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FUTURE MAN gets 7/10 Back to the future


Season Two

Network: Hulu
Created by Kyle Hunter, Howard Overman, Ariel Shaffir
Starring Josh Hutcherson, Eliza Coupe, Derek Wilson, Haley Joel Osment

7/10

The future Biotic threat is over thanks to the time travelling shenanigans of Josh (Josh Hutcherson), Eagle (Eliza Coupe), and Wolf (Derek Wilson). Yet as Eagle and Wolf return to the future they find neither the hellscape they remember, nor the idealised version they hoped for. Instead they find themselves in the aftermath of a civil war, and split between the two surviving groups of humanity – the technophobic agrarian NAG (New Above Ground), and the future Mars colonists of the Mons. Stranger still is that Josh Futturman has been kidnapped from the 21st century, and brought to the distant future, to be used as a weapon against an immortal AI, which he knew in the 21st century, Stu (Haley Joel Osment).

The second season of Future Man doesn’t generally supply the cleanly targeted riffs on films that the first did (holding them in reserve for the last few episodes). It instead starts with a more nebulous approach to the dystopian and post-apocalyptic genres. As such, the humour appears a little diluted this season, but it’s still able to hold a satirical mirror up to the present – commenting on immigration, the nuclear family, the creation of an “other,” and climate change, as well as a couple of expected geek nods to popular films (albeit mostly by Josh’s name checking).

On the whole, the season manages to navigate this change of setting and narrative, but it does have a few weaker moments for it. However, it does end strongly, playing up the conflict between the three main characters, and ends on an interesting character study on the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” that nicely sets up the sequel hook for the third season.

That character conflict is, in part, the key for this season, as the divided characters allow for an exploration of the fractured politics of this new future timeline. All three explore differing aspects; Wolf discovering a new family in the post-apocalyptic Luddite NAG, Eagle having a dysfunctional romance in the dystopian Mons, and Josh discovering an underground conspiracy of the cult-like Pointed Circle. As such it allows the actors to draw on the established character experiences, drill into it, and amplify it. Hence Eliza Coupe is able to play an even more disenchanted and surly version of Eagle, Derek Wilson is allowed to explore the optimism of the hard-bitten Wolf, and Josh…well, he’s still Josh, an often hapless and blundering version of the “chosen one” character archetype.

Hence Future Man continues its odd mix of highbrow concepts and well-written lowbrow comedy. It successfully changes the formula of the show, expanding the narrative from its initial The Terminator meets The Last Starfighter origin. This season might lack a little of the impact of the first, but it’s still remarkably solid in its storytelling and its ability to set up the seasons to follow.

DAVID O’CONNELL

Future Man Season 2 has been released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Via Vision Entertainment.

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