The phrase, “There’s never been a show like this one on television” is overdone, but it’s absolutely true in this case. “Last Man on Earth” follows the life of Phil Miller after a virus kills off all other humans. In fact, there are no signs of life anywhere.
The literary and film tradition of post-apocalyptic fiction falls into a combined sci-fi and horror genre, but in the hands of directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (producers of “Lego Movie” and “21 Jump Street”, and donators of the title character’s name), the show blasts your senses with one giddy rush after another. The world is Phil Miller’s joyous playground, and he acts out the most fantastic, anarchic, teenaged fantasies. Steal several Rembrandts and Monets? Check. Bathe in a baby pool full of margarita mix with salt on the rim? Check. Go bowling in a parking lot, with an escalating montage of bigger objects and stakes? Check.
Another comedic technique, a film version of joke setup and punch line, is a hyperbolic statement of “I would never do that!” with a cut to black, then a title card showing the passage of time, and then the aftermath. In this vein, there are some great jokes involving the movie “Castaway”, and also junk food.
Every joke lands. It’s like watching Olympic Ice Skating.
The writing bench is stacked with comedy stars Will Forte (Star, creator, and former “SNL” cast member), Andy Bobrow (Writer for “Community” and “Malcolm in the Middle”), and three SNL veterans: Emily Spivey (“MADtv”), Jonathan Solomon (“MacGruber”), and Liz Cackowski (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Community”). This writers’ room, coming up with all these gleeful anarchic stunts, is running at full creative potential. There are many ways this experiment could have gone wrong, but it all worked, and that is completely in the hands of the writers. It just works.