[This is a review of The Last Man on Earth season 2 premiere. There will be SPOILERS.]
One of last year's surprise comedy hits, FOX's The Last on Man Earth was also one of the few sitcoms that improved as its rookie season moved along. After displaying a wealth of comedic potential in the vast, uninhabited world, the series ending up succeeding in creating laughs in the intimate world it established in Tucson. Just as ironic, the comedy of The Last Man on Earth also thrived as more characters were introduced. Unfortunately, the fun dynamics, character interplay and the group's community in Tucson were missing from tonight's premiere, but the episode was still an enjoyable start to the season that will hopefully recapture some of the magic from the latter part of the show's first run.
While we loved the rivalry between Phil (Will Forte) and the other Phil (Boris Kodjoe), 'Is There Anybody Out There?' understandably picks up away from Tucson and the group, after the original Phil had worn out his welcome. With Carol (Kristen Schaal) and Phil on the road together, we get some truly hysterical moments, though, including when the couple argue about whether or not they should pick up the bomb Phil accidentally dropped out of their stealth military aircraft. Here, we see Carol begin to embrace Phil's recklessly hedonistic lifestyle, which is certainly fun to see, even though we can be sure it's just a phase she's going through.
There are also plenty of laughs to be had from the couple's brief stay at the White House, where Phil fields questions from his sports ball pals at a pretend press conference, and Carol does her best Jackie O. impersonation. However, the whole sequence feels too familiar to the pilot, which also seemed to delight at its own cleverness in coming up with ridiculous ways for Phil to spend his lack of responsibility. While amusing, the humor derived from such shenanigans gets tired quite quickly, so it was good to see the show and the couple move on as Carol begins to become a little homesick, longing for the company of her friends back in Tucson.
Of course, for Phil, Tucson is literally the last place on Earth he wants to be, so naturally, this puts the two at odds. And after a short trip to Carol's old apartment in Delaware, the couple agrees to return to Arizona, which is exciting, not because of the sense of place the location grants the series, but because of the expected and assuredly awkward reunion they'll have with the characters there.
Unfortunately, when Phil makes his way to Tucson looking for Carol (whom he accidentally left behind in Oklahoma), the show's supporting characters are also nowhere to be found. Does this mean they are gone for good? Will the series introduce a new band of survivors for Phil and Carol to interact with? Perhaps they'll get in touch with Phil's brother Mike, Jason Sudeikis' lonely astronaut character.
After establishing a strong comedic rapport with one another, it would be nice to see the original cast back together. On the other hand, there is certainly an appeal to exploring somewhere new with a new group of characters. Either way, the show's original concept and the comedic sensibility of Forte, its series creator and star, give us confidence that the series will retain the funny, no matter which direction it ends up going.
The Last Man on Earth season 2 continues next Sunday with 'The Boo' @9:30/8:30c on FOX.
Photos: Jordin Althaus/FOX, Patrick McElhenney/FOX