Moonbase 8 is the latest space-based comedy to come out this year following Avenue 5 and Space Force. Much like its predecessors, it boasts a strong pedigree with actors John C. Reilly, Fred Armisen and Tim Heidecker and creatives behind Portlandia and the different Tim & Eric Adult Swim series. The story follows three mediocre astronauts living in a simulation moon base hoping they are chosen for an actual moon expedition.
[Slight Spoilers Ahead]
We find the three main characters, Robert “Cap” Caputo (Reilly), Professor Scott “Rook” Sloan (Heidecker), and Dr. Michael “Skip” Henai along with Super Bowl winning tight end, Travis Kelce, stationed in the Arizona desert. They go about like a real NASA mission on the moon in isolation and conducting science experiments.
All of a sudden, they find their water supply empty and must find a way to survive the month until the next shipment. It seems nearly impossible given their reserves and they wrestle with informing command about their predicament. The situation devolves as they fail to find a solution and tragedy strikes the base. It’s a matter of life or death but calling it in could be an admission they aren’t qualified to handle the rigors of life on the moon.
The season premiere of Moonbase 8 does a good job introducing the main players and their motivations. Cap has been a screw up his whole adult life and sees the opportunity as a chance at redemption and to change people’s views of him. Rook had a scandalous life before finding religion and looks to spread the good word beyond Earth. Skip has lived in the shadow of his father, a famous astronaut before him, and hopes to be worthy of that legacy as a scientist.
As they share their reasons behind joining up, the actors hit the emotional beats. You can feel their grief and disappointment at their current circumstances and how much they want to succeed to get those chips off of their shoulders. In addition, Rook and Skip create an interesting dynamic between God and science, which will be hopefully explored in further episodes.
There is the question if they are good enough to be chosen. Their incompetence adds to the ridiculousness of Moonbase 8. Whether it’s the inability to properly identify what NASA stands for or the insistence that cleaning solution and salad dressing are suitable alternatives to water since they’re liquid, their hijinks are amusing and funny. Also, there’s not an alpha in the bunch as they defer to Kelce on all matters even though he’s the least qualified and only added to the team as a publicity stunt.
But the humor rarely goes beyond the immature with the urine recycling machine and their drunken bonding after the last thing to drink is their celebratory champagne if they were selected. You might expect more sophisticated comedy with the people involved, but you can at least feel the closeness between the three stars in their scenes together. The only exception is a look at the bureaucracy of digging a well with the review process and environmental impact report. They really make the mundane and paperwork side of being an astronaut hilarious.
Though it doesn’t live up to the expectations due to the talent involved, “Dry” is a silly introduction to the characters of Moonbase 8. It’s fun to watch the antics of these astronauts who may never make it to space.
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