“Five years of my life.
Three seasons of TV.
Blood, sweat, and tears.
…became a tax write-off for the network who owns Final Space.”– Olan Rogers, creator of Final Space via Twitter, September 24th 2022
The news all Final Space fans (or Fantrexians) were expecting and dreading in equal measure had finally arrived. It was the end of their beloved series that had meant so much to them.
It was also the end of a series that had meant so much to me.
Ok, so let’s back up a bit and I’ll explain what Final Space is.
Final Space is a space opera comedy drama adult animation and, although that’s a mouthful, there really is no other way to describe it. The series follows the epic story of Gary Goodspeed, a prisoner serving a sentence on the Galaxy One space shuttle where his only companions are an AI named HUE and a deep space insanity avoidance droid named KVN (pronounced Kevin). Gary is serving the final days of his sentence, when he happens upon and befriends an incomprehensibly powerful entity and a bounty hunter. Together, they are thrust into a confrontation with the evil Lord Commander in a fight to save the universe itself.
In voice acting terms, Final Space has a tour-de-force of talent. Series creator Olan Rogers voices Gary Goodspeed. Aside from that, you have Fred Armisen, Tom Kenny, David Tennant, Tika Sumpter, Ashley Burch, Steven Yeun, Coty Galloway and that’s not even scratching the surface. The cast is exceptional, bringing the right tone at the right time to each scene.
The animation is excellent, and the score is incredible, helping to build atmosphere and embellish emotional moments. Because there are plenty of touching moments, each with meaning, depth and heart. Yes, it’s funny and—at times—even silly (yes, you cold open from Season 2 with a literal pissing contest!). But for every one of those moments there’s one that really hits you in the feels.
I came to this show thinking, “This looks like something pretty funny to relax with at the end of the day.” I was right… yet I was so wrong. There are tons of hilarious moments and lines in this show ranging from the incoherent cookie wife and kids dream sequence to the downright hilarious “This is serious” scene. But the funny accentuates the heart.
And the hurt.
It was all going to plan: I was relaxing at the end of a day with a laugh, and then came Chapter 6, the first of many gut-wrenches throughout Final Space‘s run. I certainly was not expecting what transpires in that episode, but all I can say is: I cried. I don’t cry at TV! There have been, maybe, 4 or 5 times in total when I’ve shed a tear, when a TV show has me so invested that water seeps out of my eyes. Final Space is responsible for around 80% of those times.
This show had everything going for it. I already mentioned the excellent animation and cast, but it also has an intriguing and investing story with heartbreaking story-beats and a soundtrack worthy of any space opera. So how did Final Space get Thanos-snapped out of existence?
The short answer is because of business things. The series has been a victim of multiple changes in ownership and then, finally, a tax write-off. My blood boils just thinking about it! Sure, it hurts when a series you love is cancelled, but when it is not because of creative or viewership performance?! I feel as angry as a Zack Snyder fan when you tell them Joss Whedon had the superior Justice League movie.
The series started out on TBS in 2018 but was bought by Cartoon Network as part of Adult Swim for seasons 2 and 3, subsequently being cancelled, according to Olan, due to the WarnerMedia and Discovery merger. At this point, even if it did seem odd that it had been pulled from HBO Max and all buying platforms in the US, a tax write-off was never imagined. I mean, they had three seasons done, in the bag, distributed internationally.
But alas, it has found the same fate as Batgirl, Scoob!: Holiday Haunt and Driftwood, confined to the equivalent of the cutting room floor. A tax write-off for the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery that included layoffs of personnel.
See? Business things. Business things that leave no comfort to fans whilst knowing that I will have no way to watch the show legally after the international distribution deal with Netflix comes to an end next year!
We, as consumers, are lured into a false sense of security with the rise of streaming and on-demand video services becoming more and more popular. DVD and Blu-ray cabinets have barely seen a new addition in the last 3-4 years while collections dwindle in size, and we use second-hand services like Music Magpie, CeX, and Gamespot who allow you to sell back your physical media.
How sensible actually is this? We’ve been burned before, we’re being burned now and we’re going to be burned again! When Activision lost the rights to Marvel in 2014, digital versions of games like Deadpool and Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions were no longer available to buy, and we all know how salty Silent Hill fans are that P.T. was removed without a trace, only leaving those lucky enough to have it already downloaded on their PlayStations.
At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur, buy physical media! It’s imperative to the preservation of art. Final Space had a limited release of its first two seasons in the US and no physical releases of the third. When it’s gone on streaming services internationally, it’s gone.
But all is not lost for Fantrexians. Out of the ashes of despair could rise the figure of some kind of burning bird thing. A phoenix, if you will. And that phoenix is called Godspeed.
As a final Hail Mary, Olan Rogers announced a Kickstarter campaign for a project called Godspeed, a new IP that was to be created as a shop window for his talents in creating animated science fiction shows with real heart and oodles of humour. Something that would, maybe—just maybe—whip up enough interest in him for a network to try to buy the Final Space IP from WarnerMedia and save it from oblivion.
Ultimately, the plan to save Final Space failed, and WB did what they did (which sucks!), but Godspeed lives! Yes! That’s right! The Kickstarter was funded at 358% of the original target, which it reached within 10 hours of launch. It’s unsurprising when you see the passion that Olan pours into everything he does. Just look at the Kickstarter pitch video and tell me I’m wrong!
And what an interesting project it is! Not content with just making his animated short which will clock in at around 7–8 minutes, Olan Rogers will be publishing a comprehensive “how-to” docu-series on YouTube on how to create animation from conception to publishing.
I’m a proud backer of the project and cannot wait for what Olan comes up with. You can keep up with its progress too at godspeedseries.com.
And you know what? The fight is never over. Stranger things have happened in this universe than a show coming back from the brink of death. We can always hope. #RenewFinalSpace