Thanks to the funnymen behind NBC’s “The Office,” Space Force now has a second home — this time in TV land. The Netflix original comedy “Space Force” premieres May 29 on the streaming platform. It's the brainchild of writer Greg Daniels and actor Steve Carell.
“My inspiration was really to work with Steve Carell again. And we had been looking for a project to do, and then he went in to have a meeting at Netflix,” Daniels told CPR over a recent Zoom call. “And so Steve called me and said, ‘I've got two words for you: Space Force.’ And I was like, yeah, it sounds awesome.”
The show centers on the fictional character Gen. Mark R. Naird, played by Carell, who’s suddenly reassigned to head up Space Force. He moves his whole family to Wild Horse, Colorado — a real, tiny town on the Eastern Plains near Kit Carson.
“We immediately started picturing what it would be like for a military guy to be given this incredibly implausible and audacious goal of boots on the moon by 2024,” Daniels said. “And just how much he would be thrown by a loop and kind of outside of his comfort zone.”
Boots on the moon by 2024 is obviously not an actual goal held by the real Space Force. Daniels said they weren’t trying to paint a super accurate portrayal of the fledgling branch.
“It's like we've started from the same announcement of Space Force, but we've sort of built an imaginary, parallel universe version of what's actually happening,” he said.
Take the base, for instance. Daniels said when they started work on the show, they didn’t know it was going to be housed in Colorado Springs. But Colorado has always had a strong association with the Air Force for him.
“Our base is in Wild Horse, Colorado, which seemed like a great name, and on the map looked like a good location for the show,” he said. “You know, we have the notion that there's a secret, old NORAD base that they took over. And, so I mean, it's not accurate.”
Alright, now on to the pressing question: How similar will “Space Force” feel to that little show set in an office with a boss named Michael? Not very.
“Michael is not a good leader and doesn't really have a core set of values to steer him. He just kind of blows in the wind,” Daniels said. “But this [character] is, [and] the humor is coming from a different place. It's more like he's a very accomplished family man with a code and a lot of ability to command other people … and his flaws are more, you know, his inflexibility and his need to suddenly be creative and extremely science literate in this new job.”
Even with the character differences, Daniels said it was so great to be working with Carell again because he knew no matter what he threw Carell’s way, he could handle it. That allowed Daniels to write complex comedy scenes in “Space Force.”
“I love to write for a character that he plays because he's got this marvelous ability to play different levels at the same time,” he said. “You can see on his face what he's trying to accomplish, what he's scared he's not going to accomplish, all of the frustrations on the way to get there.”
“Space Force” created by Greg Daniels and Steve Carell, who also stars, premieres on Netflix on Friday, May 29.