Hulu’s new sci-fi comedy falls a little short of the bonkers ride it promises.
On Tuesday, November 14th, Hulu is releasing its new sci-fi comedy series, Future Man. The show stars Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games’ Peeta) as Josh Futterman, a hapless janitor, and gamer who’s accidentally recruited by time-traveling warriors as the savior of the human race.
Future Man is the brainchild of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the creative team that’s also currently bringing us Preacher on AMC. Preacher has its problems (and I should know — I covered it extensively), but it does have a certain charm that’s missing here.
Because what Preacher might lack in pacing and evenness of storytelling, it makes up for in whimsy and creativity. There’s a lot going on in Preacher, and its revelations are always fun and interesting.
With Future Man, the revelations are for the most part expected.
And that’s the show’s biggest problem — for a series that’s obviously meant to be shocking and off the wall, it’s disappointingly predictable. The plot follows a very well-worn series of beats, and while the beats themselves are sometimes interesting, for the most part, they belong to a brand of shock humor that’s been around for a while now.
Josh himself is one of the more predictable elements. Meant to be an everyman for us to relate to, he borders on too blank of a slate to be memorable. Maybe his character will take a turn at the back end of the season, but for the time being, this is a stock arc for the schmo caught up in something beyond him. Does he have trouble believing what he’s experiencing is real? Does he not live up to the expectations of the people working with him? Does he screw things up, then prove himself again, but in his own way?
You tell me.
The time travel element is fun, but if anything it’s underused. While the implications of altering the past are touched upon, they’re often eschewed for violent misunderstandings between Josh’s companions and the past they’ve traveled to. This makes for a pervasive chaos that doesn’t quite reach the humor or the insanity it could.
Of course, the show isn’t without its high points. Britt Lower (from Man Seeking Woman) is a breath of understated fresh air among performances that are (albeit deliberately) a little over the top. A late episode featuring the sentient house of a prominent film director is especially funny and feels like a genuine hit on the kind of madcap absurdity the rest of the show is trying to reach. And a few moments do achieve the shock they aim for — one particular scene in episode 3 actually had me blushing.
But the most enjoyable performance and character arc is that of Wolf (Preacher’s Derek Wilson). Beginning as a hyper-violent warrior, Wolf undergoes a transformation that’s touching, funny, and (most importantly) a little surprising. Many of my favorite moments come from him.
After seeing the first 7 of 13 episodes that were released to critics, I can say confidently that Future Man is fine.
It’s just fine. It’s competently made, and it has at least some moments of innovation. But those moments are few and far enough between to keep it from being anything special. The sad fact of the matter is that we’re drowning in new tv shows, and we can’t watch them all.
Judging from the first 7 episodes, Future Man just might not stand out enough.