Greetings, Feelers! Shannon Leigh here, sometimes known as Shanleigh, and often known as one half of The Shannons, who have been wreaking fangirlish havoc all over Southern California since 2012-ish. Recently Shannon Renee and I were given the chance to wreak some of that havoc at a screening of The Last Man on Earth, FOX’s new comedy starring Will Forte. We were lucky enough to be invited there, along with some other CommuniCon attendees, by the lovely Andy Bobrow, formerly of Community and now of LMOE. Phil Lord (one half of the writing/directing/producing team that brought us the Jump Street movies and The LEGO Movie, and now LMOE) was there and is incidentally cute as a button. Will Forte himself made an appearance to answer some questions and hang out after the screening, and then there was an open bar in a beautiful twinkly secret garden back patio and you should all be just a little jealous. In any case, I asked Kim and Sage if it would be all right if I submitted a little write-up for their lovely blog.
Don’t mind if I do, Chris Evans.
First of all, I am not a critic by any means. There are already reviews of LMOE floating around that are written by actual critics, most of them quite positive — I recommend Margaret Lyons’s take at Vulture if you’d like to avoid spoilers (which is advisable). What I am is a passionate, demonic, squeeful fangirl, and I’ll be giving you my two cents from that point of view. Also many of my insights were clarified by or straight-up stolen from the conversation Shannon Renee and I had after the screening, but she has a real job so I get to speak for both of us.
So, who here has a plan for the zombie apocalypse? I’m willing to bet it’s a lot of us. Mine involves fleeing to my future sister-in-law’s stable upstate — good acreage, far from major population centers, and lots of horses for transportation that doesn’t rely on gas. Plus, unlike some post-apocalyptic farm-dwellers I could mention, we would actually put up walls.
But…if there were no zombies? If everyone else on the planet just died off of from a virus that you mysteriously survived? I’m just as willing to bet that none of us would have a clue what to do with ourselves. (I’m talking especially after the internet and electric grids stop functioning. I could find plenty to do as long as the internet held on.)
Anyway, if you’ve seen any of the promos for The Last Man on Earth, you can probably guess that’s the premise of the show. You may have also guessed, like I did, that most of the footage from the promos is from about the first ten or fifteen minutes of the pilot. Because while it’s certainly fun to think about all the havoc you could wreak in a consequence-free world, and it’s fun to watch Will Forte live out some of those fantasies as his character Phil Miller (which: I realized after the screening — partners Phil Lord + Christopher Miller = Phil Miller), you can’t make a lasting sitcom from that premise alone.
I won’t spoil major plot points or characters, even though it’s easy to go to the IMDb page and gather that no, Phil Miller will not be alone forever. I will say that the show has a good time exploring some of the nitty-gritty details of what living alone on the planet would be like. It skips over the kinds of things a cable show or a movie might feel obligated to linger on, like piles of dead bodies, but it sure as hell doesn’t skip over the fact that there’s no more running water — or flushing toilets. As could be expected, that particular subject gets mined for humor a few times, but again, as it’s network television, it never gets gross, and the show benefits from that.
From what I gathered, there will be plenty more exploration of big, visually rewarding gags like the one from the promo, where Phil stocks his new mansion with priceless souvenirs he’s picked up around the country, and another from the pilot, where he goes bowling in a parking lot with increasingly larger and more spectacular targets than an array of pins. However, there will also be a definite story moving forward, of which I’ve only seen the beginnings but which seems delightfully unpredictable.
The first couple of episodes aren’t perfect. The pilot, especially, had its slow moments as we watched Phil first revel in finding unorthodox ways to entertain himself and then start to slowly succumb to intense loneliness. I laughed a lot but I will allow that I was probably influenced by being in a full theatre with some of the creative team behind the show rather than alone on my couch. But I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what happens next and enjoying the fact that I really can’t guess what it will be; there’s no existing template for this show to follow.
The Last Man on Earth premieres this Sunday, March 1st at 9pm with its first two episodes (both of which were shown at the screening I attended, and the audience almost convinced Lord and Forte to show a third they had with them but Forte was persuaded otherwise by some attendees who were too worried about someone leaking the details). It will follow Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which all of you should be watching already, and Shannon Renee and I have agreed should make a good lead-in. The two shows share not only the connection of being headlined by former SNL stars Andy Samberg and Will Forte, but they also both have a knack for unexpectedly insightful comedy. Hopefully LMOE will do well with B99 as a seat-warmer.
And hey, you can watch The Last Man on Earth instead of The Walking Dead! While I may not want to spoil what does happen, I CAN definitely promise you that LMOE goes an entire hour without gruesomely murdering a single character of color!
(Note from Kim and Sage: We’re in.)
Are you planning on checking out Last Man Standing? What are YOUR plans for a viral or zombie apocalypse? Let us know in the comments!