Disney+’s ‘Earth to Ned’ Is the ‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast’ Successor We Needed

Every TV maniac remembers the first crop of shows that felt like yours. I’m not talking about the shows you watched with parents or older siblings, or the kids’ programming that marketing stealthily swayed you to love. I’m talking about the ones you discovered on your own, that spoke to you, that made you feel like you’d been let in on a secret that your parents could just never even get, man.

For me, Space Ghost Coast to Coast was one of those shows—a show unlike anything else my middle school eyes had ever seen making bizarre, non sequitur jokes that befuddled yet delighted my brain.

The low-budget/high-concept series took choppy animation from the outer space superhero’s short-lived ’60s cartoon and repurposed it for a surreal talk show parody. It broke the formula, regularly eschewing format and every unspoken rule about host/guest niceties. Sometimes Space Ghost would fall in love with a guest, some weeks he’d be replaced by an evil doppelgänger (with goatee), sometimes the guest would “participate” in loose action/adventure “narratives”—and sometimes the 10 minutes would be filled with corporate video parodies.

SPACE GHOST COAST TO COAST, from left: Mark Hamill, Space Ghost
Photo: Everett Collection

Space Ghost Coast to Coast made me, a weirdo middle schooler who’d moved to a new town and had no social life, feel in on the joke.

It’s been 24-ish years since I first met Space Ghost, Zorak, Brak, and Moltar, my middle school best friends. Now a new show has blipped onto my radar, one that’s reminded me what it feels like to stay up way past my bedtime and find something kooky to watch way on the outer rim of cable. That show is Disney+’s Earth to Ned.

Earth to Ned - Ned behind desk
Photo: Disney+

The Space Ghost comparison is pretty clearly justified. They’re both talk show parodies hosted by weirdos from outer space (Space Ghost and Ned) who have a contentious relationship with their sidekicks (Zorak and Cornelius). They both feature actual interviews with actual celebrities, although the celebs that get beamed onto Earth to Ned get to actually interact with the big blue host and the clods, his furry pals/pets/pests.

But the connection between the two shows runs deeper than superficial and structural similarities. There’s an unpredictable edge to Earth to Ned, one that’s emboldened by the fact that it’s on the family friendly Disney+. That’s not to say the show isn’t kid friendly. It totally is, but every joke plays on multiple levels and the show ventures into surreal territory on the regular.

Earth To Ned
Photo: Disney+

The show doesn’t let you forget that Ned was sent to destroy Earth by Admiral Daddy—he just, y’know, decided to start a talk show instead. The interviews themselves—which have to be a mix of scripted and improvised considering how much wonder the guests convey while interacting with actual Jim Henson magic—go to bizarre places, like Ned invasively asking Gillian Jacobs about her financial situation or Ned’s tangent about his #1 celebrity crush, ’70s actress and ’80s shampoo spokesperson Rula Lenska. There’s also the RuPaul interview, which is just a delirious delight from beginning to end (an end that involves a Bob Mackie fashion show… with clod models).

Earth to Ned -- Clods in Bob Mackie looks
Photo: Disney+

This playfully anarchic vibe is what makes Earth to Ned such a wacky ride, especially in the increasingly crowded talk show genre. And thanks to Earth to Ned, I’ve even reconnected with Space Ghost Coast to Coast (now streaming on HBO Max).

Earth to Ned made this adult feel like a kid who’s just stumbled across a goofy show that’s as funny as it is strange. Streaming Earth to Ned is the quickest way to beam yourself out of the despair 2020 and into someplace brighter—even if Ned’s spaceship is buried underground.

Stream Earth to Ned on Disney+

Stream Space Ghost Coast to Coast on HBO Max

New York Post

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