Outer Space Astronauts - Variety Review

Vaguely resembling the old "Thunderbirds" series, Outer Space Astronauts is a goofy send-up of all things sci-fi, which has the look, feel and durability of three-minute webisodes. There are some funny bits in writer-producer-director-co-star-etc. Russell Barrett's series, which he produced in his home with the help of friends, and unleashes on Syfy with assistance from director David O. Russell. It's a low-cost, low-risk but finally low-impact affair, yielding diminishing returns once you get past admiring the clever design and can-do ingenuity.

Without getting too technical about things, Barrett essentially superimposes the oversized heads of his actors onto animated bodies, then assembles the characters within a spaceship in an ongoing intergalactic mission of persistent silliness.

Barrett himself plays the laidback, dunderheaded captain, with Adam Clinton as his straightlaced first officer and, among others, Jacey Margolis as an English-mangling alien the crew adopts in the premiere.

The characters move around stiffly, which is funny in itself, if only for awhile. The real problem is that the half-hour episodes largely play as a series of gags held together by the wispiest of stories, though sci-fi fans will note an episode about banned pets called Cuddlepuffs that bear a resemblance to "Star Trek's" Tribbles, and so on.

Perhaps foremost, "Outer Space Astronauts" (the redundancy of that title roughly characterizing the level of the gags) is indicative of a wave of Web-inspired concepts that have found a place on TV because they're cheap and tailored to the young-male demos prone to watch such things online. It's just that they tend to lose something in making the hyper-jump from cyberspace to TV -- and have a bad habit of satirizing things not many people saw in the first place.

"Astronauts" has its moments, but the smiles and laughs became rarer with each successive orbit. "Star Trek" launched with a five-year mission, but for these spaced-out explorers, Syfy's initial five-episode commitment is probably enough.



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