You HAVE to Watch Yahoo! Screen’s SciFi Comedy ‘Other Space’

Today’s post is a departure from politics and general craziness for something a bit different. I just became aware of a new series that I’d like to share…

Do you like those AT&T commercials featuring the two Internet techs Frank and Charlie–one a bearded fellow and the other a wiry young Indian-American lad. If you do it is probably because of the quirky humor of Charlie who is played by Karan Soni. Well, now you have a chance to see more of Soni’s work in a fantastic new webseries from Yahoo! Screen titled, Other Space.

The webseries was introduced last month and already has 8 episodes produced. You can see Other Space only at Yahoo! Screen. Even better it is free.

Soni stars as Stewart Lipinski, the captain of a UMP Cruiser star ship who, after being given his first command, promptly launches his ship into a crack in space that throws it into another galaxy. The humor from the show comes less from your normal sort of sitcom craziness and more from the flawed characters of the crew.

TV viewers will also be immediately familiar with one of the other characters in the series: Ship’s pilot Tina Shukshin played by actress Milana Vayntrub. Though she has quite a lot of screen credits, you’ll recognize Vayntrub most as “Lily Adams ” the AT&T girl in the recent series of commercials. In fact, all the actors on the show have successful TV careers. The web series also stars Neil Casey (as Kent Woolworth), Eugene Cordero (Michael Newman), Joel Hodgson (Zalian Fletcher), Bess Rous (Karen Lipinski), Art the ship’s robot vocalized by Mystery Science Theater 3,000’s Trace Beaulieu, and Conor Leslie (as Natasha, the Ship’s computer).

Stars Karan Soni as Captain Stewart Lipinski and Bess Rous as First Officer Karen Lipinski

The Crew, left to right: Eugene Cordero, Karan Soni, Bess Rous, Joel Hodgson, Milana Vayntrub, and Neil Casey.

Conor Leslie as the Ship’s AI Computer and Art the robot voiced by Trace Beaulieu

Here is how Yahoo! Screen describes the series:

It is the year 2105… a young, inexperienced and highly flawed crew embarks on a routine exploratory space mission. Suddenly, their ship, the UMP Cruiser, is drawn through a portal into a different, mysterious universe. With no maps, no contact, and no way back home, Captain Stewart Lipinski, First Officer/Stewart’s-Older-Sister Karen Lipinski and their crew have to learn to work together, all while dealing with mysterious space clouds, food and fuel shortages, robot rebellions, folds in time, and the occasional alien attack.

But that dry description doesn’t do the series justice.

The show exploits the worst flaws of the small ensemble but revolves around the relationship between the captain and his fist mate/sister. Captain Stewart is an earnest, caring, but gullible fellow with his head in the clouds, a young man who just somehow always lucks into a winning situation–but not without some surprising good sense and expertise along the way. His sister, Karen, is totally inept with people. She is dour, overly serious, totally competitive with Stewart, but always ends up in second place despite that she is sure she is better and smarter than everyone around her. And you still don’t hate her for it because mostly everyone around her really is an idiot.

The other characters are hilariously inept, too. Kent, the ship’s science officer, was born as spare parts for his cloned brother and spent the first 20 some years of his life in a pod but was let out when his brother died. He knows nothing of people and may as well be an alien. Ship’s pilot Tina is a dizty, somewhat sluttish gadabout who thinks more of herself than others and sometimes borders on the psychopathic. Zalian is supposed to be the ship’s engineer but has been blasted by so much radiation that he is more like a classic pot-head, burnout character. The ships robot, Art, is almost the Bart Simpson of the crew, never on task and always ready to goof off. The ship’s AI computer is the screen image of a beautiful young woman who blurts out insults when someone accidentally puts on the “sarcastic mode” but is not always super helpful in a crisis. And that last member of the crew… I’m blanking on him. He is… un… well, we’ll try to get back to him.

Other Space is written very well by creator Paul Feig whose biggest writing gig was as the creator and writer of the cult TV series Freaks and Geeks. Feig is also part of the writing team for the upcoming remake of Ghostbusters. He also has acting credits, mostly in sitcoms, going back to 1986.

Here is an interview with Feig about this new show…

The sets are clean and work well and the special effects are nicely done, too, so viewers won’t be distracted by any amateurishness here.There are also some great jokes about corporations, reality TV, the end of the neck tie (to be replaced by “neck balls,” what else?), along with your general space zaniness.

But the humor is perfect… if you like that sort of thing. Oh, it’s not the constant screaming that most American sitcom writers seem to think is *funny* and it isn’t slapstick. It is what I call “aside humor.” Remember the old 1930’s Popeye cartoons where some of the funniest lines were muttered as an aside under Popeye’s breath? That is what we are treated to here.

The script’s line is given and then a hilarious aside is delivered, an almost muttered zinger under the breath. As if the characters are saying what they are thinking and even after they say it, no one elswe seems to hear it. The asides are for our benefit, after all. This is the sort of humor that Karan Soni excels at. It is dry, understated, almost apologetic. Like I said, you’ll get little of the hair-on-fire, screaming, waving of arms crap that most American comedies are made of. And this show is all the better for it. As great as it was, even Seinfeld was a louder, broader comedy that this understated gem.

Anyway, enough with my rambling. Get to Yahoo! Screen and SEE Other Space.

Now, where is Michael, anyway?

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