Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m still twiddling my thumbs waiting for the return of my spring shows. (Bates Motel kicks off next week! Yeehaw!) Fortunately, as I was watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine this past Sunday, I was reminded about another Fox comedy due to premiere right after the episode. On a whim, I stayed tuned to see if it was any good. And you know what? I really, really liked it. That said, let’s talk about the particulars The Last Man on Earth.
What I liked:
- Will Forte as Phil Miller. He’s just…perfect. Sweet, sad, lonely, disgusting, and thoroughly hilarious. Despite all of his weirdness (and severe grossness), he has a charm to him. It’s very easy to get attached—and not just because he’s the last man on earth.
- All of the brilliant humor. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the minds behind The Lego Movie and the Jump Street movies, also have a hand in this show. They directed the first two episodes, and I think it shows. These guys just get humor, and it’s clear that they (and Forte) have so much fun in this premiere. Heyyy—think “Phil Miller” is an intentional mashup of Phil Lord and Chris Miller? I might be onto something there…
- The Castaway homage. Phil mocks Tom Hanks and his volleyball buddy Wilson toward the beginning of the first episode, but…Well, let’s just say that after a long time alone, Phil isn’t making fun of Castaway anymore.
- The touch of sadness. Yes, this is 90% a comedy and a very funny one at that, but the idea of being the last person on earth is also something overwhelmingly sad and lonely. The first episode touches on this just enough to make you feel really, deeply bad for Phil, but then it almost immediately picks the pace back up with something hilarious. Those brief yet sharp moments of sadness are enough to keep the premiere from being too silly while helping the audience grow even more attached to Phil. Well played, writers.
- The twist at the end of the first episode. It’s pretty easy to see it coming, but I still appreciated the way it was done and the tone it set for the rest of the season.
What I didn’t like:
- How is it that Phil has survived? Don’t get me wrong—I kind of appreciated the fact that the show just jumps right in and doesn’t give you details on the virus that wiped out humanity, yet that nagging question of how Phil survived when the rest of the world didn’t remained in the back of my head during the whole show. I’m hoping this is something that will eventually come to light.
- Mild spoiler here: you do, in fact, meet another person. (I’m not saying whether that’s in the present tense or in flashbacks!) Unfortunately, this person is kind of…annoying. The character had grown on me a bit by the end of the second episode, but…I don’t know. We’ll see. Guess every story has to have some conflict, huh?
- Here’s the question on everybody’s mind: How the heck is this show going to last multiple seasons—let alone even one full season? It’s the kind of premise that seems better suited to a feature film than a TV series. I enjoyed the show so much that I didn’t really get caught up in that question until after it was over, but it’s easy to imagine a scenario where The Last Man on Earth loses its steam after a few episodes. I will be crossing my fingers that doesn’t happen…
The Potential: Despite my reservations, I was really impressed by this show’s premiere—much more impressed than I expected to be, in fact. Will Forte’s performance had me laughing quite a bit and anxious to see what kind of ridiculous things he’d do next. If The Last Man on Earth can do enough interesting things to sustain a longer storyline, I think Fox could have a really great one on their hands.
My Grade: A-