Review: Fired on Mars “The One Way Trip/The Book of Reagan”

Overview (Spoilers Below):

The One Way Trip

Millions of miles from his earthbound girlfriend Hannah, graphic designer Jeff finds himself jobless on Mars after his position is unceremoniously eliminated.

The Book of Reagan

A worse-for-wear Jeff lands an internship with the Dreamspiration team and falls under the spell of fanatical executive assistant Jaxton Olivier.

Our Take:

Even on the Red Planet, there’s no escaping the harsh reality of the business company, including getting fired. That’s what happened to poor old Jeff Cooper in HBO Max’s latest adult animated comedy series based on Nate Sherman and Nick Vokey’s 2016 short film. While I haven’t watched the short by Sherman and Vokey, who are also involved with the series, it didn’t stop me from being curious about its concept. However, it also asks whether the short film’s concept could work as an eight-episode series. Based on the first two episodes, I feel it might have that chance.

Its first episode, “The One Way Trip”, did a decent job introducing the viewers to its concept, tone, and characters, including Jeff. Jeff is a hard-working graphic designer in a company where everyone has a purpose. Unfortunately, his dream job is taken away from Jeff, leaving him without a sense of purpose. The episode shows his life on Mars spiraling downwards as he gradually feels invisible and unappreciated by his coworkers.  

Throughout the process, Jeff attempts to find a new place in the company by becoming a labeler and even applying for an open position when Carol dies from a gravity incident. However, those attempts are shattered when Jeff gets called out for labeling everything, and Ted (Frankie Quinones) wakes up from the sleep tank and takes the position instead. Even though it’s labeled as a comedy, the first episode displays the tone as a workplace drama involving a guy attempting to regain his sense of purpose in the only place he can call home. Despite that, the drama balances well with some awkward deadpan humor, mainly from Jeff, showcasing that adult animation is more than just an overabundance of sexual references and adult language.

This balance continues in its second episode, “The Book of Reagan”. This episode sees Jeff being applied as an intern for the Dreamspiration team. He works for Reagan’s executive assistant Jaxton Olivier (Cedric Yarbrough) to maintain the company’s peaceful work environment, including using nitrous gas to soothe the workers. However, this went south quickly while preparing for Reagan’s birthday, as Jeff wound up getting crappy supplies for the party, resulting in him using the gas to put the workers at ease. But, of course, as we all figured out by the end, gas and fire do not mix.

The first two episodes of Fired on Mars provide a start suitable enough to keep its job for now. The voice cast is decent so far, including Luke Wilson as Jeff, and the humor offers a tolerable balance of awkwardness and adult references. The show’s pacing may test viewers expecting it to be another hard-R comedy series like Velma, but I was too invested in the concept to notice. If the remaining episodes continue to perform well like these two, the show might have a chance to get a promotion in the animation department.