TV Review: ‘The Last Man On Earth’

The Last Man on Earth TV

The opening portion of “The Last Man on Earth” recalls “The World, the Flesh and the Devil” — a 1959 post-apocalyptic movie starring Harry Belafonte — and when did anybody ever expect to read that about a Fox comedy? Still, the program’s melancholy tone, provocative concept and rumination on loneliness (and whether the only thing more infuriating than surviving without other people is negotiating with them) is mightily offset by a preoccupation with lowbrow flourishes like bathroom habits without functional plumbing. So while the one-hour premiere warrants further attention, that curiosity stops short of a wholehearted commitment to keep “Last Man” company.

A strange construct that has to be reviewed gingerly to avoid spoilers, “Last Man” stars and is produced and created by Will Forte, which means spending more time with the “Saturday Night Live” alum — in this character, anyway — than is likely prudent. Because while there’s a conscious riff on “Cast Away” (amusingly upping the ante on anthropomorphic volleyballs), Tom Hanks he isn’t.

When the series begins, it’s 2020, and there’s a vague reference to a deadly virus that Forte’s Phil Miller has somehow survived. So he crisscrosses the U.S. in an RV, looking for someone, anyone, who might still be alive, before settling with a sense of resignation in his hometown of Tucson.

Lonely and bored, Phil talks to God, engages in daredevil stunts to pass the time and gradually gives up on personal hygiene. As for his sins, like masturbation, the Almighty bears at least some responsibility for that sorry state of affairs, he points out.

There’s something to be said for a series that invites far more questions than it answers, and given the popularity of apocalyptic concepts (see Syfy’s “12 Monkeys” revival), it’s interesting to see the material filtered through a comedic lens, grim as the thought of mass extinction is. (Fox actually went down this path in the ’90s with “Woops!” but that really just used nuclear annihilation as an excuse to reboot “Gilligan’s Island.”)

While it’s been reported that others have been cast in the project, how they’ll be incorporated — including the possibility of flashbacks — is part of the suspense for viewers.

Still, it doesn’t give away anything significant to say that the series doesn’t fully begin to take shape until the third episode, which offers some interesting possibilities while squandering others. By that point, there’s a growing sense that Forte — who has made a mark as an actor in movies like “Nebraska” — might not have been an ideal choice for such an endeavor.

From a scheduling perspective, Fox wisely introduces the show with back-to-back half-hours, giving the project a bit more shape. Even so, the premise calls for a level of creativity from the producers (Forte is joined by directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord of “The Lego Movie”) that these episodes don’t consistently deliver.

That’s not to say “I wouldn’t watch him if he were the last man on Earth.” But like the fate of humanity within the series, while the future certainly isn’t hopeless, neither does it look particularly bright.

TV Review: 'The Last Man On Earth'

(Series; Fox, Sun. March 1, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by 20th Century Fox Television.

Crew

Executive producers, Will Forte, Chris Miller, Phil Lord, Seth Cohen; co-executive producers, Andy Bobrow, Emily Spivey, Tim McAuliffe, John Solomon, Erik Durbin; producer, Chris Plourde; directors, Lord, Miller; writers, Forte, Bobrow; camera, Christian Sprenger; production designer, Bruce Hill; editors, Stacey Schroeder, Daniel Haworth; music, Mark Mothersbaugh; casting, Jeanne McCarthy, Nicole Abellera Hallman. 60 MIN.

Cast

Will Forte

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  1. Heather says:

    Anyone have any thoughts on why Carol has a thing for using bear and camping analogies with men she sleeps? She is always on top too…I think she secretly likes to be in control.

  2. Joseph hayes says:

    What a waste of a good title. This had the opportunity to be a really funny series if only it had some casting, acting, imagination, and writing. So disappointed. This should have started with six, hour long programs. Being the last man on earth should have started with the seriousness of the situation and moved into comedy. Everyone entering the show has a grieving period and a story. Seriously. Would anyone find crashing cars together something they would do being alone? There was so much wrong with the whole scenario it ruined a second attempt by some comedic writers to last for years. Too bad.

  3. Cjmacintosh says:

    Why is it when you bring in a black man on the show all the woman fall all over him , so sick of the way tv make the white man look ! Yes I am proud of my race as you should be of yours !

  4. Hank says:

    The first show had me laughing. Since then the subject is sex, sex, and sex. The show itself is slowly disappearing and in desperate need of new writers. Great structure for a show but bad in implementation.

  5. Paul Brno says:

    I watched The Last Man On Earth for five minutes & had to change the channel because the acting was so bad! The cast needs to go to acting school.

  6. Paul Brno says:

    Solution for saving the show. Shave off his beard & have him go Rambo. Have the dead people come back to life as vampires. He is immune because a couple of years ago he was bitten by a vampire bat. Have him hunt them down & kill them. Stake in their hearts & burn their bodies. He can go shopping at the mall & take anything he wants. And search for other pele who may also be immune to the virus. Also, he can use his own blood to create a vaccine against the virus. Bam. Show saved !

  7. Rich Lewis says:

    Funny show! Love it! :-)

  8. sgmet says:

    I loved the show. I hope they keep it up. ya are there some questions, like where are all the bodies and where are all the cars and such, but come on. Its a tv show. Fiction!! I liked it.

  9. Paul Brno says:

    I had my flu shot & that’s why I’m still alive. Gee, I wonder how many other people had a flu shot, & are still alive……….

  10. Paul Brno says:

    Remember the plot of ‘The Producer’s’ ? To make a show so badly written & acted & offensive that nobody in their right mind will love the show ? We’ll that’s exactly what the writers & actors did with
    The Last Man On Earth.

  11. Paul Brno says:

    Or if he falls into his toilet bowl/swimming pool, he’ll like turn into the Toxic Avenger. The guy with a mop in his hands.

  12. Paul Brno says:

    He can dress up as a clown & run away to go & join the circus. Or just go away. As in take a vacation from himself.

  13. Paul Brno says:

    The Last Man On Earth can make an appearance on the ‘What Not To Wear’ show.

  14. Paul Brno says:

    The Last Man On Earth will give birth to The Last Woman On Earth as in a spin-off show.

  15. Paul Brno says:

    Maybe if he’d stand up he might be funny. get it. Stand up. Doind stand up.

  16. Paul Brno says:

    This gives the term ‘I’d rather do it myself’ new meaning.

  17. Paul Brno says:

    What would enhance the show ? Lamas ? A visit by aliens ? Rob Lowe ? A grumpy cat ? Ronald McDonald ?

  18. Paul Brno says:

    The guy dresses like a bag lady. A dirty, stinky, smelly bag lady.

  19. Ben says:

    I really liked it. It was a lot of fun/funny. I can’t wait to see if future episodes are as good the 1st 2 episodes. I’m glad the 1st couple of episodes were a hit.

  20. Paul Brno says:

    Funniest thing I ever read, so don’t erase it. Remember freedom of speech ?

  21. autumne lake says:

    I loved it—it has potential to be a really funny show.

  22. Paul Brno says:

    they ought to re-write “The Last Man On Earth” as a ten minute show because that’s how long people watch it for before they change the channel.

  23. Hoss says:

    Fantastic show, the premise seems like a loser but at the end of the first hour, we found it was hilarious and can’t wait for the next installment. I think there’s a deep analogy in there about the garden of eden, i.e. it’s like a humorous take on “when Adam met Eve”

  24. Jennifer says:

    They couldn’t have done worse if they tried! I lasted ten minutes, thinking I’d give the show the benefit of the doubt. It was nine minutes to long

  25. mwgreg says:

    Even if I were the ”last man on earth” and could get a TV signal . . . . I would have turned this stupid show off in the first 10 minutes. If a virus killed every human being and living creature, then what happens to the corpses? Did they all evaporate as well? Did he bother to find a shortwave radio hooked up to his generator and try to get other nations? No planes crashed and all landed safely so civilization could all die on the ground and vanish? Did everyone who died remember to park their vehicles away out of sight and then go die at home – leaving virtually NO abandoned vehicles? Does he expect the gasoline to stay fresh for over 6 months in any station’s tanks? The water in the water towers still fresh and sanitary for more than 6-8 months? Can you just imagine using a pool as a toilet how bad it would smell like raw sewage after 2-3 months? The food at the stores will stay fresh for only so long. Even the canned goods. If he impregnates the woman, then only if they have a son and a daughter . . . they have incest to repopulate and have inbred morons to roam the earth? Why would they want to stay in a region where the temperatures typically soar to over 110 degrees? I saw nothing even remotely funny about this program. I didn’t even crack a smile. Please spare those of us who think in terms of logic. It’s like a high school freshmen wrote the storyline. Only teenagers and people with single digit I.Q.’s would ever sit through another episode of this TV trash.

  26. Gringo says:

    I would watch it again. Quirky humor.

  27. Bruce A says:

    Terrible! Not entertaining at all. Will not watch again.

  28. Bobb B. says:

    Wife and I loved the first two episodes, hope writers do not bugger a good thing, from what we can see of titles for upcoming shows looks like that is exactly what they will do. Do not need “drama” or more characters to add conflict, was great as it stood.

  29. dase and beverly says:

    Im a 37 white male, my daughter is 8 year old white female. Together we sat there and watched this hilarious show together. She was laughing just as much as me. She gets the beer and poop references. We deffently cant wait until next week. Very funny. Her favorite show before this was family guy, but its been replaced by this show. We live in michigan. Started at 9pm here sunday night.

  30. H says:

    Found it tremendously boring. Funny and intelligent at parts but more often missing out on tremendous potential I thought. It was a grind at times trying to get through the whole premiere. I won’t be tuning in again sadly.

  31. Paul Brno says:

    Reasons why my wife changed the channel after 5 or 10 minutes The actors are not funny or interesting. The show is not funny. Mel Brooks he’s not. Besides, who wants to watch a dirty, smelly, guy living like a homeless man. Trust me, he will die of some disease within a few weeks. If this is the future of television, I’m going to go back to listening to the radio, Or watching old movies.

  32. Ivor says:

    It’s a cool concept, I will definitely watch the third episode next weekend to see where it’s going. As long as it stays funny and isn’t full of filler episodes I’ll keep watching.

  33. Paul Brno says:

    I won’t have to wait for the walk sign to cross the street, or worry about getting mugged, or be bothered by pan handlers. You get the idea? The last man will always come in first. Of course, I’ll have to cook my own breakfast, lunch, & dinner. But I won’t have to worry about money anymore. Or worry about what to wear. And I’ll have to fin days to entertain myself.

  34. Paul Brno says:

    I’m starting to feel like I’m the last man on Earth because there’s no one else around making any comments. if I were the last man alive, I’d win every argument. I wouldn’t have to watch all these cooking shows that my wife always forces me to watch. And I’d always win the lottery. Or, I wouldn’t have to follow in anybody else’s foot steps. Most of all, that noisy girl upstairs who is always slamming doors and moving & dropping things wouldn’t be upstairs anymore. And I wouldn’t have to wait on line when I go shopping at the food emporium.

  35. Paul Brno says:

    If the producers want to hire me, I’d love to contribute & write for this show. I’d like to act in it also, maybe in a flash back. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. There’s a lot of good stuff that comes with being the last man on Earth. You don’t have to make a reservation to eat at your favorite restaurant. Your always the first on line when you go to see a movie. You always come in first in a marathon. Your always the winner except if your playing against a computer. Your always number one. You may be the last man on Earth but your always the first!

  36. Paul Brno says:

    Sounds like “Home Alone” but on a grander scale. If I were the last man on earth, I’d move into Trump Tower, go shopping on 5th avenue, eat at the finest restaurants, and since I’m an actor/writer/former NYC sanman, I’d do a one-man version of “The Sanitation Chronicles”, a play I wrote about my lworking with morons and crazy people in the NYC Dept. Of Sanitation.

  37. Paul Brno says:

    Vincent Price was the lone survivor of a world wide plague in a 1964 movie called “The Last Man On Earth”. In which people were dying fron a deadly virus & coming back as vampires. He was immune because years before he was bitten by a vampire bat & survived thereby becoming immune to the world wide epidemic. Kind of like getting a flu shot. His character, Morgan spends his days shopping for food, clothes, and gas for his car. All for free. He also burns the vampires while they sleep during the day. He gives some of his immune blood to an infected woman & cures her. A few years later George Romero made “Night Of The Living Dead”.

  38. Bill B. says:

    Sounds like a quick flop, but for some reason, I can’t wait to see how they try to pull this off.

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