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Final Space

Entry updated 13 September 2021. Tagged: TV.

US animated tv series (2018-2021). Conaco, Jam Filled Entertainment, ShadowMachine, Studio T. Created by Olan Rogers. Executive producers include Conan O'Brien, Olan Rogers and David Sacks. Writers include Jane Becker, Alyssa Lane, Olan Rogers, David Sacks and Alex J Sherman. Directors include Ben Bjelajac, Mike Roberts. Voice cast includes Fred Armisen, Claudia Black, Ashly Burch, Keith David, Coty Galloway, Tom Kenny, Vanessa Marshall, Olan Rogers, Tika Sumpter, David Tennant and Steven Yeun. 36 21-minute episodes to date. Colour.

Following a failed attempt to chat up Captain Quinn Airgone (Sumpter) of the Infinity Guard by impersonating a pilot, Gary Goodspeed (Rogers) finds himself mobilized with the rest of the Guard and piloting a Spaceship. Optimistically declaring "you can do this Gary, become a much smarter person now!" he accidentally takes out ninety-two star cruisers and a small, family owned Mexican restaurant. Condemned to five years as the only inmate of a Prison ship (where he repairs satellites), his only company is HUE (Kenny) – an AI reminiscent of a more benevolent HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – and several Robots, including KVN (Armisen), an over-friendly "deep space insanity avoidance companion". As the end of his sentence approaches, Gary meets and befriends a cute green being whom he names Mooncake (Rogers), better known as an E35-1 "planet destroying super-Weapon", who is sought by a party of bounty hunters – all of whom die, save Avocato (Galloway), a cat-like humanoid who reluctantly teams up with Gary. If parts of this paragraph have rung bells, Red Dwarf (1988-current) has indeed been acknowledged as an influence.

Mooncake is being hunted by a dying Alien called "Lord Commander" (ex-Doctor Who Tennant), who holds Avocato's son, Little Cato (Yeun), hostage: Gary pledges to help Avocato rescue him. However, matters are complicated by the arrival of Quinn – pursued by the traitorous Infinity Guard – who warns of an ominous breach in space near the Earth. The Lord Commander plans to use Mooncake to open this breach to enter Final Space, in the belief that its inhabitants – the Titans ("monstrous nightmares" recalling H P Lovecraft's Great Old Ones) – will make him one of their own. The first season ends with the breach opened, Earth dragged into Final Space by a Titan and all the main cast apparently dead or dying. Season 2 quickly reveals most of the main cast to be OK after all, if a little battered; the exception is Quinn, who requires a selfless sacrifice before she can return. The series' main arc involves freeing the one (probably) good Titan, Bolo (David), by collecting the keys to their prison [see Plot Coupons in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Gary's mother, Sheryl (Black), despite initially hating Gary, eventually joins the crew.

This is a visually strong, idea-rich and funny Space Opera which is also at times somewhat dark and violent. Season One has weaknesses: attempts to portray emotional depth can be unconvincing (Gary's ability to swiftly win Quinn's heart is surprising, given Gary and sanity are not always on speaking terms); and there are few female roles – the second most prominent is Nightfall, who turns out to be an older, alternative-timeline (see Time Travel; Parallel Worlds) Quinn. However, Season Two makes Gary more likable and – as well as the introduction of Sheryl – the telekinetic (see Telekinesis) Ash Graven (Burch) joins Gary's team.

The third season is visually impressive and leans heavily into Horror – though it also sees the plot becoming a little convoluted. The show's main antagonist is the imprisoned, malevolent and godlike Invictus (Marshall), who corrupted the Titans and empowered the Lord Commander. It persuades Ash that Gary and the rest of the crew are evil (given that Gary killed her possessed brother and Avocato murdered Little Cato's true parents, they had something to work with), leading to her freeing Invictus in the season finale. In September 2021 Rogers reported that no further seasons had been commissioned: a regrettable decision since, despite sometimes having difficulty balancing the Humour and the narrative, Final Space had been a fine sf adventure series. [SP]

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