A winning combination of the partnership of Lord and Miller with Will Forte leads to a surprising comedy pilot.
Airtime: Sundays at 9pm on Fox
By: Bryan Kastelan, Contributor
What was the first thought that came came to mind when you originally heard that there was a 21 Jump Street movie coming out? Wait, what were your thoughts when you heard that there was a Lego Movie being released?
It is easy to say now that these are great films, but don’t forget that Phil Lord and Chris Miller delivered two movies that were impossible to expect. At a point in Hollywood where we easily forget that we could be pleasantly surprised by the unexpected, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH is delivered to us by a team that still know that there are limitless possibilities in comedy.
The show starts off with on screen text that could have easily been cringe worthy: “Two months after the virus”. Alright, we’ve seen this. Now we meet Will Forte’s character. A man that bathes in a pool of alcohol so that he could drink it with a straw simultaneously. A man that sees no shame in trying it all, even smashing fish tanks with a pickup truck full of bowling balls. Hmm, now this I haven’t seen, and I’m laughing hard.
Forte’s character is named Phil Miller. It’s tongue-in-cheek, and they’ve got me laughing.
With a script penned by Forte himself, the team involved are at their very best with this pilot. They transcend typical comedy and drama fare, and balance both tonally at once. You start to lose your mind with Forte, who delivers a tour de force performance. You feel for him when he falls for a shop window mannequin, or contemplates driving head on into a boulder to end it all. There’s a pair of ruby red slippers in his collection of “artifacts” that he has gathered. Maybe there is no place like home, but there’s definitely nothing like the people that used to populate it.
We get a glimpse of his past life with a very quick and simple flashback of a previous birthday party where friends are gathered around. The beauty of the show is how so little could speak at such loud volume. This is true with the humor as well. In a world where we are hit over the head with low brow comedy for the sake of topping the last joke, the humor of the show is very note worthy. Forte rivals legends such as Stan Laurel with how hilarious his facial expressions could be. Between gut busting deliveries and painfully funny situations, the show may be the most clever comedy on network television. It is certainly the most off the map and bizarre comedy for sure, elevating the humor to places that you least expected. Who would have known that you could still be genuinely surprised by a network comedy?
I would say that this is a major step for Fox, as well as all of the major networks. This show is cinematic, and the first episode does what a great pilot should — leave you satisfied and hungry for more. It wasn’t afraid to get dark or explore concepts in a light that is both painfully and hilariously honest.
However, the show’s future hinges on longevity. I can’t put my finger on where the show could lead and how it could remain fresh. Even slightly throughout the extended pilot’s running time, the pilot tended to tread the same territory. These were my biggest concerns. However, these moments were easily outweighed by the positive aspects of the episode. There will definitely have to be clever draws that continue to be introduced to fuel the fire of an apocalypse show. It could easily walk a fine line of overstepping its premise, but I would bet that this creative team has solid plans for longevity. This is a pilot that deserves your time and serves as a great follow up to Nebraska for Forte to showcase his acting chops.
Near the end of the episode, Forte’s character struggles to set up an irrigation system with garden hoses. Upon completion, a hilariously worn out Forte delivers the line “I have a feeling we’re gonna remember what I did here today.”
I’m hoping that this holds true for this promising series.
Bryan Kastelan is an avid fan of film and television. He is a screenwriter that dabbles in music and comedy. He has a degree in film studies and creative writing, and is a pop culture junkie. He would be great on a film and music version of Jeopardy.