‘Final Space’ Has Heart but Needs More Brains

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A group of animated characters look toward the viewer with wide eyes
Final Space wrapped up its second season earlier this fall. Courtesy of Adult Swim

The science fiction cartoon Final Space, which recently completed its second season, has a lot going for it, including beautiful animation, great music, and a stellar voice cast. But humor writer Tom Gerencer says the show isn’t quite sophisticated enough to appeal to an adult audience.

“This show made me feel really old,” Gerencer says in Episode 391 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I’m 50, and I’m realizing that this is not the kind of thing that I enjoy anymore. But my 18-year-old self would have absolutely loved it.”

Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley feels that the show doesn’t really hold up as a work of science fiction.

“I like the characters a lot, and it’s funny to watch them interact with each other, but there’s not really anything to think about while you’re watching this show,” he says. “The reason I watch science fiction is because I want to think about things. I want to consider weird new societies and concepts I haven’t thought of before.”

Science fiction author Robert Repino agrees that the show could use more depth. “There are three episodes—at least—that are just hallucinations, where it goes from one wacky image to another,” he says. “So that’s part of the issue of it having very cool visuals but not much to really think about, or expand your understanding of things, or your understanding of these characters.”

But TV writer Andrea Kail notes that Final Space has been improving steadily, and she’s hopeful that the show’s creator Olan Rogers will be able to take it to the next level.

“I don’t mean this in a condescending way, but he seems like a very young artist and a young writer, and he’s kind of learning as he goes,” she says. “So hopefully it continues to grow, and becomes a real success for him.”

Listen to the complete interview with Tom Gerencer, Andrea Kail, and Robert Repino in Episode 391 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

Tom Gerencer on Gary Goodspeed:

“I didn’t think [his personality] was ping-ponging back and forth, but I still thought it was wrong. He did seem to be very devoted to his in-crowd. He seemed very devoted to Mooncake, and to Little Cato, and to Quinn, and to anybody who was in his circle except KVN—which I thought was really funny, that he hated KVN so much. But then anybody outside of that, whether they were a good person or not, he was totally willing to kill them just for whatever.”

Andrea Kail on familiar tropes:

“[The characters] all seemed very stock to me—the incredibly smart and competent woman, the goofy sidekick, the cute fuzzy ‘pet.’ No barriers were broken with this. … It was a re-hash of a million different science fiction shows and movies that I’ve seen. I actually started making a list of all the movies they were pulling from—there’s … Red Dwarf, Gravity, Moon, The Martian, Suicide Squad. And part of that is making fun of the tropes, but I felt like they didn’t transcend the tropes. They used them as jokes but didn’t go farther with it in any way, at least not past where Futurama did. But Futurama is a 20-year-old show.”

Robert Repino on Clarence, Ash, and Fox:

“The situation that starts Season 2 kind of reminded me a little bit of the opening episodes of Star Trek: Voyager, where you had two crews sharing the same ship—and crews that were diametrically opposed to each other. So I was definitely intrigued. I really would have welcomed an episode that was just about this twisted family that we’re describing, because the resentment toward Clarence but also the attachment to him was intriguing to me. And very often, in a bunch of the episodes, what the family was doing just became a subplot. … So I think the show could have used an episode that was just with them, talking about their background and talking about their weird relationships.”

David Barr Kirtley on worldbuilding:

“There’s essentially zero worldbuilding in this show. All the background is just filled in with Star Wars, basically. I was contrasting that with Futurama, where Fry goes into the future and there are suicide booths, and robot Nixon is president, and people call Christmas ‘X-mas.’ Even if it’s goofy, there’s this sense that this is a world that exists and kind of makes sense and is consistent at some level. A lot of shows will have a ‘bible,’ and I can’t imagine there’s a bible for this show. It would just be like an index card or something. … I don’t have any sense of what’s possible and what’s not in this universe, so I don’t know what the stakes are really of anything.”

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