for his offenses. The miniseries relies primarily on victim testimonials from some of the countless young women he abused and trafficked, combined with plenty of footage of his creepy New York City mansion, his giant New Mexico ranch and his bizarrely appointed private island in the Caribbean to bring the whole sordid affair to life.
The focus on these testimonials makes this resemble the hit Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” about the similarly perverted R&B singer who’s awaiting trial on his own sexual abuse and trafficking charges. The sordid story holds a trainwreck fascination, and it’s disturbing to see the people and places involved come to life, but I still wish they had been able to solve more of the mystery behind his incredible fortune of $577 million and a definitive answer about his demise, which had several questionable aspects. Still, it’s worth a viewing if you found Epstein and his many scandals riveting in the first place.
Finally, we have “The Wrong Missy,” the latest in a seemingly endless string of hit-and-miss (at best) comedy films from Adam Sandler’s production company Happy Madison. Sandler’s not actually in this one, but it stars his longtime buddy and frequent costar David Spade as Tim Morris, a single-guy executive who meets two different women named Melissa – one who’s a crazy date-from-hell, the other a perfect dreamboat woman – but gets them mixed up in his phone and invites the wrong one to join him on his corporate retreat in Hawaii.
There are some funny scenes here, with rising star Lauren Lapkus a non-stop bundle of energy as the crazy Melissa, looking and acting like a female Mr. Bean. Veteran Happy Madison sidekick Nick Swardson is also funny as Tim’s incredibly nosy coworker, but fellow Happy Madison regular Rob Schneider is underused as a crazed boathand named Komante and Molly Sims as the hot, seemingly perfect Melissa disappears for far too much of the movie.
As is typical of these Sandler-related Netflix films, the plot’s arc is badly constructed, with no major twists or turning points and the ending ridiculously forced and rushed. This is on the raunchy side of Happy Madison films, so don’t watch with young kids if you do decide to check it out.