Back when Tennessee native Olan Rogers began posting videos to YouTube, the concept of being a “YouTuber” didn’t exist yet. Now, eight years and nearly 1 million subscribers later, Rogers can successfully claim YouTube dinosaur status, having weathered the unpredictable trends of the website and managing to come out on top.
Although Rogers’ 120 videos contain an assortment of different sketches, animations and stories, perhaps his most popular upload was a viral video he created in 2012, called “A Ghost in the Stalls.” In the video, which has accumulated more than 13 million views, Rogers tells viewers the story of an unfortunate but hilarious event that unfolded in a Target restroom. According to the tale, on one specific Monday he had nowhere to go and nothing to do, so he decided to play some tricks on the only other person in the bathroom stalls.
Rogers passionately narrates the video, his voice rising or falling as necessary, even shouting or laughing at times, an effect that makes the story vastly more captivating. In the anecdote, he ends up creating a huge mess for the stalls’ other occupant, but emerges from the five-minute clip a budding star.
In 2011, after filming and posting an idea for a larger piece on YouTube, entertainer Conan O’Brien somehow managed to get word of Rogers’ video. O’Brien loved the idea so much that he was fully on board to pitch and develop the show to TBS as an executive producer and voice actor, alongside Rogers and other actors such as David Tennant, Steven Yuen, Fred Armisen and other friends.
The idea was an intergalactic space saga called “Final Space,” an animated cartoon-style show in which most human life on earth is futuristic and apocalyptic, and humans and aliens walk the planet at the same time. The main character, Gary Goodspeed, voiced by Rogers himself, is serving jail time in a ship circulating the planet because of an accidental domino explosion of government space aircrafts. While serving his sentence of five years, he is aboard the Galaxy One, a ship controlled by the artificial intelligence H.U.E., voiced by Tom Kenny. Being an AI, H.U.E. is vastly knowledgeable, and when Gary fails to know something, H.U.E. is always there.
One day, while working on the Galaxy One outside the ship, Gary encounters a sweet little green creature with enough power to destroy entire planets, whom he dubs Mooncake, also voiced by Rogers. Mooncake, however, is being tracked down by the evil Lord Commander, voiced by David Tennant, who intends on taking over the world to achieve final space, where the universe ends.
The Lord Commander is the most dangerous being in the galaxy, taking volunteers to fight in his army, torturing those he believes have wronged him and ruthlessly taking others captive. He is also very short, which is a running bit with the other characters who encounter him. Though malicious, the Lord Commander is also dying, and the only thing that can keep him alive is Mooncake and his powers, which is why he will try everything he can to take the little green alien back from Gary.
Along with these characters, Gary befriends Avocato, a cat bounty hunter who was sent by the Lord Commander to find and steal Mooncake. Lord Commander took Avocato’s son captive years ago, so the feline mercenary and Gary share a common enemy. The bond soon blossoms into a friendship, which is fitting, given that Rogers’ close personal friend, Coty Galloway, voices the cat.
Quinn Airgon, an Infinity Guard captain and engineer who has suspicions about a gravitational disturbance affecting the Earth, rounds out the foursome of main characters. Quinn, who is voiced by Tika Sumpter, meets Gary one night at a bar, where he tries to make a move on her. While trying to woo her, Gary ends up posing as a pilot, destroying the Infinity Guard aircrafts and thus landing in space prison.
Five years later, Gary is still sending Quinn daily video diaries about being in prison, despite having only met once. She, however, never receives these videos, but the two cross paths when her spacecraft is about to crash and Gary saves her from her death, letting her come aboard his prison ship. While the four often butt heads, Quinn, Avocato, Mooncake and Gary all join together through the 10 episodes of the first season to stop the Lord Commander and his scheming ways from ending the universe.
After Season 1 launched in February, however, it immediately ran into negative feedback. Critics called the series a cheap version of “Rick and Morty,” specifically because of the shows’ similar aesthetics.
However, outside of the fact that the two series use a similar design, the only other similarity is that both take place between Earth and space. The language used in “Rick and Morty” is far more explicit as well than in “Final Space,” and Rogers has pointed to their wildly different characters and moods. Though both sets of characters are intelligent, the protagonists of “Final Space” are far less blunt than those in “Rick and Morty,” and there is a definite emotional plot line to “Final Space,” one that gives you a major feels attack after each episode ends.
The “Final Space” creator has, however, expressed gratitude for “Rick and Morty,” mostly because he claims that his show might not exist if Dan Harmon’s groundbreaking series hadn’t paved the way for other quirky, animated shows to follow. He has vocalized his appreciation for Adult Swim and everything it has done for shows like his.
While Olan has yet to announce a release date for Season 2 of “Final Space,” he has confirmed new episodes will air in 2019. On his Twitter account, Rogers has posted screencaps and minor details about the next season since news of its announcement dropped in May, but it’s been crickets otherwise. Regardless, if you’re a fan of “Rick and Morty” and looking for something similar, or a died-in-the-wool Olan stan yourself, keep your eyeballs peeled for the next season of “Final Space” on TBS, and try to prepare yourself for what Gary and his gang will bring.