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FUTURE MAN gets 7.5/10 The future’s so bright….


Season 1

Creators Kyle Hunter, Howard Overman, Ariel Shaffir
Starring Eliza Coupe, Josh Hutcherson, Derek Wilson

7.5/10

Science fiction comedy seems to be a difficult mix to get right. Only a dozen shows have tried it, and the successes could be counted on the hand of a Martian from Total Recall. Unlike its nearest contemporary rival, The Orville, Future Man embraces both its comedic and science fiction roots to create a solid work of action comedy with a sci-fi twist.

Josh Futturman (Josh Hutcherson) is a lowly janitor in a genetic research laboratory, who is obsessed with completing an unbeatable computer game, Biotic Wars. One night he has a flash of inspiration that allows him to finally beat the last level of the game, only to find himself confronted by real life counterparts from the game. Resistance fighters Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson) have travelled back in time from the actual Biotic Wars to find the one person that can help them with their mission, the saviour of the future, the warrior with the skill to complete the game and stop the war from happening, the one calling himself ‘Future Man’.

When the advertising proclaims “from the creative minds that brought you Sausage Party” you know what to expect from Future Man. However as I view Sausage Party as a razor sharp agnostic diatribe on the misuse of religion as a social control measure, buried amongst a horde of dick jokes, then you should know that those expectations are both high and positive. Indeed from the first episode Future Man manages to be a razor sharp satire on popular science fiction films buried amongst a horde of herpes and ejaculating possum jokes. Thankfully the gross out humour lessens as the show progresses, but it does manage to maintain a dark satirical edge poking fun at the sci-fi genre. It’s part of Future Man‘s DNA, and something that makes this unique, as it looks over past works with both love and a critical eye.

That understanding and love of genre is what makes Future Man great viewing. Not merely is it happy to poke fun at the genre from a superficial level, it also de-constructs many of the innate themes of destiny and presumed rightness of action due to a just cause. Not only do the ends not always justify the means here, but even good intentions (mostly expressed by the naive Josh against the wishes of the hardened future resistance fighters) lead to disastrous temporal consequences. While riffing on 80s classics like Terminator, Abyss, Back to the Future (1 & 2) and The Last Starfighter is the staple diet of comedy in the show, there is also at least the hint of a deeper philosophical argument at play here, almost lost in the explosions and anally ingested cocaine.

It also does well in subverting that narrative from a character perspective. Josh may be the lateral thinker armed with a collection of sci fi movie references that bring skills that the resistance is lacking, but he’s far from the archetypal hero of Campbell’s take on myth. Similarly one of the joys of the season is to see Wilson develop Wolf into something beyond the roughneck action hero, and Coupe plunge from steadfast resistance leader into sheer exasperation as Tiger grows increasingly frustrated.

The result manages to straddle the line between intelligent and puerile to create something unique. Future Man works both as a comedy and as a loving satire on the sci-fi action thrillers of the 80s and 90s. Bring on the next season; we can’t wait to go back to the future.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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