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DIY Sci-Fi: Outer Space Astronauts

By November 16, 2009

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Captain Bruce Ripley (Russell Barrett) and Pilot Johnny Boothe (Benjamin Nurick), two of the (I)Oute

Captain Bruce Ripley (Russell Barrett) and Pilot Johnny Boothe (Benjamin Nurick), two of the Outer Space Astronauts, are both terrible at their jobs.

© Syfy

Next month, Syfy launches a new show created and produced entirely in someone's basement.

No, I'm not talking about their latest made-for-cable giant bug movie. The show in question is Outer Space Astronauts, which premieres Dec. 8 (following the season finale of reality series Scare Tactics) and is set to air Tuesday nights for a total of five episodes.

Outer Space Astronauts is a live-action/animation mix that, we're told, was completely developed, executed, and edited by executive producer Russell Barrett from his own home, and stars Barrett's friends and childhood buddies.

The premise involved eight mildly courageous though distracted military personnel who travel to all parts of the galaxy, looking for knowledge, adventure and whatever else they can find. (Wait, I thought Defying Gravity was on hiatus?)

"Syfy fans have never seen animation quite like this before," said Syfy executive Mark Stern. "Russell literally produced this in his basement for more than a year, and that allowed him to create a unique series with a sharp, sly sense of humor."

"Syfy fans," however, will have to be convinced. io9 noted that responses to the announcement of the show on the Syfy Wire website were downright hostile, lambasting the cable network for broadcasting a homemade show with an animation style that looks slapdash--instead of real science fiction. I dunno, shouldn't we wait to see if it actually is junk before yelling at the network for showing it? Some of these comments sound like backlash from the network name-change, along with broad--and in my view, unjustified--disappointment with Stargate Universe.

"The graphics may be basic and simple," said Stern, a bit defensively, "but combining them with live-action elements has never been done in a series before. To say that it was a grassroots endeavor is an understatement."

Outer Space Astronauts does have the earmarks of "Hey, I wanna make a TV show for Syfy!"--but at least Barrett, 34, is a visual effects guy who worked on I Heart Huckabees and Anchorman, among others. Scott Puckett and David O. Russell (for whom Barrett worked as an assistant on Huckabees) also executive produce with Barrett.

"Russell Barrett is a very dry, very funny guy who created his own part animated, part live-action space ship world in a series of episodes using his own style and vision of animation," said David O. Russell. "What more needs to be said about outer space astronauts who are in outer space working as astronauts, in outer space?"

What, indeed.


December 18, 2009 at 10:52 pm
(1) Ken says:

Came across my first episode of OSA and I found it to be engaging, unexpected, droll and delightful. It’s not knee-slapping humor; it’s better than that. Outer Space Astronauts has Cult Classic written all over it. Can’t wait for more.

December 26, 2009 at 10:51 am
(2) Pat says:

Just stumbled across the show and I love the dry, tongue in cheek humor.

January 3, 2010 at 9:01 am
(3) bEATLEjoos says:

Three thumbs up.

Reminds me of when Adult Swim had more Brak and Home Movies and not so much with the mean humor. Wish more shows had what this one does.

February 8, 2010 at 1:05 am
(4) Talbot says:

Shocking, just shocking. this documentary of America’s new generation of space jockeys makes me sick1 I mean wtf this generation of vipers, no one gives any thought of service to the Empire.
Let’s face it, this expose is red hawt and it exposes the inner non-exposed part of what make his generation make me sick. disgusting! good work sifi (scify? w/e) you have really expanded the paradgim paragy the box thing that we need to likke look out of. yo u know. w/e

March 11, 2010 at 10:03 am
(5) Deke says:

Outer Space Astronauts is a refreshing, completely fun and frivolous hybrid animated/live SyFy Channel show that will absolutely bring a smile to your face. My family roars over it. Even my wife likes it and she generally dislikes scifi. Check it out on Hulu.com where I believe all of the episodes are still available. “Awesome!” We can only hope they make a second season. Please SyFy, do it.

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