‘The Last Man on Earth’ Pilot Recap: “There’s Really No Wrong Way to Use a Margarita Pool”

How long can a weekly TV comedy with just one character sustain its joke? Creators Chris Miller and Phil Lord (those goofball geniuses behind the ‘Jump Street’ and ‘Lego Movie’ franchises) and co-creator/star Will Forte put that premise to the test with the new Fox sitcom ‘The Last Man on Earth’. The first pair of episodes are really damn funny.

I suppose that plot description isn’t entirely accurate, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

The year is 2020. One year earlier, the entire population of Earth was completely wiped out by an unexplained virus. Or, almost completely. Forte stars as Phil Miller (see what they did there?), the sole survivor of the apocalyptic disaster. He opens the first episode traveling all 50 states in a big RV searching for anyone else left alive. He doesn’t find anyone, but he leaves a lot of signs pointing in his direction. (Hence the episode title, ‘Alive in Tucson’.) Disappointed, he returns home, moves into an unoccupied mansion, and waits for God to send him some hope. God doesn’t seem too interested in helping him out with that.

In the meantime, Phil does what he can to keep himself occupied and entertained. This mostly entails collecting useless junk, finding creative ways to destroy shit, and getting really piss drunk. Even with literally the entire world at his disposal and no society or laws to restrain him, it doesn’t take Phil long to go crazy with boredom. He lets himself sink into a disgusting slovenly state. When even he can’t stand how pathetic he’s become, Phil finally plans to kill himself. But that’s when he sees a small column of smoke in the distance.

Phil races in the direction of the smoke and finds a campsite with a bra hanging on a laundry line. His prayers have been answered, and even better it’s a woman! A gorgeous, sexy young woman who can’t take her hands off him… Well, that’s what he imagines. The reality is less exciting.

In the second episode of the premiere, called ‘The Elephant in the Room’, Carol (Kristen Schaal) introduces herself. She’s not what he was expecting. In fact, she’s downright annoying. Carol has hardcore OCD compulsions to obey traffic laws and correct Phil when he ends sentences with prepositions. He quickly decides that he hates her, but she won’t leave him alone. She moves into the mansion next to his and makes it her mission to fix him.

Carol believes that they survived for a reason, and that it’s their purpose in life to repopulate the Earth. The fact that this would entail any children they have engaging in incest doesn’t occur to her. Desperate for sex and without any other options, Phil agrees to give it a shot, but even then she infuriates him by insisting that they get married first.

The show doesn’t address the question of what happened to the bodies of all the people who died (the planet should be littered with rotting corpses), but it’s a comedy and that would be kind of a bummer. That aside, it does a really funny job of skewering the post-apocalypse sci-fi genre. Forte’s brand of humor is a good fit for the Lord/Miller team. A lot of the gags in the premiere are hilarious, and I eagerly look forward to seeing where this premise can go.


  1. HuskerGuy

    Loved the first two episodes and was pleasantly surprised to see that Schaal is in this. Loved her in Flight of the Concords and she’s great in Bob’s Burgers. Forte is awesome as always. Excited to see how this show turns out.

  2. William Henley

    Sounds like a rehash of a short-lived Fox show from the 90s called Woops! They took care of the dead bodies by doing a nuclear war that wiped everything out. This also was great for a low-budget show, as pretty much the only thing to survive was a farm.

    • Beerstalker

      Loved that show as a kid, haven’t seen it since though. Most people have no idea what I am talking about then I bring it up.

      I’m willing to give this a shot, and have it recording on my DVR, but I won’t watch it until it is picked up for season two, or I hear it ends without a cliffhanger.

  3. Ryan

    The wife and I both got a lot of good laughs out of the first 2 eps. I’m definitely on board for a while.
    Seeing Louise from Bob’s Burgers was a nice surprise too!

  4. Ryan

    Side Note:
    I heard Will on a radio show last week…and they were joking about the lack of bodies. He imagines that it was a strong illness, but slow enough that most people managed to make it back home and die in their own house (or hospital). So there wouldn’t be piles of dead people outside
    Reasonable enough….but that doesn’t explain where the bodies of the former owners of random cars happen to be

      • That reminds me of a “your momma” joke my buddy told me on Sunday. Here goes…
        Your momma’s so fat that when the doctor diagnosed her with a terminal flesh eating virus, he gave her 50 years to live.
        Cue drums : )

  5. William Henley

    So finally watched this last night off the DVR. I haven’t watched the third episode yet, but am surprised at how much content they seem to have to work with. It seems to be really well thought out – I loved how there was almost an entire episode devoted to watering plants – they live in Tucson, she wants to grow plants, and there are no utilities.

    Also interesting to note is that they are drinking primarially alcohol, beer and wine. This makes sense, as it is two years later, so that would be about hte only liquids that would still be good.

    I am just wondering if he is driving another vehicle every couple of days. With no utilities, there is no electricity to power gas pumps.

    For the most part, I am pretty impressed with the show. When I saw the synopsis, I just thought it was going to be a random comedy, but the show and the issues they are facing seem to be really well thought out, and the show has pretty good production value.

  6. Timcharger

    Josh, since there’s no more recaps, I guess you gave up on the show.

    I just discovered this on Hulu. By the 3rd episode, I’m loving every minute
    of it. After the first couple episodes, I thought the premise would tire out.
    But the new developments have vastly improved the possibilities of the

    It has become a weirdly perfect romantic comedy of lovers that can’t get
    together for whatever circumstantial reasons. The obstacles thrown into
    our protagonist’s way to achieve his true love is so fantastic, funny, and
    weirdly analogous to normal, non-apocalyptic life.

    Give this show another shot, Josh.

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