Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 1, 2015)
In 2019, a virus strikes and results in mass extinction of humanity. Arizona resident Phil Miller thinks he may well be The Last Man on Earth, and we follow his adventures through all 13 of the series’ season one episodes. The plot synopses come from the DVDs themselves.
Alive in Tucson: “After having searched all over North America, Phil Miller (Will Forte) returns home to Tucson and tries to make a life for himself, convinced that he’s the last man on Earth.”
It goes without saying that Phil won’t be the only person alive, as a TV series couldn’t sustain more than an episode or two of his solo adventures. “Alive” explores the limits of sanity Phil experiences as he becomes more and more convinced he exists alone. The show sets up the series well and offers good amusement.
The Elephant in the Room: “Carol (Kristen Schaal) constantly tries to reform Phil, hoping to make him an acceptable mate to help her repopulate the human race.”
“Room” looks at the horrible note that when you discover the only other person on Earth, she drives you nuts. Forte and Schaal interact well and turn this into a fun show.
Raisin Balls and Wedding Bells: “While Carol puts lots of thought and care into her wedding, Phil does his best to pretend like it is not happening.”
In this show, the plot thickens, as they say – especially at the end. I like the dynamic that Schaal and Forte boast, and they make this another amusing episode.
Sweet Melissa: “Phil literally crashes into the lovely Melissa (January Jones), finding himself caught between his wife and a woman who appears to see things more at his level.”
Most men fear marrying the wrong woman, and “Melissa” amplifies that concern to a greater level. I don’t know how well Jones fits the Forte/Schaal dynamic but at least she adds some comedic tension.
Dunk the Skunk: “Phil continues to try and find a morally sound way to romantically pursue Melissa, only to have his schemes continually backfire.”
Am I the only one who thinks Phil’s scheming resembles the Seinfeld where Jerry wanted to find a way to date his girlfriend’s roommate? It’s not a clone, but it follows a similar path. It’s still a fun show, though, especially for those of us with XY chromosomes, as we can relate to Phil’s endeavors.
Some Friggin’ Fat Dude: “After the arrival of the sweet-hearted Todd (Mel Rodriguez), Phil attempts to keep him away from Melissa while Carol tries to nudge them closer.”
For a show called The Last Man on Earth, the cast seems to be getting awfully crowded! But that seems like a good thing, as we need more than two or three characters to sustain interest. “Fat Dude” appears a bit too focused on Phil’s obsession with Melissa, but it’s still amusing.
She Drives Me Crazy: “Todd and Melissa drive Phil crazy with their constant love-making and cutesy behavior. Meanwhile, the community comes together and votes to force Phil to clean his toilet pool.”
I continue to hope that the series will move on past Phil’s fascination with Melissa. Like prior shows, “Crazy” continues to offer laughs, but the romantic theme – and the burgeoning one-sided rivalry with Todd – means diminishing returns.
Mooovin’ In: “Despite Carol nagging him, Todd’s happiness, and Melissa’s complete disinterest, Phil makes a discover that is going to change the game. Literally.”
Instead of Phil’s obsession with Melissa, “Mooovin’” focuses on his hatred for Todd. It’s a different flavor of the same ice cream, but it’s still entertaining.
The Do-Over: “With Carol now living in Phil’s house and reorganizing his entire life, he asks God for a ‘do-over’ on his entire life, and unfortunately, he gets one.”
Once again, we get an expansion of the cast, and that works as a good thing, as it allows the series to broaden its horizons. As I’ve noted, Phil’s obsession with Todd and Melissa started to get old, so new blood adds life to the proceedings.
Pranks for Nothin’: “Once Phil fails to convince everyone that his running off with Gail (Mary Steenburgen) and Erica (Cleopatra Coleman) was a prank, he chooses a much different and entirely unexpected strategy.”
To a large degree, “Pranks” offers more of the usual, as it focuses on Phil’s scheming and dishonesty. It does present some interesting plot shifts, though, so it gives us an intriguing show in the end.
Moved to Tampa: “Phil attempts to alter his ‘Alive in Tucson’ sign so no more men will show up.”
“Tampa” introduces another character, and he helps change the dynamic in interesting ways, especially since it gives more layers to previously one-dimensional Todd. Phil remains his usual bitter, narcissistic self, and that leads to laughs.
The Tandyman Can: “With the arrival of New Phil Miller (Boris Kodjoe), a handsome handyman of few words, Old Phil starts to lose all of the things he holds dear.”
After many instances of Phil’s arrogance, we actually start to feel bad for him, as the presence of New Phil turns him into a sympathetic figure – almost. He’s still a selfish jerk, but we’re more likely to bond with him than a superman like New Phil. “Tandyman” leads us toward season’s end in a solid manner.
Screw the Moon: “Tandy realizes that he is super-jealous of New Phil’s relationship with Carol, so he decides he must win her back.”
Season One finishes on a good note, as “Moon” manages to humanize Phil a bit. It doesn’t neuter him – he remains his usual narcissistic self – but it adds some flavor to him and the others. It leaves open the door for interesting Season Two developments as well, so it ends the year nicely.