Creator: David Sacks, Oman Rogers | Runtime: 21mins – Episode | Animation, Comedy, Sci-fi
In a world where ‘Animated Sci-Fi’ draws your attention to Rick and Morty (2013-) it’s difficult to see anything else other than second best. Arguably the closest you might come is in the small gem that is Final Space. A group of misfits lead by Gary Goodspeed, a strong-hearted Peter Quill-type with idiotic tendencies. The group consists of Kevin, the most infuriating anti-insanity robot around, Goodspeed’s romantic counterpart Quinn (or Nightfall), AI bot Hue, Little Cato, and the cutest member of the group, Mooncake. In season 1 this ‘ragtag’ group of misfits spend there time exploring the universe and in the end trying to save the world, and while both the synopsis and characters have probably been done more efficiently by other creators, Final Space found it’s voice in having surprisingly emotional depth.
In season 2, the emotional exploration is on full show once again, the crew now trying to locate the Dimensional Keys to save Quinn and release a cosmic titan known as Bolo (voiced by Keith Allen). But throughout this 13 episode season we get to witness some really interesting emotional dissection that really does wonders for each character. Gary, who spent the majority of season 1 with Daddy-issues, is now suffering with Mummy-issues. Little Cato struggles with the death of his Father (Avacato) and the feeling of loneliness in a time-jumping episode that is chock-full of emotion. Each character, including new ones, all have their moments. It’s these moments that give the series a voice, and continue the strongest aspect of it’s first season, utilising a constant comedic tone to then flip it on it’s head and give you a raw presence of feeling. But it’s own downfall is in it’s comedy, which is considerably hit and miss throughout.
This is something that unfortunately plagued the first season, never lacking the comedy at it’s core but at times using it in the wrong places and with the wrong people. Of course Gary Goodspeed is the lovable idiot who is often misunderstood and given the most punchlines, but what the second season does is put it’s faith in most of it’s cast. The Kevin/Gary dynamic is often funny, the lack of translation with Mooncake is the shows highlight, but where it falls flat is in the majority of it’s newest group members. Clarence, who begins as the heroes captor, is a conniving conman with an uncomfortably sexual side, and his two kids Carl and Ash who struggle to find a place both comedy-wise and in the narrative. Carl is a ginormous machine gun-armed man-baby, and Ash is a self-deprecating ball of angst whose more powerful than everyone but Mooncake. The two characters contradict themselves conceptually, but make for strong comedic characters, but throughout an entire season they can’t match the comedies highest points.
If you take one particular scene with Gary and Mooncake, in which Gary acts as our translator, we understand the Mooncake’s words are coming from a very explicit place. But it’s the way Gary responds to him, and the fact Mooncake can only say “Choocidy”, that makes this scene so funny. It’s a very small scene but really sets a standard for the show unfortunately can’t maintain throughout the series. Despite this though, Final Space is continuously entertaining, every episode, while not being the freshest idea, is a product of the bizarre world Gary Goodspeed is navigating and in turn makes for another dose of easy entertainment. The comedy may not have improved fully, but some of the conceptual aspects have.
Hue, the stoic voice within the first season now becomes a product of his human companions, trying to find his own life as a one mile-per-hour robot and a constant battle with the shows newest on-board AI Ava (voiced by Jane Lynch). The Little Cato and Gary relationship becomes stronger, and returning problems anchor the majority of their arc. And even with no explicit villain like the first season, the show is perpetually raising the stakes with every episode. As a 20 minute sitcom, it’s always programmed to divert from the shows main story, but the each episode has a welcome quality to it. The two time-revolving episodes are particularly fun, the multiple Kevin episode is the strongest with comedy, and the last episode balances conclusion and cliffhanger with a strain of emotion running through it’s core.
Final Space may not have found it’s feet among the sea of genius adult animations that are on offer (think Rick & Morty or Archer [2009-]) and may steal a lot from Sci-Fi pop culture, but where it begins to find it’s voice is in it’s deep-rooted conflicts within it’s characters, and also it’s quick jumps from one tone to the next. It has warmth, sacrifice, humanity and your full engagement, it’s just a shame it can’t quite get it’s comedy perfect as well.