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Final Space’s Series Premiere Proves Not Everything has to be Rick and Morty to be Good.

Final Space’s Series Premiere:

An incompetent space crook, Gary, lands himself a five year sentence of solitary confinement aboard a space station on the outer edges of the galaxy, that is until an adorable, planet-killing lifeform lands smack dab on his face and his plunged into an intergalactic, time-traversing battle between good and evil.

Olan Rogers’ Final Space has been floating around in the media ether for some time now, from its humble beginnings as a Youtube series, originally called Gary Space, to a showcase at San Diego Comic Con in 2017, then to an early premiere on Roger’s Reddit AMA this past month. Despite the sizeable marketing and star-studded cast built around this series, there’s undoubtedly a lackluster hype in its reception, which is a shame.

For another irreverent, tongue-in-cheek, adult cartoon, Final Space sports gorgeous backgrounds, cinematic lighting, and fluid animation, which really should put this series on any sci-fi or animation fan’s radar.

That is not to say its premiere was a perfect landing, but more of an awkward stumble. No, it’s not the new Rick and Morty. No, it’s not a ripoff of Rick and Morty. Rogers and TBS have a lot of potential to turn Final Space into a stand-out, sleeper hit, but there’s also a lot of potential to let this series drift into the void of animation limbo along with Korgoth of Barbaria and the rest of the dead, hopeful pilots.

Speaking of dead pilots, with only eight minutes to live and only his ship’s cynical AI, HUE (Tom Kenny), and the corpses of an unseen battle to keep him company in the vacuum of space, Chapter 1 introduces us to Gary (Olan Rogers) in dire straights. In those opening minutes, it’s made clear, a fair amount of thought and effort was put into the background and animation.

Wide, isolating shots of space and Gary’s ship seamlessly blend 2D and 3D animation together, along with gorgeous lighting effects that would set the stage for an epic, eye-catching space opera if not for the distractingly, uninspiring character designs. Action sequences are surprisingly cinematic and violent. At the climax of Chapter 2, there’s a hilarious, dark sequence when Gary and his newfound anthropomorphic cat companion, Avacato (Coty Galloway) zip past racing hovercrafts through a tyrannical city planet, while casualties are being liquified by pursuing guards.

It’s sequences like this, with unabashed, absurd violence and action that are why so many people are quick to draw parallels to Rick and Morty. However, Final Space has more in common with Star Trek and Space Dandy in its narrative structure. Despite Gary having a similar devil-may-care attitude much like Rick Sanchez, there’s an underlying theme of father and son relationships, whether it’s between Gary and his late father, or Avacato trying to rescue his imprisoned son (Steven Yeun) from the evil Lord Commander (David Tennant), opposed to the random, fluctuating nihilism of Rick and Morty.

Final Space is clearly going to have a finite story arc, it’s a simple hero’s journey of good vs. evil with some beautifully sprinkled in sci-fi and space opera tropes. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, that could just mean the show has a focused direction, and won’t premiere unannounced on April Fool’s or hopefully Rogers won’t have to cut seasons short.

If you haven’t noticed by now, there are some huge names in the main cast. Although we’ve seen stars do voice work in Rick and Morty or Futurama, they’ve always been as guests rather than main parts. Which is why the voice acting in this premiere is shockingly disappointing. Whether it’s the actors, writers room, or executive meddling to blame, one thing is for sure, Final Space needs to step up the jokes and better optimize its huge talent.

David Tennant who voices the main villain with a Napoleon complex barely has any screen time, and Tika Sumpter  as Captain Quinn, is just written off as a flat, “badass female” archetype. That is not to suggest Chapter 1 and 2 were agonizingly humorless, but relied too heavily on a few well timed butt jokes that got a few chuckles out of me at most, while pushing its darker cynicism on the back burner.

There was one well rounded bit in Chapter 2 where Gary has to wear the skin of a dead alien as a disguise, only to be mistaken by that alien’s family as their lost mother, that is until Gary is forced to burst out of her skin in their living room, like a reverse chestburster. Later, while on the lam, he lands still covered in guts and body fluids on the windshield of the family’s hovercraft.

TBS is certainly trying to rebrand itself, and is trying to appeal to the demographic of its sister channel Cartoon Network, that is mostly watching for Adult Swim. It’s hard to say whether Rick and Morty was a direct influencer on TBS picking up the Olan Rogers’ show. Regardless, with gorgeous animation and star studded cast, and with a little comedic fine tuning, there’s no reason why Final Space can’t be a cult hit.

Rating: 8/10

Final Space airs Monday nights on TBS.

Alisha Weinberger
Alisha Weinberger
Alisha Weinberger is a comic book, video game, and animation enthusiast and critic. Along with comic reviews, she also maintains The Pop Break twitter feed. Alisha thoroughly enjoys the warm embrace of coffee, says "dawg" and "dope" ad nauseam, and shares a reluctant resemblance to Tina Belcher.

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