TV Review - The Last Man on Earth

I have mixed feelings about this show. I wasn't impressed or enjoyed the first episode. Yet, the next three episodes are really good. The following three episodes, however, have been on a steady decline in my preference to the point where I'm generally tired and frustrated with the series. Yet, the performances are pretty solid.

The first thing is that the title is misleading at best, an outright lie at worst. The opening of the first episode has titles reading that it's the year 2020, one year after the virus. Presumably, this virus has wiped out the entire human population at least the entire U.S. population with the exception of a man named Phil Miller, played by Will Forte (Macgruber and Nebraska). We see Phil driving around in a tour bus with a bullhorn all throughout North America searching for signs of human life. There's apparently no animal life either.

I realize it's just a comedy and suspension of disbelief is required. Yet, later revelations continue to beg questions. If this were a virus at work, where are all the dead bodies? I get how difficult it would be to turn Steven Soderbergh's Contagion into the kind of comedy that this show wants to be, but Zombieland worked as a comedy, an outrageous one.

Everyone seems not to be dead but disappeared as in HBO's The Leftovers. Forte who also wrote the first episode seemed only to want to get himself to the same place as Tom Hanks' character in Castaway, but instead of being stuck on a deserted island, he made the entire world the deserted island where his character can now steal from the Smithsonian and the White House.

Phil doesn't find anyone even though he takes a year searching all of the contiguous states. He leaves behind graffiti in every city, saying, "Alive in Tucson," indicating to anyone who might see it that his home is in Tucson, Arizona, and that's where he'll be. He returns to Tucson to wait. He waits for a long time until he gives up hope that he might not be alone. Yet, at the end of the first episode, he realizes he isn't alone.

Kristen Schaal (Gravity Falls and Bob's Burgers) co-stars as Carol, a very weird and quirky girl who saw his "Alive in Tucson" graffiti and came to find him. Phil is happy to know he's not alone, but as he comes to know Carol, he finds he doesn't like her. Carol is a stickler for proper grammar and syntax. She's critical of his lonely life, filled with sloth, slob-like habits, masturbation and random destruction.

Carol makes her criticisms in Episode 2 of everything that Phil did in Episode 1. I liked Episode 2 over Episode 1 because I was making the same criticisms while watching. Carol starts cleaning and bossing Phil around, much to his chagrin. Eventually though, the conversation arises about sex and specifically re-population, becoming a kind of new Adam and Eve, or reverse Blue Lagoon arrangement.

For a while, we think Phil and Carol are the last two people on Earth, which could be interesting, but in Episode 4, Phil and Carol meet another human, Melissa, played by January Jones (Mad Men and X-Men: First Class). However, in Episode 6, Phil, Carol and Melissa meet Todd, played by Mel Rodriguez (Enlisted and Getting On). Therefore, not only is Phil not the last human on Earth, but he's also not as the title suggested the last "man" on Earth. It gets to a ridiculous point where the show might introduce a new person every other week. Then, one wonders if the whole premise was all to build this extreme love triangle.

This show might be a more comedic version of The Walking Dead, just minus the zombie threat. Will Forte's Phil Miller stands in for Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes. I like both Forte and Lincoln shirtless, but I prefer Forte not shaved. Hairy face and chest suit Forte better, but he does shave to impress Melissa to whom he's more attracted than Carol.

Unfortunately, Phil's obsession with Melissa gets to be tiring, offensive and stupid after it's dragged out for three episodes. It probably wouldn't be so bad, if his tactics weren't so ridiculous. It's almost as if the writers don't trust the awkwardness of the situation and his feelings alone to be enough and that it has to go overboard with Phil's pathetic attempts to woo or romance Melissa in spite of Carol.

It might be because I work for a TV station, but if I were Phil, my first thought would be to try to commandeer a TV or radio station and try to send a nationwide or international broadcast. I might try to takeover a phone or Internet company and send a signal or message over the entire phone or cable network. Driving around in a bus is a clever idea, but not necessarily the smartest, and if a show is going to do something like this, I would appreciate it being smarter than I am.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-VLSD.
Running Time: 30 mins.
Sundays at 9:30PM on FOX.


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