FUTURE MAN isn’t super consistent, but it packs in some solid humor along the way.
The series is a half-hour, which is part of what makes it feel somewhat oversaturated. However, the plus side to a shorter format is keeping a fast and comedic tone. The show plays well on the tropes of the genre, and gives the show its funniest moments. Of course, it’s not all high-concept genre humor – the series starts with the time-traveling heroes walking in on Josh masturbating. The good thing is that the show isn’t overly reliant on its juvenile jokes. FUTURE MAN has some solid jokes about the sci-fi world that makes the FAMILY GUY-level jokes easier to stomach.
While the sense of humor is strong, the story of FUTURE MAN is rather weak. As the show tries to play around with time-travel story tropes, the series gets lots in the details. The general plot of “will Josh be part of the Resistance” is repetitive, and is retooled several times throughout the season. As the show journeys through time, the dilemma of dealing with young Dr. Kronish also gets old. What the show does with plot makes for funny moments, but not a cohesive story.
What sells a lot of the humor and story is the actors. The performances of the leads are all solid, especially the soldiers. Eliza Coupe brings a fantastic amount of humor and gravity to the authoritative Tiger. Derek Wilson’s Wolf starts off very bland and obnoxious, but the character gets deeper over time. FUTURE MAN has some hilarious cameos. Haley Joel Osment is hilarious as the antagonistic Dr. Camillo, and Britt Lower is solid as Josh’ love interest Jeri. Robert Craighead is also hilarious as recurring antagonist Det. Vincent Skarsgaard.
One of the big things holding the show back is a strong antagonist. The three heroes jump around to stop a crazy villain that the audience never gets to meet. While all the Dr. Kronish actors are strong, the character is never a true villain. He’s always a fairly agreeable guy who Tiger and Wolf insist is evil incarnate. Some might call that “nuance,” but it plays as “boring.” The Biotic Wars video game promised a sketetal madman that FUTURE MAN never delivers.
What’s puzzling is how little gaming factors into FUTURE MAN. A huge aspect of the show’s initial branding was that Josh Futturman was a gamer thrown into the “real world” of Biotic Wars. However, the “gaming” aspect of Josh is only present in the pilot and finale. While time-travel was also billed as a key aspect of FUTURE MAN, the minimal focus on Josh as a gamer weakens the show. Ignoring his strengths and combat knowledge is what sticks Josh in a loop of “can or can’t he fight?” It’s a key element to Josh’s character that could have given the show more to work with. To see it nearly abandoned, aside from a few Paul Scheer appearances, is disappointing.
The thing that makes FUTURE MAN work, despite all its flaws, is how fun the show is. By focusing so much on the humor, the weaker plot elements can be overlooked. The strongest episode, “Beyond the TruffleDome,” is one that exists largely outside of the main plot. The story of FUTURE MAN is pretty weak, but the humor and enjoyment factor makes the show worth a binge-watch.
STAND-OUT PERFORMANCES: Eliza Coupe, Derek Wilson, Glenne Headly (Rest in Peace), Robert Craighead
STAND-OUT EPISODES: “Justice Desserts;” “Beyond the TruffleDome;” “A Riphole in Time”