Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Last Man on Earth: The Complete First Season (Alive in Tucson Edition) DVD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
The year is 2020, and after a deadly virus has swept the planet, only one man is left on earth: Phil Miller (Will Forte). He used to be just an average guy who loved his family and hated his job. Now, in his RV, Phil searches the country for other survivors. He has traveled to every city, every town and every outpost in the United States, Mexico and Canada, and has found no one. As he returns to his hometown of Tucson, Phil comes to the painful realization that he is almost certainly the last living being on the face of the earth. All he wants is for someone – anyone – to find him in Tucson – preferably a woman.

Show (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Earth has been ravaged by a deadly virus and Phil Miller (Will Forte) somehow survived.  Phil searched the country in an RV looking for other survivors.  He heads back to his hometown of Tucson, Arizona without finding anyone left.  Along the way, Phil spray painted billboards with the phrase “alive in Tucson” hoping someone would join him.

At first being the last man on Earth was fun.  Phil could go anywhere he wanted, do anything and take from any store without worry.  Soon loneliness sets in and Phil is about to take his own life.  Just in time, a quirky woman named Carol Pilbasian (Kristen Schaal) arrives and Phil is no longer alone.
Carol insists on marrying Phil before they work on re-populating the earth.  Carol is weird, unusual and not Phil’s type but it isn’t like he has other options.  Carol and Phil become husband and wife and almost immediately a beautiful woman named Melissa (January Jones) arrives.  Soon after Melissa, they meet another survivor named Todd. 

Before the end of season one Phil has been joined by two more women and an extremely handsome man, also named Phil Miller (Boris Kodjoe).  Phil is forced to go by his middle name, Tandy.  Carol and Tandy have their ups and downs and Phil has a hard time fitting in with the others.  Almost all of his decisions are bad and Phil is almost always trying to make amends for his actions.

Season one contains the following episodes:

Disc One:

  1. Alive in Tucson –Just as he is about to commit suicide, Carol’s campfire smoke alerts Phil that he is not the last man on Earth.
  2. The Elephant in the Room – Carol still follows the rules of society including obeying traffic laws. She forces Phil to marry her before they can re-populate the Earth.
  3. Raisin Balls and Wedding Bells – Phil does not have the right attitude about the marriage and it looks like it could be over before it begins.
  4. Sweet Melissa – Phil regrets his marriage realizing there was another, more beautiful option, in Melissa.
  5. Dunk the Skunk – Carol agrees that Phil should try to re-populate with both women but another man shows up.
  6. Some Friggin’ Fat Dude – Carol tries to make a couple out of Melissa and Todd while Phil tries to ruin everything.
  7. She Drives Me Crazy – Todd and Melissa together is something Phil just can’t handle. While Phil is trying to get rid of Todd the group is voting on bigger issues, like Phil’s pool/toilet.

Disc Two:

  1. Mooovin’ In – Todd finds a cow and is praised by everyone but Phil.
  2. The Do-Over – Erica and Gail arrive as Phil begs God for a do-over. Phil claims to be a widower and pretends to be alone.
  3. Pranks for Nothin – The group, including the newcomers, are all angry with Phil for lying. Carol divorces Phil (she’s a notary and can do that according to her rules).
  4. Moved to Tampa – Phil changes the messages from “Alive in Tucson” to “Moved to Tampa” hoping to keep more competition from arriving. He ends up stranded on a sign when his ladder falls, ironically, wishing there was someone around to help. The two Phil’s becomes too confusing and Phil must go by his middle name Tandy.
  5. The Tandyman Can – Tandy and Phil butt heads as the group elects the new feel to be the President.
  6. Screw the Moon – Tandy has gone too far and is left for dead. Carol saves Tandy and amazingly agrees to start a life with him in a new city.

The Last Man on Earth is co-created by Will Forte and is enjoyable if you like his brand of humor.  If you skipped past his “Saturday Night Live” sketches, then this is definitely not for you.  Will Forte is completely disgusting.  He uses a pool for a toilet.  He lays in and drinks from, a baby pool filled with alcohol.  His has grown the craziest out of control beard.   It is unclear what his life was like before the virus, but afterwards he is the first to ditch hygiene and civility. I would have liked to see more of Phil/Tandy alone.  It would have been interesting to see how much farther he could have reverted.  If no one had arrived until the end of season one they may have found a caveman. 

The Last Man on Earth is now in season two and I’m still interested to see where the gang will go and how many other people are left on Earth.  It’s a half hour show and would be easy to binge watch if you need to get caught up.  You could start watching it as it airs and figure things out but you really need to understand what the group has been through with Tandy.  His relationship with Carol is by far the most interesting aspect of the show and it has been surprising on both ends.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
The Last Man on Earth is unfortunately only available on DVD.  The show is presented in a widescreen 1.78:1 ratio and is split between two dual layer DVDs.  At night in the cul de sac or in the unlit houses it can be tough to make out the actors faces but it does add to the realism of the show.  You can imagine that they can’t see each other well either as they are talking and you get a sense of how dark the world really is when power is out everywhere.  Fine detail is pretty good and this is pretty much what you’d expect from a television show on DVD.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is adequate and appropriate for a television show.  Dialogue is intelligible throughout and you can pick up whispers and shouting without any trouble or volume adjustment.
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The DVD set contains the following list of special features. If the show makes you laugh a little, the commentary and gag reel will make you laugh a lot.
  • Deleted Scenes (on disc one and two) – a significant list of extended or deleted scenes, which are worth watching. With the show lasting only 30 minutes (with commercials) it is understandable that a lot of good stuff was cut.
  • Survival of the Funniest: Creating the Last Man on Earth (Disc Two, 11:37) –A making of featurette where he cast discusses what they would do if they were the last man. Will Forte calls the show “unresearched” and his cast mates talk about his many improvisations. 
  • Commentary on “Elephant in the Room” (Disc One) and “Screw the Moon” (Disc Two) - Commentary with  Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Amusing and informative audio commentaries. They discuss casting, favorite jokes, Phil’s “ball friends” and their varying personalities, and the cul de sac set in California.
  • The Last Man on Earth Q&A Panel (Disc One, 22:51) – Dominic Patten moderates the Panel with Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. They discuss the premise, getting started, Will Forte’s contributions and concerns about the limited characters.
  • Gag Reel (Disc Two, 6:12) - Ad libs, line flubs, trouble with props and other on set fun.
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
It’s not often that movies or television brings humor to a post-apocalyptic world.  There are no zombies, and there are still stores to shop in (break into).  Life hasn’t gotten that hard for the residents of the cul de sac.  Will Forte is incredibly believable in his role as Phil “Tandy” Miller.  Seeing the apocalypse through his eyes is very interesting as he’s not particularly exceptional in any way. He’s the average Joe who took for granted that water came out of his faucet.  It’s not too far from reality that he tries to shoot the water out with a handgun after the virus took the lives of everyone that kept the water flowing.  While I wish the show had taken a bit more time exploring Phil alone in the world, or the period when the last man met the last woman, but I understand that they didn’t know if they’d have a second season.  The show has kept me entertained into season two without getting stale.  I recommend making the DVD purchase. This is a show I will revisit and probably binge watch the season all at once.

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