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If Red Dwarf and MST3K ever had a love child, the result might look like this.
Of course the creators of Space Hospital took their show into their own direction, but a continuous comparison to Red Dwarf or MST3K is unavoidable, and that may not always work in their favor. Too bad actually.
All the elements for an amusing show are in place: quirky characters, goofy aliens, the BBC-esq low budget sets and effects, retro music, sexy nurses, even a lovable robot named… uh… Lovable Robot. They even included a more complex back story along the lines of Big Brother represented by the Ubiquitous Centrality and their evil plans, but all that goes under in the simple situation comic and run-of-the-mill one-liners that don’t seem to be going anywhere.
The premise is that of a giant hospital ship gallivanting through space (MASH in outer space?), and to a certain degree that’s what the show is doing. The jokes are at times a bit bland and lost in outer space, and although the actors are doing their darnest to be funny, it just doesn’t always happen. The special effects are purposefully simple and corny (a rainstorm in outer space? okay, THAT was funny) but sometimes this bric-a-brac motif is distracting — just because it was amusing on MST3K, it doesn’t mean it works all the time.
The acting is mediocre to okay considering, and it seems apparent that some of the actors have experience in the world of improv sketch comedy. Taking themselves too seriously was obviously not a requirement and that helps the acting from becoming too hammy.
The stories seem to follow along the lines of, well, Red Dwarf, by picking sci-fi cliches and giving them a parodic spin. But where Red Dwarf managed to be silly while making social commentaries and be unexpectedly intellectual, Space Hospital just goes with the silliness. The humor is heavily reminecent of MST3K’s host segments, but while MST3K could just riff movies and rely on being funny because of Schadenfreude, Space Hospital needs to stand on its own funny.
That is not to say that Space Hospital is a total failure. All involved worked hard to accomplish something and later episodes (as well as a second season and the short ‘commercial’ skits) appear promising. Like MST3K and Red Dwarf before it, this show too needs to settle in its world and characters before it can truly be good and so it certainly deserves the benefit of a doubt.
If you utterly enjoy the silliness of MST3K and Red Dwarf, then you may find Space Hospital briefly amusing. Just don’t try to compare them. It would be unfair to either party.
Created by Sigurd Ueland and Robert Poe.