[This is a review of the No Tomorrow series premiere. There will be SPOILERS.]
In recent years, The CW has become well-known for its superhero programming, and the network has never invested in its DC Comics properties so much as this year, with four nights of the week anchored by shows based on comic book heroes (not to mention additional comic book properties set for midseason debuts). However, The CW has also earned awards acclaim thanks to its non-superhero programs. In particular, Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez won the 2015 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series — Comedy or Musical, while Crazy Ex-Girlfriend star Rachel Bloom won the 2016 Golden Globe in the same category.
So, The CW seems to be doubling down on its dramedy content along the lines of Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend with one of the network’s new fall series, No Tomorrow. Following in the footsteps of Jane the Virgin in particular, No Tomorrow adapts the concept of a Brazilian TV series and follows two people who try to live their lives to the fullest ahead of what they believe to be the end of the world.
The No Tomorrow pilot introduces risk-averse Evie (Killjoys‘ Tori Anderson), who meets free-spirited Xavier (Galavant’s Joshua Sasse), a man who believes the world will end in eight months when an asteroid hits Earth. Together, they embark on the task of completing their respective “Apocalysts” — everything they want to do before they die. Still, considering Evie’s nature and her doubt in Xavier’s apocalypse theory, it may be more difficult than either she or Xavier know to throw caution to the wind and live like there’s no tomorrow.
In terms of the pilot, No Tomorrow tells a sweet, romantic story of one woman breaking out of her shell in order to live life to the fullest — shirking the aspects of her life that were weighing her down in order to be free to do things she’d always wanted to do but always found excuses not to. Throw in the Manic Pixie Dream Boy that helps No Tomorrow’s heroine realize these things about herself, while not totally taking her agency away from her (most of the time), and The CW’s latest series’ pilot is a ready-made rom-com with an interesting enough twist on the formula to provide a fun experience.
That said, No Tomorrow isn’t a 90-minute romantic comedy, and the series struggles to fit its movie storyline into a 42-minute episode. This leads to certain pacing problems as the pilot establishes and wraps up a number of major plot threads — including a boyfriend Evie took a break from prior to the show’s start who proposes to her, is caught in a love triangle with her and Xavier, then accepts her rejection graciously before assuring her he’ll move on.
However, the boyfriend — Timothy, played by Jesse Rath (Defiance) — is seemingly included in the pilot only as a symbol of Evie’s former life. He’s the safe option, the option she would have chosen if meeting Xavier hadn’t set her down a different path. It’s an undeveloped subplot thrown into the pilot to create tension after Evie has met Xavier, heard this theory about the world ending, and refused to give him a straight answer about whether she would help him with his Apocalyst.
In a rom-com, the safe option provides a road block that the heroine must move beyond in order to achieve the end goal: love. In No Tomorrow, Timothy and Evie’s relationship is introduced, given a climactic moment, wrapped up, and seemingly swept under the rug in the span of one episode. The relationship between Evie and Xavier plots a similar course — though this time a rutabaga farmer’s market meet-cute is included and the ending is different since Evie chooses Xavier and his Apocalyst over Timothy’s reliability. Although this conclusion to the No Tomorrow pilot offers a good ending to a rom-com, the viewer is likely asking the same thing Xavier in the final moments: “What’s next?”
Additionally, since the pilot of No Tomorrow is tasked with telling a complete romantic comedy storyline from meet-cute to happily ever after, the supporting players aren’t given much to do except play the one-dimensional rom-com best friend, coworker, or family member — which is to say, they give the lead character whatever push is needed to drive the plot forward without being developed in their own right. The pilot does give Evie’s closest coworker friend Hank (Jonathan Langdon) more personality than the other supporting characters and a potential plot of his own, but leaves it at the bare minimum.
As a result, the show rests on the shoulders of Evie and Xavier — particularly the performances of Anderson and Sasse. Thankfully, Sasse’s charm helps to ground his side of the romance, while walking the fine line between Xavier’s free spiritedness and the character’s belief in the apocalypse without coming off too unbelievable. Anderson, for her part, plays the awkwardness of Evie well, in addition to carrying off the transition from the character’s risk-avoiding lifestyle to embracing the Apocalyst mentality. As a leading pair, Anderson and Sasse have the chemistry, but it remains to be seen where No Tomorrow will take the relationship of Evie and Xavier.
All in all, No Tomorrow tells a decent, if formulaic and poorly paced, romantic story while establishing a quirky premise, but doesn’t offer viewers much of what to expect from the season ahead. Although some brief glimpses of potential story arcs preview emotional drama, such as Xavier’s relationship with his dad, the abrupt appearance of Xavier’s cousin Jesse (also played by Sasse) at the end of the pilot takes the episode into cartoonish comedy. As for Evie, it’s unlikely her sudden diagnosis of a heart condition and life-saving surgery will have much impact beyond her new lease on life. She will, however, need to help her boss form a relationship with Hank.
In terms of where it fits among The CW’s programming, No Tomorrow did seem primed to fall in line with Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. But, while the premise of a possible impending apocalypse may seem unconventional enough to join the network’s critically acclaimed dramedies, No Tomorrow follows too many conventions to provide a unique television experience akin to Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
No Tomorrow continues with ‘No Crying in Baseball’ Tuesday, October 11 at 9pm on The CW.