A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, they still needed someone to scrub the floors. Space Janitors, featured on Geek and Sundry, set against a vast and complex intergalactic conflict between a certain space empire and a certain group of rebels, follows the relatively mundane lives of the people who have to clear up the mess once the blasters have stopped firing.
Complete with a planet-destroying space-ship, and thousands of clones all called Dennis, this Canadian web series, just out of its first season, shows clear influences from British comedy legends Red Dwarf and Douglas Adams.
The eponymous janitors, Mike (played by Pat Thornton) and Darby (played by Brendan Halloran) are a great comedic pair. Mike is dependable, he follows the rules and is happy where he is in life, Darby is ambitious, he wants to get more out of life, but lacks most of the abilities required to fulfil his dreams. It’s a classic comedic device, and perhaps leaves the show open to criticisms of a clichéd set-up. That kind of commentary has a point, but these things are classic for a reason, and if we threw out every show for following this pattern there wouldn’t be much comedy left to review. The chemistry between Mike and Darby is a real boon for the show and leads to some of the funniest moments of Space Janitors.
Backing up Mike and Darby is full-on-empire-supporter-cum-computer-psychologist Edith Kingpin (Evany Rosen), scientifically-minded android LN6-K (Tess Degenstein) and one of the many Dennis-clones, Dennis 4862 (Scott Yamamura). Together they make up a very natural-feeling ensemble, Kingpin’s neurotic support of the empire and dedication to the well-being of the collective, bounces nicely off of LN6′s curiosity and Darby’s desire to change. Dennis’ soldier bro-attitude is great to watch, as is Mike’s attitude of just wanting to get on with the job. It’s a clean sweep, the characters here are well-written, memorable and extremely well-acted.
The writing is generally quite clever, and the call-backs to Star Wars references are suprisingly well-done. Given that everyone and their dog on the Internet thinks they could do a decent Star Wars parody, finding a show which can do it subtly and with an inventive spin is quite special. The episode where Mike and Darby find a familiar-looking “light based arm-cutter” is one of the high-points of the season. Whilst the laughs are pretty gentle most of the time, Space Janitors has a charm and warmth about it which is irresistible.
Series creators Davin Lengyel and Geoff Lapaire have given their show a fantastic start in life, bringing the experience they gained writing for web series Pure Pwnage, and managing to grab finding from the Independent Production Fund and the Ontario Media Development corporation. The funding and experience certainly show, the whole thing is fantastically well-put together, with great sets and props, computer graphics which actually look pretty good, a reasonable cast of extras to give the world that greater level of depth, flawless sound production and direction which rises above simple competence. And with YouTube video views lingering around the low 100k mark, they have certainly struck a chord with audiences.
This show is not without weaknesses, as I mentioned, the laughs are pretty gentle most of the way through, and in its next season Space Janitors could really benefit from trying to bring out the comedic big-guns. However, despite this minor quibble, I will certainly tuning in to Space Janitors for their season 2, and would recommend to anyone with a taste for sci-fi, comedy and mixtures of the two.