Space may be the final frontier, but most of it is an empty, dull void. That’s the main concept behind Space Junk, the new sci-fi comedy web series from producer Chris Jupe and writing team Neil Warhurst and Paul Barnhill. Space Junk follows the crew of the Really Invincible III, a junk-hauling starship launched from Macclesfield. Stuck with each other out in the depths of space, these five lonely astronauts must do whatever they can to fill the time.
For an amateur production, Space Junk has assembled an impressive cast. Mark Benton, a regular face of British TV drama and comedy, brings his laid-back charm to the lead role of Captain ‘Flashdance’ Taylor, with Coronation Street star Katy Cavanagh backing him up as communications officer Karen Trexx. Verity Henry is particularly enjoyable as the tough-as-nails weapons expert Melissa Paterson, while Warhurst and Barnhill finish off the cast list themselves as the cloned scientific officer and the socially hapless engineer.
This first eight-minute episode begins with the crew debating whether to fly away from a black hole, then shows us a series of minor incidents during a day aboard the Really Invincible III; some of these, such as Paterson showing off the ‘time bounce’ mechanism on her laser rifle, are funny, while others are more contrived. The episode has no overall plot, though that is kind of the point – nothing exciting ever happens this far out in space – and is not a major problem here due to the short runtime; if the writers want Space Junk to stay entertaining over the planned six episodes, however, they’ll have to develop the characters in interesting ways and throw in some curveballs.
From a production standpoint, a lot of care has been put into this pilot. For something made on a seriously low budget, the spaceship set is very impressive and made good use of, with a motley assortment of recycled computer parts decorating both bridge and cramped engineering area. The costumes are simple but perfectly effective, and there are some nice computer-generated exterior shots of the ship, which add a lot of value.
So this is a solid debut episode for Space Junk and its creators have managed to achieve a lot with not very much; while the plot is light and not all the gags land, it’s a fun introduction to the crew of the Really Invincible III, with its short runtime making it great coffee break viewing, and we’re interested to see where this ship flies next.
Space Junk – Episode One will soon be available online, along with a Kickstarter campaign to fund the remaining five episodes.
SPACE JUNK – EPISODE 1 / SCREENPLAY: NEIL WARHURST, PAUL BARNHILL / STARRING: MARK BENTON, KATY CAVANAGH, VERITY HENRY, NEIL WARHURST, PAUL BARNHILL / RELEASE DATE: TBA