One of online video’s odd quirks is that sci-fi comedy, on the surface an extremely niche category, is one of the most popular genres — probably because among early adopters of the medium, a natural inclination for technology often translates into a fond appreciation for science fiction. And The Crew has definitely been a trendsetter in this regard.
Created, written and directed by Brett Register (who also wrote for The Elevator Show), the low-budget series is sort of a “lower decks” take on the world of space travel, told in a mockumentary style. Each episode documents the lives and loves of engine room Tom and his underlings, the essentially blue-collar crew of a spaceship touring the galaxy.
The Crew‘s sense of humor is subtle and intelligent, with a great deal of deadpan comedy that definitely earns the series its frequent comparisons to The Office. But its exploration of class differences gives the series a greater heft; much of the comedy is founded in the ship’s extreme separation between the titular crew and their commanders, which at the end of the first season took on a literal element. Early episodes definitely suffer from extremely uneven sound design, which has always been key to successfully setting a program of any medium off-world. But that’s a kink that gets ironed out as the show progresses and the cast expands beyond the original trio.
While the first season was produced independently prior to a Koldcast distribution deal, today the series is one of the latest shows to benefit from Babelgum’s recent investment in original content, with the second season premiering exclusively on its player. Newcomers to the show would be best advised to start at the beginning, as the new episode jumps right into the ongoing action, but there’s pretty much a bevvy of web series stars making cameos, including The Guild‘s Robin Thorsen, Dave and Tom‘s Tom Konkle, and Awkward Pictures’ Payman Benz.
However, even with a bigger cast, stronger effects, and a high-stakes adventure, the show’s strongest points remain the one-on-one interactions, where the characters are allowed to be as petty and self-serving as…well, anyone else. Even those who aren’t on a spaceship.