TV Review: ‘You, Me and the Apocalypse’

You, Me and the Apocalypse' Tries
Courtesy of NBC

The benefits associated with a fragmented TV landscape include the freedom for the occasional series to be just flat-out weird. Enter “You, Me and the Apocalypse,” a darkly comic look at an extinction-level event, crash-landing on NBC by way of the U.K. Rob Lowe, Jenna Fischer and Megan Mullally lend Yankee credibility to this decidedly offbeat Sky co-production, which, over its five previewed episodes, is never particularly convincing, but oddly fascinating in its strangeness nonetheless. So while it’s hard to imagine the show having much of a future, there are a few reasons to check out “Apocalypse” now.

The story opens in a bunker, where the sad-sack Everyman Jamie (Mathew Baynton) is uncomfortably sitting with a small group of people, waiting for an asteroid to strike Earth and effectively end life as we know it. “Are we really the future of mankind?” he thinks to himself.

Flash back 34 days to Slough, England, where Jamie – still mourning the disappearance of his wife seven years earlier – is about to learn of the pending cataclysm, along with a lot of other disjointed souls scattered across the globe. They include Rhonda (Fischer), who is serving a prison term in New Mexico on the charge of hacking into the National Security Agency, and her white supremacist fellow inmate (Mullally); Lowe’s Father Jude, a chain-smoking, potty-mouthed Vatican priest, who enlists a wide-eyed young nun (Gaia Scodellaro) to assist him in weeding out those considered for sainthood; and of course the response in the White House, where a general (“The Leftovers’” Paterson Joseph) confers with the President about contingency plans, while seeking to prevent wholesale panic.

Created by Iain Hollands, this is not, admittedly, an uplifting premise, and the way people react to the news isn’t always believable. The early episodes, moreover, are too chaotic and scattered (the Wachowskis’ Netflix series “Sense8” comes to mind), even with the framing device of the month-long countdown to impact.

Stick with it, though, and the series begins to throw in some peculiar twists, starting with why Jamie might be drawing interest from government investigators, and how he wound up in that bunker, anyway. And the sheer audacity of the concept has a way of dragging one along, wondering how anyone possibly thought there was a viable series in this – and when these disparate storylines might actually intersect.

Practically speaking, NBC has a gap to fill in its lineup with “Heroes Reborn” having finished its run, and the shared parentage with Sky in “Apocalypse” has surely mitigated the network’s financial investment in the show. If nothing else, it’s also something of a relief to see an NBC drama that isn’t another “Blacklist” knockoff and doesn’t have “Chicago” in the title.

With its unwieldy moniker, off-putting subject matter, hard-to-classify tone, and the sheer leap of faith required to reach the stage where the show finally begins to take shape, “You, Me and the Apocalypse” looks like a long shot to attract much of an audience. But given the network’s likely low profile on the project, if it doesn’t work, it’s not like it’s the end of the world.

TV Review: 'You, Me and the Apocalypse'

(Series; NBC, Thurs. Jan. 28, 8 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in London, Malta and South Africa by Working Title Television and BigBalls Prods. in association with NBCUniversal Intl. Studios for Sky.

Crew

Executive producers, Iain Hollands, Juliette Howell, Lynn Horsford, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Andrew Conrad, Michael Engler, JoAnn Alfano, Cameron Roach, Lizzie Gray; producers, Polly Buckle, Nick Pitt, Susie Liggat; director, Engler; writer, Hollands; camera, Wojciech Szepel; production designer, Paul Cripps; editor, Simon Reglar; music, Steve Jablonsky; casting, Kate Rhodes James, Kelly Valentine Hendry, Victor Jenkins. 60 MIN.

Cast

Jenna Fischer, Mathew Baynton, Diana Rigg, Pauline Quirke, Megan Mullally, Rob Lowe, Gaia Scodellaro, Joel Fry, Paterson Joseph, Pauline Quirke, Kyle Stoller

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  1. Jim Scherb says:

    Too bad the show was canceled before the second season. I have been wondering how life would get on in the bunker.

  2. kathi says:

    I loved it! But then, I must “get” British humor as I also liked Monty Python and Benny Hill back in the day!! Seriously,I thought it was funny and thought provoking and so totally different than the usual drivel that network tv posts. I was looking forward to seeing how life in the bunker was going to be and to how life on the planet would be a few years down the road.

  3. Michelle says:

    We loved this show! Smart, funny, exciting. Can’t believe we won’t find out who is in that box! So surprised that it didn’t find a cult following.

  4. bluemalak says:

    Quickly became my favorite show, so and totally depressed that they’re not doing a season 2.

  5. Mrs. Bee says:

    Finally!!! This show is a well written Rollercoaster ride of humor. I am excited every week to see what possibly is coming and trying to out guess the writers. My family, minus my 13 year old because of some scenes, watch it together and laughingly argue about what is going to happen next. We are 61, 54, 27, 23, and 21. This better not end. No pun intended. Please, please, please keep this show going…..we love it.

  6. Annie says:

    I love this show!

  7. Les Vogt says:

    I am really enjoying this show. Much better than most of the routine junk around.

  8. I honestly think is one of the best tv show ever made. Smart , funny , deep …

  9. Karen says:

    I saw the first one and look forward to the rest. It’s certainly not your old comedy reconfigured for the hundredth time. The team of actors are excellent. Looking forward to more. I am an American who enjoys British humor.

  10. I watched the first episode of this show and, if the rest of the series is anything like the first episode, I will not be watching. There is a reason that it is a mid-season show…shown when it is cold and snowy outside and everything else is repeats.

    • Jamie says:

      @Lorielle Sisson On what planet should one base their opinion on the first episode of a series? This show got great 3 in. Think of all your favorite shows, if you stopped after ep. 1, how depressing would that be?

  11. Debra sparks says:

    For some reason, they already showed the whole season on the Internet. I saw it, and it is very good, with a lot of plot twists, and the actors are wonderful. I guess they showed this in England first, because I saw the whole season about a month ago.

  12. Craig says:

    Too many commercials. Hard to make out the plot.

  13. Jamie says:

    Truly awesome show. Brilliant characters. As Dave said, it might not appeal to most Americans — super dark humor and not happy-go-lucky. It appealed to me so hopefully it does others as well! We really need a second season. They can’t do that to us!

  14. Dave Johnson says:

    It was excellent, I’m hoping the US audience gets it so SKY will provide us with a second series.

    Based on this maybe it won’t appeal to the American sense of humour.

  15. Bill B. says:

    Sounds interesting to me. Certainly sounds original unlike the usual network comedy drek.

  16. imustseemovie.com says:

    Looks stupid

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