Moonbase 8 is a comedy series that takes place in a desert in Arizona where NASA has set up a base for three astronaut hopefuls to conduct lunar co-habitation experiments. It premiered on November the 8th, 2020 and so far, seven episodes have been released. The three astronauts desperately trying to complete the mission are portrayed by John C. Reilly, Tim Heidecker, and Fred Armisen as their characters face different challenges that come with isolation.
It’s a very simple premise- three astronauts train and conduct research in a lunar simulated base to qualify for a Moon mission. We follow their day-to-day activities as they try to overcome the obstacles, both personal and professional, to achieve their goal. The story is set against is a static desert environment and surprisingly monotonous tasks. So, the show relies on the comedic aspect and the chemistry of the cast to keep the viewers engaged and tell the story.
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At first glance, the series may seem a bit slow and boring, but if you pay closer attention, you’ll realize that the pace of the story, its flat humor, and non-exciting plot twists are another way of showing how much these astronauts actually struggle. Put in a remote area, with no human contact other than with each other, they struggle with loneliness, self-doubt, and boredom.
Even though they have an important mission, it seems like NASA doesn’t take these astronauts seriously. They often get laughable tasks, such as testing the new Mars candy bar, making them think they’re still a long way from their goal. Each episode revolves around an inconvenience Cap, Rook, and Skip face, showing their frustration with the situation and ways they find in order to come through.
Cast and characters
Each character has an interesting past that plays a big part in their motivation. Captain (Cap), Rookie (Rook), and Skipper (Skip) come from different backgrounds, have different approaches to their jobs, just like in their lives, but are connected by the same desire to be sent to the moon by NASA.
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Cap, played by John C. Reilly, the mission leader, is an enthusiastic, optimistic, and gullible astronaut, whose actions and mindset kinda make you wonder how he even ended up an astronaut. According to him, he got into this program after going through a divorce and getting into a huge debt over a failed business.
Even though he’s the one expressing the biggest desire to get to the Moon ( the alternative being to back to a life full of debt), he doesn’t come off as the brightest one. The source of much comedy in the series relies on his incompetence, despite which he never gives up on things. His solutions about overcoming the difficulties of the mission often resemble those of a ten-year-old child which set the majority of the show’s tone in terms of humor.
Rook, a religious guy with a family of twelve kids and a wife who all wait for him at home, is the one that struggles the most with loneliness due to isolation, but also because he feels unheard and misunderstood by his colleagues. His goal is to spread the word of God in space, which is why he joined the program. While this is an interesting layer to a character who is supposed to be an astronaut, the plot doesn’t actually explore his way of thinking in terms of science and how he reconciles these two points of view.
Skip seems to be the most qualified one. His father was a famous astronaut that developed the Apollo 13 program and Skip is more than happy to mention it any chance he gets. His work with NASA is a way of him honoring his father’s work and carrying his legacy, even though he often faces a dilemma- is he really using all his potential within this specific program?
The chemistry this trio brings to the table is unique- the Cap’s often childlike behavior is met by Skip’s poker face that never shows surprise, while Rook is often caught in the middle when the other two don’t see eye to eye.
Should you stream this - Yes
Moonbase 8 has an interesting approach towards depicting astronauts. It doesn’t follow the usual scheme of showing them as super busy, super-intelligent people whose job is way beyond an average person’s understanding. Instead, it gives us an insight into their personalities, showing them as everyday, relatable people who make mistakes, but rarely learn from them.
The humor may not be top-notch, but it does serve the purpose of showing the predicament the characters face. There’s a lot of space for the story to develop and a lot of potential for every character to go their own way.
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