Spring 2015 Review: The Last Man on Earth

2 Mar

The Last Man on Earth

Hey, The Last Man on Earth was kind of funny. There were more laughs than most network comedies, or really any comedies produce in a pilot, Many a somewhat promising pilot has had other aspects of their show more or less coalescence over the course of 21 minutes, such as the basic premise, the relationships between the characters, the vague personalities without being, well, funny. That can be okay; humor is the hardest part to get right, and often takes some time as the stars develop chemistry and writers learn to write to their actors. But if you can be funny in the first episode, well, that’s a big one up over everyone else.

The Last Man on Earth takes place in a world in which, to his and our knowledge, Will Forte’s Phil Miller is the only man remaining in, if not the world, at least the United States. He, in an opening montage, drives around the country trying to find any other living humans. Everyone was wiped out by a virus, and any information beyond that, and really that in and of itself, is really beyond the point; the apocalypse exists to get us to this end of the world scenario. The distinctive part of the idea is that seeing a post-apocalyptic world, usually played for drama (see currently the phenomenally successful AMC’s The Walking Dead), actually played for laughs.

The Last Man on Earth made a smart decision to air back-to-back episodes as its premiere because the show, which is very up and down humor-wise in the first half hour with Forte as a solo act, really starts to pick up when person #2, a game Kristen Schaal, shows up. The hit and miss early scenes feature Miller having fun blowing stuff up and knocking stuff and down and were far and away funniest when Miller talked to his cadre of friends he assembled from different balls. Schaal and Forte in their back and forths play a version of the very classic men-are-from-mars schtick, but the absurdity of the surroundings and the fact that they are two very funny people really made it work in a way that it didn’t have to and could have easily not. Schaal is purposefully ridiculously annoying and grating, insisting on following ridiculous rules that don’t make any sense. Schaal’s insistence on correct, or really incorrect grammar, and parking in parking spots in the face of the apocalypse were funny, again as much due to Schaal’s delivery as much as the material

Not a lot actually happens in the hour, which shouldn’t be surprising consider the nature. Phil fucks around, does a bunch of stupid shit, talks to balls, meets Schaal, shoves her aside after she’s so irritating, and then gets slightly inspired to try to actually improve his circumstances rather than just defecate into a giant pool, blow stuff up, masturbate. Some of the jokes were one-note, and while funny the first time could easily grow old – namely jokes that work around the humor of seeing someone try to comply with typical rules in the face of the apocalypse where those rules make no sense.

Still, it’s one episode; there’s only so much you can ask. My expectations were reasonably high coming out of the gate for a network show, because of the personnel involved, and while the show wasn’t a masterpiece right out of the gate, it was different, interesting, had its share of laughs, and did more than enough to warrant watching another episode.

Will I watch another episode? Yes, I’ll give it a shot.

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