Back in October, FOX won a multi-network bidding war for the pilot rights to the Will Forte-penned apocalyptic comedy Last Man on Earth. Network executives must have really liked the concept, as they have now chosen to bypass the pilot process altogether and order a full first season.
Created, produced by and starring the Saturday Night Live alum, The Last Man on Earth follows an as-yet-unnamed man (played by Forte) who finds himself the unlikely lone survivor of a catastrophic event that seems to have wiped out the rest of the human population. Unwilling to give up, Forte's character sets out to make the remainder of his life as bearable as it can possibly be.
Directing the premiere episode will be the team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who just experienced huge box office success this past weekend with The LEGO Movie. The duo previously directed the pilot for the Andy Samberg comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and their next film, 22 Jump Street, is due out in theaters this June. The first season of Last Man on Earth is scheduled to shoot this summer, and FOX is tentatively planning to debut the comedy during midseason 2015.
Will Forte (who also lent his talents to The LEGO Movie) currently finds his stock at an all-time high in Hollywood. Just last year saw Forte star in two completely opposite films, one a mass market animated feature (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2) and the other an Oscar-nominated drama by Alexander Payne (Nebraska). Hollywood loves few things more than an actor capable of both making them tons of money and generating awards buzz.
Forte has certainly come a long way from the critical and commercial flops (MacGruber, Rock of Ages, The Watch) he's been appearing in over the last few years. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense that FOX would want to strike while the iron is hot, and get a Forte-fronted series on their network as quickly as possible. The presence of Lord and Miller in the directors' chairs only increases the likelihood of Last Man on Earth being a hit.
That said, it's hard to imagine audiences taking that well to a comedy that stars only one person. Will Forte is certainly a talented comic actor, but one has to wonder if he's up to the challenge of carrying a series entirely on the strength of his lead performance. Not to mention the fact that the potential for new humorous situations will decrease over time.
The natural assumption to make is that FOX will eventually reveal that Forte's character was wrong, and proceed to introduce other survivors for him to interact with. Even then, comedy is one of the easiest genres to screw up, and one of the hardest to get right. Forte's script will need to have plenty of tricks up its sleeve if it hopes to retain the attention of the masses.
Last Man on Earth begins production this summer, and is tentatively scheduled to debut during midseason 2015.