The title Hurtling through Space at an Alarming Rate is slightly misleading. Oh, there’s certainly a great deal of hurtling through space. The shared apartment of our overgrown fratboy protagonists goes warping through the universe, periodically marooning said overgrown fratboys on strange new worlds. But an alarming rate? Nothing seems to alarm or even rouse roommates and unlikely space travelers Mike and Stuart (played by Michael Davies and Stuart Paap, who are presumably channeling some version of themselves).
HTSAAAR is one of the more deliberately laid-back web comedies out there, and much of the humor comes from the characters bemused unflappability in the face of space monsters, explosive devices, and female-types (this being a dude-centric webshow, semi-ironic sexism abounds).
Web TV aficionados will know Davies from his role as writer/director of the sleek post-apocalyptic web series After Judgment, and his influence on the production values of HTSAAAR is clear. The series looks good. The outer space CG and green-screened “hurtling effects” are a little campy, but no more so than those found in mainstream television space comedies like Doctor Who or Red Dwarf (which the series clearly takes after in tone).
HTSAAAR‘s success in achieving a quality average-joes-in-space kinda vibe generally errs more on the side of hit than miss. Still, it’s all a little less clever and a lot more winkingly bro-tastic when compared to classics of the genre.
On the plus side, each episode contains a handful of great back-and-forth riff sessions between Mike and Stuart. During the arguments, their amusingly deranged wordplay is pleasantly reminiscent of more irreverent programs like Strangers with Candy. While these moments rarely have anything to do with the storyline, it’s in these exchanges that the writing and chemistry between the leads comes together. The show stops feeling like a low-brow Hitchhikers Guide and starts to gain a distinctive sense of self.
HTSAAAR is very much a show by and for sci-fi fans, evidenced by the loads of genre references packed into every episode. Personally, I feel Family Guy has beaten, slaughtered, and killed referential humor in the 21st century, but it’s still the backbone of 90% of all humor on the internet. You can’t blame HTSAAAR for ringing that bell hard and often.
Each episode of HTSAAAR clocks in at over 10 minutes, which is long indeed, but if you manage to meld with the show’s laid-back attitude, the meandering pace ends up feeling refreshingly relaxed. There’s a lot of frenetic, over-styled web TV out there. It’s nice to see a comedy that’s confident enough to actually capture the tone of kicking back, drinking a beer, and riffing on pop culture with a friend in space.