Forte’s ‘The Last Man on Earth’ daringly surreal, still hilarious

Will Forte seemingly does the impossible by holding our attention with his weird and hilarious ways to spend time alone. (Photo provided by fox.com)
Will Forte seemingly does the impossible by holding our attention with his weird and hilarious ways to spend time alone. (Photo provided by fox.com)

“The Last Man on Earth” premiered Sunday, March 1 on FOX.

It had 5.75 million viewers and was the highest rated series for the 18-49 adult demographic. It’s the most original program FOX has aired in years, with a different feel and production style than any other show on the network.

The show is about Phil Miller, played by Will Forte (“Saturday Night Live”) as the last person on Earth after a disease wiped out the rest of the world. Forte not only stars in the show, but created and wrote the first episode. His comedic style is apparent from the beginning of the show. The show starts with Phil driving around the country looking for any other survivors asking, “Hello? Hello? Chinese hello?”

We also see the show poking fun at and referencing “all alone” films. Like Will Smith in “I Am Legend” Phil falls for a female mannequin in a store after accepting that she would be his best source for female companionship. On top of that, we see Phil yelling at the movie “Cast Away” about how ridiculous the idea of talking to volleyballs was, then after a few months he fills his favorite bar with various balls all with faces draw on them.

The show also features a lot of nonverbal physical comedy. Being the last man on Earth, Phil takes the time to do everything he wants. He takes art and memorabilia from around the country, he bowls with fish tanks as pins and turns a pool into a toilet. If anyone other than Forte was playing the character this might be dull or not as effective, but he does an amazing job of showing us who Phil is and how he wants to spend his time alone. Plus we get Phil trying to stay active, playing racket ball inside his house with 10 different balls at once and him working on building the largest Jenga tower.

Although the program is called “The Last Man on Earth,” Phil Miller is not alone. The show also stars Kristen Schaal (“Bob’s Burgers”) playing Carol Pilbasian, the last woman on Earth. Carol is something the show needs to work on. She is a one- note character, at least when seen in the first two episodes. Right now the whole point of her character is to be the opposite of Phil. She is clean, organized and obsessed with grammar. The writers need to try to develop Carol more as a character to serve as a better counterpoint to Phil, whose end of the world mentality makes the show.

The show is definitely something to check out. The originality, the writing and Forte’s unique stylings grab you and make you want more from the get-go. As the show continues, hopefully we can see more from Schaal, and her character’s personality. If she changes and Forte keeps up his incredible comedic style, this show will be FOX’s best live action comedy in years.

The show is an incredible example of what can happen when a network takes a risk.

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