Last night, after my usual laugh-a-thon that is Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I saw the first two episodes of the new show, Last Man on Earth. Previews indicated the show would chronicle actor Will Forte as a character who is, apparently, the last man on earth.
The first episode went pretty much as I expected, Forte’s character, Phil Miller, travels the country looking for survivors of a virus. He puts up signs in many places saying he is living in Tuscan and to come find him if anyone has survived. Initially, Miller dialogues with God and does what probably many of us would do, if we found no one else to stop us, he takes over a large house, steals food and basically does what he wants. He even mocks the Tom Hanks movie Castaway because of the character of Wilson. Quickly, however, the two years of solitude begin to wear on Phil. He goes to celebrate his birthday in a bar he frequented when alive. While there he thinks of his last birthday celebrated there with family and friends, now all gone. Soon, everywhere Miller goes, he brings with him an assortment of athletic balls with faces painted on them and even attempts to start a relationship with a mannequin.
In the end, Phil decides he will kill himself until he sees something unexpected, smoke from a campfire. Upon going to the campsite, Phil sees laundry hanging including a bra, meaning someone else is still alive and she is a woman. Kristen Schaal plays Carol, a woman bent on following the rules that seemingly no longer exist (like obeying stop signs when there is no traffic) and who tells Phil they have to re-populate the world, after they are married.
The show is interesting, I’m not sure if I’ve seen enough to say I like it or not. It is definitely an interesting premise, particularly for a television show. And one I’m not sure will succeed. The wikipedia page for the show lists other characters which I’m unsure if they will be fellow survivors or characters from flashbacks. While the friction between free-wheeling Phil and straight-arrow Carol is certainly making for more dramatic watching (and seriously, I wouldn’t have watched past two episodes if it was simply a one man cast), I can see where it possibly could wear thin quickly. The show’s creators were careful to add in a character who, despite Phil begging God for a companion, a female companion, is a foil to Phil, one whom he initially rejects. However, he is more than a little shocked when Carol begins to become more like him rather than a constant irritant. In fact, he dislikes Carol becoming more like him. It would appear that the third episode will still only show Phil and Carol. So, I’m intrigued as to where other characters may come in. But I’m still not sure what to make of the show or sold on it’s premise.
And it makes me think of other shows that appeared strange at conception but quickly proved to be successes. I think you’d have been hard pressed to find reality tv audiences of the early 2000s believing that a show about the survivors of a zombie apocalypse (The Walking Dead) would be a success. Much less a show about pre-WWI British aristocracy (Downton Abbey). So, we’ll see. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Jane the Virgin as a new show which, on paper, the premise and the genre (tele-novela) should never have worked. One thing is for sure, I’m glad to see writers and networks taking chances and experimenting and moving us further away from the brain-cell killing “reality” television.