×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘The Last Man On Earth’

With:
Will Forte

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

More TV

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Commercial Negotiations Set for February

    With no fanfare, SAG-AFTRA and the ad industry have set a mid-February start for negotiations for a successor deal to the union’s master contract, Variety has learned. The current three-year deal — which covers about $1 billion in annual earnings — expires on March 31. SAG-AFTRA and the Joint Policy Committee of the ad industry [...]

  • FILE - In this April 5,

    Eliza Dushku Received $9.5 Million Settlement Over Misconduct on 'Bull' Set

    Eliza Dushku received a $9.5 million settlement from CBS after the actress alleged she was the subject of several inappropriate comments on the set of “Bull,” according to the New York Times. Dushku appeared in the first season of the procedural, initially being brought on for a three-episode arc with plans to make her a [...]

  • Jingle Punks Jingle Player

    Jingle Punks at 10: How the Production Music Platform's Player Works

    Though its primary function is creative, Jingle Punks is built on a foundation of technology and administration. The patented Jingle Player that lets customers search for music using pop culture terms is both intuitive and efficient. Typing in “Reservoir Dogs” or “Starbucks” generates suggestions. Queries are monitored “so if there isn’t an exact match, we’ll suggest [...]

  • Star Trek: Discovery

    TV Roundup: 'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 2 Premiere Date Set at CBS All Access

    In today’s TV News Roundup, the premiere date is announced for season two of “Star Trek: Discovery” on CBS All Access. FIRST LOOKS “Relics and Rarities,” a new RPG series based on the classic game Dungeons & Dragons, will premiere on subscription service Alpha in February 2019. Hosted by Deborah Ann Woll (“Daredevil,” “True Blood”) [...]

  • Logan Lerman

    Logan Lerman in Talks to Star in Jordan Peele's 'The Hunt' at Amazon

    Jordan Peele’s upcoming Nazi hunter drama at Amazon, “The Hunt,” has potentially found its lead. Logan Lerman is in talks to star in the drama series as Jonah Heidelbaum. When his grandmother is slain by a mysterious intruder in their apartment, Jonah sets out to track the culprit, only to find himself swept up in the [...]

  • Milo Ventimiglia'Second Act' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Milo Ventimiglia on 'This Is Us' Golden Globes Snub

    “This Is Us” critics and fans were shocked when the NBC hit received no love from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association earlier this week with zero Golden Globes nods. The show, after all, was nominated for three Golden Globes last year, including best television drama. Plus, Sterling K. Brown won the 2018 statue for best [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez

    Jennifer Lopez 'Absolutely' Wants to Direct Film and Television

    Jennifer Lopez epitomizes the phrase “she’s done it all” — but there’s still more that the superstar would like to do. Lopez recently directed her first music video, “Limitless,” the track featured on her new rom-com “Second Act,” and it seems the multi-hyphenate has caught the directing bug. “Absolutely, absolutely,” Lopez responded when asked by [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content