TV Review: The Last Man On Earth

The Last Man On Earth:

“Alive In Tucson”/“The Elephant In The Room”

Review by Jonathan Wolk

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If you watched Saturday Night Live anytime between 2002 and 2012 you no doubt have seen the quirky and unusual comedy of Will Forte. You really could not have missed it. From characters like Greg Stink and Tim Calhoun, to MacGruber and the Falconer, Forte brought a certain level of depth, humanity, and focus, in his decade on the cast to some of the most unusual, oddball, and memorable characters to grace the SNL stage in the last 40 years. Macgruber, as has many an SNL skit before it, even spawned a feature film that, while not well received by critics or particularly successful in the theaters, has grown to be something of a cult classic to the point that a sequel has now been tentatively announced.

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Like so many of his fellow SNL alumni, now that he has left the cast, he is attempting to make his mark on his own and he is doing it with one of the more unusual shows to hit network television in quite sometime. The Last Man On Earth (Sundays 9PM ET on FOX, Available Mondays on FOX On-Demand and HULU Plus) is exactly as the title says. But it is also so much more and, if it continues as it began, it could be something very special. There were moments early in the first episode where it felt like the highest budget SNL Digital Short ever made but that feeling quickly passed as the complexity of this story was slowly revealed. While the show is a dark comedy, it also explores some much deeper issues of loneliness, loss, and depression in a very authentic feeling, and at times touching, way.

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The show premiered with “Alive In Tucson”/“The Elephant In The Room”, the two episode introduction to our protagonist, former ‘Temp’ Phil Miller (Forte). As we join Phil in “Alive in Tucson”, written by Will Forte and directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller  of “The LEGO Movie” fame, we are told that it is the year 2020 and it is “One Year After the Virus”. What this virus is, how it started, and why it wiped out all of humanity except this lone man (and where the hell are all of the bodies!?!), is left untold, but that is okay because the why does not matter. Phil is driving around in a $4 million tour bus/RV, going from state to state trying to find any other living human being and crossing each state off the map as he finishes, apparently searching the entirety of each of the forty eight contiguous states. When he finally reaches Utah, which is already crossed off the map, we hear Phil give off a primal scream of frustration and agony. His final act of his epic road trip, and of hope, is to spray paint “Alive in Tucson” on a billboard, climb back into his RV and head for home. After looking around his crappy little apartment he realizes that he can upgrade (I mean, who’s going to stop him?), and makes his way to ‘Bonita Estates’ where he chooses a rather gorgeous mansion and proceeds to decorate it with some of the spoils of this travels. There is art from Monet, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt. Emmanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware becomes the backdrop behind his bed. There are “Oscar” looking statuettes placed on the mantle, a Heisman Trophy, a full T Rex skull, Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers, a NASA spacesuit and Babe Ruth’s bat, just to name some of the wonders and relics of humanity he has collected. From here, having accepted that he is the last man on earth, he proceeds to try and begin life on his own terms in his hometown. Phil is apparently Catholic and, with only God to speak to, his bedtime prayers become a device by which we can gauge where his mental state is. By the end of the first 18 minutes of the episode we have seen Phil getting to do all those things that we only do when we think no one is looking but Phil does them right out in the open with no one to judge him. There are some great moments in this montage of him trying to pass the time. My favorite might have been “Twinkie Fingers”. I won’t explain, you’ll have to see it. There are also some powerful moments of this man’s immense loneliness, (and horniness) including a flashback to celebrating with family and eventually we see him trying to make an emotional connection with a female mannequin. Using a generator to power the television, he laughs at the movie Castaway and Tom Hanks talking to a volleyball, only to end up with his own cadre of friends from a sporting goods aisle. From here we follow him and his, perhaps inevitable, decline into darkness. He is drinking constantly, using priceless documents as a napkin, and, as seen in many of promotional pieces for the show, climbing into a Margarita kiddie pool and spending much of his time building an ever growing “Jenga” tower. Finally we reach sometime in November 2021 and Phil has hit rock bottom. He has finally decided to end it all and just before he can do the deed in the most Wile E. Coyote manner possible, something sparks his interest in a new direction and the show really hits a whole new level of comedy. I’m not going to spoil any of the wonderful twists and turns heading into the second episode of the premier just yet.

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So that you can stop reading before I get to the spoiler-y part let me just give you the important stuff; my impression of the show and my thoughts on its future. I love this show. I fear it’s not going to be for everyone as, even with all of the bathroom and masturbatory humor thrown in amongst the rest, this is a show that genuinely strives to be more than just a series of sight gags or a gimmick drawn out from a single clever idea. It explores, in a very funny yet completely believable way, our need for human contact and community while exploring facets of depression and the human condition, and this is in no small part thanks to a truly wonderful performance by Will Forte. Forte (who has been almost universally described by all who know him to be one of the nicest people you could ever meet) brings that quirky, everyman, dork-next-door personality that made him so successful on Saturday Night Live to this show, in abundance, and manages to be simultaneously sweet, charming, pathetic, and repulsive as he grasps at everything he can think of to maintain his sanity. With 10 shows in the can, and a second season mostly written, I really hope that the audience gets on board with this show early and sticks with it. I see a lot of potential in this show, especially as we head into the end of the first episode and into the second episode, “The Elephant In The Room”, written by Andy Bobrow and again directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Please, please, please watch this show, people! Get your friends to watch, and let’s make sure that the show gets the long run that it deserves… now on to the spoilers…

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***SPOILERS AHEAD****

 

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******LAST WARNING*******

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As our intrepid hero Phil is about to take his own life by driving his SUV into a rock, with a big bullseye painted on it, he happens to spot smoke in the distance. Instead of ending it all he chooses to drive to the smoke and finds a tidy little campsite with some women’s clothing hanging out to dry on a clothesline. After nearly 2 years completely alone, he faints at the sound of a woman’s voice only to seemingly awaken with this amazingly gorgeous woman (True Detective‘s Alexandra Daddario) trying to make sure he’s alive. He is quickly shaken from this little fantasy to find that it is actually Carol (played by 30 Rock/Daily Show alum Kristen Schaal), a neurotic, rules obsessed, grammar Nazi, who apparently is The Last Woman On Earth. This takes us into the second episode and the show truly hits its stride with some of the funniest, and yet somehow most poignant, moments coming in the insanity of the interactions between these two. At this point I will leave you to watch the show and make your own judgments. But I highly recommend this show and I think you will enjoy it. I did.

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Spring TV Trailers

ICYMI

Below are a few trailers for some upcoming TV Shows dropping in the next few weeks.

Dig – March 5

Powers – March 10

iZombie – March 17

AD-The Bible Continues – April 5

Salem – April 5

Daredevil – April 10

Game of Thrones – April 12

Orphan Black – April 18

J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy – April 29

Penny Dreadful – May 3rd

Wayward Pines – May 14

Cosplay Spotlight with: Rebekah P.!!!

Where are you from originally or reside currently: I was born in Gaithersburg MD, and lived there until I was 14. I now live in Frederick MD.

How long you have been cosplaying: About 6 months.

Other Characters cosplayed: Agent Maria Hill from The Avengers, Jubilee from X-Men and Lady Sif from Thor.

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1. Who or what inspired you to cosplay?

I became interested after meeting some Cosplayers when Captain America 2 first premiered. It took me a while to actually make the decision to start, but thanks to encouragement from fellow cosplayer, Eric Brooks, and a few others, I made that leap and it’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I learned pretty quickly that the cosplay community is basically a huge, crazy family. They’ve supported me and cared for me in ways I never thought possible.

Also, the sheer talent was enough to get me interested. You’ll never meet a more talented and dedicated bunch of people.

2. What do you do when you aren’t cosplaying? (hobbies, community service, or work)

I work at Michaels (craft store). It’s a decent job and there are a lot of great people there. In my spare time, I do a lot of reading, plus I have a really solid relationship with my family, so any opportunity to do stuff with them is something I’ll jump on.

3. What costumes have provided the biggest challenge and rewards so far and why?

Maria Hill to be sure. She took the longest but she is my all-time favorite so far. She’s so recognizable, especially to kids and that’s one of the biggest things for me. Seeing how excited they get when suddenly there’s a SHIELD agent right in front of them is a reward in and of itself.

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4. What is the best advice you would give someone new to cosplaying?

Don’t be afraid to take risks. Even if something seems scary, just go for it. If it doesn’t turn out right, you can still learn from the experience.

5 What is one thing the cosplaying community can do better when it comes to dealing with each other?

I think… Just remember that, as different as we all are, deep inside we’re all just nerds wearing costumes. And we should support each other because the fact that we are, in essence, becoming these characters means that we love them. Even if you don’t love the character that someone else is cosplaying, support them anyway. Wouldn’t you want them to support you? So I guess just treat others as you would want to be treated and you’re golden.

 

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World War Kaiju: Book One

by Janey La Royale

“What if Doctor Strangelove created Godzilla?” is what the Kickstarter for World War Kaiju, back in 2013, questions their potential audience. I can honestly say this was rather an interesting read. If you like conspiracy theories and Godzilla, this might be the Graphic Novel for you.

Now let me elaborate. When you start reading, it reads like an actual novel you had in literature class back in your freshman year of high school about WWII, until you realize it’s really a dialogue. Ex-CIA agent Hampton, confronts a reporter, Keegan, to let him in on a little government secret. Now where does this Godzilla nonsense come into play? Let’s just say that’s the secret. These Kaiju monsters look and feel oddly familiar, but there is a whole different twist on them. Instead of the atom bomb in 1945, it was a Kaiju monster that wreaked havoc on Japan.

As far as the storyline goes, the first book is rather a long dialogue. The way the government agent, Hampton, talks to Keegan reads as a hard core war hero. You seem to actually start feeling for Keegan’s irritation who seems bewildered by Hampton’s statements. What’s even better is the appearance of the beloved Carl Sagan from the original Cosmos series to reflect on the origin of the Kaiju monsters. Trust me, when I say you will develop your own voices for these two characters, Hampton and the reporter, Keegan as the story progresses. As far as character development, World War Kaiju is not as strong as what we would want in the front end, but you have to remember that Hampton is a CIA spook.

If you are one of those people who buy things for the artwork, this is a graphic novel you want in your library. There is a lack of hard lines from the main artist, but when it comes to detail, the multiple colors used in a single section is so incredible you can see even the slightest curve of a person’s face. The thought and care taken to draw every highlight and shade is executed beautifully. Even the disturbance in the water by a Kaiju monster is in incredible detail. My favorite is the close up on people’s faces and even their fingers. The artist truly understands different ethnic groups and their facial structures along with being able to draw out the fine details in a finger. Yet, you do get a random change in the artwork every now and then that is drastically different from what you are used to. It’s a nice change when reading this from cover to cover, keeping the reader engaged. You get a little bit of an old school comic book feel, and when you Sagan appears, you get the hard lines and block colors.

With great artwork and being able to incorporate different styles into a single graphic novel that makes sense is hard work, they were able to do this seamlessly with no problem. The story is engaging and interesting. The story pulls from the Godzilla films while alluding to other sci fi and science references into a well thought out theory. There is a slight downfall in their execution. Some parts of the dialogue gets rather long and I feel like I’m reading a textbook than a graphic novel. Even though they tried to board the text with images, it just didn’t feel the same. Yet, it didn’t bother me much at first until I got further into the book and found myself needing to take a break. Considering this is book one and it needed to cover a lot of information, it wasn’t too lengthy. Yet, replacing the atom bomb with Godzilla was a pretty genius idea with the end of WWII and the first Godzilla movie being only 10 years apart. It’s a really good combination. I recommend this for history fans, Godzilla fans, and especially conspiracy theorists.

 

Overall a 4.5 out of 5.

The Closed-Minded Spidey Fandom and My Message towards It

by Tyler Hoover

To start, I am an avid Spider-Man cosplayer. It’s quite amazing how the initial declaration of Spidey joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe brought such hope and joy to Marvel fans everywhere. But little did I know what kind of hate brewing storm was soon to erupt from the fandom. Back in 2011when the casting for “The Amazing Spider-Man” began there were rumors set that an African-American actor Donald Glover would potentially play the role of Peter Parker. That news exploded the internet. He had to deal with numerous hate comments and threats from many in the comic community. And today things are no different. With any mention of Peter being portrayed by any ethnicity outside of white it’s caused yet another concern that shouldn’t be happening in 2015. And with all the current Spider-Man race casting issues and Marvel Cinematic Universe anger I just wanted to share this bit to hopefully give closed minded people Spidey “fans” a new perspective on things.

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Growing up I was a nerdy somewhat anti social biracial(white & black) kid that admired Peter Parker greatly. He spoke volumes and gave me someone I could relate to. I never saw him as a “white” guy or at least saw that as something that defined him. I saw myself in his character and I’m sure many of us Spidey fans felt the same way. I couldn’t of cared less if he was portrayed Native American or Middle Eastern. The symbol he represents is what’s important and those caught up in him “needing to stay white” for the new films aren’t seeing the whole picture. Even if he is still portrayed white I wouldn’t care but just the fact that others are against him being anything but reflects such a negative stigma that honestly sickens me.
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Many could complain and say “well if Black Panther or Storm were changed in race people would feel the same way” and to that remark I would say that the difference is those characters have their race and background as a main factor towards their origin so of course changing that could make an issue. Whereas Peter had nothing about his life or upbringing that is concrete in needing to have him portrayed solely as white. Peter was just a nerdy kid from Queens NY who lived went to high school and lived with his aunt and uncle. It’s ignorant to believe only one group of people could have that kind of upbringing especially in a melting pot of culture like New York.
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With all that said If you get nothing else from this post I hope you at least understand perspectives of different people other than your own. I’d like to one day be able to take my mask off at conventions and not have to deal with even just one person looking disgusted or flat out call me “Miles Morales” just because I’m a light skinned guy in a Spider-Man suit. And I’m not the only one there are numerous cosplayers who deal with the same ignorant issues. Hopefully the casting of Peter in the MCU this time could bring about some change in our fandom at least since the world would have a much harder time trying to adjust.
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Agent Carter will lead the way !

**WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED AND PLAN TO, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

    By Mark Dominic

To say that Agent Carter was pioneering T.V. is an understatement. I have seen many period television shows and let me tell you this one gets it right. Not only do you get the feel of 1946 but the soundtrack is simply amazing! The first song you hear is Carol Emerald’s (That Man) the show opens with the song right after the amazing final clip of Agent Carter and Captain America speaking to each other. It transitions flawlessly into Agent Carter’s present. You had to have the feel of the time or it simply would not work & trust me it worked. The opening montage of Agent Carter post Captain America was amazing. It caught you right up and you were ready to go.

Also saying that Agent Carter has a feminist tone is not enough. It celebrates women and shows successfully the struggles that women faced during that time post World War II. The women that held down the fort while the men were away fighting were simply supposed to forget that they had an active hand in the war and were in most part supposed to go back home and bake a pie. Agent Carter was so well written that you see firsthand the struggle that Peggy was facing as a woman and as an agent.

Now you would think that this show would be Captain America heavy but thankfully Agent Carter is not. There is the obligatory opening and an interesting subplot involving Captain America but the sole focus is Peggy Carter and her adventures. It has a strong supporting cast that only helps elevate the incomparable Haley Atwell whose performance was simply magnetic.

As for the supporting cast you have heavy hitters like Shea Wingham as the tough no nonsense acting chief of the S.S.R. Roger Dooley, Chad Michael Murray as the male chauvinist Agent Jack Thompson, Enver Gjokaj as the loyal Agent Daniel Sousa. You also you have Dominic Cooper back as the enigmatic Howard Stark and the first appearance of Edwin Jarvis portrayed by James D’arcy. In a reoccurring role you also get the fun performance of Lyndsy Fonesca as Peggy Carter’s waitress friend Angie (You may remember her from Nikita, the rebooted CW show)

Haley Atwell holds her own with these men and you believe the performances that stem from this almost adversarial role that has been placed on their characters. The phrase “cat and mouse” takes a new meaning as you see just how sly and witty Peggy is and how resourceful she is as she mostly manages to stay one step of her male counterparts, which make you wonder who taught her?

It really does speak to the level of writing to have everything intertwine into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are so many Easter eggs throughout the entire series such as the Lucky Star Cab Company first seen in Captain America: The First Avenger. We had Roxxon Oil from Iron Man II. Roxxon appears in the 1940s as the sponsor of the Captain America Adventure radio show. Roxxon also lost an entire oil refinery to Howard Stark’s stolen weaponry in the first 2 episodes. Peggy and Jarvis interview Anton Vanko who would be the father of Whiplash in Iron Man II. The product Vita Ray (the property of Dr. Abraham Erskine, creator of the super soldier serum) made an appearance also from Captain America: The First Avenger. Continuity is a big thing with me and I do love Easter Eggs.

As for the look and feel of the show, I really have to tip my hat off to Sheena Duggal who was the person responsible for coordinating special effects on Agent Carter. They brought her back as visual coordinator as well as having Industrial Light and Magic & Base FX providing all of the special effects. So you have some really incredible visuals such as full on matte paintings of 1940’s New York, awe inspiring vortexes or some of the most amazing explosions I have ever seen done on television. It really speaks to Marvel’s commitment to provide a quality program.

My favorite episode is Episode 5: The Iron Ceiling. This episode takes Peggy out of New York and back overseas, this time into Russia. This episode not only gives us an amazing appearance from The Howling Commandos but also goes in-depth into the Black Widow program. Although it is not named this we all know what it is. To simply say that I hope that they touch on Natasha Romanov’s origin in Avengers: Age of Ultron is an understatement. I mean after seeing the training house for the young Russian agents & how they are trained to kill at such a young age chills me now even more when I think of Natasha saying “I have a lot of red in my ledger.” To see how Dottie (The Evil Black Widow) got her start was both sad and terrifying. The program really hasn’t been touched on too much in the past and was truly wide open to inter-operation and I have to say I loved this iteration. It was dark, ominous, and truly scary once you realized the stakes these little girls were facing. Life or death was a daily staple for them and to see Dottie and her transformation into a full blown Widow was incredible.

I really liked that Jack, who was supposed to be field leader, finally realized once they arrived in Russia he was way out of his league and let Peggy take lead. He saw beyond the fact she was a woman and saw she was also a capable soldier who had fought more battles & served in a capacity that was more than just Captain America’s girlfriend. To see the Howling Commandoes regale with Peggy was so much fun. Dum Dum and Peggy had a general camaraderie that only war buddies could have. And to see Jack just so far out of his depth was very funny & very satisfying to see him finally have to defer to Peggy.

Now while all this was going on back in the states, Agent Sousa was on the trail of the mysterious blonde girl from the pilot episode which we all knew was Peggy in disguise. To see him have his “ah ha!” moment when he pieced together that Peggy’s scar on her shoulder matched a photo taken of Peggy in disguise was for me at least an uh oh moment. Also to see Dottie going through Peggy’s things at the hotel for women was amazing; she was so thorough and so meticulous and to see her look in the mirror and say in a British accent” Hello my name is Peggy Carter.” was so creepy. This episode also gave us the appearance of this season’s main villain Russian psychiatrist Dr. Ivchenko who was supposedly being held captive at the Black Widow Training Center. I was sad to see the commandoes say goodbye to Peggy but was really happy to finally have her get respect from Jack.

Also the episodes 7 & 8 were amazing for the depth of emotions that the characters face. We have Chief Dooley’s surprising death, to Dottie and Dr. Ivchenko unleashing yet another one of Howard Stark’s deadly weapons and the inevitable, awesome, amazing, nail biting, brutal fight between Dottie and Peggy. I could go on forever about this show. It is now one of my favorite shows on Television. I hope there will be a second season. I look forward to seeing others views on Agent Carter. Did you enjoy it? Did you hate it? If so why? Let us know in the comments below!

Till the next time!

A place for all things geeky including comics, movies, gaming and more. Contact us at pcupress AT gmail DOT com.

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