Review: The Last Man on Earth Episode 1 “Alive in Tucson”

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Content Guide

Sex & Nudity – Phil Miller’s loneliness is exemplified in a variety of ways in “Alive in Tucson.” One of which is his obtaining several pornographic magazines. Miller also apologizes to God for masturbation in a prayer, before skirting the responsibility by blaming God.
Violence & Gore – “Alive in Tucson” does have a couple of explosions and gunshots, all focused on inanimate objects.
Profanity –  “Alive in Tucson” has very little speech up until the second half. Even then there were no expletives!
Drinking and Drug Use – Phil Miller is shown in multiple scenes of “Alive in Tucson” imbibing alcohol.
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Summary

At the beginning of “Alive in Tucson” the protagonist, Phil Miller, drives an RV throughout the United States searching for other survivors. After crossing out the continental forty eight states, Miller leaves behind spray painted signs stating ”Alive in Tucson,” hoping someone will see the signs and will find their way to the city. Back in Tucson, Phil returns to his modest apartment momentarily before upgrading to a vacated desert mansion. There, Miller moves in multiple American treasures including a baseball bat signed by Babe Ruth, a tyrannosaurus rex skull, a NASA astronaut space suit and more. Phil settles in for the night with a prayer, asking for God to send people —specifically women—to Tucson. In his prayer, Miller mentions the earlier montage where he traveled the country looking for people that might have survived the virus, but nothing else is said about the virus,
The next few days are full of crazy antics with no repercussions. After playing racquetball with a dozen tennis balls, a pant-less Phil Miller goes shopping, letting himself into the grocery store by firing a pistol into the glass doors and procures groceries like a teenager with an endless budget. Then he goes bowling outside of the bowling alley. After the first few “lanes,” Phil replaces the bowling pins with glass lamps, then fish tanks full of water. Eventually he uses his newly acquired pickup truck and bowls it into the fish tanks, shot-putting bowling balls into the remaining tanks. Then Phil uses an old Toyota Camry to bowl into a brand new Ford Mustang, replete with a gas can taped to the side for extra explosive effect. One night, using a generator to power the projector in his new mansion, Phil ridicules Tom Hanks in Castaway for using a volley ball as a friend. The next morning, he powers a tennis ball launcher with the generator and tries out some medieval armor.
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“I will never, ever talk to a volley ball” – Phil Miller
Many days later, on June 17th, 2021, Phil Miller celebrates his birthday in a dark and quiet bar, using a single candle in a Twinkie for a cake. This is the first scene where his loneliness is really shown. While getting ready for bed, Phil prays again, but this time chewing out God for not sending another person. He also takes on a split personality to prove his ability to stay sane alone. Miller yells to God, “I don’t need people !I’m gonna be just fine!”
Five months later, Phil Miller’s desert mansion is a disaster. Trash is piled everywhere and he is covered in old cereal. Phil pours an obscene amount of alcohol into a kiddie pool before climbing in and drinking. Miller’s toilet is inundated with empty bottles which he has been porting water in for months to make the toilet work. Miller trips and falls into the sea of bottles, not bothering to get up for a few moments. Later he cuts a hole into the diving board of the swimming pool, making it his new toilet. Miller returns to the bar he was in five months earlier, but this time the bar is full of various balls with faces marked on them. An inebriated Phil lays on the billiard table, reminiscing of the things he misses visiting with his many round friends. Leaving the bar, Miller pulls up to a lingerie store where at the behest of one of his friends, Gary the volleyball, he talks to a mannequin. Phil’s loneliness has driven him to such an absence of logic that he appears to believe that the mannequin is a real woman until he goes to shake “her” hand and its arm comes off.
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“How are you Phil? I’m good, I’m good, I’m good.” – Phil Miller
 
Spiraling into a pit of depression, Phil Miller continues his antics, though now they bring him no joy. Out in the desert, Miller spray paints an epitaph onto a large rock formation. Phil gives his own eulogy to all of his various ball friends, taking time to apologize to Tom Hanks and the whole crew that put together Castaway, noting his own stand-in friends. He takes his truck, sans airbags, and precedes to drive full speed toward the rock formation. Moments before crashing into the rocks, Phil spots something off-camera and manages to slow the truck down just in time to not wreck. He climbs up on the truck in awe of whatever is off in the distance, which appears to be a thin column of smoke! Phil drives over to the campsite looking for another survivor. A compact car pulling a U-Haul trailer, a small tent, a smoldering campfire, and clothes on a clothes line all indicate that the campsite is still being used. He is excited to discover another human being whom he guesses to be a woman based on the clothing drying, that he gravitates to a bra drying on the clothesline. Miller smells the undergarment, the first nexus to another human being in two years, before someone approaches from behind and clears their throat to announce their presence. Upon hearing the other person, he faints!
A beautiful red head awakens Phil, and she is just as excited to see him. She mentions that another human’s voice is like music to her ears and he offers to sing to her. When she agrees, Phil Miller sings the Ghostbusters theme song a cappella, until she joins in. The two start to kiss until Phil can’t understand why the woman is pinching his nose. When he starts to ask her, she begins shoving his chest. Suddenly, he wakes up from his dream to find a completely different woman who was giving him mouth-to-mouth. The first woman was merely a dream from when he fainted, and what he hoped to find at the campsite. Miller is still very confused, and so the new woman explains that he passed out and wet himself, so she thought he was dying. Phil is adamant that he didn’t wet himself and when he tries to explain emphatically, the woman gets scared and pulls out a revolver. He raises his hands in fear and she demands that he drop her underwear before asking Phil if he is a nice person. After the situation eventually deescalates, the two introduce themselves as Phil Miller and Carol Pilbasian, the last man and woman on Earth.
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” Are you nice? Are you a nice person!?” – Carol Pilbasian

Review

“Alive in Tucson” is an amazing start to what will hopefully stay an incredibly funny show. Will Forte, who portrays Phil Miller, also wrote the premier along with co-creators Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (see where the protagonist got his name?). Forte is well known for his Saturday Night Live run, including his characters such as his iteration as then President George W. Bush, The Falconer, and MacGruber (the latter even had a feature Film). Forte also wrote for That ’70s Show and 3rd Rock from the Sun before writing acting in SNL, so The Last Man on Earth is by no means his first shot at writing. Lord and Miller are known as the duo that brought Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Lego Movie to the silver screen, as well as writing/directing the reboot of  21 Jump Street. With “Alive in Tucson,” the trio have excelled at writing comedy using a genre that is rarely looked at as funy: the end of the world.
Phil Miller’s actions in “Alive in Tucson” paid homage to post-apocalyptic movies. The mannequin scene comes from I am Legend and The Omega Man (including both screenplays of the 1954 Richard Matheson novel). Intertwining the dichotomies of the protagonist’s silly antics with the sorrow and loneliness that result in his almost killing himself made Phil more real, and his imperfection makes him more appreciable. Much like Robert Neville in I am Legend, Phil Miller is just a regular guy trying to keep going after the aftermath of an apocalyptic event. He wants nothing more than human contact, desperately seeking out other survivors. The shock and fainting in response to simply hearing another human being in-person epitomizes how much his isolation has affected him. The immediate difficulties Phil Miller and Carol Pilbasian experience offer a humorous level of discomfort not long after he is seen promising that if he were to finally find another person, he’d never complain again.
Using a new and unique genre for comedy, “Alive in Tucson,” provides a breath of fresh air, air that distinctly lacks being shared with seven billion other people. The writing and acting are great thus far and I genuinely hope that The Last Man on Earth maintains its humor and uniqueness consistent with its premiere!
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 “Phil Miller, last man on Earth.” “Carol Pilbasian, last woman on Earth.”
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The Bottom Line

 

9.3

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Cody Hahn

Lover of Jesus. Husband. Daddy. Geek.

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